I love how newspapers turn yellow over time. The paper feels crisper, thinner, more delicate to the touch. It’s as if the stories, now memories, remind us they are delicate too, marking a time that passed that should be preserved with care.
Today, cleaning out boxes, I stumbled upon a January 6, 1983, Waterloo Courier, from my rural Wisconsin farm town. I kept it because I made the front page for getting my poem published when I was fifteen.
Poetry and publishing aside, and my 1983 stripped sweater and feathered hair, I enjoyed paging through the relic. Newspapers not only hold stories that become historical but display and classified ads become time capsules as a way of life and the cost of living. Here we go:
1983 ads from the .25 cent Waterloo Courier:
Milk = $1.63/gallon
Twelve-pack of Pabst beer = $7.15 at Fuzzy’s Liquor
Two-bedroom house with garage and full basement = $310/month
Prime rib at the local steakhouse = $9.95
Mode movie theater, where I saw An Officer and a Gentleman. Per the ad: under 12 get in for $1.50, adults $1.75. It was rated R, but I remember going.
See, in a town of two-thousand-people and being a teenager, and not much to do in the dead of winter, except skate on frozen ponds, listen to music and apparently write poetry, I do recall my parents letting me see R rated films. I’m sure their goal was to get me out of the house. Besides, at that time, R rated movies were not infested with intense violence, gore, and disturbing images. I regress. Back to the poetry and newspapers.
While I cannot recall the muse behind my poem, “My Crime Just Done” (things get fuzzy when you get older, just like that liquor store), I’m sure on my mind, as for any fifteen-year-old, was rebellion from my parents. However, I wasn’t the rebellious type, so I wrote about it. And with honor, got published for it.
Now as an adult, free as a bird, what I wouldn’t do to jump back to January 1983, and enjoy the local prime rib with my parents on a Saturday night at Park Place Steak House. That restaurant is long gone, and sadly are both my parents, but the memories live on as does my poem, in a frail, yellowed newspaper called Waterloo Courier.
My Crime Just Done by a young Laurie Markvart
Run like the wind,
Preserved for me.
I hide my shining smile,
I respond, my crime done.
Wind in my hair,
Value here today,
Scented air tomorrow.
The crime I’ve done,
Beyond in time.
Suddenly I stare.
Gleaming around me.
The crime is done,
As I am gone,
Backfire over me.
Looking back, It is today.
The crime cheated,
I lost glory.
Walk like the wind.
Taken and blown away from me.
My burning smile,
Is clearly seen.
I respond, my crime just begun.