Reader‘s archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we’ll dig through and bring up some finds.

While going through a bag of random crap yesterday, Reader graphic artist Sue Kwong discovered a front page dated September 25, 1998, mounted on foam board and bearing the headline “Howe Now? Reader to Fold: Chaos Reigns at Local Alternative.”

The story begins:

The Chicago Reader ceased publication October 2 when staffers at the weekly were unable to enter their offices. The lockout was tentatively linked to the departure of Chris Howe, the paper’s longtime maintenance executive and a well-known Chicago actor. In a scene straight out of Tennessee Williams, company treasurer Tom Yoder climbed the fire escape bellowing, “Su-pa! Suuu-paaaa!”

The byline is Hildegard Johnson, coincidentally the same name as the kickass City Hall reporter played by Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday.

So OK, the paper was a fake, a gag gift for Howe, who was leaving Chicago for Detroit and who was considered essential to the whole operation. Obviously, the Reader somehow managed to go on. But it feels like that headline could have run at any time most of the current staff has worked here. It’s amazing sometimes to think that this paper still exists at all.