Hoosier newspaper columnist wants columnists’ work to be remembered
By Dawn Pearson
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there were newspapers that informed people with the local news, and they were delivered by kids on bikes tossing them onto front porches across America, and the paper’s columnists made people laugh, cry or take a stand.
Where is the great American newspaper today? Online, on your tablets and delivered to your smart phone – not little kids peddling down Main Street in a hurry to get to baseball practice.
For retired, old-school columnist Garret Mathews of Carmel the changes are saddening.
“The newspaper will be gone,” he said. “It will vanish forever very soon.”
So he turned his fears into words to help document what newspapers once were, and the result was not a column but a book instead.
“Back in the day, the sort of column I wrote was routinely found in middle-sized papers. Its author made you laugh, stirred your emotions and introduced you to an assortment of characters you would have never met otherwise,” Mathews said. “In my case, this meant Appalachian snake-handlers, a 91-year-old woman who wouldn’t stop bootlegging whiskey and a young man who got paid for being mosquito bait.”
He feels that after the last newspaper is printed, waves of nostalgia will wash over the land. And once-upon-a-time columnists might become point-persons for the queries of the curious.
His new book is titled “Columnists: While We’re Still Around,” and by compiling it he’s hoping to provide a safe haven for the columns of more than two dozen men and women of similar mind who entertain (or entertained) countless readers with their prose.”
“I don’t want them to be forgotten either. If these folks don’t have access to a skyscraper and an open window, they can use mine,” he said. “It’s my tribute to our wonderful profession that, sadly, is on death watch.”
The idea is to enjoy their work – while they’re still around.
“Soon, I fear, column-writing for newspapers will exist only in yellowed clippings from yesteryear,” he said.
The book sells for $25, a price that includes postage. The address for orders is: Garret Mathews, 1054 2nd Ave. NW, Carmel, IN 46032.
For more information visit www.columnists-stillaround.com.