Old photos conjure up memories, questions for future

In the process of preparing to move The Citizen’s office, I recently took on a project of nostalgia.

I took over operation of this newspaper more than two years ago and inherited my fair share of items. Some of them I plan to hold onto, while others have been systematically removed in an effort to downsize and clear out clutter.

In my experience, newspaper offices are charmingly disheveled — a product of often living and working in our environment with little time left to clean up our surroundings. What you see as a potential warning sign of hoarding, I see as organized chaos where I know exactly where to find what I’m looking for.

I often cringe when allowing others to enter my workspace. 

Papers pile up in all corners of the desk; notebooks litter the landscape.

I work at an office in name only.

Beyond the mess I’ve helped create, I became the guardian of many other increasingly antiquated tools of the newspaper business. I have rollers from when glue and paper were used to assemble newspaper pages. There’s countless large, bound blue editions of the “Official Manual: State of Missouri” dating back decades on the bookshelf behind me.

I’ve thrown out paperwork on advertisements taken out before I was born. (1983 for those trying to venture a guess). We’ve rid ourselves an industrial paper cutter, likely built during the industrial revolution.

The tasks have been as frustrating as they are tedious.

Most recently, I decided to downsize the collection of old photographs and negatives for a few reasons. For one, you can take a picture of the old newsprint that’s just as quality as scanning an old image, and I’m not sure pharmacies and the like even develop actual negatives anymore.

Not to mention the collection probably couldn’t be sorted into any meaningful order, and the subjects of the photographs become harder and harder to identify every day.

However, I did take some time to sift through a bit of the collection.

I managed to find a good portion of the archive coincided with my time in school so I rescued a lot of the photographs to keep for myself or to share with friends. I did this because I didn’t want all of that forgettable history to be lost — outside of those hanging on to old newspaper clippings in an attic box.

At this point, those are probably lost, too, in reality.

Some of the most important photos to me — no, not the rubber-banded stack of senior photos used to create old graduation special sections — were photos from Platte County’s run of state championships in football (2000-2002). 

I was a senior for the first; my brother a junior for the last.

I browsed through forgotten memories and reminisced on a simpler time — before cell phones and social media. These photographs were on my mind when Platte County rolled through Harrisonville on Friday. This marks one of the best editions for the program in recent memory, one that appears to have a legitimate shot of making a run.

I wonder how this current group of players, students and fans will remember this season.
Will they scour the internet 15 years from now looking for links to old photo galleries? Will they see them and remember the moments now captured and archived in digital format?

Maybe I’ll receive a call — one taken at our new office located at 812 Third Street in Platte City — asking me to dig through old files for a photo. Could be one he or she remembers seeing or one he or she didn’t know existed.

I can’t imagine anyone is keeping a running record of selfies and Snapchats.

I’m lucky to have access to these types of memories. I can tell you that I’m glad I saved some of these old photos from destruction, even if countless others are now history.

One item going with me when we move later this month: an old pasteboard of the first article I ever did for The Citizen: November 29, 2000 publication date, part of the edition honoring Platte County’s first state championship football team.

The yellowed, gnarled piece of posterboard probably looks like trash to others but will always be my treasure.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at editor@plattecountycitizen.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.