We recently became familiar with Donn Fendler, who in 1939, at the age of 12, survived 9 days (article says 8) in the remote mountains of Maine after becoming separated from his family. The account of his “adventure” certainly provides a strong contrast between “snowflakes” and those who have the fortitude to look extreme difficulty square in the face and move forward. His tale reminds us of Knute Rockne’s (or was it Joseph Kennedy’s?) well-worn words: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” And, as for “snowflakes”? When the heat gets turned up…
Please enjoy the coverage of Donn’s day of rescue found in The New York Times, July 26, 1939.
I journeyed today to Gloucester, England, through The Glocester Journal dated March 23, 1767. I found an interesting article “Last week the skeleton of a man in setters, with one jaw and some of the large bones perfect, was dug up in removing some ground in our Castle Green, eastward of the ruins of the old County Hall, memorable as the place wherein was held the fatal black assize, in the year 1577… upwards of 500 other persons were infected by a gaol disease, and died between the sixth of July and the tenth of August. This skeleton is by some conjectured to be the remains of one Rowland Jenkes, the person condemned at the assize for for sedition, and who was at the bar when the dreadful catastrophe befel the court…”. This was pertaining to the “Black Assize”.
As per wikipedia: The Black Assize is a name given to multiple deaths in the city of Oxford in England between July 6 and August 12, 1577. At least 300 people, including the chief baron and sheriff, are thought to have died as a result of this event. It received its name because it was believed to have been associated with a trial at the Assize Court at Oxford Castle. A 19th-century account is more sure of the cause: ‘The assize held at Oxford in the year 1577, called the “Black Assize,” was a dreadful instance of the deadly effects of the jail fever. The judges, jury, witnesses, nay, in fact every person, except the prisoners, women and children, in court were killed by a foul air, which at first was thought to have arisen out of the bowels of the earth; but that great philosopher, Lord Bacon, proved it to have come from the prisoners taken out of a noisome jail and brought into court to take their trials; and they alone, inhaling foul air, were not injured by it.’
Headlines of events that never happened offer a fascinating focus in the world of newspaper collecting. Unlike radio or television broadcasts where errors can be corrected in minutes, and without any “physical evidence” of the mistake, once ink is on the paper it cannot be retracted.
Certainly the most notable and desirable would be the famous Chicago Tribune mistake of November 3, 1948 which proclaimed in its early edition: “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” with issues in nice condition now extending well beyond the $1000 mark. Even in a later edition they continued the error but softening the headline by proclaiming: “G.O.P. WINS WHITE HOUSE!“, which I believe to be more rare than the more famous earlier edition.
One error newspaper which recently surfaced from our inventory comes with an interesting story, growing from the hysteria created by the surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor by Japan, which helped to usher in the U.S. involvement in World War II.
The Los Angeles Examiner “War Extra” of Feb. 25, 1942 proclaimed in large letters across its front page: “AIR BATTLE RAGES OVER LOS ANGELES“. Puzzled by the headline, as I wasn’t aware of any WWII battles reaching the shores of the United States, I did a bit of investigating.
The short answer is there was no air battle over Los Angeles. Just some hysteria run amuck. During the night of February 24/25, 1942, unidentified objects caused a succession of alerts in southern California. On the 24th, a warning issued by naval intelligence indicated that an attack could be expected within the next ten hours. Probably much of the confusion came from the fact that anti-aircraft shell bursts, caught by the searchlights, were themselves mistaken for enemy planes. In any case, the next three hours produced some of the most imaginative reporting of the war: “swarms” of planes (or, sometimes, balloons) of all possible sizes, numbering from one to several hundred, traveling at altitudes which ranged from a few thousand feet to more than 20,000 and flying at speeds which were said to have varied from “very slow” to over 200 miles per hour, were observed to parade across the skies. These mysterious forces dropped no bombs and, despite the fact that 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were directed against them, suffered no losses. There were reports that four enemy planes had been shot down, and one was supposed to have landed in flames at a Hollywood intersection. Residents in a forty mile arc along the coast watched from hills or rooftops as the play of guns and searchlights provided the first real drama of the war for citizens of the mainland. The dawn, which ended the shooting and the fantasy, also proved that the only damage which resulted to the city was such as had been caused by the excitement (there was at least one death from heart failure), by traffic accidents in the blacked-out streets, or by shell fragments from the artillery barrage. Go here to read the full text of this fascinating “battle” as provided by the “Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco”.
Do you have any interesting error headlines in your collection? Feel free to share with others.
*Note: This post was originally posted on 11/11/2008.
The Detroit Free Press for August 14, 1935 appears to be one of the few newspapers (perhaps only) which uncovered Al Capone’s ultimate career aspiration: that of a librarian. His life of crime may have disqualified many from pursuing such a dream, but once again he proved his mettle and determination by becoming the librarian… of Alcatraz prison. Some may sense a degree of sarcasm, however, I would like to point out the article does indicate this was a “promotion.”
Note: We have been unable to verify whether or not this report is accurate. If anyone has information which can verify or dispute this claim, please let us know.
The April 8, 1882 issue of the “Garfield Banner” from Tin Cup, Colorado, has an interesting article on the front page reading: “Jesse James has been killed again. This time a member of the gang named Bob Ford, a cousin of Jesse, is the man who killed him. Ford had been with Jesse about a week seeking an opportunity to kill him,and finally shot him in the back of the head, the ball coming out over his left eye.”
They should have published why the first time he was killed it didn’t work.
An issue of “The Gunnison Advertiser” from Colorado, 1882, notes that it is: “Published Semi-Occasionally…”. Just what does this mean? If “occasionally” means it is not on any set schedule–printed at the whim of the publisher–how much more defining is “semi-occasionally”?
Just curious. Any ideas?
I traveled to London by The London Chronicle of November 22, 1766 where if found that not all Pirates are bad. An article with the dateline “Newport, Rhode Island, October 6” which is from “a letter from Castle Brew, at Annamaboa, on the Coast of Africa…”. It talks about the pirate infested areas along the coastline, but in particular the one ship “commanded by one Hide”. “…These fellows neither murder, or force any into their service; but, on the contrary, one of their crew complaining that he was weary of that life, they put him on shore, and allowed him a sufficiency to bear his expences to the first English factory.”
There is also an interesting article from Paris… “Within a month or six weeks past, several persons in this city, tired of life, have sought the means to deprive themselves of it. Some of them have done it by pistols; but a Baker who in cool blood leaped from the top of Pont-Royal… and was only slightly wounded:… however it was imitated a few days ago by a young man,… threw himself out of a window of the third story into the garden of the royal palace; whereby all his limbs were either broken, or dislocated; and when they raised him up, he only said that it was very unhappy for him that the houses of Paris were so low…”.
One of the beauties of the Rare Newspapers hobby is the infinite possibilities old newspapers provide for collecting. Triumphs and tragedies, inventors and inventions, outlaws and gangsters, incredible feats and devastating failures, historic headlines and under-the-radar events – the reasons for collecting are almost endless.
A new idea (to me)…
Recently, as I was searching for historic content related to Thanksgiving, I was struck by the abundance of advice columns and wondered if the questions and corresponding advice had stood the test of time. This motivated me to grab a handful of issues from 50 years ago to randomly select a few to include within this post (see below). If I had more time and energy, the thought of amassing a collection of such columns through time and providing a bit of hind-sight analysis might make for an interesting coffee-table book – or perhaps a blog. Regardless, how’d she do? Does her advice still hold water? Are the questions still pertinent to those living today? I personally give her a 2 1/2 out of 3. Enjoy.
Today I traveled to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, by the way of the Fitchburg Sentinel ~ Extra dated November 7, 1916. I found that they had the presidential election the previous day and were declaring the winner… “Hughes’ Election ‘Flashed” In New York City”. You all remember President Hughes now, don’t you? Oh wait, that’s right — the wrong winner had been declared! Woodrow Wilson had truly defeated Charles Evans Hughes instead.
Who decides what is right and what is wrong – what is evil and what is good? Is it man – and therefore a moving target based upon a majority view, or is it static – absolute, established by a Supreme Being who calls the shots? Is truth relative, or fixed? This philosophical question has been debated since the dawn of time. If the answer is “man”, then we had better get “it” right, or the consequences to the human race could be catastrophic. If the answer is a Supreme Being, then the debate is meaningless – regardless of who comes out on top.
Whereas most historic newspapers printed in Europe and the United States have shown to be rooted in a Judaeo-Christian ethic which promotes the latter view, one 19th-century Chicago title stands out as having embraced the former – elevating itself to a position of being a bearer of self-determined truth. There is no doubt the identification with another bearing this name is no accident. Read for yourself what it says about itself, and make your own decision as to the truthfulness of its claims:
Of course if the latter answer (Supreme Being) is correct, your (and my) opinion as to whether its claims are true will have no bearing on the truth. 🙂