Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Little Headline Humor from the Past

1944 HdlineGetGasIf you’re up for a few laughs, here are some more headlines taken from old North Country newspapers. See if you can figure out the real story behind each headline—and don’t be disappointed if you only go one-for-four.

The first one may have been an editor having a little fun with word play, but the headline in the Hammond Advertiser from spring 1944 does make sense in context. If you haven’t already guessed, the year provides a clue to the article topic. The answer: World War II was a time of shortages in America, and the article addressed limitations on the amount of gas available for pleasure craft in the Adirondack region.

HdlinePigTestimonyThe second one (from the Malone Farmer, 1935) doesn’t sound all that unusual to fans of a great old TV show, “Green Acres”—it’s probably just Arnold Ziffel or one of his ancestors hamming it up for a judge or squealing on a scofflaw. The truth: the subject was extensive testimony about the identifying characteristics of individual pigs. The farmer facing charges said the pig in question was his own, and he shouldn’t be charged with smuggling for crossing the Canadian border to retrieve his property.

1932 HdlineRatBanquetSpaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts are common, but a rat banquet? That had to be a tough sell, even though Clinton County was desperate for a fundraiser. The Plattsburgh Daily Press (1932) ran the third headline, and truth be told, rats weren’t on the menu—they were, in fact, the dinner guests.

The County Farm Bureau, desperately fighting a terrible infestation at the time, asked citizens to purchase and help spread bait tainted with poison. I’m not condoning it, just reporting it.

1897 HdlineAlbertStillIf this last one makes you laugh, start feeling guilty. It appeared in the Essex County Republican (1897), and reminds me of that ridiculous Francisco Franco deathwatch by the media back in 1975. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s hard to look at “Albert Still Dead” and not chuckle. The story was actually about a teenage boy who died after being struck by a train. He was the son of Henry Still of Westport.

Sad for them both, but the headline’s still humorous.

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Lawrence Gooley, of Clinton County, is an award-winning author who has hiked, bushwhacked, climbed, bicycled, explored, and canoed in the Adirondack Mountains for 45 years. With a lifetime love of research, writing, and history, he has authored 22 books and more than 200 articles on the region's past, and in 2009 organized the North Country Authors in the Plattsburgh area.

His book Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune won the Adirondack Literary Award for Best Book of Nonfiction in 2008. Another title, Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, was a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004, which has published 83 titles to date. They also offer editing/proofreading services, web design, and a range of PowerPoint presentations based on Gooley's books.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publishers Weekly in April 2011. The company also operates an online store to support the work of other regional folks. The North Country Store features more than 100 book titles and 60 CDs and DVDs, along with a variety of other area products.

One Response

  1. Mike says:

    What a hoot, keep these old time entertaining headlines coming! Love ’em!

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