I always find myself waxing nostalgic at this time of year, as the Langley Advance rolls over one higher digit on the odometer marking the travels of its existence through time.
Hmmm- It seems "nostalgic" isn't the only thing I'm waxing here- but anyway.
The Advance is 81 years old this week - turned 81 yesterday, to be precise. The first edition of the paper rolled off the presses in
Abbotsford and was made available to its Langley subscribers on July 23, 1931.
The concept of the Advance - Langley's own community newspaper - actually began as a collaboration between the Langley Board of Trade (now the Greater
Langley Chamber of Commerce) and an established community newspaper in Abbotsford.
The Board of Trade was only weeks old, and the businessmen who had formed it felt that they would not be taken seriously by outside interests if their community didn't have its own newspaper.
Langley was getting the bulk of its community news service through the daily Columbian, which covered the whole Fraser Valley, featuring communities like Langley on special pages (or parts of pages) in one edition per week.
The Abbotsford paper recruited E.J. Cox, an experienced community newspaperman from the Prairies, to front-end the new Langley branch.
By the time the first edition got off the ground, the Langley branch had become its own entity, instead, in a loose business association with Abbotsford.
On July 23, 1931, Langley had its own community newspaper. But the mood in town was not optimistic.
The Advance was not the first attempt at establishing a community newspaper for Langley. All previous attempts had failed.
And this was the height of the Great Depression. Established businesses were falling into ruin everywhere.
Old-timers I have had the luck to interview - people who were "old-timers" when I started here more than 30 years ago - told me that there was betting on the streets over how long the Advance would last. Most of those bets were on three editions. That's how long the Langley Lantern - one of the Advance's most successful predecessors (and a project started by a previous, also unsuccessful attempt at starting a Langley Board of Trade) - had lasted in the relatively prosperous 1920s.
But Cox persevered.
He attacked his community project from the ground up, throwing in some clever tricks he had learned from his involvement in previous start-ups thousands of miles away.
He got the community directly involved from the get-go. Money was scarce, so he traded subscriptions - papers were not given away for free in those days - for practically anything he could use for his family (like a pound of butter, a bag of carrots, a cord of wood-) or for the newspaper (for instance, a promise to write a weekly column about goings-on in a remote neighbourhood like Coghlan or County Line or Patricia).
He knew that, then as now, community involvement would be the key to success.
It would be tempting to say the Advance hit the ground running- but in truth, it started out more like a long, slow hike- with a limp.
Locals were slow to let the upstart Advance take the place of the established Columbian as their community source of choice - but nobody won the bet. The Advance made it past three consecutive editions- 10- 100-
In fact, sometimes against long odds, the Langley Advance has not missed a scheduled edition in the past 81 years.