the Town Reminder

South Hadley, MAThe Town Reminder has gone through a number of transformations throughout the 40 years that it has been published to get to where it is today. The first issue ever to be published had 18 pages full of local advertisers and want ads, either hand drawn or typed. It was printed on March 13, 1968. Gus Peterson, founder and original publisher of “Our Town REMINDER”, began the paper after he decided to leave the corporate life and learned from townspeople that they needed a paper to call their own.

Peterson grew up in Greenwich, CT and attended Trinity College in Hartford, where he studied psychology and philosophy. After college, he wanted to enter the Episcopalian ministry, but decided to enter the service instead, as WWII was going on. After leaving the service, Peterson began working at Connecticut General Life Insurance and taught at his alma mater at night. Only a few years later, he started a new job at A&P Supermarkets, which brought him to the Springfield area. He spent 20 years in the sales and advertising department.

In an interview with Peterson in 2006, he explained, “I just got fed up with corporate life. That’s when I quit and started the Town Reminder.”

Peterson learned the ins and outs of the newspaper business from the Reminder in East Longmeadow, and after talking with people in South Hadley he learned they were not happy with the coverage the local daily papers were providing. Peterson did not have an office to conduct business in; instead he took most calls from an answering service, which he dialed from a phone booth near the Village Commons. The rest of the work was done in his basement. It took about three months to put together everything needed to produce the first issue.

Peterson thought the first edition would only be eight pages, but instead it turned out to be 18. Much to his delight, W.T. Grant Stores had purchased three full-page ads. Inside the first edition, the ads reflect how times have changed, with a brand new Chevrolet Corvette costing only $60 to $70 a month with $199 down. A “big new screen portable color TV”, being 15 inches, was $299.95. The center spread introduced cable TV to South Hadley with “10 channels for your viewing pleasure”, costing only $4.95 per month. There were also a number of cigar giveaways to “lucky male readers.”

Our Town REMINDER was mailed to every home in South Hadley from 1968 until 1985, when the paper was sold to Jim Darby. After Darby’s death his wife, Maureen, sold the paper to Bill Couture, Guy Demers and Jamie Joslyn in 1995. During the many changes of ownership, the paper also changed. It lost the “Our” in its title and became known as just the Town Reminder, and after Turley Publications purchased the paper, the front page was redesigned and began including a full color photo and more news stories. Demers and Joslyn are still involved with the Town Reminder. Its first official editor was Tammy Landon who left in 2007. In September 2007 the current editor, Aimee Henderson, joined the family.

In the first edition of Our Town REMINDER, Peterson wrote, “We hope to be of service to you as we get to know each other better. We plan to bring you each week bulletins about events in South Hadley…Our Town REMINDER is for you, the residents of South Hadley. We want it to be helpful and enjoyable to you. Please support its advertisers.”

The same holds true today, as the Town Reminder still brings community happenings to its readers, and prides itself on being a local community newspaper with great history.