Do you remember when everyone read the newspaper? When I was a paper carrier, almost every house on my two and a half block route took both daily and Sunday Vindicator, with a few exceptions. I don’t know what the paper reading habits were for all my customers but I know what they were in our house.
Dad was the one who looked at the news–the economy, the arms race with Russia, the war in Vietnam. He also liked the columns on Mill Creek Park written by Lindley Vickers, and for a time I kept a scrap book of these. My mom would read the society pages, the legal news (who was getting married and divorced was of special interest) the obits, and both of our moms would work the crosswords and read Heloise’s hints and Ann Landers. When I was young, I would try to get to the paper before mom to read my favorite comics, which were on the same page then as the crosswords. When I was older I read the sports page, particularly during the period that I was an avid baseball fan when I would follow not only the standings but batting averages, ERAs, and more.
Like the steel industry, the Vindicator has its own unions. And there have been strikes. The one I remember was in 1964 and lasted eight months. Striking workers published their own paper, The Steel Valley Times during this strike. There was also a more recent strike in 2004, also resulting in a striker-published paper, The Valley Voice.
I carried the Vindicator for several years, from 1967 to 1970. I delivered papers headlining the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the news of the first men to land on the moon. I followed the news of the Vietnam war, hoping it would end before it would be my turn to be drafted. Walking up Oakwood hill to my route, I read of the deaths of rock icon Jimi Hendrix, and Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield.
Later on, when I started dating, my favorite section became the theater section as my friends and I decided on which movies to go see each weekend. After college graduation my interactions with the Vindicator decreased. Our engagement and wedding were announced in the Society section. And we had the sad duties of writing our parents obituaries, the last of these in 2012.
So much of today’s news media is extremely partisan. Editorially, the Vindicator reflected its somewhat conservative ownership by the Maag family. But this did not seem to influence the news coverage, which by today’s standards seemed far more neutral and even-handed.
I think for many of us, our perspective growing up didn’t extend much beyond the Mahoning Valley. The Vindicator reminded us of the bigger world out there, and if we would listen, the movements and trends in trade and manufacturing that would shape the Valley. I still follow stories in the Vindy via my Twitter account. A part of me will always be in the Mahoning Valley. I’m glad the Vindicator is still going strong.
What are some of your memories of the Vindicator?
[Want to read other posts in the “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown” series? Just click on “On Youngstown” here or on the menu!]