My parents and the society page


I’m visiting my hometown, Naples, Fla., this week for my mom’s birthday and to see my dad, Nana and Papa and aunt and uncle. The other night, Nana brought over a giant bag filled with black-and-white photographs of my mom growing up, as well as old newspaper clippings.

The newspaper clippings were from The Naples Star, a weekly newspaper in Collier County, Fla. I tried looking up the newspaper on the Library of Congress’ website, but there was no recorded date of when the newspaper was published. The newspaper clippings were from 1978 and ’79, right after my parents moved from Michigan to Naples for my Dad’s engineering job.

My parents said The Naples Star was more of a society paper, and after hearing this I just stood silently, not knowing what this meant. A society paper? What on Earth could that be? I know what alternative weeklies are, because I worked as an editor for one in my first job out of college. I know what a normal newspaper is, because I just ended my job in daily news. But a society paper — I had no idea what this was.

I Googled society news and found out the following:

• The first society page appeared in the New York Herald in 1835

• Society pages were known as “women’s pages,” and big wigs like Pulitzer wanted to attract women to newspapers by writing about stereotypical housewife stuff and social things that happened around town

• Mostly women wrote for the society section in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and that kind of journalism was considered subordinate, like women, in those days (fitting, huh?)

Back to The Naples Star. The newspaper was filled with funny commentary and it chronicled my parents’ social life in the late ’70s. One of the articles was dedicated to a Halloween party where my parents won the “most ridiculous costume” award for their amazing resemblance to Saturday Night Live’s “The Coneheads,” thanks to my mom’s great artistic ability in creating conehead caps. My dad says their cones were so tall that they had to take the top off the convertible so they could fit in the car, and driving down 5th Avenue in Naples, pedestrians were chiming “Look! There go the Coneheads!”

Other stories were about volleyball tournaments my parents threw at Admiralty Point, where my Nana and Papa’s old condo was located or friends’ parties they attended in Port Royal. Another story was about my dad accepting a job as project manager with CH2M Hill.

I enjoyed reading Naples’ old society paper. The language is lively and entertaining and the pictures of my parents made me laugh out loud (not in a bad way, Mom and Dad). After stepping away from two jobs with newspapers, I see how papers have gotten smaller and smaller and can no longer fit in much society, community and small-town content. It’s great reading these old stories though. Makes me appreciate the small-town perspective. Also makes me appreciate how entertaining my parents are.


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