Looking back to Dec. 6, 1995, the day the first issue of the Milton Times was published brings out some wonderful memories.
A year ago, as we approached this memorable anniversary, the staff came up with some wonderful plans. We were going to have a party. We were going to publish a commemorative issue. We were going to raise funds to have the early issues of the newspaper digitized.
None of those things happened this past year due to the pandemic.
Our staff is smaller than it was a year ago. Just this past week, Jahsia Cooper, who began working as an advertising salesperson for the paper after we had already switched to a remote workforce decided he would be leaving the Milton Times to spend more time working on his master’s degree.
He isn’t the first person on staff to leave during the pandemic. We won’t be hiring to replace him until the local economy rebounds.
Twenty-five years ago, there were three people who worked on creating that very first issue. It was a Desmond family project – an all-female staff. There were a few columnists in the first issue. Mary Ann Sullivan offered a column from the Council on Aging. The late Martha T. Curtis wrote “Conservationally Speaking.” Kathy Driscoll donated a piece about casinos and addiction.
My mother, the late Mary Erwin, worked as the proofreader without pay. My daughter, June Desmond, put together the 12-page tabloid complete with nine paid ads and a few stories.
The residential tax rate had been set at $17.39, up 7.3 percent.
Although the first few issues were pasted together in a home on Willoughby Road, we soon opened an office to the public at 30 High St. The owners of the property, the late Ann and Jim Landers, were generous benefactors to the upstart publication.
The first issue of the paper was free, left in bundles around the community. The plan was to come out every other week and subscriptions were offered for $10 a year.
The three member Select Board issued a letter welcoming the paper to Milton.
It was a long time ago and there was another newspaper in the community. That paper, the Milton Record Transcript, was part of a small chain of papers that actually focused on sections of Boston. The other paper died sometime in 2011 or 2012 about a year after the death of the owner.
By then the Milton Times was already winning trade awards.
As we celebrate the beginning of our 26th year, it is a time to look back with gratitude for all the help this newspaper has received from the leaders of the community. So many of those who were involved in helping this newspaper survive and flourish have passed on.
The contributions of the first 229 subscribers who sent their checks to a post office box in the hopes the newspaper could, as it promised, focus on the positive aspects of the community with care and concern.
Now, despite the need to have our staff work from their homes, the newspaper continues to publish each Thursday. We have been weekly since March 1996 due to the urging of the business community. Maybe we should plan a 25th anniversary celebration for 2021 with the hope that COVID-19 will be conquered by then.
– Pat Desmond
Milton Times publisher