You know by now that I love reading. Most years I’m thick into books, with a lengthy “to-read” list, and a couple of books on the shelf being read. Not that many years ago I finally phased out of my magazine reading period. One day I was in a money-saving mood and added up what I was spending every year for magazines. Hundreds of dollars. Every day of the year the mail carrier would deliver a couple of magazines. I struggled to keep up, but it was wonderful. There was always something new in Newsweek, something to learn in Science News, and tips on the business world in Business Week. The pictures in National Geographic were wonderful, and that was the last print magazine to come to the house in my name.
Back in Jamestown High School all students took Civics in their junior year. Mr Krivobok taught us everything we needed to know about the US Constitution, voting, how congress works, and how to keep up with all the political happenings in the world. You know how there are some teachers you love? The ones who teach you lessons that stick for a lifetime, that show you how even a low-life like me can succeed and be happy in this world. I’ve had several of them, Ms Bowen, Ms Frances, Mr Schnell. Krivobok is not on my favorites list. Maybe some of my high school buddies can shed some light on this, but I just didn’t like him.
One of Mr Krivobok’s tools was U.S. News & World Report. Every week we had to give a report on an article from the magazine. We learned about the congress, the supreme court, and (using the local Jamestown Sun) we even learned about state government. In the sixties and fifties North Dakota politics was pretty interesting. One of my uncles was big into the John Birch Society. One of these day’s I’ll transcribe a letter from him about his beliefs. The Tea Party has nothing over The Society or Posse Commitatus.
All that side note was just to describe why it was that Newsweek, not US News, was my favorite weekly magazine for current events. The choice was between Newsweek and Time. The typeface in Time didn’t agree with my eyes, so I subscribed to Newsweek from the time I headed off to college until they quit publishing not too many years ago.
Somewhere in the high school years I picked up on an obscure humor magazine called Punch. There’s no telling just where I discovered it. I read voraciously since grade school, so it must have come up in another magazine. I really enjoyed humor, especially the off-beat kind. In the middle of North Dakota what could be more off-beat than a century old British humor magazine.
Not all of the magazines were serious. I tried subscribing to Punch for a couple of years. What a challenge! They did have a US mailing address, but I think it was just a PO box that forwarded directly to their London offices. Magazines shipped directly from London, and probably came over by ship. Delivery was inconsistent. I remember it being a weekly magazine, and they showed up every couple of weeks, sometimes two in one day, then two weeks delay, then two more on two days. Changing addresses was a true exercise in futility.
While in college I changed addresses at least twice a year, and each time it changed Punch took about two months to get it right. By the time I was in my second year it just wasn’t worth keeping up the subscription.
As I look back at the Punch cartoons now it’s a mystery what drew my interest. This wasn’t the humor we typically associate with the English these days. It wasn’t “Keeping up Appearances” and it certainly wasn’t anywhere near the slapstick of Monty Python. This was a little higher class humor, steeped in the political events of the day. Maybe Mr Krivobok had a greater influence on my life than I gave him credit for.
I still keep up on the news, science, and business, but it’s all delivered directly to my computer or my phone each day via Twitter and Feedly. There are so many sources for news and humor; the BBC, NBC, NY Times, Fox News, and many more. There just isn’t time for magazines these days. It’s still a struggle to keep up with the latest happenings.