Dave Paxton

I had a chance to walk down memory lane this week after being asked to help with a project Albia soccer coach, Aaron Koestner, is doing for the 20th year of Albia soccer. In looking at back volumes of the newspapers, all the way back to 2001, it was hard to stop and look only at soccer stuff.

There were anniversaries, wedding and engagements, major news events and fun photos. It reminded me of a couple of things. First is that community newspapers are, without peer, the best historic record of a community. Second is that we are losing parts of that record to a very fleeting Facebook.

Facebook is very much like the box of photographs I inherited after my Dad passed a few years ago. I had actually sat down with him over what I thought was the definitive box of photographs and had him help me identify all that he could. His mind was razor sharp until the day he died, but he even scratched what hair he had left on his head over old black and white photos.

Facebook is loaded with lots and lots and lots of unidentified photographs that will float off into cyber history. In 20 years, I suppose somebody with enough techno chops could retrieve some or even most of the photos and postings, but virtually no one but the people intimately involved will remember who or what the pictures represent.

Good newspapers aren’t like that. We publish pictures with captions to identify the people in the pictures, the event, have it date stamped and often times related back to some other point of local history. Then we place those newspaper pages in bound volumes and on searchable web sites.

Case in point: The nearly 104-year-old WWII veteran John Massick, born near the tiny farming community of Weller, who lived his entire adult life around the Quad Cities, died this week. His nephew, Frank Massick, a long-time friend and Vietnam combat veteran, gave me a heads up about an impending obituary. The obituary was an absolute disappointment.

Fortunately, we had done a 70th anniversary special book on D-Day in which he was included. The obit provided to us from the funeral home was, let’s say limited, compared to who this man of the Greatest Generation was. He was a young man of the Great Depression, worked the CCC camps, was already in the Army when WWII broke out and spent four years in training and combat. He earned two Bronze Stars for bravery, came home and did what most WWII guys did, go to work and raise a family.

Because of my institutional knowledge of all things Monroe County, with bound volumes and special sections we’ve published, and a friend who still sees value in newspaper and history, we were able to do right by his memory.

It grieves me that people aren’t sending us (free) engagement news, anniversaries and weddings. Because in 20 years, somebody will walk through the newspaper doors and ask if they could look through bound volumes seeking family or community history.

For our many readers and friends who do send us all things community, thank you. Nobody does lasting community history like a community newspaper. And people who know that and value that will continue to accurately (mostly) document the life and times of community in the newspaper.

I am so sick of hearing “Quid Pro Quo” I could puke. First of all, how many people in the United States, particularly those who attend public schools who no longer teach history and government and get all of their life’s information from Facebook, know what Quid Pro Quo means.

It is Latin for, “I don’t give a crap.” No, not really. It is a Latin phrase used in English to mean an exchange of goods or services, in which one transfer is contingent upon the other; “a favour for a favour.” Phrases with similar meanings include: “give and take,” “tit for tat,” and “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” and “one hand washes the other.”

Did Donald Trump ask the Ukrainian President for a favor? It’s what the transcript of the phone conversation suggests. Did he threaten the Ukrainian with a “if you don’t, I won’t” sort of Quid Pro Quo? If he did (which the transcript clearly says he didn’t) it was the worst kind of threat ever to come out of a President’s mouth because the U.S. loaded up ships and planes a week or two later to deliver military goods to the Ukraine.

I would argue that there is nothing in country to country, state to state, business to business interactions that does not involve quid quo pro in some form. There are a few people (almost exclusively in Christian circles) who do things out of the goodness of their hearts with no expectations for anything in return.

I grew up in a devoutly Christian home, but my Dad was strictly quid pro quo with his children, although his neighbors would testify he never sought anything in return for welding broken combines and farming equipment. It wasn’t a question of his loving us any more or any less if we were good or bad, but good grades allowed us to play football, baseball and basketball. Treating our crazy great aunts with respect provided us more latitude on curfews.

I’m the poster boy for remaining happily married. But there are things I do knowing I will be rewarded in various ways by my wife. With her character, she would probably reward me anyway, but it is a chance I’ve never chosen to test.

We are allies with nations because of quid pro quo. We are enemies for the lack thereof. How a president or a pastor, a parent or teacher chooses to communicate quid pro quo comes in all colors. And there is almost always room to claim bribery is involved. So what. If my grandson does what he’s told because there is an ice cream treat or trip to the movie at the other end, I really don’t care. If my pastor helps get me to heaven because his sermons scare the hell out of me, so be it.

It is part of the human equation. In terms of presidents, there hasn’t been one in our history that hasn’t used a carrot and stick. Good golly, Congress and the system of lobbying works entirely on the idea of quid pro quo.

There, I’ve used up my ration of quid pro quos for a lifetime. I’m going bird hunting with my new dog and if she points, I will pat her head and give her a pheasant head should I be lucky enough to down one. It works with dogs as well as people.

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