When my wife’s alma mater ended March Madness Monday night by defeating Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime to claim the University of Virginia’s first national men’s college basketball championship, I knew I had a chore the next day: stashing away part of the newspaper for safekeeping.
I’ve been keeping newspaper front pages and section fronts for more than 25 years now. It’s my grandparents’ fault; every time I visited Nona and Papa, I loved to flip through their collection of Plain Dealer editions, especially their copy of the paper reporting that Ohio’s Neil Armstrong had walked on the Moon.
My own collection includes the following Washington Post A sections:
- The Nov. 4, 1992 edition heralding Bill Clinton’s election.
- Jan. 21, 1993’s coverage of Clinton taking office, the first presidential inauguration I saw in person.
- The January 1, 2000 A section that confirmed that the Y2K bug didn’t kill us all (and which also featured this headline: “Yeltsin Resigns: ‘I Did All I Could’: Premier Putin Assumes Power Pending Election”).
- The Post’s September, 12, 2011 A section, featuring the sadly incorrect estimate of “Hundreds Dead.” I don’t know why I didn’t keep a copy of the extra we put out the afternoon of 9/11 itself.
- The Feb. 2, 2003 A section that led with the loss of the space shuttle Columbia.
- The A section from April 10 of that last year, headlined “Hussein’s Baghdad Falls.” The optimism of that day aged exceedingly poorly; the Post’s lead story itself is particularly sad, as its author Anthony Shadid died in Syria in 2012.
- The Nov. 5, 2008 “Obama Makes History” A section, my favorite among all these keepsakes and the one that Post readers lined up around the block to buy. I also have the New York Times A section from that day.
- The Post’s extra section for Obama’s inauguration and its Jan. 21 A section covering his taking office (okay, maybe I can recycle one of them).
- May 2, 2011’s A section reporting the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
- Nov. 6, 2012: Obama re-elected.
- Aug. 6, 2013’s front page headlined by “Grahams to sell the Post,” a stunning transaction that began a remarkable turnaround for my old shop and has since padded out the length of countless Post stories with variations on “Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.”
- The Jan. 22, 2017 A section that led with coverage of the Women’s March that flooded the streets of Washington and other cities with protestors (my wife among them).
- “At last, Capitals hoist the Cup”: June 8, 2018’s front page with the news that ended decades of misery for Washington sports fans.
The front page I wish I had is one covering the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but I didn’t think to keep a copy then. The one you’re probably wondering why I don’t have is the Post’s coverage of Trump’s election–but I was on the other side of the Atlantic that Wednesday, and by the time I got home I’d decided that I did not want that reminder.