Today, being a subscriber to Salem Weekly, I got a letter from our alternative newspaper that said the paper is being closed down, effectively immediately. I'll share my thoughts about this following the letter.
Download Salem Weekly letter
I feel a sense of loss, yet also thankfulness.
A.P. Walther, who I assume wrote this letter, has been the tireless force that's kept Salem Weekly up and running since its birth in April 2003 as a monthly.
Wikipedia describes the origins of the paper. I remember with fondness the Coffee House Cafe, a marvelously funky and welcoming place.
The Salem Monthly traces its origins to a coffee house in Downtown Salem, Oregon known as the Coffee House Cafe. Dating back to the mid-1990s, the Coffee House Cafe served as a popular meeting place and hangout for Salem's youth culture. In its later years of operation, the cafe began publishing a newsletter to engage customers in Salem's community and cultural affairs. Inspired by the reaction to the cafe's newsletter, cafe owner, A.P. Walther decided to start up a publishing operation for an alternative newspaper in Salem, Oregon.
The main thing I want to say is: Thank you, A.P., for your 15+ years of service to Salem by serving as Salem Monthly's/Weekly's publisher.
I know that for that much, or most, of that time you also was the artistic director, advertising salesperson, and deliverer of copies downtown via your bicycle, which towed a cart filled with papers.
The first time I saw you cycling along on a publication day, I thought, How marvelous! The Statesman Journal publisher sure doesn't hand deliver copies of that newspaper to downtown boxes.
Equal thanks go to Helen Caswell, the chief reporter for Salem Weekly.
I don't know when Helen started writing for the paper, but I know it has been for a long time. The Salem Weekly "Our Authors" page says that Helen moved here in 2008.
It's an open secret that Helen used several pseudonyms to disguise the fact that sometimes (many times, I'm sure) she wrote almost all of the stories in Salem Weekly.
Here's the email addresses for A.P. Walther and Helen Caswell.
I invite you to share your own thanks for their exceptional service to our community over so many years. Some other Salem Weekly writers are listed on the above-mentioned "Our Authors" page.
Here's a photo I found of Helen and AP on Google Images. It's a screenshot from a You Tube video of a CCTV program, The Valley View.
I love both Helen and AP, though I can't say I was close friends with either of them. It's just that every encounter I had with them was wonderfully positive. I don't believe in God, nor in souls, but these words come to mind: They are two sweet souls.
For a couple of years I was fortunate to have been able to write a Strange Up Salem for Salem Weekly. The deal was that I didn't want to be paid, and I also didn't want someone telling me what to write, or to edit the column. AP kept both bargains.
When AP first contacted me, asking if I wanted to write for Salem Weekly, early on he told me, "Brian, I'd prefer if we mainly talked by phone. I'm dyslexic, and it is difficult for me to write email messages." (I'm pretty sure AP used the term dyslexic; if not, sorry for giving you a mistaken diagnosis, AP.)
That moved me. Gosh, a publisher of an alternative weekly who finds it tough to write. So admirable!
And that wasn't only the only hurdle AP had to overcome during the time I wrote the column. Several times he'd tell me that an issue couldn't be published on time, because there wasn't enough money to cover printing costs. But somehow AP would find enough cash to get Salem Weekly back on track.
As for Helen, she'd send me nice email messages about many of the Strange Up Salem columns I wrote. Helen was unfailingly positive -- never saying a bad word about a column, even though some of them deserved more than a few bad words.
Anyway, I'm so grateful for what AP Walther and Helen Caswell have given Salem. I'd say, there are no words. But I've just written 677 of them, so that'd be a lie.