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Remembering My Father and the News

I can’t believe it has been months since I’ve plunged into the blogosphere. Being a newspaper woman has occupied my days and condensed them into time that has seems like mere minutes, rather than months.

I began working for The Hazleton Standard Speaker in late February. Since I have a degree in mass communications, and since I concentrated in print journalism, I saw this as a tremendous opportunity. Indeed, it has been deeply educational. And of course, on a very basic level, it feels great to earn a living as a writer, week after week.

Today, I took my husband out to a Father’s Day brunch at Martin’s Restaurant in West Hazleton. Again, and out of the bluest blue, someone “thanked” me for my articles! It has been happening a lot over the last season, and it’s deeply gratifying.

I am truly happy that a core group of people still value what we write in the newspaper. Moreover, I am thrilled that they open its ephemeral pages, think about what we report, and take part in this conversation of the kitchen table, although I don’t care where or how they read it.

I grew up with newspaper greeting me every morning on the kitchen table. Today on Father’s Day, I remember the relationship that my father, Pasquale Jacketti, had with The Plain Speaker, which later became The Hazleton Standard Speaker.

My father made it to fourth grade at the Arthur Street School in Hazleton; then, at the string bean age of ten, he followed his brothers into the coal breaker at The Hazleton Shaft, where he would spend his next 48 years. It was miserable work that consumed his life and petrified his dreams.

He always told me that he wanted to be a history teacher, but there was no chance of him even finishing middle school.

The newspaper helped him to gain literacy, day by day, as the story of the City became his history book. He further educated himself with reference books and encyclopedias purchased at the A & P, which for decades was a landmark on Diamond Avenue in Hazleton.

The market sold a variety of reference books, volume by volume, every week. Every night, before he went to sleep, “Packy” would read from one of the encyclopedias.

I think he would be pleased that I write for the newspaper that taught him how to read because he, and the neighbors I grew up with, revered the newspaper and the printed word.

Today, newspapers are folding across the planet. We live in a digital society, and young people in particular, seem to shun local news.

I am bewildered by this change, and in fact, I believe it’s dangerous for our society as a whole. Newspapers are the lifeblood of our living history, and I would love to see more people respect them and fight to keep them alive.

Yet, I know that we are not lost, at least not yet. I can hardly walk through any marketplace in my hometown, without people stopping me and talking about the news with such a passion, and this passion seems to spread out like ribbons through time.

I can feel these ribbons reaching back to my father, that self-educated man, who needed to know the news. Even through hard times, he kept his subscription to the newspaper going.

At night, I sat nearby him, as he watched The Huntley and Brinkley Report, and we heard Beethoven end the broadcast. It was momentous.

And so I grew up saturated in news literacy.

And so, I learned to be a citizen, and later, to be a journalist.

Read my columns every Monday at www.standardspeaker.com. Click on the “Community page.”

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