Monday, January 26, 2009

The Missing Year

Why does the Paper of Record produce no record of what happened in 1966 in its otherwise hard bound edition of The Complete Front Pages? Come to think of it, I should now rename this blog title The Missing Years, because it seems there are other gaps.

The book is formally titled The Complete Front Pages, 1851-2008. It is true that it is complete if you consider the three CD-ROMs that are enclosed. After all, 54,267 front pages would be a bit to lift. But why skip years entirely in the paper pages? Can't there be at least one representative page for each year? Goodness knows, something happened.

I was first attracted to 1966 because it was a rather seminal year in my own life. I graduated high school and started college. Our high school graduation was supposed to be held in Carnegie Hall, as it had been in successive prior years. But they were renovating Carnegie Hall that year, so instead we were shunted to the Manhattan Center on west 34th Street, a cavernous, dusty, un-airconditioned union hall that is now the Hammerstein Ballroom. The joke of course was: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Get left back. No volunteers.

Clearly, there was an unseen giant who was influencing how 1966 would be celebrated, and later acknowledged.

If you produced at least only one front page from each year, there would be 157 pages. The book contains a lot more pages, since there are multiple dates for some years. Deservedly so.

We know to include is to exclude, but really, 1966, despite being a personal year that I wouldn't expect the NYT to acknowledge was also, on Day One, the start of crippling transit strike that was brought to us by the showdown between first-day-in-office Mayor John V. "Lindslee" and Michael J. Quill, head of the transit union.

We know the Times is always about more than just New York news. I remember a kid in high school home room who was grousing about a suggestion that he read the Times to keep up on current events. He audibly complained that the paper was only about Belgium imports.

But really, omitting the 1966 transit strike? Having now survived three transit strikes and three blackouts, I think my demise should be accorded a DON'T WALK salute that blinks 21 times. At least.

Did I say other gaps?

In 1864 Abraham Lincoln was re-elected president. I did read that somewhere.

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