Ink-loving editor bids farewell to beloved Clayton news shop


Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Robert A. Cohn writes that he has been buying newspapers, magazines and comics from World News in Clayton since its opening in 1967. The store recently announced it will close in February. Photo: Alec Baris

ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

At 82, I’m dealing with the harsh reality of illness and death striking down relatives and friends.  Add to this the relentless news of the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the cloud of sadness can envelop the soul.  

One thing we can take comfort in are the “constants” in our lives. That includes family, friends, and places—restaurants, theaters and other familiar haunts—that reassuringly keep on going. For me, that includes World News in Clayton. The shop recently announced that it is closing for good in February due to declining sales.  

“Say it isn’t so,” I lamented to Mike Flavin, the hardworking and accommodating manager of World News for 43 of its 55 years at the corner of Central and Forsyth avenues.  The soft-spoken Flavin sadly confirmed the grim truth with the new sign on its door: “STORE CLOSING  EVERYTHING MUST GO.”

Serving St. Louis area for 45 years

For a print news junkie like me, World News is like the beloved restaurant and bar Ernest Hemingway describes in his affecting short story “A Clean and Well Lighted Place.” 

In 1967, when World News opened, I was press secretary and speech writer of then St. Louis County Supervisor (Executive) Lawrence K. Roos. World News was my regular daily stop for me to get my “fix” of newspapers, magazines and paperbacks, topped off with a treat like a Snicker’s or Hershey bar.  I have continued to be among the loyal regular customers since its inception.  

Since I joined the Jewish Light in 1969, I have continued my love affair with World News. Call me a dinosaur or an old, old-school devotee, but I love the tactile, ink-smearing print media, which feels “more real” than online sources.  (My wife Barbara does not share my love of printer’s ink.)  I feel like a literal “kid in a candy shop” at World News.  

‘An endearing and enduring memory’

Each day my wife or I goes to World News, where I pick up the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Riverfront Times, the St. Louis American and the Catholic Review — plus a wide variety of publications ranging from Superhero Marvel and DC comic books to Time, Newsweek, The Week, The New Yorker, New York, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Nation, The New Republic, National Review, Commentary, Tikkun, Moment and Lilith.  These publications cover the full spectrum of political perspectives.  I make it my business to read the best among the vast array of print offerings at the media mecca of World News.  

In a post last week, World News owner John Cowley said, “All good things must come to an end.” But like Marcel Proust’s beloved Madeleine tea cakes in “Remembrance of Things Past,” World News will be an endearing and enduring memory to lift our spirits through nostalgia.  I hope that in the world to come, there will be an exact duplicate of World News that remains open forever.

Robert A. Cohn is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the Jewish Light.