The week of February 19th, 2012

This photograph depicts Dr. James Gray Rivers, one of Boone’s first resident physicians. Dr. Rivers is said to have arrived in Boone in 1865, a pro-Confederate allegedly fleeing Union troops. His son founded the Watauga Democrat newspaper.

February 17, 1910

“When the farce currency and financial bill was passed during the Roosevelt panic,” began a front-page news article entitled “A Costly Junket” in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat (reprinted, according to the byline, from the Charlotte Observer newspaper), “the public was told the pressure was only for ‘temporary relief’ and would be supplanted by a real piece of remedial legislation later on.” Lamented the article, “(t)he history of the legislation shows that ‘temporary measures’ usually become permanent, and so it would seem with the currency bill.” The story then details an alleged fact-finding tour by a “Mr. Aldrich,” who “was  appointed to visit the old world and with knowledge gained of international financial methods and measures, to report such bill [a different, permanent piece of legislation] as would be acceptable to the American people.” Aldrich’s trip was characterized by the newspaper write-up as a “costly junket abroad, ‘studying financial systems,’ scenery, etc.,” following which a meeting of commissioners at which “Mr. Aldrich reiterated his belief that there is a need for the reform of our financial laws” – which the article writer says is “the first we hear of remedial financial legislation so faithfully promised.” The Aldrich speech was said to have said that new financial regulation was “not in shape to offer congress, and that perhaps it would be several year and several sessions (of Congress) before a bill could be reported.” The article notes this apparent procrastination, and compares it with the  costs of the fact-finding junket to U.S. taxpayers, saying that it is “up to Congress to inaugurate another investigation in order to show the American people just where the $657,993 of their tax money went.” The economic crisis referred to was the “Banker’s Panic” of 1907, which occurred during the Presidency of Republican Theodore Roosevelt, a frequent target of political critique in the then-party-affiliated Watauga Democrat newspaper. The panic saw a drop of New York Stock Exchange volume by a half from the prior year, and runs on banks and trust companies. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich was a Republican leader in the Senate during the period.

February 18, 1926

A local news column entitled “Deep Gap Breezes” included these short notices: “Mr. Alfred Watson has been very much indisposed with a cold and other ills for about a week. He seems to improve very slowly”; “Mr. F.L. Wilcox has moved into his new home here;” “Married recently Miss Bertha Yates to Mr. Rufus Call who resides of late in some far western state. The wedding came as surprise to friends. Congratulations to the happy couple.” The column concluded with, “(w)e have no other items at this time. It seems that most of our people have colds and pneumonia. Perhaps for the March things will dry up and it may be that then the health of the citizens will improve.”

Published in: on February 19, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of February 12, 2012

Mr. Clyde R. Greene, Watauga resident, costumed for an appearance in the “Echoes of the Blue Ridge” drama, a part of the 1949 celebration of Watauga County’s 100th Anniversary. A precursor to the “Horn in the West” outdoor drama, “Echoes of the Blue Ridge” endeavored to present a panoramic view of the area’s history, from earliest settlement up to the Centennial year. Courtesy of Betty Koontz.

February 10, 1910

“Not Coughing Today?” began a prominent advertisement on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper. “Yet you may cough tomorrow!” continued the text. “Better to be prepared for it when it comes. Ask your doctor about keeping Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral in the house. Then when the hard cold or cough appears you have a doctor’s medicine at hand,” reasoned the advertising copy. “Your doctor’s approval of its use will certainly set all doubt at rest. Do as he says. He knows. No alcohol in this cough medicine. J.C. Ayer Co., Lowell, Mass.”

February 11, 1926

This week, a report was made of a “writing school” held in Deep Gap. “The ten days writing school taught at the Deep Gap Consolidated School building closed Saturday February 6th, with an average attendance of 54 pupils during the entire term. Mr. Henry L. Hardin one of the public school teachers took in the writing lessons, and appeared very enthusiastic over his own improvement and said he noticed a marked improvement in the handwriting of the other pupils.” Opined the writer of the letter cited in this article, written by a Mr. Z.T. Watson, consolidation of rural schools such as in the Deep Gap area “(w)ith larger and more commodious school buildings, with modern equipments, with better qualified and better paid teachers, with the children carried to and from school in closed trucks, avoiding exposure, all should agree that a progressive movement forward will have been made when the best dreams of our educators have been realized.” The Deep Gap location where the handwriting workshop had been held was described as having “125 pupils attending the school at present, and increasing with the growth of population of Deep Gap(,) Consolidated school is destined to become a splendid educational center,  of which her good citizenship should be proud.”

February 14, 1957

“Receipts at Post Office At New High” told in this edition, “(p)ostal receipts at the Boone office during 1956 broke all previous records, says Postmaster  Lyle Cook, although the gain over 1955 was not large.” The article says that, “Mr. Cook says that Christmas postal receipts were actually down about five hundred dollars last year under 1955. He surmises that the loss is accounted for by the fact that the college students were dismissed for the holidays a week earlier than usual, and therefore did less of their holiday mailing here.”

A photo with the bold caption “Big Lemon” narrated the photo shown, “B.F. Thompson of Sugar Grove, is shown with his four-year-old lemon tree, laden with fruit. The tree is fruiting and blooming at the same time, and has lemons at all seasons. Mr. Thompson brought a lemon to the Democrat office which was about 15 inches in circumference, and just as good for custards and other purposes as the Florida variety.”

“Palmer Blair Winner of Two Photo Awards” reported in this week’s edition, “Palmer Blair, Boone Photographer, won two awards for his work at the annual convention of the North Carolina Photographer’s Association, held last week in Charlotte. Mr. Blair’s work placed second in the news and candid photos division, and third in the color transparencies division.” Mr. Blair owned a photography shop in downtown Boone, and some of his photographs are among the images which record the history of the area in this time period, in the archives of the Historic Boone society and elsewhere.

Published in: on February 12, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week Of February 5th, 2012

A group of young Wataugans, date unknown (inscription on reverse reads “turn of the Century gathering”). Courtesy the archives of the Historic Boone society.

February 3, 1910

“A Horrible Hold Up” was the heading to an advertisement, neatly sandwiched among news items, in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper. “’About ten years ago my brother was “held up” in his work, health, and happiness by what was believed to be hopeless Consumption,’ writes W.R. Lipscomb, ofWashington,North Carolina,” narrated the item. “’He took all kinds of remedies and treatment from several doctors but found no relief until he used Dr. King’s New Discovery and was wholly cured by six bottles. He is a well man today,’” continued the commercial copy of the day. “It’s quick to relieve and the surest cure for weak or sore lungs, hemorrhages, coughs and colds, bronchitis, la grippe, asthma, and all bronchial affections,” continued the ad for the miraculous panacea. “50c and $1.00. Guaranteed by all druggists.”

An editorial commentary on newspaper editorship opined, “if the country editor were to snap at all the inducements held out he would soon become a millionaire. If he can (make?) a paper according to the popular notion he would be in the poor house. If he published all the items that were sent him he would be in jail half the time and in the hospital the other half. – Ex.”

“It is rumored that a great bread trust is being organized, says the New York Mail,” according to another notice. “Evidently the bread of the future is to be less and less like mother used to make.”

In medical news, and an item of African American history, this edition reported that “Gertrude E. Curtis ofBradford,Pa., is the first colored (sic) woman dentist. She passed the final examination in theCollegeofDental SurgeryinPhiladelphiawith high honors, and will begin practice without delay.”

February 4, 1926

A front-page article entitled “The News of the Normal School” reported in this week’s newspaper that the “Appalachian State Normal is not only trying to give its students the very best mental development and highest training for their service in life but is looking toward and working to some higher ideals. President Dougherty in faculty meeting last week laid before the teachers the following as one ideal to be attained.” The subsequent quoted speech by the college founder emphasized that “there should be eliminated from every conversation all swearing, black-guarding and gossiping for everyone on this campus,” with a goal of “the most cultured and refined language with purest diction” as a priority for the Appalachian Normal School community. “If these ideals cannot be reached just now,” President Dougherty was quoted as saying, “they certainly are not too high to be worked towards.”

Other news on a more national scale relayed that “government figures show that from 1920 to 1924, ‘automobiles killed 50,876 men, women and children.’ And in 1924 the ‘death toll’ numbered 15,528.” The brief note continues with the Watauga Democrat’s opinion that, “calculated to give the false and damaging impression that the automobile in itself is a dangerous and deadly demon, these figures are NOT true to fact.” The article contends that “of the sixty-odd thousand killed in five years, some were the victims of stupid, reckless, or drunken drivers, some of incompetents,” but that the “greater number killed were victims of their own carelessness, commonly known as ‘jay walking.’” Concludes the article, “(w)hen a man on the railroad track is killed nobody blames the locomotive or suggests suppressing railroads. The sign reads ‘Stop, look listen,’ and “Keep off the track.’”

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