Opinion

This columnist’s new use for the ‘Delete’ key | Ferry Home Companion

“We are raising a generation being raised without communication skills,” according to Jacquie Ream, author of K.I.S.S. “Keep It Short and Simple.”

This former teacher contends that text messaging and the Internet are destroying the way our kids read, think and write.

Personally, I think Ream has it backwards. We are losing a “greatest generation” barely able to keep up with the wondrous communication skills that the Internet has given us.

I ought to know. I have been working in communications for the vast majority of my 87 years on this globe — first, with my feet delivering freebie circulars mimeographed for a grocery market when I was about 7.

At 12, I was a top bicycle newsboy for Hearst’s Bee-News and the World Herald in Omaha. In high school, Mrs. Savidge put me on the weekly Central High Register as sports editor. I helped put the paper to bed in the print shop. I learned about setting headline type by hand, getting columns of Linotype slugs on galleys (tying them with twine before locking them into chases on rolling turtles) and, of course, watching the flatbed press run to make sure the ink was properly distributed.

Like Blackberries and laptops a few years ago, even having a radio or a portable typewriter was a novelty in those days. And the dit-dot-dit of Morse code, the clatter of the typewriter and the roar of the big cylinder plates at presstime were heard in the big plants 24/7. I learned early that speed in typing was a big advantage and got up to 140 words a minute. I could get three stories done in the time a slow typist could do one in the same time, thus I could have more time on my beats than most.

Then, pushing things forward to offset presses, teletype machines and finally Internet, we were in quiet newsrooms and I became a hybrid — half editorial, half advertising. The Internet was not my cup of tea and I liked the art and impact of good newspaper advertising so I evolved that way.

Eventually, up here the last 29 years, I came to the point where typewritten copy was no good even for advertising – I couldn’t even get a ribbon for my old loyal Royal.

I took a class from a nun from Shaw at Skagit. My stepson Gary managed to repair some old P.C.s and somehow, with floppies and discs, I kept doing my thing.

Well, I’m still here. Only thing is, the corporate tech sent me a message the other day that I had to clean out my excessive number of e-mail message on my office eMac. Last Wednesday was a good day, so I worked on it for a couple of hours and got from 500-plus down to 91 messages. At lunch, I went home and decided after lunch to work on my Dell at home. I had more than 700 e-mails to check. I had played 56 holes of golf during the last five days so I was a bit weary. I was working away with the “delete” button.

Suddenly I started, wide awake. I had fallen asleep with my finger on the delete button and erased every saved inbox e-mail since 2006. I was shocked to the core.

Then I laughed, just like John Huston in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” when all their gold dust was blown away by the wind.

Why save something if it isn’t good enough to remember?

Go with the F.L.O.W. (Ferry Lovers Of Washington).

— Contact Howard Schonberger at 378-5696 or hschonberger@sanjuanjournal.com

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