Tales from the Tip

Dan’s Newsline® Testimonial

Friends and colleagues, I am very excited about our new blog. Because of my long-standing commitment to our NFB Newsline program, sponsored here in Georgia by the Public Service Commission, I thought I would post an article here which came across my desk from Colorado.

Like the author of this article, Dan Burke, I have always had a love of newspapers. I know that many of you do as well. When we are asked about our long-standing, strong commitment to NFB Newsline? We can point folks to the dramatic and heartfelt story I have chosen to post below. Although the author provides greater detail about his love of NFB Newsline than we usually receive from readers of our Georgia NFB Newsline Service, the passion and appreciation we so often hear from readers is equal to the story Dan tells.

NFB Newsline® is an accessible newspaper and magazine delivery service open to blind and others with barriers to reading print. Developed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), it also receives support for some publications from the National Library Service for the Blind and is free to all its eligible subscribers.

Here is Dan’s reminiscence:

“One of my guilty pleasures is reading the Sunday Denver Post. It’s a nearly-lifelong indulgence that is now enabled by NFB Newsline®.

Though I lived in Montana for over 30 years and joined the Federation there, I grew up in Loveland, Colorado. That’s where the Sunday habit of the Denver Post began with my Dad’s dramatized reading of the funnies – the excitingly colored comics that came in their own dedicated section as though just for my siblings and I as we piled on and around him on the couch after church. In a modulated voicing perhaps influenced by the radio-only entertainment of his own growing-up years in Depression-era South Dakota, he read and riffed on Beetle Bailey, Blondie and Dagwood, Dick “The Stick” Tracy (in his rendition), and Snuffy Smith.

I was able to struggle through the paper into my late teens, so before long I didn’t have to wait till my Dad could be corralled on the couch to read to us, but I could read them for myself. The Sunday funny papers were the gateway drug to reading the Post on Sunday.

Next came the other special Sunday sections – the TV listings in the Roundup, Empire magazine, and ultimately the hard stuff – Oliphant’s political cartoons, the front pages and the op-ed pages. I became a fifth grade news junkie. I was, for example, the only 11-year-old in my class in early 1968 that knew that Richard Nixon, then seeking the Republican nomination for President, had run against JFK in 1960 and, with the entry that spring of Bobby Kennedy into the Democratic primaries, an historic rematch of sorts might be in the offing for the November election.

Not long after, I actually delivered the Denver Post for a time, and the Sunday delivery was truly epic. Sunday-only subscribers more than doubled the number of papers to deliver (the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald had no Sunday edition in those days), and the physical size of the paper was enormous – the size of a healthy Yule log and almost as dense. It was delivered to news carriers in three separate bundles – first the Classified section Saturday afternoon, and then the funnies and other special Sunday magazines and ads, and finally the Sunday news and sports sections. These all had to be inserted one into another before rolling the paper in half and rubber-banding it.

The route was large – too large – and would soon be split as the subdivision north of 29th Street continued to sprout new houses monthly. Kneeling on the garage floor to stuff the three sections into one and roll them, my hands and the thighs of my jeans would soon be plack with newsprint, and the stack of Sunday papers approaching the size of a half cord of firewood when I finished.

In those days, paperboys usually delivered from a bike or on foot, their papers loaded in a large canvas carrier’s bag. Sunday was just too big for that. I could only carry about a dozen to twenty Sunday Denver Posts in my delivery bag, compared to the entire route of 60 or so papers of the daily run. The one time I tried this with the bag wound around the handlebars of my hand-painted one-speed, it took me hours as I returned home time and again to refill the bag and head out to resume deliveries.

From then on I loaded the papers into the trunk of our ’62 Rambler Classic, which Dad backed into the driveway Saturday night. When the trunk filled I stacked them on the back seat and floor of the 4-door. I hired both of my younger brothers, and with Dad driving slowly through the sleepy streets, we trotted back and forth to the car for reloads and then worked our way up and down street after street.

By the time I was in college the print was too small for me to read much of the paper. Later I moved to Montana and sometimes read portions of the Sunday papers using a CCTV, but that was a dwindling return for my investment, and the pleasure of the Sunday paper became just a nagging void each week.

But we are the National Federation of the Blind, and it isn’t our way to dwell on the things that blindness prevents us from doing or enjoying – we figure out ways to do and enjoy those things that our sighted peers do and enjoy. Enter NFB Newsline®.

When Newsline finally came to Montana in 2002 the newspaper famine for the blind ended. Yes, there were the two Montana papers, including the Missoulian, but also soon other treats – the New Yorker and the Denver Post. It would prove to be the end of the LAN line era, true, but I still bought a ten-dollar speaker phone at one of the sprawling mega-stores for the sole purpose of sitting beside it with a cup of coffee and reading the papers on Newsline. It wasn’t long before the Sunday Denver Post became part of my regular reading list again.

I guess it just proves that an addict is always one hit away from relapse.

Nowadays the Sunday Denver Post isn’t nearly as large as in the old days … or maybe that’s just the difference in perspectives between childhood and adulthood. Nonetheless, it’s still substantial and the Sunday paper is still a shared thing at our house. I like to read Newsline on my laptop, using the clean web interface. Often Julie and I read things together, sports articles on the Broncos or Rockies, Ask Amy (like folksinger John Prine I regularly read Dear Abby) and any other items of interest.

I have a routine with the Sunday Post. There’s no more Empire Magazine, though NFB Newsline does feature the weekly Sunday supplement Parade, but I have never found it interesting. Instead, I go right to the Book section, which is where I first read about the late Denver writer, Gary Reilly and the launching of his Asphalt Warrior series of comic novels. (The first book of the series was recorded by the Colorado Talking Book Library, and was its first book to be accepted on BARD – DBC00656).

Next, I read the Arts section. From there, what I read and in what order is more a matter of whimsy – I might start on the front page and Local sections, or the sports section. Finally, I might poke through some of the other sections for anything of interest.

Of course, it’s the year 2015, so I am alerted to a good deal of the news I consume via social media. I follow a couple of reporters for the Denver Post and public radio, and still follow reporters and bloggers from Montana. But you know, for fast and efficient access to the news, nothing beats NFB Newsline’s web interface or the nimble mobile apps for getting my news fix. In fact, I love the iPhone app on workday mornings, when my newspaper reading is understandably more rushed.

Sunday though, that’s a lock. I’ll be logging in on NFB Newsline® to read the Denver Post!”

Well Dan, as for me, it is the Sports section of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Til next time…this has been another Tale from the Tip.