Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 2, 2013

Hooked on the daily newspaper, humbled by reader appreciation

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — I was on kind of a tight leash a week ago on Wednesday when I drove down to Iaeger to cover a visit by Bill Thien, national commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Thien was visiting VFW Post 1144 in Iaeger. Going up there at night reminded me of the evening Phil Farmer and I drove to Iaeger High School to see the West Virginia University Percussion Ensemble in the fall of 1986. Sgt. James Muncy of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department alerted us to the visit several weeks prior to the date and sent out a few reminders. Things being busy in the newspapering business these days, we rarely have time for long drives to cover events. But I think all of us realized how important this visit was to Sgt. Muncy and the post, so I went and stayed as long as I could.

After I spoke to Commander Thien, and while most of the post members were enjoying pizza, sub sandwiches and more, I was watching my watch, calculating the travel time back to Bluefield and thinking about the other things on my plate for that evening. As I was doing that, a gentleman walked over to be, introduced himself as Pastor Bob Blevins from a church in Bradshaw, and thanked me for the things I write in the paper. I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to do in life is to receive a compliment. It humbles me so much. It reminds me why I work so hard. Pastor Blevins said he wanted to meet me just so he could tell me how much he appreciated my writings.

A few minutes later when I realized I was on the outer limits of my available time — life with a daily deadline teaches you when to walk and when to run — I ducked out of the meeting, and told one the VFW members, Marion Deskins, how much I enjoyed my all-too-brief visit. He responded that he knew me from my columns, and that he also drove tractor trailer for a while, and my columns brought back fond memories to him. He also said he enjoyed the late Jim Terry’s columns, as well as the columns of Samantha Perry, Charles Owens and others. He said he enjoyed reading them all.

All I could think was: One, I don’t make it to Bradshaw or Iaeger often enough to deserve any acknowledgment from people there; and two, I thought we weren’t even delivering papers in those communities. During my brief stay in circulation a few years back, I knew it was hard, hard, hard to find carriers down there. To me, delivering papers is one of the most challenging aspects of what we do.

The Daily Telegraph published a photograph I took of men working with a concrete mixer truck to pour a curb in the fall of 1983, and the Associated Press sent me a check for $10 because they picked the photo up and ran it on the AP wire. That was more than 40 years ago, and I still can’t believe that I have been blessed to be at a point where I earn my living by telling stories and taking pictures.

I still get excited when I open my front door to find my newspaper on the porch — waiting for me to bring it inside to the kitchen table so my wife and I can catch up on the news. I know that the news isn’t always perfect. I know those of us who write the stories and take the pictures aren’t perfect either. I think my newspaper carrier, Sue Stamper, is as dedicated as any carrier I’ve ever known, but I also know that circumstances beyond her control can adversely impact the process. Regardless of the weather, she still does her best.

 Earlier this year, my wife and I tried to go without the paper for a short time. On the days I work, I could get a copy of the paper, bring it home at night and pretend like I was reading yesterday’s paper as though it was today’s. It didn’t hurt my wife’s crosswords or my horoscopes, but everything else started to unravel. I discovered that I am hooked on my daily newspaper, and no amount of Internet or broadcast television access can change that fact.

I usually try to write a column at the first of December to say how much I appreciate my newspaper carrier. One of sad things is that often when I have written these columns, we have experienced heavy snowstorms that have made the work of our newspaper carriers so much more challenging. Still, I am amazed that on Dec. 2, 2013,  when this column appears in the paper, someone in Bradshaw and someone in Sandy Huff might read these words.

The reason that I am humbled by kind words is because I know how hard everyone here works each day to get the next day’s newspaper in your hands. I see my part as rather small in comparison to the Herculean task that everyone who works here accomplishes every day to get my newspaper on my front porch. I think of my daily newspaper as a miracle, and I’ve only supplied information for this daily newspaper during 40 years of its incredible run that will enter its 118th year on Jan. 16, 2014. Hash tag: Please consider your carrier this season.

Bill Archer is senior editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at