In September 1986 I took a seat on the copy desk of The Baltimore Sun. It was only a few months previously that Times Mirror had bought the paper, so the newspaper I worked on that first night and the colleagues who produced it were still those of the A.S. Abell company.
It is a vanished era, seeming nearly as remote as that four-page penny paper produced by A.S. Abell for the first time on this date in 1837. Today is The Sun's 175th anniversary. You can call it the dodransbicentennial, or the septaquintaquinquecentennial,or some of the other coinages. So few operations reach this age that there is not a generally accepted term for it.
Some of that vanished era is recalled in last Sunday's Sun Magazine, with affectionate recollections of the paper's glory days. I had the privilege and pleasure to work with many of the authors and subjects of those articles. (Privilege for some, pleasure for others. And for a few, both.)
But as I reflect on my own quarter-century out of the 175, including the palmy days of the 1990s, when it looked as if we might as well have been running fifty-dollar bills on the presses, and the stormy times of the past decade, I want to keep in mind that The Sun has a future as well as a past. If I remain on this side of the ground when the operation hits two hundred, I will croak a frail "Huzzah!" I do not doubt that it will reach that mark, though I cannot say with confidence in what form. My main confidence is that I will not still be working the desk that day.
Today The Sun, in print and electronic manifestations, has more readers than it has ever had. Even this humble blog, to which the print edition would never have given space, can number loyal readers, with a national and international reach. Mr. Abell wanted to give his readers information of interest and importance in a convenient form, and that we are still doing in ways Mr. Abell could hardly have foreseen. The readers are still there, wanting more.
For my part, I will be back at my post this evening, trying to make the crooked straight and the rough patches plain for you and our other readers, because tomorrow will be 175 years and one day, and so we press forward.