What do race riots, Kevlar, Star Trek, and Pet Sounds have in common? They all have their roots firmly established in the year 1966. While the 11:00 news brought daily reminders of the horrors of war, many back home were additionally distraught by the $14,000 price-tag for a new home and the 32 cent per gallon price they were paying for gas to fuel their gas-guzzling Bonnevilles and Oldsombiles. Young men were conflicted over whether to ogle more over Chargers, Mustangs, and GTO’s, or the most amount of bare leg they had ever seen thanks to the ever-popular mini skirt. Just for fun, we selected a New Year’s Eve issue from small-town Kansas (Parsons, Kansas) to explore how those who lived at the time viewed this tumultuous and formative time in both American and world history. Of particular note is the editorial regarding honesty in Washington, D.C.. Please enjoy: New Year’s Eve – 1966
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.
Today’s journey took me to New York City by the way of The New York Times dated December 16, 1966. There on the front page I found the headline “Walt Disney, 65, Dies on Coast; Founded an Empire on a Mouse.” “Walt Disney, who built his whimsical cartoon world of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into a $100-million-a-year entertainment empire; died in St. Joseph’s Hospital here this morning. He was 65 years old… Just before his last illness, Mr. Disney was supervising the construction of a new Disneyland in Florida…”
Oddly enough, Mr. Disney did not do any of the drawings of his famous Mickey Mouse.
Today I traveled to New York City by the means of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine dated December, 1866. I found the first appearance of Mark Twain in a national magazine with the publishing of “Forty-Three Days in an Open Boat. Compiled From Personal Diaries.”
I also found through the Harper’s Monthly website the following information. “Mark Twain’s first article in Harper’s was miss-attributed to Mark Swain. The story, “Forty-three Days in an Open Boat” (December 1866), is an account of the Hornet, a clipper ship that caught fire in the ocean, leaving its crew adrift. Twain referred to it as the “first magazine article I ever published,” though he had published numerous pieces in other periodicals and newspapers under such names as Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass; W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab; Rambler; Grumbler; and Peter Pencilcase’s Son, John Snooks.
Mark Twain was born thirty-one years earlier, and two months premature, as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, in Florida, Missouri. “When I first saw him I could see no promise in him,” his mother said. The Clemenses moved several miles upstate, to the Missouri River-side Hannibal, when he was four; the town would later inspire the fictional St. Petersburg of his two most famous works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)…”.
Twain didn’t turn out too bad after-all!
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.
My Fellow Americans: Devastating hurricanes, Pearl Harbor, 9-11, the end of WWII, Lindbergh’s 1st flight across the Atlantic – while there is much that divides us, there have been times throughout our history when both triumphs and tragedies have inspired us to lay down our weapons and to unite as one. While these times of mutual good will are typically short-lived, they often act as a reset to help center us on that which binds us together. We need such a time!
It is was with the current atmosphere of angst as a backdrop that I was moved by an under-the-radar prayer found buried on page 11 of an issue reporting the assassination of President JFK. His death, airmailed via television directly into the living room of nearly every home in America, brought together Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike and unified us around shared grief. May a day come when such unity of spirit flourishes without the inspiration of deep sorrow, tragedy, or war. As another assassinated President once said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand (Abraham Lincoln).” It is time for us to lay down our weapons. Much is at stake.
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. 🙂