It seems like our family will be celebrating a lot of milestones in the year 2020.
Kyle and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary, while Charlotte will turn three and Grace will turn nine. I might even have a milestone birthday coming up in May as well. But we won't talk about that.
The year 2020 also marks another special milestone for the Galer family. It marks 75 years since my great-grandparents Delford and Pauline Galer moved their family to Hillsboro to work at The Hillsboro Journal, which is now The Journal-News.
Prior to coming to Hillsboro, Del worked with his father, The Rev. Michael Galer, for a weekly newspaper in Minnesota, The Atkins County Pilot. He would later work for the Lancaster Herald, the Delavan Enterprise and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin, as well as a beer distributor for Potosi Beer.
But in February of 1945, he answered an advertisement from the Illinois Press Association, offering a part-time partnership including both editorial and mechanical work at The Hillsboro Journal with then owner and publisher Sam Little. He brought his wife, and their three sons, Phillip, Gilbert and Douglas, and all three would later graduate from Hillsboro High School.
My grandpa Phil was in his senior year of high school, and would graduate with the class of 1945. Although he only attended HHS for a few months, he was always so proud to be a Hiltopper.
I asked my dad what brought my great-grandparents to Hillsboro, and he said it was a connection through Boy Scouts. Mr. Little was a large part of the Boy Scouts organization in Springfield and my great-grandpa Del was affiliated with the Boy Scouts in Wisconsin.
Grandpa Del died when I was only six years old, so I can't say that I remember much about him or his life at the newspaper. But I'm told he was an accomplished intertype operator, as well as a competent news writer and ad salesman. He was also quite the cribbage player, and while I was too young to play with Grandpa Del, I have enjoyed many a game with my dad and Grandpa Phil over the years.
And I'd like to think that our great-grandpa would be pretty proud to have two of his great-grandchildren working full-time at the newspaper. I work on the editorial side and my cousin, Keith McLaughlin, is our pressman, just like my dad was many years ago.
Since I was so little when he died, I don't really know much about his experience in the newspaper industry. But I do know that he loved his community and was a big supporter of local journalism.
It's kind of fun (if you have hours and hours on end) to go upstairs and look back through old issues of the paper to see how much things have changed over the years. Not only changes in the community, but changes to the newspaper industry as well.
I sometimes wonder what my grandparents and great-grandparents would think of social media like Facebook and Instagram. But change is definitely inevitable over the years, and like any other business, the newspaper has changed with the times as well.
And while the newspaper industry has changed leaps and bounds since Grandpa Del moved his family to Hillsboro 75 years ago, one thing has remained steady in our family, the importance of the local, community newspaper.
The issues may have changed, but the news is the same. We still run articles on births, engagements, anniversaries and weddings. We cover high school sports and run honor rolls and other good news from our schools. Our staff members spend countless hours at local government meetings, making sure to let readers know what's happening with local officials.
One of our favorite sayings is, "If it's important to you, then it's important to us." And we mean it. That's one of the great things about community newspapers. You won't find much national and international news in our paper, but you might discover who found the biggest (or sometimes the smallest) mushroom.
I don't know what changes are in store for our community or our newspaper in the next 75 years, but I do know that our family will continue to believe in the importance of local journalism, making our community a better place to live for generations to come.
So, while we'll be celebrating lots of milestones this year, we will also be grateful for my great-grandfather and the ad he answered all those years ago to bring our family to Hillsboro. There's certainly no place like home.