The other day I became possessed while stumbling through an antique store. I found an old paper — two of them actually — sitting on a shelf tucked away among old bicycles, antique model tractors and dirty figurines.
The idea that I absolutely must read them suddenly washed over me. Old, rusty, used-up crap doesn’t normally excite me, but after spending a weekend immersed in The Great Gatsby and living it up vicariously through the rich, spoiled high society of the 1920s, I thought it’d be nice to get a little taste of old-school journalism and sense of what reality was a century ago.
So I dropped 15 bucks on a paper that once sold for a single penny. When I removed it from the plastic and carefully read it this morning, pieces crusted and crumbled with each turn of the page. By the time my cereal bowl was empty and I read the last article, bits of yellowed paper had covered the whole table.
I was absolutely fascinated. It was full of misogyny, racism, hilarity, and, of course, the same concerns found in today’s news.
Headlines from 1912
Veganism was alive and well 100 years ago
The surprise was how much the news resonated today. I’m not sure if that’s comforting. Is it hey, we’re all the same throughout the ages, or is it just that nothing changes.
One chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture was being slandered by lobbyists for assisting with the Pure Food Law: “Several of them expressed amazement today when they learned from an authentic source of the activity of this lobby, of the ample funds at its disposal and of the determined efforts it had made to stir up trouble against the government chemist, to stir up some scandal with which he might possibly be connected, to attempt to show favoritism by him toward some particular interest appearing before the bureau of chemistry — in fact, to do anything the might possibly result in his removal from the government service and in a cessation of his watchfulness over the administration of the pure food law.”
Were lobbyist more bold then or was the reporting just more straight-forward? Also, Saccharin was banned 101 years ago! Now it’s everywhere.