It used to be considered bad form to compliment someone to his or her face.
Better the person being complimented discover your words from a third party. Thank God that rule is largely in abeyance these days because this is the only place my compliment can reach those it needs to reach — the readers of the Independent, for I believe many of them do not know what a superb community paper they hold in their hands each week.
I, too, was one of those people who tried to make it from the front page to the back page in under five minutes. No more, for there are treasures here you cannot find in the “finest” big-city newspapers in the country. But they are here in the Independent.
The latest thing that made me set my paper down so I could clap my hands — never mind I was alone at the time — was Tom Patterson’s guest commentary in the May 10 edition. In the fewest words possible, Dr. Patterson set out a powerful argument for Americans to stop worrying about politically motivated “crises,” including the government’s terrible and unnecessary COVID-inspired lockdown of residents and businesses that cost the country as much as our first two centuries of accumulated national debt (my figure, not Dr. Patterson’s) and our largely manufactured climate-change crisis.
Patterson pointed out many other politically-manufactured and media-supported crises, and then pointed to the real facts of these “crises.” But at bottom he was telling readers something even deeper — that they need to be skeptics of everything the government tells us and the media reports to us. Patterson was also calling attention to the enormous collapse of free speech in this country, made all the clearer by the fact that his guest commentary could have run in no major paper of any big city in this country. If a story doesn’t fit the agreed upon narrative, it doesn’t run. Period. But it ran here in the Independent. Hallelujah for this newspaper’s role in allowing free speech and skepticism about politically-motivated crises.
In that same edition was another article you would never find in a big-city newspaper, an article on Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind, a volunteer-run organization serving as ears to the world for those who do not have eyes to take it in. I have been a volunteer for three seasons now, and I have met the most intelligent, interesting fellow volunteers I could ever imagine. We volunteers not only give our time and work, but we also donate nearly half the funds that keep the organization afloat. Such a news story would be highly unlikely in a big-city newspaper. But it took up a good part of a page in the May 10 edition — and in doing so was helping RRRB recruit volunteers and donations. Any Tuesday or Wednesday morning please come by to meet us at 9447 99th Ave., Peoria. Volunteers and donations are always welcome — and you will be fascinated by the work we do in our studios. The Independent runs similar articles on charitable organizations in every edition.
Lastly, I’d like to call attention to the tiny stories, often less than 40 words, that appear in the left-hand column of page 4 nearly every edition. In my previous 5-minute race through issues, I had entirely overlooked them — for five years! And then on April 12 my eye caught this headline, “Table Replaced at Lakeview Lanes Restaurant,” and I was laughing so hard it took minutes before I could read the story to friends, and I broke down all over again when I came to the sentence, “A 48-inch sandwich table that had reached the end of its life was replaced.” The next week it was a story on “the interior restroom, office and break room” of the South Golf Course getting new paint.
Every week since then, I look for these tiny gems in the left-hand column of page 4. But no one should understand my laughter as derisive. On the contrary, it is the laughter one takes in seeing one’s child doing something wonderful; it is the laughter Will Rogers conjured from his audiences; it is the dear laughter of someone entirely delighted at the sweetness of his own home. You won’t find these stories in big-city papers, but they are an utter joy to encounter in each edition of the Independent.
I couldn’t be prouder to call this paper my home-town newspaper. Thank you, Rusty Bradshaw, for the joy, news and courage you bring all of us each week.
Editor’s Note: Mel Livatino is a Sun City resident and a retired English teacher and publishing essayist.