Stop the presses, but for real this time

By Joe Stumpe

After 30-plus years in the newspaper business, I finally got to utter the words “Stop the presses!” 

It wasn’t quite as much fun as in the movies.

Let me set the scene. A day or two after sending the edited and corrected proofs of last month’s issue to our printer, Valley Offset Printing, I sat down to see how long it would take me to find the answers in our word search puzzle.

Now I already knew the answers, having concocted them and the corresponding clues to the puzzle. But I had left the actual making of the puzzle to a website on the internet that I’d heard about from a teacher. It’s pretty cool: you just plug in some words and seconds later there’s a puzzle.

I found the first 11 answers I was looking for, then continued looking for the twelfth and final answer. And looked some more.

After an increasingly frantic search, it finally dawned on me that I had not included the last answer among those I had put into the puzzle-making website, meaning it didn’t appear in the puzzle.

Suddenly, I had a vision of hundreds if not thousands of readers of the active age patiently working their way through the puzzle only to discover that there was no twelfth answer.

 I telephoned Valley Offset – did I mention how fantastic they are? – and asked about the status of the October issue. It was on the press and ready to go, our rep there said. 

I confessed my mistake and begged our rep to let me insert a corrected version of the puzzle into last month’s issue. To my relief, she said it could be done.

I also asked her if I was overreacting. She said I was not. As a “puzzle person” herself, she might have beaten me with the eraser end of a pencil if she’d been asked to solve an unsolvable puzzle.

So I think I made the right decision, and learned a lesson about double-checking puzzles, too. You can find the completed puzzle along with the winners of our puzzle contest/theater ticket drawing on page 23.

Contact Joe Stumpe at joe@theactiveage.com

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