As we worked through the night on Thursday putting the finishing touches on this week’s edition, we kept checking the weather forecast and planning to get through our weekly deliveries as early as we could.
Yesterday morning we drove the 70 mile round trip to our printer’s shop to pick up the paper with the snow just starting to fall in earnest. The car had plenty of traction on the return trip, loaded down with more than 5,000 copies fresh from the press. Then we set out make our deliveries to the Winsted, Riverton, Barkhamsted, New Hartford and Pine Meadow post offices.
We hit the Winsted post office first at about 1:30 in the afternoon to drop off the 3,500 or so copies to their carriers and then drove on to Riverton via old Route 8. The roads were white with snow and Riverton looked as pretty as a postcard as we pulled into the parking lot at the Riverton post office. We were Janet’s only customers and she said that the phone had been busy with people calling to find out if she was still open. As we watched the street outside disappearing under a thick blanket of snow, we were pretty sure that very few people would be venturing out to pick up their mail. We chatted for a few minutes and Janet said that she had received word to be open at 6:45 on Saturday morning. We bid her goodbye and forged on to see Ann Marie at the Barkhamsted post office. She reported the same early Saturday start time. Looking at the snow falling steadily we doubted that she would have many customers at that hour. We left her with only about 600 copies left in the trunk and drove slowly back to New Hartford. By the time we were inside talking to Joy and Al, the word had come down from Hartford that the post offices would be closed on Saturday. We felt glad for them, but we knew that that meant that a lot of people would not be receiving their copy of the INDEPENDENT at the normal time. All the effort that had gone into Thursday night production and Friday driving would be wiped out by Mother Nature. We finished our run at about 3:30 in Pine Meadow and headed back to the office to pick up our things and shut down. Over cups of hot tea we looked over the new edition and then locked up and made the trip up Town Hill and home.
With the mail shut down, the paper this week is only available online. In a strange way, this almost seems old fashioned. Most of my production software is at the office, so I couldn’t compress the downloadable pdf as we usually do. It comes in at a hefty 14 mb. Once we get back to the office we’ll replace it with a more compact file but it will have to do for now.
On the drive back from the printer we talked about the impending plan by the post office to discontinue Saturday deliveries. We will need to start looking at modifying our production schedule to work around this, most likely switching to a Friday delivery by mail. The delivery routine is a lot like the paper itself. It puts us in close touch and keeps us connected with the people that help make the paper happen every week. Times have changed, and as this week’s edition underscores, the internet has become the cheapest and most reliable way to distribute information. There is however, a lot of satisfaction in creating local news that can be held in the hand and in having the personal contact that producing and distributing that news involves. When the long Thursday morning through Friday night cycle is complete, it is great to come home, sit down by the wood stove and kick back for a well-deserved nap, this week with the satisfaction of surveying all that snow through the windows.
By the tim