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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: 154 years later, no matter the weather


Golfing buddy B.C. emerged from his winter den after last week’s blizzard. He looked around and, not seeing his shadow, decided to text me.

His text was in the form of a suggestion for Mother Nature. It was understandable, but unprintable here.

B.C. longs for spring and summer and the return of the beercart girl to the rolling green hills of Derryfield Country Club. He is not alone.

The blizzard made last week seem like a long one. Or maybe it was the change to Daylight Saving, which also made it light out during the whiteout.

Our crew was well-prepared for the storm, despite one of our usually reliable amateur weather guys confidently telling me a few days earlier that we would get “two to three inches at most.” He later tried to claim that he meant inches-per-hour.

Snow or no snow, getting out a daily newspaper is by nature a complicated endeavor. But as of next week, we will have been doing it here for 154 years (even earlier as a weekly).

People back then didn’t seem to get as riled up about the weather. Unless it was the Blizzard of ‘88 or something, it was just a fact of nature to be dealt with. The entire weather report in that first issue of the Manchester Union consisted of two sentences, tucked at the bottom of a long front page column that began with a story about rebels attacking Union pickets near Richmond and ended with a report that the President had designated April 30 as a day of prayer and fasting.

“It is snowing fast. Been snowing an hour.”

What more could one need?

We knew it would snow, fast, last Tuesday. A major concern was giving the carriers ample time to deliver Wednesday morning’s paper, where they could deliver. Remember, we distribute “from Coos to the Sea.”

Plans were made to start the press run one hour early. (Other papers did likewise, which was helpful, since we deliver some for them and they deliver some for us.) What wasn’t helpful was when the power went out at the Dover press where we are printed. Fortunately, it wasn’t out for long.

Anticipating that some carriers wouldn’t be able to get to all customers (or that some customers wouldn’t be able to get to their Union Leader tubes or down to the store), we provided free online e-Edition access to our “storm” edition.

Things seemed to have worked out OK. No doubt, we will face future snow challenges. I just hope it’s after golf season.

Write to Joe McQauid at Publisher@unionleader.com or on Twitter @deucecrew.