December 4, 2022

By Arthur H. Gunther III



     More or less at 6:15 a.m., an older fellow moves across Western Highway in Blauvelt, N.Y., to a small grocery where contractors, refuse collectors, DPW workers and other musicians in the band that keeps daily life moving gather for the quick morning coffee, the egg/ham sandwich, the bottle of water for later-day thirst. The older fellow moves in harmony with the rest for he is in the band, too.

     Don’t know the name of the guy, and I won’t ask, but he’s everyman in a way, his role duplicated in community stores across the nation.

     His job, self-appointed, is to take the bundle of newspapers just delivered, cut the string and place the Daily News, the Post, the New York Times, The Journal News and The Record (New Jersey) in the right shelves of a rack near the counter.

     Small but important task, for it is a way of turning on the morning lights at a local grocery. For now anyway, until newspapers disappear from print. But in the moment, store visitors, on their way to work or back to home, still want to grab a paper or at least stare at the headlines.

     Job done, the older fellow throws the bundle wrappings away, takes his own paper and leaves the grocery, heading for the volunteer firehouse across the street, another local institution. As he does so, he nods back at me, saying “Now my day is started OK.”

     And the music plays on.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.