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WILLIAM TELLS: It isn't 30, it's just a change in delivery - Odessa American: Billsalter

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WILLIAM TELLS: It isn't 30, it's just a change in delivery

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Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2008 12:00 am

ON SUNDAY, OCT. 30, 1994, the first William Tells appeared in the Odessa American. Today will be the last, but Poor William isn't typing "30."

"Thirty," in numerals, is what old-time newspaper reporters used to show that a story had ended. Even with more than 50 years of newspaper experience, PW doesn't know why it is "30" as opposed to "60," for instance.

Today, though, there is no reason to use "30" because stories go straight from the computer to newspaper pages (or Internet sites) and it would look funny hanging around at a story's end. Today when PW talks about "newspapering" the way it used to be he must seem funny to younger people who never have gotten so much black ink on their fingers that it had to "wear off."

The inkiness was just a fact like 30 and wasn't questioned. Those in the newspaper business now seem to spend so much time questioning their actions that a lot of the fun must be gone.

The late D.R. "Bob" Segal, former head of what first was Freedom Newspapers (now Communications), always said, "If you aren't having fun, you're doing it wrong." In that respect, PW always has had "fun" writing, so it still will be fun, even if it's delivered through e-mail and cyberspace.

SO, DON'T FORGET: If you want weekly William Tells columns e-mailed, just send your e-mail address to ageinc@apex2000.net. Some of those who have requested this free service just said something like, "Please send your column," but many added little notes:

"I am very agitated with the OA for terminating your column ... I am very disappointed the OA decided to drop your Sunday column ... I still miss your Tuesday column! ... I knew it was probably coming ... we have lost most all of the good writers! ... I have enjoyed your column for years and will be sad to see it leave the realm of ‘hard copy' ... The Sunday paper will not be the same. ... My husband gets first call on the comics and I have first call on William Tells ... I am over the 65 limit but not over the hill. Wisdom is in our favor ... I do not have a computer (only an e-mail station) ... When the OA sent a poll regarding reading preferences, I penned in that you were one of my favorites and imagine many more did also."

These comments, and more, made it easier for Poor William to accept that for the first time in almost 46 years, he will not have a newspaper column at least once a week. PW does not know the exact tally, but it's close to 3,000 editions of William Tells.

HOWEVER, PW REALLY is interested in the challenge of learning how to run an Internet site. In the past, PW has had to learn how to write this column on a manual typewriter instead of in longhand and then "copy typing" as he was taught in high school.

PW also taught himself how to set type one metal letter at a time, didn't master the intricate Linotype machine with its molten lead and strange keyboard. Posting to a webpage could not be as difficult; the infernal Linotype had so many moving parts that its inventor went crazy.

Typing also was difficult on an IBM Selectric with its moving ball of letters and carbon ribbon. PW has a heavy hand and the sensitive IBM would duplicate a dozen characters before he could get his finger off a key. Virtually perfect typing was required because typed pages were "scanned" into a computer to save time.

Then, just learning how to use a computer itself wasn't the easiest thing PW has ever done. It was hard not to throw a "temper fit" when the dang thing crashed and all the work was lost because PW forgot to hit "Save."

So, with some help from experts, PW will conquer website posting, etc. If you would prefer to read the columns on the Internet, the site is www.williamtells.com; it's just that columns may not be posted as timely as e-mails at first.

THE WORST REGRET PW has about this last newspaper column, though, is that every William Tells reader does not have a computer "wired" to the Internet, nor a way to send and receive e-mail. Many just do not want to fool with such things and there's nothing wrong with that.

But these mostly "senior" folks DO want to read the OA and a large number of them are fans of PW's columns. PW knows this to be fact because they start talking to him about his most recent column when they see him. Most of the time PW has to be reminded of the column's topic because William Tells has been written on Tuesdays before showing up in a Sunday OA; by then PW's already thinking about the next column.

Loyal newspaper readers also write letters on paper that actually are stuck in envelopes and mailed. Receiving one of these letters that now cost 42 cents to mail always has seemed the ultimate compliment, even if the writer was unhappy with PW.

A phone call, of course, can be nice when the caller isn't shouting complaints. Still, the effort a hand-written letter takes puts it in first place, in PW's opinion.

It would be great to be able to use the postal service to send columns to those who want them. Columns would be mailed if PW and Miss Kitty had unlimited financial resources, or the "franking" privilege reserved for high elected officials, but that's not the case.

Still, PW will provide computer printouts of William Tells to a few folks. The main one is a 94-year-old on PW's Meals on Wheels route who is tremendously upset that William Tells will no longer be in "her paper."

Even if she (and Miss Kitty) were Poor William's only avid readers, that would be reason enough to keep on writing.

HAVE A SUPER SUNDAY and a wonderful week!

Mail can be sent to 620 N. Grant, Suite 913, Odessa, TX 79761.

>> For more information, visit www.williamtells.com

Odessa, TX

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