A sense of history ...

August newsprint on the Cape

by Peggy Aycinena

The shadows grow long on Cape Cod in August, and it's hard not to contemplate the arc of history as you bike along the dunes overlooking the sea. The President and his family are only a few miles from here, as is the Kennedy compound. The Senator died two days ago, and this place feels that is has lost one of its own.

I biked away from our house early this morning, just after sunrise, and headed to the cafe a mile down the road. I bought the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The paper I read, however, was the local Cape Cod Times with the headline: The Lion rests.

When I was a child, the President of the United States was assassinated. School was cancelled the next day, and while my family sat in front of the TV, I walked to the store and bought a New York Times, available even in California. I still have it today. In a box.

Now, 46 years later and a world away, I have another New York Times to add to my collection that has grown over the years. Revolutions, elections, disasters, wars, scandals, and time. They're all there in the newspaper. In newsprint that you can sit and read and contemplate over coffee as the wind blows across the dunes and onto the patio of the small cafe where you are sitting.

No one here on the Cape is reading the Internet. They're sitting in cafes and restaurants, ice cream parlors and gift shops, reading newspapers about a complex man, a local, one of their own. Some hated him, many more admired him, but everyone here on the Cape laid claim to him and his family in one way or another.

History is all about headlines. It's not about the Internet. It's not about the latest, greatest, fastest, biggest, and hippest app. History is about newsprint. The stuff you can stash away in a box in a closet for a later time.

The stuff that comes off on your hands, or picks up stains if you splash your coffee on it. History is about newspapers that you can pore over and study, put aside, and pick up again later. History is about studying the news, looking away from the news, and then looking out to the blue sea and the undefineable horizon where the sky meets the water.

History is something that was here yesteday and will still be here tomorrow. History, for better or worse, is something that's written on paper.

August 28, 2009


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