COBWEB CORNERS: In the papers

By Mel McFarland

       I spend a lot of time down at the library reading early newspapers, such as the Colorado City Iris. Back then, like now, some newspapers received national news from wire services. In an eight- to ten-page paper only two or four pages were actually local news. In the Iris, you could find news items from neighborhoods. This was the good stuff. Like many papers, the big news was on the front page. Is anyone saving these newspapers? That used to be a big thing!
       Getting back to my trips to the library, I enjoy reading back through them and often chuckle at what was front page news. Some stories are like those we see today, but some are quite different. One similarity is politics. City officials who skip town with funds, or stories about prominent citizens and city officials who go on to more important state and federal spots constantly appeared in the news.
       In our time, there have been events that are unlike anything we can remember. It seems hard to believe that anything could be as disastrous, bold or tragic. Read through an old newspaper and it seems like nothing is new. For example, the front page the days after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. People all over the country, even here, donated money, food and clothes for the residents in the Bay area. Special trains with help even started in Colorado City on the Midland railroad.
       Not all news was grim. The sports page's articles and results indicated that Colorado City produced champions from all sports. We also had non-sports champions, in areas such as music, agriculture, art, literature, elocution and speech. The comics were even different. Subjects that were the subject of fun then are in many cases not so funny today, yet some jokes live forever. Who would ever think reading the want ads would be fun? You might shake your head at the prices, but you might wonder about some of the jobs too. The display ads often captured the times just as well as news items.
       In the 1908 newspapers I read a few weeks ago, there was a tidbit I had not noticed before about the traffic problems in town. Seems that the tourists were using more automobiles, and some of them had no idea about traffic laws!