When living overseas where the local paper is usually in another language, having access to The Stars and Stripes was like getting a letter from home, and our way of connecting with the United States.
I remember the PX having a mini bookstore with some limited newspapers in 1973 and 1974 when I lived in Germany and shopped at Friedburg, the base where my Dad worked and the closest base to Bad Nauheim, where we lived.
I don’t think we bought the Stars and Stripes because it won journalistic awards, but because it seemed to always just enough news from back home to keep it interesting, but not too much that would make us worry.
Between the Stars and Stripes and Armed Forces Radio, we could stay fairly informed, but without any of the stress of the U.S. nightly news TV broadcasts. With the isolation of living within a foreign country, even though we had friends and all the comforts of base life, it always seemed we were removed from the rest of society.
As a teenager, I must confess (pun intended) to looking forward to reading Dear Ann Landers (or was it her sister, Abby?), whose column appeared in the paper. When you read about the many strange situations a lot of her readers got themselves into, our life overseas didn’t seem that bad.
We also enjoyed reading Erma Bombeck, who wrote about the absurdities of everyday life in a way that even we kids could relate to.
We loved the comics and there was something for all of us. BC was my favorite by far, but I do remember following the adventures of Dick Tracy when we lived in Germany in the early 1960s.
Today, when I pick up a Sunday paper here, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, which weighs in at 5 or 6 pounds at least, full of its sales flyers and multiple sections, I sometimes wish for the simple pleasures that came within the compact, efficient format that was the Stars and Stripes.