April 1, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

To clip is not to clip -- is that the question?

During the years I attended college as a non-traditional student, my husband began calling me “the mad clipper.” That’s because I regularly clipped course-related items from publications. However, scissors and I had a serious relationship long before that. I began saving clippings since grade school.

Recently, I mentioned to Paul that he doesn’t refer to me as “the mad clipper” much anymore. He claims I don’t butcher papers and magazines as much either, but I really do. Just ask relatives or friends with whom I share them.

If I had saved the clips and scrapbooks of my youth, what a history lesson they would present today! My taste ranged then from movie stars to science to newspaper “paper dolls” to missionary/vocations/travel essay contests to word challenges, especially advertising “jingles.” As I matured, my interests matured—well, some of them did—but they still remained eclectic.

I am glad I disposed of most of that material, because I’ve accumulated even more during my adult years. I fight daily to whittle down the stacks of paper that keep growing despite good intentions and diligent efforts. (Let this be a lesson to readers, especially the young: Keep order from the get-go and let go of what is superfluous.)

However, there have been times that I think I missed my true calling. Did you know there are professional clipping services, where clippers like me do what I do for pay? I’m afraid if I followed in their footsteps, I would end up like a Catholic girl in a short story by award-winning author Alice Fulton. I read Fulton’s story, “The Real Eleanor Rigby,” in the winter 2003 issue of The Gettysburg Review. (Readers not knowing The Beatles’ music won’t recognize the name in the short story’s title is a character in one of their songs. The short story features The Beatles, but is not for youthful readers.)

Anyway, the fictional teen, Edna, was often “sequestered in her bedroom, which resembled a clipping service run by a poltergeist. The floor was a brittle strudel of back issues and loose paper. Narrow paths had been cleared between the door, bed and stereo.” Compared to that, I am truly tidy. My clipping “madness” has never produced that kind of chaos.

Curious, I contacted the Catholic Press Association to see if the CPA has a clipping service. Mary Iapalucci with The Catholic Journalist assured me there is, and “customers are sent actual newspaper clippings of whatever it is they asked us to look for.” A monthly fee provides 50 clips, but more can be purchased. (the CPA’s website is www.catholicpress.org.)

Readers tell me they regularly clip and share items from The Criterion. To them, I sincerely say “Thank you!”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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