(The paper costs 75¢? Wow, I guess I lost track. I subscribe, so I never check. Damn, again I digress before I even start.)
It’s been easy to criticize what’s become of the Hartford Courant over the last year or two, but it has never been the fault of the people who give life to paper and ink: the reporters and photographers.
I got my 75¢ worth today, thanks in large part to three of the finest. David Owens’ obituary on Angel Arce Torres brought back the horror of the hit-and-run that brought national shame to Hartford. And Patrick Raycraft’s pictures were portraits of a son’s love for his father.
This awful story also produced a hero. Torres’ son, Angel Arce. With class and dignity, Arce has spoken eloquently for his father, and has consistently supported the efforts of the police in their search for someone who is now a killer. Hartford would be much better off with more Angel Arces.
Also on the front page was Rinker Buck’s solid story on Ralph Dzenutis, the father in Cornwall who was arrested for hosting a post-prom party for his son and his buddies.
“They were good kids, mostly, and I was amazed at how many of them had taken pains to make sure they had a sober, designated driver,” Dzenutis said. “But I would be the first to admit that the party got out of control. I just wanted to throw a nice fireside party for my kids and their friends after the prom. I was told that 30 kids would be coming. But in this age of texting, Facebook and cellphones, all the kids tell the other kids, and you end up with over 200 kids at your place.” (Ralph Dzenutis to Rinker Buck)
An editorial on the subject in the Courant referred to “Adults with memories of youthful escapades that turned out fine are letting hazy nostalgia cloud their supposedly grown-up judgment.”
My youthful escapades turned out fine, but all I have to thank for that is fate. Or luck. There were occasions I could have ended up very dead. And there was nothing my very responsible parents could have done about it. That’s no “hazy nostalgia.” That’s a sharp memory that says maybe we shouldn’t be so sanctimonious as to condemn the Ralph Dzenutises who occupy the real world. There’s no condoning drunk driving, especially in light of the horrific accidents involving teenagers we’ve seen in Connecticut. But read the story, and you’ll find a man who gave an honest effort to do what he thought was right.
Anyway, the paper did what it should. In my world, it complemented and expanded on what we reported on television the night before. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on the stories and the main players. It was a satisfying companion to my coffee and bowl of gruel. Morning with the paper is sacred time to me.
It was worth the 75¢.