What was going on in this area of the world 100 years ago? Wondering about that, we took a look at copies of Washington newspapers dated in December of 1918.
Journalism was different in those years — much more personal. People visiting people were newspaper items. Passengers arriving and leaving town by train were noted. People who were sick were mentioned. Of course, there were death news stories, city council news, stories involving accidents, fires, news of new stores and old businesses, lots of farm news, some county, state and federal government stories and no local pictures. Occasionally, a local photo was printed, but it wasn’t too timely because engravings had to be made in St. Louis. Those were the days of what was called letterpress printing, which gave way for most newspapers to offset printing in the 1960s.
Back to December 1918. On the front page of the Washington Citizen there was a long story from Sgt. Raymond Walter to his dad in Labadie, C.W. Walter. Sgt. Walter was overseas, one of the troops fighting the Germans in World War I.
There was an interesting story with the headline of “Awaiting Boys’ Return Home” from World War I. “Many Franklin County farmers are going to celebrate Christmas this year with head-cheese, link sausage and pigs’ feet. The country goose has escaped the hatchet on a good many farms and the hog has taken her place. Farmers made a point to kill hogs before Christmas this year because they figured that their boys would be back by that time (from military duty).”
Another front page story explained how: “Farmers Will Fight Daylight Time Law.” It was in force during the war.
On the front page also was a story about “Clerks Give Sigh of Relief.” It told of how the Christmas shopping season is “always a nerve-strainer for the store clerks.” It related that one clerk was upset with shoppers who would come to town from their farms and wanted to visit while buying very little.
The small issues of newspapers in 1918 did have a few Christmas greetings ads from local merchants and companies: Grant Tower Milling Co., Fred J. Mauntel, Lefmann & Sons, First National Bank, A. Kahmann’s Store and E. G. Busch, who advertised “gifts for everybody.”
Another ad that caught eyes was from C. A. Krumsick, auto dealer. He said the Dodge Brothers were ready to resume production of cars since the war was over. The Dodge Brothers were the only car manufacturer in its class to be certified by the War Department, the ad said.
In its ad, the Bank of Washington related that it made “the usual arrangements for payment of county taxes for friends and and patrons of the Bank of Washington.”
This story made the front page. It was about a rabbit hunter whose boat got stuck in a slough of the Missouri River due to “blue mud” and the two hunters in the boat had to wade to shore. One of them fell in the water and mud, and his clothes were dirty and wet. They made a fire on the bank and were able to dry some of the man’s clothes but not all of them. The man, or boy as he was referred to in the story, looked for something to hide his nude body. He found an old apple barrel and with his buddy walked about a mile to a farmhouse where he was able to borrow clothing.
“The barrel didn’t fit him like a tailor-made suit but it answered the purpose just the same.” The boys got back to Washington late that evening and how the story leaked out to The Citizen was a mystery. The newspaper promised not to publish any names, “but if you want to know who this hunter is just look for the fellow who takes off his hat every time he passes an empty barrel.”
That was news in 1918!