Continuing the Tradition

Good stories to warm your holiday heart 
      Journalism is about good stories. For us writers and editors, the search for a good story has the urgency of a primal drive. The phrase a nose for news is high praise, alluding to the hound in a good reporter. Like bloodhound or beagle, we have it in our nature to sniff out what’s around. Catch a scent, and we can’t let it go. We need to know who’s doing what, when, where, how, why. Investigative reporters like our cofounder and mostly silent partner Bill ­Lambrecht put a special stake in another journalistic question, to whom, for they’re out to right wrongs.
      Typically, the stories we seek are about actions that affect the community. News is what’s happening, from the biggest world-shaking events … to the machinations of government in Washington, Anne Arundel or Calvert counties, Annapolis, North Beach, Chesapeake Beach or Highland Beach — our smallest town, with 96 people in the 2010 census.
      Things that make a big boom — like the wreck of Amtrak’s Cascade on its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland — are always news. So are things that upset the apple cart, which makes crime and malfeasance big on the story list of television and daily newspapers. Around here, what’s happening in Chesapeake Bay is always news. 
       You read Bay Weekly for good news, which has more sustainability than splash. Mostly we write about people doing things that improve the quality of life in Chesapeake Country in ways great and small. How we got to be who we are is another of our themes. Thus this week you’ll read about how Generals Highway, in Annapolis, got its name, while learning some history told in the way we like best, in personal scale. Creatures who live among us — often improving our quality of life — appear, too. Of course every week we tell you how to keep active in and how to have fun.
       A century ago, newspapers big and small made much of community news at a very personal level. News-hound that I am, I have a subscription to newspapers.com, where I can learn now only about the progress of World War I but also who came to visit Mr. and Mrs. Smith of most any town USA over Christmas week in 1917. 
       Someplace in his great pile of old papers and clippings, Lambrecht — whose distinctions include being my husband — has a story from his hometown newspaper, the Bloomington Illinois Pantagraph, detailing the gifts his sister, Miss Bettelou Lambrecht, received at the mid-1950s’ bridal shower celebrating the marriage that would make her Mrs. Wimp.
       Though the happenings of our daily lives are nowadays deemed less newsworthy, they are nonetheless our stories. Putting them into print, as the Pantagraph did Bettelou’s, gave them authority, structure and permanence. Yes, permanence, for though newspaper can recycle as fishwrap, it lasts longer than unrecounted time.
      We can give our lives storyhood without benefit of newsprint. Whenever we find — or make — opportunity to put our life events into stories, we recover history from the discard pile and give it shape and meaning. Great power comes from those stories of how we lived and what we valued.
      Thus every year this time — when all of us are too busy for new news but in the mellow mood for tradition — I turn to Bay Weekly’s writers for a holiday story of how the season’s milestones are celebrated in our extended family. Often they are Christmas stories, for that’s the December holiday with the biggest oomph in our community; stories from other traditions would also be welcomed. This year my call brought me the double good news of two stories, from Susan Nolan and Jackie Graves.
      Read them with pleasure, as I have, and find in them inspiration to recover and recount your own stories. They are your greatest treasure, your life.