I feel very fortunate that Charleston, the nearest largish city to Folly Beach, boasts an excellent daily newspaper, the Post and Courier, which won the 2015 Pulitzer for Public Service.
Now that I’m retired, I spend about an hour each morning perusing the paper, starting with Section A’s front page, which focuses on local matters like our Governor’s mandate that bars close at eleven to flatten the mission-to-mars trajectory of South Carolina’s Coronavirus infections.
Then on Page 2A we have one of my favorite features, “Today in History.” This section is rife with airliner crashes, coal mine cave-ins, capital electrocutions, and other notable incidents of mayhem that occurred on this date in history. For example, today (11 July 2020) marks the 216th anniversary of the Hamilton/ Burr duel and the 487th anniversary of Pope Clement VII’s excommunication of Henry VIII. Henry had incurred Clement’s wrath by annulling his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, making possible his union with Anne Boleyn, an important milestone in his accumulation of spouses. 423 years later Henry’s many marriages would lead to the Herman Hermits hit “I’m Henery (sic) the Eighth, I Am.” (see below)
On a more pleasant note, Big Ben first chimed on this date in 1859, and the word “jazz” appeared in print for the first time in 1915 when the Chicago Tribune ran an article titled “Blues Is Jazz and Jazz Is Blues.”
“Today in History” winds up with a list of celebrity birthdays (Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, 73) and a quotable quote: “He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The next few pages are devoted to spillovers from the front page, and you don’t really get to national stories until A8 where you can check out Trump’s latest Molotov tweets or learn that the US Roman Catholic Church received 1.4 billion in tax payer backed Coronavirus aid to make up for payments dioceses had to fork out because of sexual abuse. Meanwhile Lindsey Graham is adamantly opposed to unemployment extensions because shiftless former bartenders might sit at home whupping themselves up bloody marys after sleeping in on the dole.
International news brings up the rear, as a sort of looking through-a-telescope-from-the-wrong-end perspective.
Finally, the A section ends with the op-ed, including Letters to the Editor, which I merely scan given I suffer from hypertension and devoted my working years to correcting imprecise prose.
Rather than going to the B section, I skip to C, Sports, which has been reduced to two pages, given that there are virtually no scores to report, just idle speculation about upcoming seasons and nostalgic remembrances of Carolina and Clemson highlights.
So, I save the B section for last, for dessert as it were.
B1 is devoted to business. Today’s main story announcing the expansion of a Columbia company seeking a vaccine is counterbalanced by this melancholy below-the fold-headline: “Charleston’s only magic club closes its curtains over coronavirus.”
The party doesn’t really get started until B3 with Dear Abby, who unlike her mother and her mother’s twin sister Ann Landers, is non-judgmental and offers a wealth of good ol’ common sense. For example, to today’s first correspondent, concerned that some beachgoers might find the large tattoo of a naked angel on his side off-putting, Abby sagely suggests he “go for it” but “use sunscreen,” then allows that not all beachgoers will not be thrilled to see “a large naked angel getting roasted on the sand.”
Despite what I wrote earlier about avoiding amateur writing, I do read three or four obituaries, which appear on B4 and B5. Making an obituary engaging is difficult and most suffer from a paucity of introductory subordinate clauses. I’m always curious to see who “has entered into eternal rest” as opposed to who “has entered into the loving arms of Jesus” or who has simply “died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.” What I keep looking for, as hopelessly as Ponce De Leon seeking the Fountain of Youth, is for someone to pass away after a long cowardly battle with cancer.”
My daily journey through the paper comes to its end with the comics and puzzle pages. I start at the very last comic, “Andy Capp,” move up to the top, taking in “Dilbert” and “Zits” “and Baby Blues” back down to the left-hand column and reading upwards “The Wizard of Id,” “Luanne,” and “Mary Worth,” who has really turned out to be a looker in my old age. Even though I don’t enjoy “Judge Parker” and “Beetle Bailey,” I read them anyway, but what I really enjoy is “For Better or Worse,” which features well-developed characters. Making the final turn, I head up the right column enjoying traditional fare like “Blondie,” “Hagar the Horrible,” and “Peanuts.”Finally, I do the one-panels, “Dennis the Menace,” “Bizzaro,” and “Ziggy.”
All that’s left is “Jumble” and “Scrabble.” I’m always a little bit sad when the journey ends, when I figure out the punny caption in “Jumble” and tally my score in “Scrabble.”
What I dread is the day when the Post Courier goes belly up. I only hope that it outlives me. I realize I can get the comics online and obituaries from funeral homes, but it’s not the same. I want to hear the crinkling of the paper as I open Thursday’s Entertainment supplement to discover what’s going down this weekend, read new album reviews, take the head-on-head Trivia Contest, and enjoy Kayln Oyer’s excellent prose.
 I know if I’m drinking in a bar past eleven, I’m much more likely to spraying my words like Sylvester the Cat as I nudge loser to whomever I’m regaling with my slurred wit.
 Pronounced “Gur-ta,” not “goth-ee” (or “Blitzer”).