From Waco to Brooklyn…

February 8, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever been thinking one thing and a moment later your mind has completely carried you down several rabbit holes and back up into a field far away? As you try to retrace your steps, you are utterly amazed at how you ever ended up where you did. I find history to be much the same. I may begin my historical trek in a tiny town in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, but before long I find I’ve meandered to the center of New York City. Such is the journey I took this snowy afternoon.

Every day I drive past an old industrial complex in my mountain town Of Williamsport, PA.. The signage says, “Williamsport Wire Rope Company” and the factory yard is filled with enormous spools stacked about … a photographer’s fantasy for possible black and white images. This picturesque scene is what originally caught my attention on those many drives home. This particular day a rabbit trail led me to an exploration of what the wire cable produced in this factory would have been used for which quickly lead me to an engineer named John Augustus Roebling (1806 – 1869). John had owned the very first wire cable company, similar to the one in my town. Not satisfied to just produce these cables, his mind dreamt of the many, yet be discovered, uses those wires might  have … Voila ! … Suspension Bridges. As a suspension bridge designer and builder extraordinaire, he  was instrumental in creating the beautiful city of Pittsburgh which became known as “The City of Bridges”. From Pittsburgh to the Niagara River … from Waco to Brooklyn NY, this man took spools of wire cable and transformed each area he touched into a practical work of art. My rabbit trail reminds me that my local history can be the start of the very best future road trips. Whether your interests lie with new scientific discoveries, historical biographies or works of art, much of history can satisfy almost any inquisitive mind. I see a historical bridge excursion coming this spring… perhaps even from Waco to Brooklyn.

The Titanic orphans: the rest of the story…

December 21, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the advantages of reading a newspaper with fascinating reports from long ago is the ability to investigate and see how the “event” came to a conclusion.

Such is a case with a Detroit newspaper dated six days after the Titanic’s sinking which had a front page photo of the: ” ‘Orphans Of The Titanic:’ Parents Gone and Even Names Unknown“, the caption noting in part that the: “…two little orphans, who were found clasped in each others’ arms in one of the lifeboats…thought to be the children of an unknown…French couple…The little ones speak only French…all efforts to establish their identity have so far failed…”.
And there the story ends for readers of that April 21, 1912 issue of the Detroit News-Tribune. One wonders what became of the unfortunate children.
Well, they were part of an intriguing story with a good ending.

This link has the details, but in short, the children’s father absconded from France with the boys after losing custody of them in a divorce settlement. The father died on the Titanic, and photos of the boys in newspapers were identified by the mother in France, who would soon be reunited with them.

Did you ever read a news report from  a century ago and wonder how it finished out? The internet makes it possible to find out!

You know of Molly Pitcher. Do you know of Betsy Doyle?

November 5, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

On November 22, 1812 the British, at Fort George, were cannonading the Americans at Fort Niagara. George McFeeley was the American commander and several days later made his official report to Brigadier General Smyth.
Within the report McFeeley noted: “…An instance of extraordinary bravery in a female (the wife of one Doyle, a private in the United States Artillery, made a prisoner at Queenston,) I cannot pass over. During the most tremendous cannonading I have ever seen, she attended the six-pounder on the mess-house with red hot shot, and showed fortitude equal to the Maid of Orleans…”.
In an act of female heroism during combat, much like the work of Molly Pitcher (although considered folklore by many historians), Betsy Doyle played a notable role. A mother of four whose husband was captured at the Battle of Queenston & held as a prisoner by the British, after some gunners were wounded Betsy stepped in to help. The Americans were loading “red hot shot” into their guns to fire at Fort George. Betsy helped bring the shot from the fireplaces downstairs to the guns.
The December 16, 1812 issue of the “Boston Patriot” is one of few newspapers which reported this event.

Acts of female involvement in combat are rarely reported. Here is a nice one.

Snapshot 1969… Gaylord Perry and The Man on the Moon…

August 13, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Every collector has seen this famous headline from 1969, or one of the thousands like it which appeared on every newspaper at the time: “MEN WALK ON THE MOON” (see DAILY NEWS, New York City, July 21, 1969). But an interesting quirk in coincidental history is inconspicuously buried inside, perhaps only of interest to baseball fans–and every collector of historic newspapers.
The story is best told by Major League Baseball in their piece titled: “The Story of Gaylord Perry, the Moon Landing, and a Most Unlikely Home Run”.
An excerpt reads: “…One day during the ’64 season, Dark [manager of the S. F. Giants] and San Francisco Examiner reporter Harry Jupiter looked on as Perry smacked some home runs during batting practice. Jupiter told Dark that Perry looked pretty good with a bat in his hands and remarked that the pitcher might even hit a home run one of these days. Dark’s response set in motion one of the weirdest coincidences in baseball history: “Mark my words,” he said, “a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.”
Jump ahead five years to July 20, 1969. Perry, now 30 and clearly established as one of the best arms in the game, was scheduled to start against the rival Dodgers. But there was something else happening that afternoon: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were about to become the first men to set foot on the moon. You can probably see where this is going.
At 1:17 p.m. PT, Apollo 11 landed. Some 238,900 miles away at Candlestick Park, Perry stepped to the plate in the top of the third inning — and, wouldn’t you know it, he hit the first home run of his Major League career. As the righty told MLB.com back in 2009:
“Well, about the top of the third, over the loudspeaker, they were telling everybody to stand and give a moment of silent thanks for the astronauts who landed on the moon. And I’d say 30 minutes later, Claude Osteen grooved me a fastball, and I hit it out of the park.”
Alas, by 1969 Dark had moved on to managing the Cleveland Indians, denying him the chance to say, “Hey, technically speaking, we did put a man on the moon before you hit a home run.”

A fascinating piece of history, verified with both reports in this issue of the Daily News.

March through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

March 6, 2020 by · 4 Comments 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of February. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

March Through Time

February through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

February 10, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of February. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

February Through Time

January through the years via the lens of Rare & Early Newspapers…

January 13, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

Walk with us back through time to see what noteworthy, historic and collectible events occurred during the month of January. In so doing, we hope you’ll agree: “History is never more fascinating than when it’s read from the day it was first reported.”

January Through Time

Snapshot 1934… Bonnie & Clyde – their destiny foretold…

November 18, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1934 Bonnie penned what most believe to be her last poem: “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde”, which appeared in newspapers throughout the country shortly after their deaths. The uncanny foretelling of their fate would capture the imagination of many, and help transform them into legendary figures – a fantasy she had held since her teenage years. Although the poem appeared in quite a few newspapers, few can be found. However, we recently came across a Chicago Daily Tribune dated May 25, 1934 which printed the poem on the day of their funeral. Enjoy.

They Put It In Print (1941)… World Series – Cardinals vs. Yankees…

October 7, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Typically, the day after a MLB team is defeated in the World Series, an acknowledgement along with a few humble, congratulatory remarks are the focus of the losing team’s hometown newspaper. However, after the New York Yankees eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1941 World Series, the St.Louis Post-Dispatch decided to ignore decorum and instead, predicted that the following year, the Cards would return to defeat the Yankees in the 1942 World Series? How do we know they made such a bold prediction? They put it in print – and, Nostradamus would  have been proud. The following year both teams returned to the World Series, and the Cards defeated the Yankees in only five games.

 

 

Snapshot 1922… John who?

October 4, 2019 by · 2 Comments 

Unless you grew up in the Philadelphia – New York City corridor, you may not recognize the name, but he certainly made his mark on American culture in general, and the Philly region in particular. Famed merchant, marketing pioneer, founder of one of the first major department stores, U.S. Post Master General, notable Christian philanthropist, and more, his name was recognized throughout the world in the mid-to-late 19th century. Until its closing, the Wanamaker Building was a frequent destination for most who visited Philadelphia, especially during the Christmas Season. Some of his more-famous quotes include: “People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.” “People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.” “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

As was reported in the December 12, 1922 issue of The Bethlehem Times, John Wanamaker met his Maker on the same day as this report. While his influence lives on through such simple things as “the price tag” (on products), his name is slowly succumbing to that which befalls us all. Still, those of us who know of his contributions appreciate his impact on society, and have fond memories of his Christmas Light Show and one of the most amazing pipe organs in the world. Thanks John.

Update from a comment posted as a follow-up to this post: “It is true that Wanamaker department store is closed, but since then, the building has housed two other department stores, Hecht’s and Macy’s. Both companies have continued the Christmas light and organ traditions. Macy’s, the current owner, even funded a multi-million dollar restoration to the light show. Going to Wanamaker’s at Christmas is still a yearly tradition that my family enjoys, and many a Philadelphian still “meet at the eagle,” on a daily basis.” Thanks Bill (see posted reply)

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