Saturday, July 30, 2011

Same News, Different Decade


I recently spent some time in the microfilm department of the Carnegie Library in Oakland perusing Pittsburgh newspapers for research on the Westinghouse Memorial.

While reading through microfilmed issues of the Post-Gazette, as well as the defunct Press and Sun-Telegraph, I came across the following items that piqued my interest.

They help to illustrate that the crazy, sad, funny, outrageous and cruel things people do that we read, see and hear in the media today are far from novel. The only differences are the toys, tools and appliances available to the human race in the 21st century are more advanced.

These items also help to prove that while we shake our heads over the latest example of barbarism or stupidity, and we long for the “good, old days” when these things didn’t happen, the fact remains that they’ve happened pretty much since homo sapiens first appeared on this planet.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye. I recorded them as they were published, stilted language and all. I’m sure you’ll find that if you point your browser to the nearest news site you will come across similar tales of the human condition.

I greatly enjoyed reading and recording the following items and will provide similar posts regularly. My commentaries on some of them are in italics.

Please leave any reactions you have in the comments section.

The following are from the Oct. 7, 1930, issue of the Press:

Here’s an example of how prejudice against smokers isn’t a new issue.

Smoking too much

CHICAGO -- Mrs. Anna Silvers did not mind when her husband brought strange women home with him, but she did object to their smoking in her house, "because it injured her prestige and social standing in the community," she stated today in a divorce suit filed here.

Man, 80, kills wife

SEATTLE -- William J. Christie, 80, shot and killed his wife yesterday, then wounded himself fatally. Before he died, he told physicians that he wakened to find his wife threatening him with a revolver. He seized it and fired in self-defense, he said.

From the Oct. 7, 1930, issue of the Sun-Telegraph

Government agents did everything they could to stamp out that tool of the devil known as beer.

Brewery Raided,
Mouthful of Beer Evidence

A mouthful of beer was evidence upon which prohibition agents based their raid of an alleged wildcat brewery at Curry and Library roads, Bethel Township, and arrested pretty Pauline Campbell, 16, and her father, Thomas Campbell, 48, the agents testified before the United States commissioner today.

The agents testified that on September 27, at Campbell's barbecue stand which was part of the property, they bought four bottles of high-test home brew from Pauline.

farmeral_beer_im_icon_clip_art_9550 When her father cautioned them that they would not be allowed to take the beer from the place, one of the agents, so he testified, succeeded in retaining a mouthful until he left the place. Analysis revealed its high test, the agents added.

Two days later the agents raided the place and reported seizing 3,000 bottles of beer. Today Pauline and her father were held for court on charges of sale, possession and manufacture of beer.

Platform for Pittsburgh
and Western Pennsylvania

(Published Monday, Oct. 13, 1930)

1. A better, cleaner, more beautiful city
2. Rapid Transit
3. Repeal or modification of "blue laws"
4. Establishment of Pittsburgh metropolitan district
5. Community Fund for charities
6. Town Hall, seating at least 15,000
7. Voting machines to insure honest elections
8. Development of river transportation
9. Development of air transportation
10. Electrification of railroads

Some of these goals were met:

  • The “blue laws” strictly prohibiting many Sunday activities eventually were eased. What became the Steelers couldn’t exist until that happened.
  • The Town Hall the paper mentioned came to fruition 30 years later with the opening of the Civic Arena.
  • A Community Fund, now called the United Way, was created.
  • Greater Pittsburgh Airport in Moon opened in 1952 to relieve the overwhelmed Allegheny County Airport.

Some of the goals are still in the sights of today’s leaders.

  • Public transit is far from rapid and even less capable of serving the community’s needs.
  • The consolidation of the county’s many municipalities into one entity remains a far-off dream.
  • While Pittsburgh is far cleaner and more beautiful today than in 1930, much remains to be accomplished.

From the Oct. 22, 1930, issue of the Press

The alleged benefits of shale are nothing new.

Oil From Shale

WASHINGTON -- Oil can be produced from shale with reasonable satisfaction, according to reports of the United States Department of Commerce. Experiments being conducted by the United States Bureau of Mines at Rulison, Col., produced shale oil by retorts of types now available for large scale operations.

From the July 5, 1900, issue of the Press

Kicked a Boy

Andrew Notta was selling balloons on Twenty-seventh street at 8:30 a.m. and was greatly annoyed by boys. He kicked Dan Curtin, 10 years old, in the stomach and was arrested by Officer Carver. The boy was taken home by friends.

The biggest difference between the following ad from the Press and today’s ED cures is that Viagra is more slickly marketed.

Cures Weak Men Free, Insures
Love and A Happy Home For All

How any man may quickly cure himself after years of suffering from weakness, lost manhood, varicocele [a widening of the veins along the cord that holds up a man's testicles], etc., and enlarge small, weak organs to full size and vigor.

Pharmacist Simply send your name and address to Dr. L.W. Knapp, 1128 Hull Bldg., Detroit, Mich., and he will gladly send the free receipt, with full directions, so that any man may easily cure himself at home. This is certainly a most generous offer, and the following extract taken from his daily mail shows what men think of his generosity:

"Dear Sir---Your method worked beautifully. Results were exactly what I needed. Strength and vigor have completely returned and enlargement is entirely satisfactory."

All correspondence is strictly confidential, mailed in plain sealed envelope. The receipt is free for the asking, and he wants every man to have it.


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