Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A look back ...

... one hundred years ago to January 1916 … as viewed through the lens of Conway’s local newspaper of the time. The Reporter was published each Thursday for 3 cents a copy or you could get a subscription for $1.00 per year if paid in advance.

Things have changed. For example, today’s local newspaper is actually cheaper - its free now.

The Reporter, January 27, 1916, p. 5

Prices were much cheaper for most items. A dress priced regularly at one dollar dress was on sale for 79 cents. Cod liver oil was 75 cents a bottle.

On the other hand, the bank offered 4% interest on savings deposits. That would be a fantastic deal in today's economy.

 The front pages of January 2016 have focused a lot on national politics. While 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the NH primary, there was very little on the front page about national politics in 1916 or for that matter much of anything about the war raging in Europe. 

 Instead the largest page one article for the January 6, 1916 issue covered the debate about a bequest for the North Conway Public Library with Dr. Schouler and later Harvey Dow Gibson giving their opinions.

 The war was not mentioned in the month's first issue until page four, and that was more of a social column about Parisians going to the forests for vacation as the seaside resorts have been taken over by military authorities. The month's second issue also referred to the war on page four in reference to Wilson wasting his time writing complaints against Germany's destruction of our ships and the problem of the “war economy” cutting down budgets for libraries to buy books.

The first visual reference to the war comes in the 4th issue of the month on the 5th page in the form of an advertisement. (see picture above). Using the image of a soldier and comforting military type phrases, we are told that Rexall laxative tablets, available at Pitman Pharmacy, North Conway are ...

“Standing Guard Over the Whole Family” and this product “Protects every member of the family from Constipation - the enemy of good health” This Pitman family was related to the then famous Pitman's arch tourist attraction on West Side Road. Never heard of it? Give us a call or check it out on our online history collection.

More than half the regular front page was basically local gossip and social news.  On each issue's front page, the column on the far right was for the “Conway” column with the subtitle, “What the People are Doing in Busy Conway” Like today’s facebook or twitter these social columns were short and sweet and laced with advertisements. So here is a bit from the past.

Schools began Monday last with the same corp of teachers.
Edward Davis returned from his visit to Massachusetts on Monday.
Mrs. Warren Bly and little daughter returned from Memorial Hospital last Friday.
For Sale - Green hard wood, fitted to stove. Inquire of John G. Lucy, North Conway

Again, like facebook and twitter, you needed to understand the code of abbreviations. Today it's OMG, and WWJD? The cryptic codex of a century ago included IOOF, K of P, GAR, CRC, OES, DAR, D of P, IORM. I will give a free copy of Hounsell’s history of Conway to the first person who comments me with the correct answer to these abbreviations.  

Here is a hint. Most of them are related to fraternal and social organizations.

From the text and the ads, you can see that health was a major issue. In the case of cold feet the solution was not a pill, not a high tech device, but instead a hot water bottle, available at Stone the Druggist opposite the train station in Conway.

The Reporter, January 13, 1916, p. 8

It was also a time, when things such as shoes and watches were repaired instead of simply tossed and replaced. We have very few repair shops in town anymore.

The Reporter, January 6, 1916, p. 2

Do you know where the Pequaket House was? I'll give you a hint. It is now a very erudite location.
Semper Fi!

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