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Reader reads the riot act

When Stan Nance threatened to cancel his subscription to the Deseret News the other day, exactly no one flinched.

Not that Stan didn't have a case or a cause. A self-described tennis nut, he wanted more coverage of the French Open, and how better to get your point across than threaten to take your business elsewhere?But Stan, c'mon. Some things are bigger than you are.

For most every day of your 81 years, the Deseret News has either hit your doorstep or a nearby hedge.

Might as well cancel the sunrise.

Nobody knows who holds the record for longest time subscribing to the Deseret News. Maybe it's Stan, maybe it isn't. The Deseret News has published for 148 straight years now, so who's to say?

All Stan knows is that from the time of his earliest memory, going back to about age 5, he can remember reading the Deseret News.

When he moved out of his father's house, married and settled into his own house he kept on subscribing.

As he and Helen, his wife, had each and every one of their 14 kids, they also kept on subscribing.

Of the 13 children living today, nine of them also continue to subscribe. Two live out of state, one doesn't take a newspaper at all. One takes the "other paper."

Stan shakes his head. Can't believe it.

Not only has the Nance family subscribed to the Deseret News, it has had its moments IN the Deseret News. Large families make for nice group photos. There's a shot of the Nances around the Christmas tree for a 1965 front page photo. There's another one of them surrounding a University of Utah athletic promoter for a 1960 sports page photo. The Utes offered free entrance to the Utah-Hawaii football game that year to any kid accompanied by a parent. That meant the Nances got 16 tickets for the price of two.

One year -- this was back when the whole family was intact -- the Nances pooled their resources and won a promotion called the Deseret News Prize Puzzle Game. They got $675 -- and another family photo in the newspaper.

An oil driller during his working career, Stan is retired now and has more time to read the newspaper than ever. In between visits from his 55 grandchildren, he takes advantage of that time, enjoying the luxury of reading, as he puts it, "every sheet."

He is interested in just about everything. I asked him if that's because of the newspaper. Reading all those years straight, does it become a habit and make you want to read more?

Well, Stan isn't sure. But he does look forward to hearing that thud on his doorstep every afternoon.

Being interested in things is his nature, he says, and he surrounds himself with those things that interest him the most. His house is packed with Jane Austen books, old classic movie video cassettes, books on birds and flowers, and newspaper clippings on any number of subjects.

And oh yeah, the tennis. His favorite thing. Stan is surrounded by tennis clippings. He is especially interested in women's tennis. He is a huge Martina Hingis fan. He has a framed photo of her on his wall.

Tennis is still a gentleman's game, says Stan. And a gentlewoman's. He likes the way the players conduct themselves. He likes the professionalism.

He still can't understand why the Deseret News doesn't give tennis more coverage, particularly the majors, of which the French Open is one.

"I just think you ought to run the full draw," he told me. "I don't think that's too much to ask."

"You know," he says conspiratorially, "I told them I was going to quit the paper if things didn't improve."

Yes, Stan, we heard. Didn't work. Didn't even come close.

Send e-mail to (benson@desnews.com), fax 801-237-2527. Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.