Where do you stay?

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The combination of catching the end of a report NPR‘s Midday Magazine about how the Internet has affected nearly every facet of American business, including the world of journalism, and some research about what it was like in Saratoga in August 1973 leads me to the following statement:

What a world.

The first part that caught my ear, and I’m summarizing here, was about how the U.S. government essentially used to subsidize journalism. The subsidy – done basically because the framers of the U.S. Constitution felt that journalism and journalists were a critical part of a free society – came courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service. The post office made sure newspapers and other publications got into people’s mailboxes, probably for a nominal or no cost. Those guys, the framers, they wanted people to be informed and stay informed. Wow, imagine that.

Nowadays the government subsidizes things directly or indirectly related to:

– Corn, which hulking conglomerate food companies put in just about every type of food on a grocery store shelves and in turn makes everyone overweight and unhealthy (really, look it up);

– Tobacco, which causes cancer and kills people (really, look it up);

– Fossil fuels, which pollute the environment and make us broke because their prices are controlled by a handful of companies or people (really, look it up).

The second part that caught my eye, and again I’m summarizing for the most part, was a story in the Aug. 1, 1973 edition of The Saratogian, then known as The Saratogian and Tri-County News.

The story was titled “Cottage list: Where summer people stay during the 1973 season.” The season was the Saratoga meet, which that year was even more eagerly anticipated “because of the Triple Crown winner, Secretariat, the town is more popular than ever this year,” Marie D. Whitford wrote.

“Practically every hotel, motel and rooming house has been booked for months. People who never rented their houses before have done so this year.

“Jockeys, trainers, newspapermen and NYRA people have rented 44 apartments at the new Carleton, Out Jefferson St., through the McNeary Realty.

“…Many of the horsey folks and socialites own mansions on North Broadway. Large porches will be aglow with lights as the enjoy entertaining in the cool of the evening.”

The listing spread across two pages and wrapped around unrelated articles (including TV preview of “Death of a Salesman” and a piece on Schenectady’s Earl Peek winning “best of show” for his 1937 Packard at an antique car show) and ads for Pastore’s North End Market and Mr. Anthony’s beauty salon in Ballston Spa and Schrade’s Flowers and Dehn’s Flowers in Saratoga.

The “horsey folks” included:

– Boland, Mr. and Mrs. William, 28 Frederick Dr., McRoberts home.

– Bostwick, G. H., 33 Fifth Ave., Weller’s

– Burch, Mr. and Mrs. Elliott, 28 Fifth Ave., Brenner place

– Combs, Leslie B., Gideon Putnam Hotel

– Evans, Edward. Holiday Inn.

– Finney, Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey. Holiday Inn

– Finney, Mr. and Mrs. John M.S. 21 Madison Ave.

– Gaines, Mr. and Mrs. John R. 696 Broadway.

– Jeffords, Mr and Mrs. Walter M. Jr. 719 N. Broadway.

– Markey, Rear Admiral and Mrs. Gene, Westway, Out Myrtle Ave.

– Nerud, Mr. and Mrs. John A. and son, Jon H. 18 Benton Dr. Piscitelli

– Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Ogden. 717 N. Broadway.

– Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Mills. 717 N. Broadway.

– Tower, Mr. and Mrs. Whitney. Needles place at 590 N. Broadway.

– Tweedy, Mrs. John B. 743 N. Broadway.

– Van Clief, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel G., Gideon Putnam Hotel.

– Vanderbilt, Alfred G. the William Moore estate out Clinton St.

– Veitch, John. Carleton.

– Veitch, Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester. 21 Granger, Tibbett home.

The guess is that the people on the list weren’t overly concerned with anyone knowing where they were staying or that criminals didn’t see it as potential opportunities for a quick score. It reminded me of Daily Racing Form‘s American Racing Manual, which included social security numbers, birth dates and birthplaces for jockeys right up to its 1992 edition.

Now we deal almost on a daily basis with events like the credit card breach at national retailers Target and Neiman Marcus prior to the Christmas holiday. That breach, which potentially puts hundreds of thousands of people’s banking and personal information at risk, got the talking heads spewing on and on about what should be done.

I caught the tail end of another report on NPR the other day that detailed the costs involved if U.S. retailers and banks switched to the chip-based “smart cards” already in use in Europe. There were pros and cons. Debates about what it would do to small businesses. How the costs would probably fall to consumers.

Amazing. One day we can’t include enough personal information. The next we try our absolute best to keep it under lock and key, yet when the time comes to fix it before it happens again, there’s hesitation.

What a world.