Trying to choose a clever synonym for “magazine,” I am frustrated by the stuffiness of “periodical” and the trendiness of “zine.” I’ll just stick with plain old “magazine” long enough to mention that we had plenty of them at home when I was a kid.
I usually managed to find something interesting in my dad’s magazines: SUCCESSFUL FARMING and HOARD’S DAIRYMAN, among others. Although most everyone poked around in the monthly READER’S DIGEST and the bi-weekly edition of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, Mother had her own favorites including LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL, WOMAN’S HOME COMPANION, McCALL’S, REDBOOK, and WOMAN’S DAY – which I pretty much read cover-to-cover. She also kept her collection of WORKBASKET magazines in a bureau drawer – small volumes filled with the shorthand and charts of knitting and crochet patterns. And every month we girls were delighted to receive JACK AND JILL along with HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN. (I also secretly read my way through Mother’s stash of TRUE CONFESSIONS left over from her salad days in the 1940s. The suggestively- titled articles included details my elementary self didn’t always understand!)
Out on my own, I continued my magazine ways: subscribing to some, picking up others at the grocery checkout, borrowing TIME and NEWSWEEK overnight from the school library across from my classroom. And I avidly read the least-gossipy weekly gossip magazine available: PEOPLE.
As my work continued to pile up, however, my reading time decreased, resulting in stacks of unread magazines that I planned to catch up on one day: alas, so little time, so much wasted subscription money.
Now here I am – midway through my seventh decade – living a life completely devoid of periodicals and zines. A millennial friend suggested I read my favorite magazines online. That habit, akin to reading novels on my Kindle, is one to which I have never successfully adjusted. I need an actual book – or magazine – to hold in my hands.
Facebook, the only social media platform I patronize, has served as a fun diversion for almost a decade – especially now that my closest relatives live all over the place. I keep current with them via newsy messages and cute photographs. Although I have grown weary of annoying political foolishness, I feel uplifted by nature photography and inspirational mantras. My sole contributions to the virtual mix: this blog as well as birthday salutations and oohing /aahing over pictures of adorable little members of the Alpha generation.
Slowly it has dawned on me that Facebook has also become a personalized version of the magazines I read for so long. For example, sometime in the 90s, I reluctantly allowed my longtime GOOD HOUSEKEEPING subscription to expire: too long on reading, too short on time.
The information I gleaned from GH and features I enjoyed have been replaced by contributions from Facebook friends. I pore over the photos posted by Katha Dill after her quilt guild meetings: coverlets handmade by ladies I know – no national publication offers a similar deal. Becky Jackson’s updated vintage clothing pieces are on display as are 67 originally-inscribed blankets lovingly crocheted for others by Bonnie McGuire. And I am prone to drooling on my tablet screen just looking at the intricately-designed sweet treats from the kitchens of former students Darby Grove, Amber Hillman, and relatives of Karen O’Brien!
Facebook abounds with BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS-worthy photographs of places where real people – too many for me to name – reside with their families in homes and by gardens they may have designed/updated themselves. Instead of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and FARM JOURNAL, I follow the latest news in local sports and farming direct from Champaign County athletic venues and farms.
Despite my many travels, I have never subscribed to a travel magazine; happily, I have no need, especially with numerous former students constantly on the go. Pictures from here, there, and everywhere are always appreciated, especially with a caption or two attached. This armchair traveler certainly delighted in the details of Lisa and Mike Turner’s trips to the Field of Dreams game in Iowa and the Alaskan cruise that included glacier views and totem carvers. John and April Snelling outdid themselves with a veritable travelogue on their anniversary trip to the U.K. during the Queen’s funeral, no less. Thatched roofs, sweeping vistas, bucolic countryside – and Stonehenge!
Perhaps my favorite Facebook magazine features artwork by artists with whom I am acquainted. I continue to follow the careers of Suzi Hyden and Kirby Rader about whom I wrote last year. I also look forward to posts by Marcia Hatcher, former Extension Office program assistant extraordinaire, sharing the latest from her thriving career out in Washington State.
And I could not be more fortunate than to have Mike Major as a Facebook friend. To receive a post displaying a work of his makes any day better. Finished pieces, reworked pieces, works-in-progress are all fascinating, especially when he adds commentary. But the pièce de résistance was last summer’s “30 Days of Art.” Where else could I view a month’s worth of creations by an artist I know, who, regardless of medium, provides background information on location and motivation, technique and style. My favorite is his oil painting of Scioto Street. Such treasures!
I urge my readers to check carefully: who knows how many magazines may be tucked away in the pages of Facebook just waiting to be enjoyed!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.