Old Lenoir Home on Watauga River. Used as a boarding school in the early 1900s, later a part of the campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society / Watauga County Public Library.
August 22, 1907
“The preacher who says that kissing is worse than whisky [sic] must have found something pretty exhilarating and intoxicating,” began a short notice in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, bearing the editor’s abbreviation, “Ex.,” at its end. “But he had no business saying so,” continued the opinion notice, “for the Anti-Saloon Leaguers will be trying to regulate that by law next.” Interestingly, during this period of history, the local party-affiliated newspaper was largely a platform for the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages.
“New Jewelers’ Shop,” a front-page advertisement, announced that, “I will be located in Boone by June the first, 1907, prepared to do all kinds of watch and clock repairing on short notice. My work is all guaranteed and no work is charged for unless satisfactory to the owner. Bring me your work and I will give you a first class job. Office upstairs in Critcher brick row. Silas M. Greene, Jeweler.” As the announced date was already passes, Mr. Greene apparently took out a recurring advertisement in the local newspaper to help launch his business. “Critcher brick row” would seem to refer to the block of Downtown Boone in which the Critcher Hotel once stood – opposite the spot where the Jones House Community Center stands today.
August 21, 1919
“In these days of inflated prices the problem of the high cost of living is a matter of concern to every household,” opened an article on the second page of this week’s newspaper. “Consequently any remedy that promises even temporary relief is eagerly accepted,” continued the item, while cautiously asking: “…. (b)ut is there promise of any real solution of the problem in any of the various proposals of the various departments of the government?” The article reported on several government programs of the time, including “the selling of stores of army food,” which the author of the article claimed “can bring at best but temporary relief,” and which would, allegedly, not have any impact “at all [on] the cost of food in any except the few immediate communities in which the food is sold.” The article was also skeptical of efforts to prosecute business owners for violating laws against “profiteering,” arguing that “some of our most respectable jobbers and retailers may wake up in jail some morning,” asking, “where does legitimate profit cease and profiteering begin”? The author instead urged that “we turn our chief attention to the system rather than the individual,” asking “for example[,] why should a steer be shipped from Texas to Chicago to be butchered and shipped back as beef to Texas, incidentally passing through the hands of half a dozen ‘profiteers’? Or why should Watauga cheese be sold to a Chicago packing house when every ounce of it is needed in the towns of North Carolina?” This anonymous early advocate of localized food production and distribution as an antidote to inflation and price-gouging wrote that, “[w]hen the producer and the consumer become alive to their common interests there will be no occasion for the prosecution of profiteers, or a hunt for hoarders.”
The archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, from which this feature is compiled, as well as the photographic archives of the Historic Boone society, are housed in the Watauga County Public Library.