News then, news now

Mar 7, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Many of the headlines from our first

Ranger 60 years ago still apply today

Tuesday's page-one reproduction of the original Ranger front page from 1953 had a familiar ring to it.

No, it wasn't the color pictures. There weren't any of those in the 1950s. We didn't run our first color picture until the 1960s, didn't start doing it regularly until the 1990s, and didn't start doing it every day until the new century was about to turn.

No, it wasn't the clean, balanced page design. To today's eyes that old front page is a jumbled, disorganized mess. We'd never dream of putting a page on the streets today that looked like that.

But the page served the purpose of its time, and it reflected the best thinking of the time as well. No doubt the editors were proud of it. And we know our front pages of March 2013 might well be scoffed at for similar reasons when opinions and preferences have changed again half a century from now.

What that page did have was news. Local news. Lots of it. And here's where the ring gets familiar. A headline told of the impending death of a famous and controversial foreign leader. A similar news event commanded headlines in our paper this week (not front page, but still prominent). Sixty years ago it was Josef Stalin. Twenty-four hours ago it was Hugo Chavez.

There was a headlines story about the price of gasoline rising in the Riverton area. No one who drives a motor vehicle today, from a scooter to a farm truck, isn't concerned about that very same issue. (And what we wouldn't give today to be "worried" about the rising price of gas 1953-style. Look closer at that story from 60 years ago. The price per gallon had just hit 33 cents. Good enough for a front-page headline.)

There was coverage of a big basketball tournament coming to town. Just 10 days ago we hosted one of equal size, amid back-room talk that the community might not want it anymore. Hosting a tournament was big, welcome news in 1953. It ought to remain so today.

"City merchants join to welcome players and fans," read a sub-headline from the old paper. Words to live by, everyone, whether it's 1953 or 2013.

In our first-ever Ranger, we reported news on page one about kids in school, agriculture, crime and punishment, coming events, the weather, and human-interest amusements.

Chances are, if you closed your eyes and had someone else read you the first paragraph or two of many of those 1953 news stories, then the first paragraph or two of this week's page-one news, you might not know which was which on a lot of them.

It can be easy to assume that the world began when we did, that the issues of the past have no relevance today, and that nothing that happened 60 years ago could be worth noticing.

Not so. Not at all.

And if you doubt it, jut check the first edition of The Ranger ever published. Sixty years from now, we'll wager the same holds true.

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