Missing a Paper

by Paul Cole

Missing a paper

Growing up in a remote Island of Michigan always fostered the importance of what could be recycled or used again ….including a newspaper. My Dad and others where never one to throw things away...you just never new if you could you use it now or later. Piles and piles of “junk’ could be found in any wise man’s yard.

My mother loved her paper. At the dusk of the day she would finish the dishes, help with homework, make sure showers were done and relax with her paper. She would spend hours reading it from end to end quietly winding down from her day and retire to bed. She love her paper and always looked forward to at the dawning of the day. The Sunday paper was the best for her. ..packed full of information and ideas from others on the pros and cons of her current world.

Sometimes she would pick it up the next evening and remark on a newsworthy issue, or a column that was written about the current state of affairs. She looked at all angles trying to understand the complex world she lived in on a remote island in Lake Michigan…without todays light speed social media. She would bring up the pro’s and con’s of a issue, challenge us to look at ‘both sides of the coin”. ..and not judge others who viewed things differently.


She and her generation never wandered from what was civil and respectful….and they had differences back then. No one burned up the phone line, texted, or posted on facebook. They talked, debated, and choose to respect civility and differences.

The paper helped guide her to reflect, pause and pass information on. This “ink” of critical thinking was important to her. She used this tool to guide us in issues and how to think critically and look at all angles

After she was done the paper was discarded in the pile close to the door to be sent out. That paper served many other uses.

We used it to wrap fish in our backyard for sale. Years ago my parents set a sign out in the front yard “Fish for sale” and had an old cooler in the back of the house to keep the fish cold, with a scale and paper. People would wander to the pack yard and I would grab a stool with my brothers to put the fish up on the scale to be weighed and sold. We would wrap it in newspaper and put in a bag bringing the money into mom in the house.

Imagine the word of the day wrapped in smoked fish severing another purpose? Was it about Nixon, or Watergate or the war in Vietnam? Or what was good..I wouldn’t know…to young to care and just wanted to get back and play and make mud pies around the corner.

In the fall we would pick apples for cider, and wrap some with newspapers to put in the root cellar and keep for cold winter days to bring up for pies and eating. …. Information was wrapped. ....opinions stored, and held for another time . ….all with civility and respect.

Our wood stove would lose its glowing embers on a cold winter morning and we would grab paper and kindling to light a fire to warm the house in the morning.

Opinions would burn in the early morning fire , the information lost, but the process of exploring was honored and respected.

We are a nation that come from a generation that foster civility and respect. It is my hope we continue to read our “newspaper” of opinions of life… but respect others who are not on our page.

That is the hardest part.

This year has been a difficult year for the written and verbal word.

I think our parents’ generation would not want us to wrap others who think differently in smoked fish, or build a fire, but just reflect within civility…challenge each other to explore and learn and above all else.

Most of all we need to hold a high standard that our president elect is always civil, and not disrespectful of any people or race, gender etc…because paper is used for a lot of things.......