The Last ‘Time’

Somewhere around the beginning of 1965, my dad subscribed to Time magazine. I seem to recall President Lyndon Johnson on one of the first covers that we saw. And I imagine that I – then eleven years old – poked through each of the magazine’s weekly editions a little bit as they came through the mail slot.

Dad read each week’s edition carefully, a few pages each evening before bedtime. And a lot of what he – and I, when I took advantage – read was something we found nowhere else: coverage that supplemented the St. Cloud and Minneapolis newspapers with a wider variety of national and international news. (That news came, I now know, with a great helping of Timesnark, the right-wing and elite attitudes fostered in the weekly by founder Henry Luce just forty years earlier.)

(Some of that coverage we might have been able to get from any of the evening news shows, but watching television news was not part of our evening routines. The only broadcast news we absorbed on Kilian Boulevard during the 1960s and early 1970s was the CBS News morning report on WCCO radio, generally running in the background as we had breakfast and prepared for school and work.)

As I grew into a news junkie, I read the magazine more and more frequently. Once I started college, I added regular reading of Newsweek at the St. Cloud State library, and a few years later, when I left home for the world of work, that’s the magazine I subscribed to, seeing it as less snarky and slightly more hip to pop culture.

Still, at Kilian Boulevard, Time fell through the mail slot every week. Sometimes Dad would pass them on to me; during my college year in Denmark, he clipped stories he thought would interest me and packaged them weekly with clippings from the daily newspapers and Sports Illustrated to keep me entertained and at least a little up-to-date. (Those thick envelopes, probably about thirty of them, are still with me, tucked away in a box full of other stuff I brought back from my adventure in Denmark.)

And week after week, month after month, year after year, the magazine kept coming to Kilian Boulevard. When Dad died in 2003, I helped Mom change the account into her name. And the magazine would eventually come to her at her Waite Park home, at her Ridgeview Place assisted living apartment, and finally, at Prairie Ridge, the facility’s memory care unit.

Somewhere during the last years of her life, Mom had renewed her subscription to Time into mid-2020, when she would be 98 years old. (I think she got stung by one of those companies that offers to renew a subscription and then charges an additional $50 or so for the renewal.) Anyway, after Mom died, I just switched the subscription into my name, and Time kept coming to the East Side and, most recently, to the North Side.

When Dad first subscribed during the mid-1960s, a news consumer’s options beyond daily newspapers were limited. There was some radio news, three national television broadcasts at dinnertime and the three main newsmagazines, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. And Dad read his editions of Time from cover to cover.

Now, in 2020, the information that Time brings me is dated. I have twenty-four-hour news from multiple sources on my TV and my computer. I glance at the first few pages of each edition, but almost always, it gets set aside and sits on my end table until the next weekly edition arrives. There’s nothing wrong with the magazine’s coverage – it quit being snarky (for the most part) years ago – but in general, the magazine offers nothing I can’t get elsewhere for a cheaper price. So I haven’t renewed the subscription.

That’s why the edition of Time that came late last week will be – I think – the last one. (I maybe wrong, and one more may come my way, but no more than that, I’m sure.)

After Mom died in 2017, we sold her things, closed accounts at her bank and elsewhere, disconnected her telephone and took care of other, similar, tasks. I think the subscription to Time is the last bit left of Mom and Dad’s life on Kilian Boulevard. And after more than fifty-five years and about 2,880 weekly editions, that’s ending this month.

Here are the Pozo-Seco Singers and their 1966 track “Time.” (I thought about the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” but I’ve never really liked the record.)

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