When big cities had newspapers every day

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I love newspapers. I love the feel of them when I pick them up from the driveway or under the car or in the nearby bushes or the mail box. I love newspapers.

And, no, this stuff on computers does not take the place of a newspaper that I can hold in my hands and look through ‘til I find the funnies and the crossword puzzle and the sports section and the front page and the editorial page, roughly in that order.

So, what is this garbage about  (big city) newspapers folding and cutting out days, etc.?

Once upon a time, almost every city had a morning paper and an afternoon paper. Columbus did. So did Mobile and Montgomery and Atlanta and Memphis, and, and, and.  Birmingham did them one better: it had three.

I’m disappointed in Google. I type in “The Birmingham Post” and they come up with the “Post Herald.” No, no, no. That came later.

Back in the day, the Birmingham News, an afternoon paper, was the king of newspapers in Alabama. So, what’s this? In the mid-twenties, a feisty little upstart moved into Birmingham to go directly against the News in the afternoon. The Birmingham Post.

The News and its sister morning paper, the Age Herald, had most of the good comics, but the Post had some good ones too. Red Ryder, Barney Baxter. Li’l Abner, Boots and her Buddies and Freckles and his Friends, and Ally Oop; and the two big ones at the top of the page, Out Our Way and Our Boarding House. Mother would read them to me before I learned to read.

Back then, I didn’t know about conservatives and liberals and such, but looking back, I perceive that the Post was liberal and the News was conservative. The Post ran Mrs. Roosevelt’s “My Day” column, and you couldn’t get much more liberal than Mrs. Roosevelt, it was thought by some people.

The Post also had a couple of columnists I learned to like, Frederick Othman and Robert Ruark. I knew Ruark from his regular column in Field & Stream, “The Old Man and the Boy.” Later, he would write a couple of memorable novels, “Poor No More” and “The Honey Badger.”

The News used AP, the Post went with UPI.

We in the Auburn/Opelika area were in a very good spot to get newspapers. On most any newsstand, there’d be two papers a day from Atlanta, Columbus and Montgomery and three from Birmingham.

One of my favorite memories of the old Post is from many years ago after a football game at Legion Field. The year before, Alabama had embarrassed API with a 55-0 win and was expected to do the same thing again.

But … final score, 14 to 13, Auburn. By the time I could work my way uptown, the concrete canyons were echoing with cries of War Eagle, War Eagle … and an occasional “Extra, Extra, read all about it. Auburn Beats Bama…” The Birmingham Post was out with that extra.

Speaking of sports, the new Post Herald kept the Post sports editor, Naylor Stone, as the PH sports editor. He was fun to read. He had bales of similes and metaphors that he used all the time, “as hot as a ….,” or “as cold as a ….,” etc.  Also, the new paper kept the clean, inviting-to-read look of the Post, thank goodness.

Later there came about a weird merger: The Post and Age-Herald would become the Post Herald. The PH would share printing and advertising facilities with the News, but they would be strictly independent editorially. Also there was a cute little clause in there that, after so many years, about 50, I think, the papers would switch positions. The News would be the morning paper and the PH would be the afternoon paper. Back then, who even noticed.

But … that happened to be the very time that people, for some strange reason, stopped buying afternoon papers. So, the Post Herald cut back and cut back and finally disappeared as a statewide newspaper.

I mean to buy a big city paper…if I can remember which days they publish.

Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.

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