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Fond memories of the Star-Clipper in the 1940s

August 11, 2017
Arlene (Halupnik) Fleming , Traer Star-Clipper

If you ever happen to wind up in Traer be sure to walk down 2nd Street. About halfway down the block, across the street from the Carnegie Library, stand the one-hundred twenty-three year old Winding Stairs.

The iron steps wind round and round up to a catwalk. Walk across this bridge-like structure and you enter the building's upper story. It was here at the local newspaper, the Traer Star-Clipper, was printed for 59 years, before moving to a ground level location.

-The Star-Clipper that I knew as I grew up was filled weekly with news of our friends and relatives living in Traer and surrounding communities.

-In hospital reports we learned who had entered the hospital and what affliction had sent them there.

-Obituaries told life stories and many times details of the death itself.

-Wedding news shared names of everyone involved including the ladies in the kitchen. Credit was given to the person who baked and decorated the wedding cake. Also, not forgotten were the ladies who had sewn the lacy little aprons worn by the bride's friends as they served the reception guests.

-Last Wills and Testaments were printed word for word for all eyes to see. "My son, John, is to receive 50 head of angus cattle" - "My daughter, Mary, receives the china cabinet from our dining room."

-News of family trips to the nearby grandparents home or vacations across the state line were given equal space in each issue.

-Reported births of new babies gave readers a warm, cozy feeling.

-Holiday or Sunday dinner guests found their names listed in the Star-Clipper.

-Divorce news was always good reading. He said - she said - a $200 settlement and the case was closed.

We considered it all Good Local News.

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And how did we get a copy of this popular newspaper? It was printed on Thursday and delivered into the rural mailboxes on Friday. My parents usually couldn't wait until Friday for the latest issue.

So - we quickly finished the Thursday evening farm chores, ate supper and traveled the 3 miles into Traer. By the time we arrived many locals were already in place lined across the overhead catwalk and down the winding steps. And the line continued onto the sidewalk, where I took up my space along with the others who couldn't wait until Friday's mail.

Socializing took place along the waiting line. Talking about families, crops, gardens, the price of corn and of course, the weather.

And then - the line begins to move and I climb the spiral steps. As I traveled across the catwalk I had the feeling of being suspended in the air. I took a peek at the people lined and still waiting below and then I entered through the door. The large black printing presses were chugging and clanking. I could feel the floor vibrating and smell the printer's ink.

Long time employee, Linda Otterman, was seated nearby at a small table. As I walked past she marked our family name off of a long list and handed me, still warm from the press, our copy of the newspaper.

Years have gone by and things do change. Now, the newspaper is a much smaller package. There is not much folksy, detailed news anymore. Privacy laws have eliminated most of the news we considered worth standing in line for.

Even though it's not the same as I remember it - I still do enjoy finding the Traer Star-Clipper in my mailbox every Friday.

 
 

 

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