People read a newspaper to learn something.
They want to know what their local government is up to now. Which team won the game last week. Who was elected in the last election.
And, how much is steak on sale for this week at the local grocery store.
People read newspapers to find out, well, what is new.
It is true today, and it was just as true in 1950.
I had someone drop off a copy of the Blue Earth Post from May of 1950 a couple of weeks ago. They had been doing some remodeling and discovered the paper tucked away.
I read through it.
It was amazing to see stories which looked very familiar. Or, that I felt a connection to.
For instance, the main front page story dealt with a Blue Earth City Council meeting.
There was a group of citizens at the meeting, so the story says, who were from West Fourth Street.
They were demanding that the council do something about the sanitary sewer line on their street, because, and I quote, “the sewer often overflows into basements after a rain.”
Hmmm. Those residents may be happy to learn that 60 years later, the city is finally installing a new, larger sanitary sewer line on Fourth Street.
Then there is the story about the 1950 census. The Blue Earth Chamber was urging all citizens who had not yet signed up with the census to do so.
Because, according to City Clerk Ward Cummings, every citizen is worth $2 to the city. That money is in the form of cigaret [sic] and liquor tax money returned to the city. Wow, a whole $2.
There were other stories dealing with topics similar to the ones of today. People were filing for open school board seats. Of course, some of the districts they were filing for, such as Frost and Kiester, no longer exist today.
A story on the back page caught my eye. It was about recent Blue Earth High School senior James Brodt being accepted at West Point.
It is a very nice article about Brodt, what he did in high school, and the fact that he is the first Blue Earth grad to attend West Point in several decades.
The reason the item caught my eye is that I have been doing some research on Brodt as a possible subject for one of our ‘Our Heroes’ stories this fall.
After West Point, Brodt volunteered for a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he was killed, trying to save a fallen comrade.
Another page in the 1950 newspaper contains a column entitled “The Post Chaise” by Albert Eisele.
Since I have had a few e-mail correspondences with Al Eisele, a well-known journalist who is originally from Blue Earth, I couldn’t resist sending him a note and asking if he had been penning a column in 1950.
Of course, it wasn’t Al, but his father, Albert, who was the columnist.
Al Eisele says his father wrote the column for years, until his death in 1951.
But, the more famous Eisele columnist was Al’s mother, Susan Frawley Eisele.
She was named the Outstanding Rural America Newspaper Correspondent in 1936. She wrote “Threshing Time” for area newspapers..
The award included a $200 prize and a trip to New York. Al was just two months old, but he got to go along. He and his mother had their picture on the front page of several national East Coast newspapers and magazines.
But I digress.
Back to the May 1950 issue of the Blue Earth Post.
The advertisements in the old, yellowed paper are almost as interesting as the stories themselves.
For instance, there is a classified ad selling “dynamite caps and fuses, any quantities.”
Sounds a bit dangerous.
There are four large grocery store ads in the paper. Red Owl Agency, Super Valu, National Tea Company Food Stores, and Moulton Food Stores.
And, just in case you are interested, one of the stores advertises sirloin, round and T-bone steaks all at the same price – 89 cents per pound.
But, before you get too excited for these good old days, a help wanted for traveling salesmen in the Post offers the wage of $20 per day.
And, you need to furnish your own car.