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Oh, the things you can learn digging through old newspapers

I recently was given the daunting task of organizing the archives of the Estacada News. This became necessary because the past issues were scattered throughout the office in seemingly random fashion.

Various piles could be found here and there. One had ended up stored in the bathroom, of all places.

As odd as it seems, I was eager to wrap my arms around this epic undertaking. I wouldn't go so far as to describe myself as obsessive-compulsive, but I'm probably pretty close to it. The term "neat freak" is a much more accurate description.

The timing of this assignment was entirely appropriate, as many people are starting to do their spring cleaning. That season is now officially upon us following daylight-saving time, which is another topic that irks me on some level and that I won't get into here.

It's interesting what you can learn while digging through piles of old newspapers. Mere glimpses of headlines offer some insight into what people were going through during different periods of what is now considered history.

While going through some issues from the 1970s, a decade in which I never spent a moment, I encountered a story where a local burglar blamed then-President Jimmy Carter for his crimes.

The 1980s saw not more than a few pictures of now-disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt. I also came across several stories chronicling the political rise of Mark O. Hatfield from his days at Mahonia Hall in Salem to the U.S. Senate. That was of particular interest to me, as I've been doing some recreational reading about him for the past few weeks.

Bringing a sense of coherence to the assembled archives was a lot more time and labor intensive than I originally anticipated. It did remind me of a few things, though.

In the daily grind of newspaper reporting, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the end product serves as a town's official historic record. This means that 10 years from now, some young reporter very well could be reading the stories that I sweat over in order to figure out what happened here at this point in time.

Every so often, somebody will come into the office requesting multiple copies of the paper. It's usually because one of their loved ones is featured in its pages.

I'm honored on such occasions to think that my work someday may be included in a scrapbook of someone's greatest life moments.

Overall, I'm glad that I got to do this very important mission. I will admit, though, that I went through an entire roll of paper towels in the process. Newsprint does tend to leave your hands black, and that can be bothersome for a neat freak like me.




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