October 21, 2021

Historical society wants to archive Marathon Independent

Preserving the record

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

Laurie Tebbe, a Marathon Historical Society board trustee and the curator of the society’s museum, explains why trying to digitally archive the Marathon Independent has been hard. In her hand is a book of all the Marathon Independent newspapers from 1965. The historical society is trying to preserve the books and papers, which go from 1952 to 1987.

Marilyn Liddington would keep a watchful eye on her mailbox every Friday and scurry outside as soon as the mail was dropped off. It meant The Marathon Independent was there.

She would rush back into her house, sit and read the paper.

“I loved the articles from different towns,” she said.

The paper has been out of business for decades now, but the Marathon Historical Society doesn’t want to lose the history or the newspaper, so it’s raising money to archive 36 books.

Want to donate?

Checks can be made to the Marathon Historical Society, PO Box 444. The checks should note that it is dedicated to the archiving of the Marathon Independent.

The books, from 1952 to 1987, each hold a year’s worth of newspaper editions.

Walter Grunfeld, the publisher of the paper between 1955 and 1987, had bound many of the editions of the paper and years after the paper ended in 1987, the historical society came into possession of the books that had been stored in the library.

“Right now they are housed upstairs in the Old Town Hall, where there is no heat, and we don’t want to lose them,” said Connie White, the president of the society. “It’s our history.”

White said growing up everyone knew that Thursday afternoon Grunfeld would leave his office, walk next door to the post office and mail the paper.

The Marathon Independent

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

The Jan. 1, 1965, front page of The Marathon Independent, a now defunct weekly newspaper that served the Marathon area.

“Bingo, we all got The Marathon Independent and you bet I read it,” she said. “I think every teenager read that paper and every home read it because we were in it. I believe the reason Marathon is a nice community is because we had a vehicle that kept us in touch with each other — we cried for each other, we cheered for each other.”

Reading the paper growing up was one of the reasons she got into writing. It’s also one reason she’s working to archive the paper.

The archiving process is a two-phase project, said Laurie Tebbe, a society board trustee and curator of the society’s museum. The first phase is getting the books out of the upstairs room of the Old Town Hall and into cabinets to protect them from sun and moisture. The cabinets will cost about $6,000, White said.

The next phase is digitally archiving them. “That’s the conundrum right there,” White said.

The women have contacted at least three companies — one estimated digitally archiving the books would cost around $20,000, another is seeing what the process is like to do one and then giving the organization figures and the third never returned the group’s calls.

The other portion of the project is raising the funds. The organization is acceppting donations, on top of selling Marathon-related blankets, selling food at the Marathon Maple Festival and applying for
a grant through the Cortland Community Foundation, with help from 5D Marketing and Consulting owner Darcie Duranceau.

Purchase a blanket

The large blanket with images of Marathon and surround towns is $45. The smaller special 50th Maple Festival and village blanket are $35.
They can be purchased by calling Laurie Tebbe at 607-849-3170.

Liddington said she would love to see the paper get archived.

She recalled once reading a column by Grunfeld that inspired her to write a letter to the editor. The column was about how the mothers in Marathon were at a diner, happy to be dropping off their kids to their first day of school. However, Liddington wasn’t happy to see her son going to school — she wanted to keep him home a little longer.

“I miss it,” she said. “I think it’s a treasure that we’ll never probably see again.”