I’m New Here: Week Thirty-One

September 20, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Newspapers were bound into volumes throughout the years for a variety of reasons.  My favorite is that the owner of a large house would send off the papers that had been delivered, ironed, and read throughout the course of a year.  A book binder would glue and sew them together, and they would be returned to the home’s library, to be arranged with all the other years, and thus mark the history within which great homes and great families were housed.

Breaking a volume of bound issues goes against the grain for someone like me.  Perhaps the remembered library hush of early childhood imprinted an aura of solemnity to the world of books; perhaps the shadowed mystery of pre-reading years conjures the aroma that is akin to sacred things.  The most likely reason, however, is reflected in the lifetime acquisitions boxed in spare spaces, despite overflowing shelves in every room.  I like books.  And my forays into the back are exercises in willpower if I am headed toward All the Year Round, Household Words, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Weekly or Scribner’s Monthly – which are liberally laden with serialized stories from beloved authors.

This week, in a search for details surrounding a Harlem rabble-rouser, I found an article headed “BRITAIN AMERICANIZED, CHESTERTON CONTENDS”, followed by, “He says Existence of Nation Is Being Altered by American Economic Pressure”.  The opening words confirmed my hope that these were indeed opinions offered by the great writer of The Man Who Would Be Thursday, the Father Brown Mysteries, and seventy other titles.  Many American readers, such as myself, have relished the literary works of this sharp-witted, kind-hearted lay cleric of the early 1900’s.

The affection, it seems, was not mutual.

“Speaking last night at the Delphian Coterie dinner, G.K. Chesterton declared that English habit and life, the look of the English town and the whole tone of English existence are being altered by the economic and commercial pressure of America.  He said that if the Kaiser had occupied London with the Prussian Army he could not more completely have denationalized the English nation and city.  ’While I object most violently to the Americanization of England,’ he said, “I have no objection to the Americanization of America.  Most Americans I have known I have liked, but I have like them most when I have known them in America.  Let us approach all international criticism with a good deal of what our fathers called Christian humility.  What Americans call it I do not know because I do not think they ever met it.’”

And, with that, I have nothing more to say.

Labor Day – back to school, end of summer, and hurricanes – Oh My!

September 2, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Labor Day weekend is often received with quite divergent emotions. Most children view its encroachment with sadness as marks the end of their summer and a return to school, whereas at least a portion of parents view it in a positive light as a return to a bit of normalcy, and to sports enthusiasts, the onset of football season. However, regardless of which point of view one embraces, for coastal residents in the east and south, their emotions are typically coupled with a bit of trepidation as it also signals the onset of prime hurricane season. In this regard, the Albany Evening News for September 4, 1935 tells of what has become known as The Great Labor Day Hurricane. The image below tells of at least the initial detail of this historic weather-generated disaster. So, as we ask the Lord’s blessing before enjoying our outdoor BBQ’s today, let’s be thankful these tragic events are few and far between.

Two hours before disaster… Food for thought!

July 1, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

What were you doing when President John F. Kennedy was shot, when the space shuttle Columbia exploded, or when the World Trade Center’s twin towers were struck by planes? Remembering what one was doing at the exact moment such disasters strike is common. But what about two hours earlier? Disasters rarely come with warnings, and in most cases, those within their physical or emotional path are simply going about yet another day – washing dishes, changing diapers, walking dogs, daydreaming at school, arguing with a friend – going through the motions of life. AND THEN…

Such was the case on May 6, 1937 as depicted in an issue of the New York World Telegram. We’ll let the image shown below do the talking. Every moment of every day is precious. What were you doing two hours before you lost a child… a friend… a spouse… a parent? “Two Hours Earlier!” Just something to think about.

They Put It In Print (1938)… Martin Niemöller…

May 28, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” (Martin Niemöller)

The Christian Science Monitor for March 4, 1938 reports Reverend Martin Niemöller has been sent off to a Nazi concentration camp.

 

 

“Life’s Poetry”… Food for thought…

May 16, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

As I was searching through our inventory of mid-1850’s Correctors (Sag Harbor) for an historic ad for “Douglass & Van Scoy – PHOTOGRAPHS and DAGUERREOTYPES” – pioneer American photographers, I came across the poem shown below which caused me to pause and smell the roses. Enjoy.

I’m New Here…Weeks Nine & Ten

April 19, 2019 by · 1 Comment 

Since my entries are personal perspective, and this is a significant week in the Christian calendar, my post carries a tinge of my own religious convictions.  Please skip reading if such things offend you.  After today I’ll endeavor to quash my worldview until a similar time next year…

There are newspapers inventoried in this facility that are so old they preceded the term, and are referred to by those in the know as a newsbook or a “coronto”.  At least, that is my sketchy understanding.  This week I am thinking about things that have survived generations, inventions, wars and cosmic changes.  The listing that caught my eye was a title from 1629, banned in 1632 –but then given special license to continue six years later.  Wikipedia says, “In 1638 they were granted a patent from King Charles I for the publication of news and history, in return for a £10 annual donation toward the upkeep of St. Paul’s Cathedral…”  And, of course, I wanted to see this for myself.  The small volume sold in 2015, just days after it was made available, but I was able to find a German newsbook from 1607 that I could look at. It wasn’t in a vault, but neatly cataloged and filed with all the other items in the seventeenth century inventory.  There are so many treasures, I suppose a vault would have to be the size of a warehouse — which indeed it is.  AUSSFUHRLICHER BERICHT was accessible, and I was able to pull the folder, open it on a surface, and even lift the clear archival cover in order to take a photograph without the obstruction of a reflected glare.  Not many people have the privilege of holding a publication that is over four hundred years old, and I know myself to be ridiculously undeserving.

But this week Paris has superimposed itself on my mental wanderings.  As for much of the western world, images of flames engulfing an icon that has stood for eight hundred years are incomprehensible.  At a certain point old things seem to become everlasting.  Particularly, stone cathedrals are expected to survive history itself.  Invasion, famine, revolution and disease have moved around that block work for nearly a millennium.  But we have records here at History’s Newsstand of many seemingly immovable things that have eventually yielded, and those accounts are interspersed with all the common themes of humanity that seem unhampered by the passage of time.

This is the week that Notre Dame burned.  It is also the week before Easter — the darkness and mourning of “Good Friday” so closely  followed by the joyful resurrection of Easter Sunday.

There is destruction and devastation, but there is also redemption.  It’s the common cycle of the accounts told within these pages of history that are so neatly sorted, labeled, and shelved for retrieval.   Obituaries and birth announcements.  Demolitions and groundbreakings.  Political structures that rise and fall, and new ones that rise again.

“A time to every purpose under heaven.”

Brokenness and healing.

 

They Put It In Print… FDR “packs” Supreme Court… In his own words…

April 12, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

The Springfield Union (MA), dated March 10, 1937, has the complete text of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat in which he defends his rationale for “packing” the Supreme Court. As we stand at the brink of perhaps yet another similar moment in American political history, it is timely to consider his thinking – in his own words, and thanks to the editors of The Springfield Union, they put it in print. Enjoy.

They Put It In Print… Black Americana……

February 25, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Few nations can boast of a peaceful trek from being a slave state (at least in part) to the enslaved people-group holding the highest position in the very land that had once enslaved their ancestors. Whereas there is still much work to be done, the United States’ governmental structure allows, and even promotes such progress. Since much of these historic events were put in print, the link below is able to provide a chronology of many of the highlights of this amazing, albeit bumpy road. Since the link only provides a snapshot of each issue’s content, in order to view the related coverage you may need to click on the item number of several in order to view the item’s full description.

BLACK AMERICANA (and more)

Note: While perusing the issues shown in the link above, one might wonder why a link to a chronology of “Black Americana” issues includes those from outside the United States. Answer? Life rarely happens in a vacuum – and this is equally true with the trek shown above. Both the related tragedies, atrocities,  and eventual progress which transpired outside the U.S. were often foundational in the thinking of those within. As a result, they have been included.

I’m New Here…Week Two

February 22, 2019 by · 5 Comments 

For the next day and a half I’ve been left in charge of a small portion of things in the Rare and Early Newspapers world, which must mean I’m learning something.  Still, I am going to rattle off this week’s post between all the responsibilities as I am fiercely resolved to not let anyone down.  If you’re disappointed with my submission, please check in again next Friday when I have a little more time to reflect.  But I do want to take a momentary glance at this recent week before it is forgotten in the next discovery.

Requests for birthday papers are a regular occurrence here, and it’s a good excuse to go hunting in the racks, exploring the mazes of columns and rows.  To me, the best thing about searching for these issues is that they frequently hold a hitherto unknown element that increases the value beyond “a regular NYT from 1959”.  However, I am learning that content is in the eye of the beholder.  Yesterday I climbed and crouched (and crawled at one point) pulling every volume that might still contain the specified date.  When at last I laid it flat on one of the twenty(?) portable viewing surfaces, I felt a surge of confidence that I had found something exceptional and I cornered the closest newspaper veteran to verify my discovery.  “Winston Churchill,” I pronounced, “shaking hands with Harry Truman, on the front page above the fold.  Is that special content?”

It turns out that it was not.  It turns out Churchill and Truman were “getting together like that all the time.”  Those were the very words used to burst my bubble and I couldn’t help wondering a bit about these giants of recent history — one with an abrupt ascension to the highest office in the land, and the other whose stirring oratory inspired hope in hopeless times — who were nevertheless real people with routines and commonplace interactions and details of living, even as they went about setting their mark on everything that came after.  Newspapers are crammed to bursting with so many important people, so many consequential events and so many seemingly insignificant things, as well.   Regular treasure hunters already know this; the novices might just discover it in a birthday paper.  At any rate, this week I learned that there are at least two quests involved when I head out into the rows, coordinates in hand: the thing I know I am looking for, and the thing I didn’t expect to find.

I hope today you uncover a bit of treasure yourself.

 

Revisiting “The Crime of the Century” through the reporting of the Chicago Tribune…

December 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Question: What do you get when you cross The Chicago Tribune with “The Crime of the Century”?

The Chicago Tribune, self-described as “The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” earned a reputation for having dramatic, timely headlines. In this regards, they are perhaps 2nd to none. However, they are also well-known for what may very well be the greatest mistake in front-page headline news: “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.” While certainly the most recognized, it was not the Chicago Tribune’s 1st major faux pa. Approximately 16 years earlier, in an effort to be at the forefront of breaking news in regards to “The Crime of the Century,” they printed the dramatic headline: “REPORT ‘LINDY BABY HOME’.” Sadly this would prove to be a false, unsubstantiated report (aka, “fake news”) – as the Lindbergh baby would be found dead a little more than a month later. It sure goes to show how even the “best of the best” can make mistakes – a good lesson in humility for all of us.

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