Taking a stand… often at a cost…

June 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

What do Michael Jones, Sandy Koufax, Eric Liddell, and Hakeem Olajuwon all have in common? They are all major athletes who made professional sacrifices due to their faith. In some cases the sacrifices made had only a minimal cost, but in others the cost was quite significant. This reality was recently brought to our attention through the eyes of a Detroit News from October 3, 1965. It tells of Sandy Koufax not being available to start the 1st game of the World Series due to his observance of Yom Kipper. Although the article states it really wasn’t a big deal, his missing the first game would mean he would not be available to pitch 3 times if the series took 7 games, unless he pitched with only 2 days rest – rarely a successful venture. After his team lost the first two games of the series, it sure appeared as if his decision would prove quite costly. However, in the end, he did pitch game 7 on only 2 days rest – won the game, and was named the Series MVP. However, what if they had lost? What about others who’s teams have lost or they themselves were excluded from major events due to their faith? Do you think many ever regret their decision to put their faith first? I’m guessing no, but perhaps others know otherwise.

Innocence… Flag Day 1921

June 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the understated, yet profound beauties of the American experiment is self-government is not that everything is perfect; rather, its the built in mechanisms which enable peaceful positive change over time. At time the wheels of progress move all-too-slowly, but they move. The presence of political and social tension are not signs of weakness, but are part and parcel of how we function in a (hopefully) civil, free society. For most the flag represents not perfection – but the ideals which provide avenues for change. It is with these thoughts in mind in the face of current tensions that I was struck by the innocence of the moment captured on the front page of The Omaha Sunday Bee’s Rotogravure Section for June 12, 1921. Something about it seems pure and right. Whether you agree, or agree to disagree, perhaps a day will come when our children, or our children’s children, will pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect our right to do so. Happy Flag Day!

Anticipation enhanced by delayed gratification… King Tut…

June 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A bride-to-be as her wedding day approaches… a young child the night before Christmas… a family as it heads off towards a long-awaited vacation destination (Can anyone hear, “Are we there yet?”)… a teacher during the last week of May – as the end of the year nudges closer… a groom as his wedding night draws near – there is no doubt that delayed gratification buoyed by a humongous helping of perseverance tends to make long anticipated events taste even sweeter. Such was to be the case for Howard Carter (archeologist – backed by financier George Herbert) as he entered the newly discovered tomb in late November of 1922 to find drawings related to the funeral of King Tutankhamun painted on the walls. After more than a decade of searching – failure built upon failure, could this be it? While newspapers would not report the opening of the inner tomb until February the following year, the front page of The New York Times from December 1, 1922 had the announcement of Carter’s initial find – with mention of the King Tut related drawings. One can only imagine the escalation in excitement this created – and the building of anticipation which occurred over the next few months. Unlike the opening of Al Capone’s vaults in 1986, this find would not disappoint!

Memorial Day… The Blue and the Gray…

May 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently discovered an original issue of The Atlantic Monthly for September, 1867, which contained the earliest nationally distributed printing (and maybe the first ever) of ‘The Blue and the Gray,” by Francis Miles Finch. Although Memorial Day had not been officially proclaimed (via General Order #11, May 5, 1868), the practice of placing flowers and wreaths on the tombstones if the fallen was somewhat common. What was uncommon was the act of a group of women in Columbus, Mississippi, which is best described in the preface to Finch’s poem (quoted from the New York Tribune):

“The women of Columbus, Mississippi, animated by nobler sentiments than are many of their sisters, have shown themselves impartial in their offerings made to the memory of the dead. They strewed flowers alike on the graves of the Confederate and of the National soldiers.”

In recognition of Memorial Day, please enjoy the full text of this grand expression of appreciation for those who have fallen in battle – be they blue or gray:

 

Snapshot 1969… Teddy Kennedy in hot water…

April 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from the July 26, 1969 issue of the Springfield Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts…

Snapshot 1969… Teddy Kennedy (was) in cold water…

April 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from the July 20, 1969 issue of the Springfield Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts…

They put it in print… The DNC must make decision on the KKK…

March 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It is easy to look at the deficiencies of our current political climate and forget from whence we came. It is one of the reasons why many of those from “The Greatest Generation,” who saw friends give up their lives for the cause of freedom, quickly become frustrated with those who take those freedoms lightly, and neglect to see the progress this “experiment is self-government” has made in less than 250 years.  I was reminded of this truth when I came across a June 28, 1924 issue of the Leominster Daily Enterprise which had the heading: “COMMITTEE [DNC] GRAPPLES ALL NIGHT WITH KU KLUX KLAN ISSUE.” Let’s put down our partisan-tipped weapons, reopen the lines of communication, and with a degree of civility and mutual respect, move forward in our quest to make this country a place where each and every citizen can prosper on a foundation of equality, hard-work, and freedom.

They put it in print… Slavery is not a respecter of race, color, or creed…

March 24, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Slavery, along with its multitude of abuses, has been part and parcel of society for millennia. This point was brought to the forefront as we were reading a July 10, 1671 London Gazette. It reports of letters from the Island of Corfu which talk about Turks transporting Christian slaves – with a mention that they were good workers. While a bit troubling, it also makes a request for everyone to stay clear of the vessels in order to keep the peace. Interesting.

An Alternative to Capital Punishment Explored in the 1700’s…

January 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Among several reports from America posted in The London Chronicle for January 19, 1768 is a report from Denmark which brings to light their experimentation with an alternative approach to the death sentence for the most heinous of crimes. Rather than editorializing, I’ll let the the text do the talking…

Sometimes it’s what’s missing that catches the eye… Alaska…

December 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the greatest hobby-related pleasures experienced by those who collect rare and early newspapers is finding previously unidentified content within an issue. While not on the same scale as finding gold, “mining” a newspaper for reports that were missed by the seller is certainly rewarding. Time and time again collectors tell us they purchased a newspaper for under $30 for a relatively minor report only to find a hidden gem buried deeper within the issue. Such discoveries, at times, can be financially rewarding, but in a world where the unexpected is often tethered to bad news, such relatively common incidents in the newspaper collecting hobby are a sweet salve to the weary soul (okay – perhaps a little overstated). Still, it certainly is to a seller’s advantage to keep such incidents to a minimum. Prior to offering a newspaper for sale, we compare it to various historical databases and our 40+ year chronological record of findings to help us estimate when a report of historical significance might be found. Since news traveled a bit more slowly in previous centuries, even our best intentions are left wanting.

This being said, there are times when, as we go through the process of searching for historical content, what surprises us most is what we are unable to find – or the minimal coverage which is present. Its not that we miss the coverage, rather, its that what we now see as noteworthy events – often buoyed up by movies, history books, etc., were mere blips on the screen at the time they occurred, and the contemporary coverage only serves to confirm its position in the coverage food-chain of the day.

The purchase of Alaska from Russia, finalized on March 30, 1867, is such an event. After spending over an hour searching for a mention in a set of Springfield (MA) Republicans from 1867, coverage finally showed up on page five of the April 10th issue (see image). Perhaps this is why the purchase, promoted heavily by and signed by the U.S. Secretary of State at the time, William H. Seward, became known as “Seward’s Folly.” Of course just because many of his contemporaries thought paying 2 cents an acre was foolish doesn’t mean he was wrong. Sometimes the masses simply don’t get it right – as time would reveal.

 

 

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