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HomeUncategorizedNewspapers – A Window into the Past (Part 3)

Newspapers – A Window into the Past (Part 3)

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This is the third installment of my series on looking at past issues of the local newspaper. Our time machine has arrived in the year 1939. There was quite a bit going on both locally and nationally. 

Hernando was blessed with a fairly low crime rate as shown in the picture on the front page of the August 4th edition. Rather than have his deputies sit idle, the sheriff put them to work polishing his car. 

President Franklin Roosevelt was on the outs with certain members of his own party, as well as many Republicans over his New Deal. At the time, his programs were considered pretty radical – Social Security, environmental and jobs programs, etc. Another radical thing about Roosevelt – he was considering a third run for the presidency. No other president had served more than two terms. 

Roosevelt did have at least one strong ally from the south. He was Claude Pepper, a Democratic senator from Florida. He defended the president’s New Deal, as shown in this August 11, 1939 article which quoted Pepper as stating, “I am unwilling to let this session of the congress end without lifting my voice to decry the unholy alliance of those in and out of congress who have been willing to scuttle the American government and the American people and jeopardize the peace of the world because they hate Roosevelt and what Roosevelt stands for.”

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A battle of words broke out after this impassioned speech until a calmer voice prevailed when a senator from California pleaded with the following sage words: “God help us if we cannot meet our problems in a spirit of tolerance and recognize the right of the opposition to present its own views.” We need someone like that around today.  

A local (presumably) pundit, who used the pen name Henry, the Hermit, wrote a satirical poem about Senator Pepper that was printed elsewhere in the paper. 

President Trump is not the first president to have problems with the press, calling it “fake news.” An article in the paper said, “The president called in Lyle Wilson of the United Press bureau and denounced Mr. Wilson and his organization for sending out dispatches which the president said were untrue.” The writer concluded by saying, “Of course, all of this is part of the great game of politics.”

As in earlier editions of the paper, there were jokes, clever sayings and helpful hints. Here are a few of the ones I found to be the most clever and funniest.

“A seaside worker tells me he gets $2.50 for picking up litter. A tidy sum?”

“If your garden is fooling you, give it a few digs in return.”

And how about these hints: “For mosquito bites – A little household ammonia added to the water with which mosquito bites are washed will remove the sting.” I’ve been doing this for years. Or this one: “Cut flowers with Razor Blade – Take a safety razor with you when you go into the garden to cut flowers. It is more satisfactory than scissors for cutting delicate flower stems.”

Of course, advertising is the lifeblood of every newspaper and the Brooksville Sun had its share. Two products advertised then are still around – Camel cigarettes and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. 

The local grocery store advertisement from a couple of weeks before showed how much a trip to the supermarket would cost. Coffee – 23¢/pound; Flour 77¢ for 20 pounds; Heinz soups – 3 cans for 25¢.  And “weinniers” – 35¢ for two pounds. I guess those frankfurters were “weinnier” than your average ones. 

The ad whose picture goes along with this article topped them all. This had to have been a spoof or these folks took “truth in advertising” very seriously. It even had a disclaimer at the beginning: “This stuff ain’t so hot. You probably won’t be able to eat any of it.” Yes, but who can pass up a bargain!! 

Tip Top Market had a sale going on in which they were selling “apple sauce (worms extracted)” for 10¢ per can; “oysters (slick and slimy)” at 12½¢ per can; “pink salmon (improved – been dead a long time)” at two cans for 25¢; and “peas (big, rinkled and tuff)” at two cans for 19¢. 

This has been another look at the news of the day in 1939. Next week we’ll discover what was in the paper later that month.

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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