Let me to tell you a story. All stories are true, and some even happened. This is both.
Something fiercely serious is happening to this Gothic cathedral which has housed the Chicago Tribune since the same 1923 my parents were married. Their wedding announcement appeared in its editions; more than that, their education appears to have begun about that same time.
With only 6th grade schooling, their daily Tribune became their daily textbook. Scanning its pages helped them master the language, connect with the city, discover the arts, and take their sons’ education to heart. The image that crowds my memory is the enormously thick Sunday editions laid out carefully on the parlor room floor after church.
Front pages with headlines of Sacco & Vanzetti, Lindbergh, Capone, FDR, Pearl Harbor. Business pages tracking the Dow, the Crash, the Bread Lines. Sports with the Babe, DiMaggio, Red Grange. But most of all the Arts they couldn’t always afford, but the Tribune brought into their home for only pennies a day.
Oh yes, all that is still available. Now their sons’ sons get it fingertip fast wherever and whenever they are. Still, it’s not the same. It will never be the same. The sons’ of the sons can never really understand. Fast is not always best; more is not always better. They can never become the adults our generation of parents became if for no other reason than they can never again be sure of the source.
In this age of gate-less nameless sources, they will be obliged to face the headwinds without the ground solid under them. The solidity that was the Tribune in Chicago since 1847. I’m guessing there will be whispers wafting through the Tower’s new condos and offices. I’d like to believe the residents will occasionally listen to them. My parents did; to my recurring gratitude.
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