Then and Now: Hagerstown Newspaper Stories 100 Years Ago | Local News
At the start of the new year, many posts feature a recap of what has been or a glimpse of what the next 12 months could bring.
Herald-Mail Media decided to take it to the next level by releasing 100-year-old rolls of microfilm filled with the pages of the Morning Herald and the Daily Mail, the two former Hagerstown newspapers that merged to create The Herald-Mail in 1920.
The first Herald article of 1918 came out exactly a century ago, with front-page headlines like “Norfolk devastated by fire started by German agents” and “Germany does not prepare for peace”.
A day later, on January 3, the first edition of The Mail hit the newspapers with its capitalized headline “BOLSHEVIKS BREAK WITH THE HUNS” for an article on the peace talks between the Russians and the Central Powers during the World War. I
Sources of articles were scarce in both publications, but newspapers still managed to cover national and international events while keeping local topics front and center for readers in the region.
The Herald covered a fire that destroyed a house on Prospect Street, noting that an overheated furnace was “probably the cause”, as well as a work accident involving two men, WH Howard and Joseph Smith, who were injured in following the pressure from the doors of a “tank used in smoking rims” blowing open.
On the front page of the Mail were recent marriage licenses, including one granted to Renner Beever and Julia Read of Hagerstown, attaching an article on the city’s regulations for pig farming and a memoir on the record 800 pork. books by Jacob Jones who provided “a lot of lard.”
An article titled “Red Cross Resumes Active Work Again” reminded Mail readers of an upcoming meeting of the Washington County section of the Red Cross Society executive committee, along with a brief questioning as to why the town of Hagerstown market allows eggs, at a rate of 65 cents per dozen, to sell above a fixed price as mandated by the state food administrator.
“Eggs in Baltimore are wholesaling for 60 cents,” the story concludes.
Two other Mail articles had similar themes to today’s, including one referring to a statement by the Comptroller of Maryland that state public school teachers “are being paid too little and their services are too extensive. . “
Another, titled “A COLD WAVE STILL NOW THE COUNTY IN ICE GRASP,” tells the story of the freezing local temperatures, which residents of the Tri-State region face in early 2018.
“It will be a surprise to many people to learn that this morning in parts of Washington County at least was the coldest wave,” the story read. “According to the thermometer at the government sub-meteorological station in Chewsville, as reported by observer D. Paul Oswald, it was 13 degrees below zero after sunrise.”
Wilson might have telegramed ‘fake news’
There was no Twitter in 1918, but President Woodrow Wilson would likely have questioned the veracity of these articles.
Scanning the inside pages of the Mail, a headline reads: “YANKEE KEENNESS TO WIN THE WAR BY NEW INVENTIONS”.
Joe Matthai, “a long time soldier of the regular army”, had been assigned as a pigeon officer in the 319th Infantry, according to the account.
“Why not cross pigeons with parrots so that when they have a message to deliver, they can repeat it orally in full?” the completely sourceless story reads. He goes on to state that Matthai was “then calmed down and the camp medics reported that his pulse was back to normal.”
The story further states that Matthai hadn’t had such an idea since brainstorming in 1906 that broke him while eating a piece of shad. Matthai apparently expressed a theory that crossing shad with jellyfish would produce boneless fish.
If he survived the war, Matthai undoubtedly remained “a long time a private”.
In another Mail article, a “Med. Shark” urged readers to “cut the belts and try on the suspenders” because “belts cause the most stomach aches in sick boys today.”
This story was also without a source except for a reference to “a certain surgeon from Rochester” and sounded as if it had been submitted by the National Association of Suspender Manufacturers.
In it, readers are cautioned “It is almost disloyal to wear belts,” citing the need to conserve the fabric for the war effort, which included the elimination of pant cuffs, and the increase in cases of ‘appendicitis.
“American men should drop the belt. Suspenders will mean increased efficiency, better health and longer life,” the article said.
What could have been a “Med. Shark” is never explained in the story.
Nowhere in either of these stories, both worthy of a British tabloid, is there any indication that they are fabricated.
War efforts affect sport
Looking back on 1917, a story on the inside pages of the Herald calls it “a year of uncertainties in the world of sport” due to the United States entering the war.
“The joining of hands between Uncle Sam and the Allies caused a situation of panic, and those who controlled the various branches of organized sport faced for the rest of the year a sense of doubt as to the effect of our entered the world conflict, “reads the story.
The championship golf and tennis competition was canceled due to the war, while many colleges canceled sports schedules.
The article notes that professional baseball was still doing “remarkably well” during the war, “with the exception of a number of smaller minor leagues, which were forced to close due to a weak patronage “.
Payday loans are apparently not a recent innovation in the field of short-term loans.
“Quick loans to workers and housekeepers” read a Household Loan Co. Loans in the Mail ad offering “$ 5 and up.”
“Reduce the cost of the day’s wash … Wash the Fels-Naptha way,” read an ad for a product still on the market today. “This makes boiling unnecessary,” saving 25 cents or more in fuel costs each wash day, the ad says.
JC Hoffman Sons has announced a sale on its stock of 300 all-wool winter coats for women and girls. A $ 10 envelope was reduced to $ 5.98, while a high-end cape, normally $ 22.50, cost only $ 15.
Every day, readers could follow the adventures of a wealthy new Irish family in “Bringing Up Father”, a comic book by George McManus. The tape operated from 1913 to 2000, although its creator died in 1954.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that “Blondie,” “Peanuts,” and other comics continue to function long after their creators have stopped creating.
The Mail also had a column titled “On the Funny Side”. On January 3, 1918, he presented this somewhat risky joke:
Mr. Saphedde: Would you like to have a puppy, Miss Caustique? “
Miss Caustique: Oh, Mr. Saphedde, it’s so sudden!
Jug. Caustic. Have a puppy. Find?