Newspapers tie past to present

May 14, 2011|Meg Partington

I love to clean.

I've been a neat-nik since I was a little girl, when I took great pleasure in keeping my bedroom spotless. I suppose that's an incredibly uncool confession to make.

As an adult, scouring baseboards and tackling grime have become great stress relievers.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning at home. It's a rite of seasonal passage, ridding the windowsills of months' worth of winter dirt buildup and tossing the bodies of dead stink bugs outside. The process also yields some unexpected treasures.

Cleaning out the attic, which I do once or twice a year, always sends me down memory lane.

I recently gave away the board books and potty-training aids I'd been holding on to "just in case." They're now tucked safely in the home of a co-worker who's at the beginning stages of parenting.

There are some things, however, with which even this self-proclaimed unclutterbug will not part.

I have kept every card that was given to my husband and I after our son was born, as well as every card my husband and son have ever given me. Even a recycling maven such as me can't add those to the mixed-paper bin.

There's all of the clarinet music I've ever played, from fifth grade to long past college. It creates a timeline of my life and provides hope that someday, I will be able to invest time in that passion again.   

All this talk of the past and present co-existing brings me to the unique role that newspapers play in our world. They have the ability to live in both time zones.

Almost every day, we run Today in History in the pages of The Herald-Mail. People love to reflect on what happened each day centuries, decades, even a year ago, and we really hear some griping when we don't have room for those historical nuggets in the newspaper.

Those who want to use The Herald-Mail for research can do so online. The last two months' worth of stories can be found at and you can slip back in time as far as 1997 at

We keep you up-to-date on the present every day — in print and online — with news from around the Tri-State area, the nation and the world. Much is generated by our reporters; some is submitted to us from businesses, organizations, schools, churches and other members of the general public; and some is provided to us by The Associated Press and other news agencies.

We can even help you peek into the future by telling you about upcoming events in TheCalendar, which runs Sunday through Friday in print and can be found online anytime at Our news pages also are full of information about meetings that are open to the public and other gatherings of interest.

I've been nudging my husband to clean out from that attic of ours all of the yellowed newspapers and photocopies of stories he wrote in his first career as a sportswriter. The practical, neat-freak side of me sees them as a fire hazard and unnecessary clutter.

But the nostalgic print journalist in me isn't pushing as hard as I might about ridding our house of such things — not like I do about holey T-shirts and underwear — because they're a tip of the pen to the past, without which news would have no future.

Meg H. Partington is assistant city editor of The Herald-Mail. She can be reached Sunday through Tuesday at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or by email at

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