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Sunday, Sweet Sunday

I’ve never been one for sentimentality or its fraternal twin, nostalgia. I’m a firm believer that the good old days were never all that good.

Boomers tend to remember Davy Crockett hats, “Leave it to Beaver,” and how well-scrubbed and obedient children (allegedly) were in the 1950s while forgetting how their entire generation suffered through constant fear of being nuked to a crisp (“Duck and cover,” as if that would help anybody).

Eighties kids no doubt miss big hair, big metal, and MTV “when it was the real thing” while glossing over the AIDS epidemic.

Children of the seventies? Well, can anybody really get sentimental about disco? But some manage, despite the fact that the seventies were also the decade of stagflation, gas shortages, Richard Nixon, the endless Vietnam war, and a burgeoning drug crisis.

And of course none of this fuzzy sentimentality is new with us. Once when I was youngish I saw an ad for a dance party directed at members of the so-called “greatest generation” — the poor souls who grew up under the Great Depression, then got sent off to world war or stayed at home and horded bacon grease, tinfoil, sugar, gasoline, and ration cards. The ad invited them to “return to the carefree days of the 1940s.” Huh?

Nope, there were no good old days. When we look closely there’s always a very large, diseased fly swimming in even the sweetest ointment time has to offer.

That said, there are little rituals of the past, small things that bonded families and communities together, that might have been worth preserving.

Off the top of my head, some of those bonding rituals included:

  • The 19th-century Chautauquas that brought communities together in intellectual exploration.
  • The town bands and bandstands that brought neighbors out for picnics on sultry summer evenings.
  • Family gatherings around radios — radios that conveyed gripping stories and news-from-the-source as well as live and recorded music for all. (Whose loss even the unsentimental musicians of Queen mourned in the 1980s as they watched MTV and commercial music radio become the new reality.)
  • Company picnics.
  • Front porches and evening strolls.

In short, connections. Connections with real people at slow speed.


One of these little rituals of connection was reading the Sunday newspaper. Sunday newspapers were so big and came in so many pieces (opinion, lifestyle, front page, funny papers, children’s pages, arts, local news & features) that reading them solo never seemed quite right.

Couples traded sections of the Sunday paper as they nestled in bed or in front of a fire. Old men shared sections in urban coffee houses or around pot-bellied stoves in creaky rural stores. Housewives clipped articles and discussed them with their friends during the week. Parents got first dibs, then passed everything onward to children. Library patrons came in on Monday and scattered shared newspaper sections to the winds.

Sunday newspaper sections adorned college cafeterias and common areas. They scattered across tables in company break rooms. They got shoved into crannies at train depots, were read by bored telephone operators, and generally got shredded from use before ending up in a fireplace or as fishwrap. Then next Sunday’s paper would come around and the cycle would begin all over again. The Sunday papers were everywhere, and everywhere they were, they were shared. And shared slowly.


Now, I am under no illusions that the content of those Sunday papers was superior to what we get on the Internet.

The Internet contains the whole world, if we care to find it, while the Sunday (and Monday and Tuesday et al.) paper contained only what a handful of mucky-mucks and their minions thought we should know.

Sure, newspaper articles tended to have more details than the average brief and incomprehensible “news” article offered by Fox or the longer but not-even-in-the-real-world writings of today’s online Atlantic or Vox. But the details were usually just as howlingly inaccurate and even more carefully managed to deceive or misdirect the masses.

News aside, though, all those other very slowly shared sections, from lifestyle to the funnies, gave us little rituals to connect with our loved ones, our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends, and even casual acquaintances at the bus stop.

Quality of the contents notwithstanding, that was worth something. Something very different than posting a URL on Twitter or even texting a newslink to a friend.


Which brings me to The Epoch Times.

Not the gently conservative and ardently anti-communist version you can read online. But the actual, physical, multi-section, printed-on-newsprint newspaper you can have sent to your actual, physical mailbox once a week. It probably won’t come on Sunday, but whenever it arrives it’s worth saving until one of those lazy dazy days.

Last year you may have gotten a free copy or two as a promotion. I did. A newspaper? I thought. Somebody’s actually trying to sell a physical newspaper in this day and age?

The “somebody” in case you’re interested, is the Falun Gong (I have since learned). But to my surprise I was charmed with the enterprise, and with the paper itself. Besides news and opinion, it covered arts and culture, well-being and longevity, spirituality, advances in science, feelgood stories, and not-so-feelgood stories. They even have a page dedicated to analyzing a particular (always representational) work of art and why that artwork matters.

I’d have subscribed, but at $39 for 13 issues (and slightly more now), it was a bit rich for my hermit-blogger budget.

Then two weeks ago, on a freezing Sunday morning, Rhett and I were sitting in cozy chairs in front of a blazing fire, drinking hot buttered rums and staring at our computers. We turned to each other and said, “This doesn’t feel right, does it? Didn’t it feel more healthy back in the day we’d have been sharing paper pages and talking about what we were reading?”

I told him about those paper copies of The Epoch Times. He subscribed, and shortly thereafter the first one arrived in our mailbox.

We saved that copy for the next Sunday, traded sections in bed, started working the sudokus and crossword puzzles, and you know, it did feel better. Much better than staring at screens — which we still do, but not so much on those beautiful Sundays.

Only one thing: I’d forgotten how clunky those giant paper pages are to hold and fold. Yegads. What a nuisance. But otherwise … yeah, it was nice.


Now, I’m sure there are still newspapers out there that do offer an experience similar to what the bold souls of The Epoch Times are trying to do by introducing a new newspaper at a time of dying print. Surely the biggies — the NYT and suchlike — still provide lazy Sunday delights. But who wants to support the NYT or most other traditional “big” papers these days?

I’m not advertising The Epoch Times, which may not be to your taste. And required disclaimer: I have no financial interest here. The WSJ or Christian Science Monitor— now a weekly magazine rather than a daily paper — might give you a similar experience. (And the CSM, like TET, is the work of a religious fringe while rigorously not shoving dogma into readers’ eyeballs.)

But I do think TET is a good paper for people tired of relentless journalistic “wokeness” and weary of glowing screens. With its back-section emphasis on deeper (non-denominational) spiritual, physical, and cultural joys, I find — for the first time in years — that I’m feeling calmer and more focused instead of more frazzled and screen-blinded while reading the news. And that calmness passes between the two of us as we share that classic experience.

It is a truly lovely, refreshing, and healthy feeling.

So maybe The Epoch Times isn’t for you. Maybe reading classic books to each other or having your own domestic Chautauqua or simply conversing is all you need.

But if you’ve been feeling as if you need to free yourself from screaming screens, and relentless demands to pay attention to the NOW (but find yourself drawn back to them over and over, having nothing else to focus on during quiet times) I really can recommend either The Epoch Times or some other physical, intellectual means of low-pressure sharing that’s right there when you need it.

Pleasant, slow sharing with those you love, or even those you value and want to connect with in a deeper way.


BTW the title of this post is taken from a number in Rogers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song that, looking back on it for the first time in decades, contains as much political incorrectness as any eight minutes I’ve ever seen on film.


  1. Granny
    Granny January 31, 2022 3:28 pm

    Good for you!! Every morning I let the dogs out, fix the coffee, and read just a couple of articles on the computer. Unless of course, Claire is blogging! That’s just enough and not too much. Then, it’s outside, rain, shine, or sleet, to break up ice in the animal waterers, pour in hot water, cart out feed, unlock the chicken coops, feed the baby goats, feed the dogs, and it’s off to the races on my daily To Do or Die list. I love the balance of it. I love that I have to get outside because the animals will die without me. Yeah, I’m important to them. Later in the day, I might put my feet up and read for an hour from one of several books I’m working through, just enough of a rest to get up and keep going. I read a wide variety of books. I don’t do social media because it’s a time sink for me. I fully respect the idea of cuddling up with “the paper”. I used to sneak away with the Wall Street Journal if I could get my dad to let go of it. And when I grew up, I’d get a copy out of the newspaper machine in the airport as I dashed away on business trips. I coveted those long plane rides reading “the paper”. It was a treat, as you say. Very nice Claire!

  2. Fred M
    Fred M January 31, 2022 4:58 pm

    We tend to reminisce and hold dear the good things in our lives. The good Lord has blessed us with the ability to place the bad things into closed corners. One of my favorite memories is my Dad reading the Sunday New York Times…I think from cover to cover.while he was listening to classical music. 😎 I also remember the comics, a whole section on all the doings of the many and various comic characters. Some were like a serial you saw in the movies; having to wait for the next episode to find out if they got themselves out of the trouble they were in. What made those years special (before the electronic age of cell phones and computers) was that the print media and the radio challenged your imagination and opened a whole new universe to your mind.which we eagerly embraced. That’s another reason why we talk about “the good old days”. Thanks Claire and Rhett for a good blog about about a time when things didn’t always go right, but are remembered and cherished.

  3. Kurt
    Kurt January 31, 2022 6:08 pm

    Personally, I require a physical newspaper. I have subscribed to the local USA Today variant, which is pretty anemic most days, but they do religiously have good articles on the local/State candidates for elections, which I greatly appreciate. Of course, the intellectual section (comics plus bridge column) get most of my attention.

    I supplement with the WSJ, which is hideously expensive, but worth it for their reviews of books and movies, plus the always more-than-readable Dan Neil, even though he’s gone all in for electric vehicles. And, occasionally their opinion pieces from guest/regular authors.

    I don’t read newspapers online, so my WSJ is normally 2, 3 or 4 days behind because they’ve recently changed to delivery by snailmail – but that’s OK, as what I care about isn’t the up-to-the-moment coverage of news.


  4. Just Waiting
    Just Waiting January 31, 2022 6:53 pm

    First, every single problem and social issue in the last 45 years can be tied to disco in 5 steps or less. Try it, it’s a fun family game. “Well at Studio 54…” is kinda like having to drop the Hitler bomb and usually ends the round. For beginners its ok to mention the BeeGees (think of them as the 2 of Clubs), but keep this in mind when tallying the score,

    But I digress. Some of my earliest memories are of the Sunday papers. When church got out I walked across the street with Dad and got a NY Times and Newark Star Ledger from Hal who owned the newsstand/candy shop across the street. I felt “big” when I got to go get them solo. Hal was the first person I ever saw with a tattoo, it was the set of numbers the Nazis put on his forearm. I found out later both of Stevie’s grandfathers had the same tattoos.

    I think I learned to read on the funny pages.

    Before we moved, C and I kept the tradition alive. When we were working, a good chunk of every Sunday was spent in front of the fire or out by the pond reading and discussing the Times and the Ledger. I started on the Sunday Magazine crossword in the Times when I was younger, and its still a passion today. I thought I’d be done when we moved cross country, but my local library gets the Sunday Times, usually by Thursday, and they make copies of the puzzles for all who want them.

    I’m happy to get them for free, because I wouldn’t pay for that rag now to get them.

  5. Warren Bluhm
    Warren Bluhm January 31, 2022 6:59 pm

    We have subscribed to The Epoch Times print version for more than a year, and our experience is the same as yours. We also get the local daily paper, which we digest in about 10 minutes and, after I zip through the crossword, goes into the recycling bin. The Times sits on the kitchen counter for a week, ready for those minutes and hours when we want to dig deeper without the aid of an LED screen.

    I knew its origins were opposed to the CCP and that editorial skew is clear; I didn’t know about the Falun Gong connection but in hindsight it should have been obvious. All journalism has a point of view, so I don’t mind the bias. What grates is when biased journalists claim to be objective reporters of “the facts.”

  6. Val E. Forge
    Val E. Forge January 31, 2022 7:51 pm

    I remember my dad getting The Los Angeles Times and unfiltered Camel cigarettes at the corner U – Tote – Em convenience store. He used to tell the storekeeper, “Gimme a pack of Camels and a pack of lies.”

  7. stevefromMA
    stevefromMA January 31, 2022 8:18 pm

    Interesting memories. I delivered Grit the Weekly Newspaper, kind of a forerunner of USA today, for a few months as a teen. Almost no one has ever heard of it. No one else here mentioned the noble paper boy on his first job, braving rotten weather to faithfully deliver the awaited goods, a tragic loss for our teens IMO.

    We currently subscribe to the Boston Globe, our local town paper, and the w/e WSJ, which has many of the positives noted above but is much cheaper and still has plenty to read. Also can see how the upper 1% lives. I can’t read papers online, just essays, and I mourn the dinosaur nature of the papers these days. They did bring a sense of community in anumber of ways that will never be repeated.

  8. Toirdhealbheach Beucail
    Toirdhealbheach Beucail January 31, 2022 8:26 pm

    Claire, up to late last year, passing around the paper was a tradition my parents continued. They only got the local newspaper which came out two days a week (after being handily recycled by my Uncle reading it first) and would pass it back on forth. In a way, especially near the end of their time there, it was a piece of their hometown that they could know and understand as they got their local piece of news. As my father often commented, they mostly read it to see who they had known had died – as did my grandfather, once upon a time.

    I would 100% concur that slow connections with people are a dying institution. We measure our time out by where we should be and what we think we should be doing. Sharing too often is contained to passing screens back and forth.

    We are so much a society of people that do, not people that are.

  9. stryderoftheuplands
    stryderoftheuplands February 1, 2022 7:09 am

    Ahh, yes, the Paper! We’d get it and first I’d read the comics, my priorities are fine, then it was Miss Manners and Dear Abby , then to the front page and the Opinion page. Sometimes I’d read the classifieds. Of course that was our local paper so it mattered to us. We’d read Readers Digest and The Grit for fun. Since it was our local paper we read, mostly, it cemented those connections of which you wrote. I still believe in community and as long as I know my neighbors, I have hope for the future.

  10. Comrade X
    Comrade X February 1, 2022 11:39 am

    My better half subscribes to the The Epoch Times and I have to admit they do seem to be on the cutting edge of many things.

    I’m a big fan of books, classics to be honest like Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain.

    In the day I also looked forward to the Sunday paper when I lived in the DC area, the Washington Post and then I went directly to Doonesbury but something happened to me after I started watching South Park……

  11. John Wilder
    John Wilder February 1, 2022 8:56 pm

    Something wonderful about fresh newspaper in the morning with coffee . . . .

  12. larryarnold
    larryarnold February 2, 2022 3:29 pm

    My wife just retired after 40 years of award-winning old-school journalism, the most recent 16 years for our local weekly. I still write for it, but my reading is when I get to edit 20-plus pages for four or five hours, so it’s not as much fun. It’s still a great paper, with only local news and sports. (No AP and such.) We regularly get complements, and our circulation rivals the older “daily” paper, which has been reduced to three days a week and smaller format.

    I grew up when San Antonio had two major daily papers, and they had different slants. Sometime in the 70s or 80s they went AP and pretty soon the major difference was which comics they had. Then one ate the other. I still occasionally see one somewhere and remember why I don’t subscribe.

  13. WalterPlinge
    WalterPlinge February 2, 2022 10:13 pm

    I remember from Sundays long past while still living at home, it was winter. Father had returned from the bakery with bagels and hard rolls and the newspaper. I was chewing on a cream cheese smeared delight, lying on the living room floor reading the once respectable NYT, my feet very close to the fireplace resting on the hearth. That particular morning, my socks were smoking and almost caught fire. I do not think it was because I was reading anything particularly incendiary from a literary standpoint, as it wasn’t the tabloid it has since morphed into. Now I would consign it for use to ignite the kindling and nothing more. The past is now just smoldering embers wafting away, once dancing flames of delight and heart felt warmth. The good old days of yore.

  14. a follower
    a follower February 3, 2022 3:39 am

    Digital Prisons?

  15. Toirdhealbheach Beucail
    Toirdhealbheach Beucail February 3, 2022 4:31 pm

    @ LarryArnold – I, too, remember the days where large urban areas had two (or more!) papers. Outside of New York City, I wonder if that is true of anywhere anymore.

  16. larryarnold
    larryarnold February 4, 2022 12:16 pm

    Toirdhealbheach Beucail: I’d guess there are a lot of smaller towns (too small for a local TV station) that have weekly newspapers. Where I live, we have two, covering the east and west ends of our rural county. They tend to focus completely on local news, including city, county, school districts, etc. Our “daily,” which has cut back to three a week, still “covers” Associated Press, etc. Our “local” TV comes out of San Antonio, which covers anything sensational.

    A lot of that may be because a bunch of our local folks are retirement age, and many don’t do social media.

  17. lon
    lon February 5, 2022 4:44 am

    A new term (to me) came up the other day, in regards to money but it has more implications then just that.
    Digital prison!

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