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Tuesday August 11, 2009 Edition
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Back in the Day: Reading The Newspapers of Yesteryear

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Tuesday August 11, 2009

By Cookie Steponaitis

    While this might sound like a beginning of an old Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episode, we want you to journey back to a time before the Internet and an age when books, yes books and newspapers contained what there was to learn about your town and world. Why would anyone alive in this age of mass communication and technology want to take such a journey? The answer is simple. There is a staggering amount of information regarding the past and the written language that encapsulated that form and time in American history. Skeptical, well come along, and let us see what the newspapers of the past hold in store.

   Reading the pages of the long time Vergennes newspaper The Enterprise and Vermonter is a compilation of world news, social events, agricultural images, and advice to those suffering from hangnails, hangovers, or needing to build a new hanging roof for their barn. Thursday, June 7th, 1917’s edition carries some of the following headlines: Ear Marks Identify Swine, Local Offers of Land Spark Farming Interest, Mystery in the Soldier’s Trunk, Vergennes Launches a New Chiropractic Business, and Local W.H. Adams sells wagons, grain drills, automobile tires, corn planters, cement, plaster and all kinds of seeds.  While the D.A.R. is meeting at the Bixby Library, the CV Phone lines and NET have merged into a new company called Champlain Valley Telephone Company. W.H. and W.S. in Bristol and Vergennes proudly announce the newest machine the Champlain Cream Saver. Most interesting is that Vergennes Resident C.T.S. Pierce, a well known insurance agent in town had experienced, “…kidney secretions that were scanty and highly colored. After buying a box of Doan’s Kidney Pills at Neville Drugs on the Main Street, the results were surprising. The backache left and the kidneys began to act regularly again.”

   Glancing again into the past finds on Thursday, March 26th, 1942 headlines including Farmers Uniting to Guard Constitutional Rights, Mrs. Willis providing a talk on her trip to Alaska, Super-intendent of Schools George Patterson being honored for 17 years of service, Vergennes to have a trial black out lasting for fifteen minutes on Wed-nesday, April 8, 1942, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s weekly column challenge to develop war time attitudes that place us where we are needed. She writes, “I’ve come to one very clear decision, namely that all of us-men in the services, and men and women at home should be told what the job we are to do. It seems to me there should be immediately a freezing of prices, of profits and of wages. The only way I can see to get the maximum service out of our citizens is to put us where we are needed, for if we are left to volunteer, we are bound to waste our capacities and our resources.” She goes on to outline that in times of national crisis how the greatest changes can be made by those in the homes and on the streets of small towns.  And if that is not enough to prompt you to action, on the same page Burlington Savings Bank introduces for the first time, “Banking by Mail prompt and complete service for a bank offering your ninety-five years of stability.”

    While Valley Voice readers do not have in front of them these long ago pages of Vergennes history, there is a sincere hope that your imagination is activated enough to take the time to stop at the Bixby Library in Vergennes and spend some time reading the archives of the Enterprise and Vermonter. You may read of long ago relatives, world events or even a special garden party at the home of Mrs. Frank Warner. Easter Candies for 35 cents are on sale at Dalyrimple’s Store and The Fish & Game Association will hold its meeting along with launching a plan to save and recycle tires. While the images, print and phrasing is different the issues of life in small Vermont towns are not. Take an hour and take a tour back, back to the days when communication was not instant and when the paper was the composite of life in America and in the towns we call home.

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