I promise, you will not see this coming

Yeah, this is one of those old newspaper sort of days. Because we were supposed to go for a bike ride, but that got curtailed by schedules. And so I ended up waiting for the UPS delivery of a package that required the acknowledgement of a human being and bad UPS jokes. Our guy in brown is a pleasant fellow. Easy patter, quick smile and a don’t-you-know-it-pal’o’mine attitude.

I resolved myself to not ask if they’d been keeping him busy, my usual in to regular work patter when someone is on the job. Oh sure, if I saw the guy socially it’d be different — “What do you do? What are the three things wrong with your business? And how is it beating up on the competition?” sort of stuff. But while the guy’s working, all of that seems weird. And it seems like a tired remark to get into the “How are they working ya?” stuff just now, particularly for services like that. I think we all know the answer.

I thought about pulling up the day’s stock reports just to see how Brown was treating him, but I’m glad I didn’t. They’re down just now, FedEx and DHL are both up.

Now, you’d think that idle stock chatter might be too much; the guy wants to get on the road, get this route done, and get home for the evening. You’d be right. I’m sure he did, and I’m sure he was thinking about all of that, too, when he launched into a 90-second bit on British humor, Dr. Pepper and two jokes about my last name.

I hope all the perishable goods had been delivered by then. I was standing in the shade, it was early evening, but the sun was warm and he’s using carbonation puns to see if I’m ready for a Red Dwarf joke.

More than you know, pal’o’mine. I had a friend in college who was a close and careful watcher of that show, and she kept me in the know.

Anyway, let us look back one hundred years into our past. This is the front page of my hometown paper. Not the one where I am now, because they don’t have one from 100 years ago, and none of those ancient names mean much to me anyway, but at least some of the things in this 26-page tome are familiar. And if you were going to read it, pack your lunch.

We won’t examine the stories, because most of them won’t mean much to you or me today. A lot of it is national copy. On the front page there are only two local items, one about the weather (it was hot) one of those took place in Washington D.C., a spat about future road plans. There are several mentions in the broader issue about roads. Seems what they had in 1921 was a mess. And automobiles needed better roads. Funny how some stories never change.

Elsewhere in this edition, there’s a fair amount of small-town happenings, high school class graduations and so on. And there’s a fair amount of passive writing. Conferences were held, and that sort of thing.

So let’s just skim through a few fun advertisements that catch the eye. Like this one.

Which, honestly, I had to read three times before I was convinced it wasn’t a sales pitch for hats. No, it’s for collars, because they were sold separately, remember. And the hats and ties were just implied.

And if you didn’t have shoulders or the rest of a body, like this poor guy, well, you get all that’s your own miserable problem, Bub. Sorta like where you’d go to buy the Lion collars. It’s a mystery to modern eyes.

No mystery here! Get your dry goods at Steele-Smith!

This is the 1st Avenue location, but everyone knew that by then. Their 2nd Ave store burned down a few years prior and there was a movie theater at that location by the time you saw this ad.

This is the location of that second store. The barbed wire on the roof says a lot about the recent years.

I’ve found older ads that show us Steele-Smith was around in at least 1903. And I’ve found a lot of court cases that the company was involved, most about debts owed. There are a lot of variations of the Steel-Smith name — dry goods, cloak, boots — which is curious. It seems Steele-Smith itself went bankrupt in 1924, owing banks some $2,061, or about $32,000 today.

This one was the most interesting one to me. Sounds lovely, and I had no idea about this.

So I went to the wiki, where almost every word was a revelation, which is odd, considering I worked in that spot for eight years.

Some things never change, though I suspect modern medicine has made it to a point that we could see these two lads successfully separated.

That’s the only issue here. Look, step closer to the wall and you can reach the cooling pie tin. What is this? Amateur hour?

Anyway, that flour distributed had just opened their doors the year before. Their location is a parking lot now, serving two closed businesses and the police headquarters. Not sure when Jones-McGrail Flour called it quits, or when flour distribution in general went the way of the buggy whip, but they do shop up in the next few years of phone books.

Speaking of books … this guy’s story winds up on the back pages. The section isn’t labeled “A Yankee Did A Thing,” but it may as well be. William Moulton Marston invented something legitimate. This is basically the systolic blood pressure test, which gets rolled into the modern polygraph.

And if the name William Moulton Marston means anything to you, you’re probably a comic book reader. He was the person who, 20 years after this story, created Wonder Woman. And now that Lasso of Truth is starting to make a bit more sense, isn’t it? He said his wife and his other wife were the inspirations. They were a thruple. And now that Lasso of Truth is starting to take on all kinds of other connotations. The two women also worked in his scientific areas of interest, but he tended to get more of the, retrospectively, for their work. And now those feminist themes Wonder Woman imparts really bring it on home.

Wonder Woman’s invisible plane, I’ve just read, is an allegory. And when you put that and all of the permutations of the plane together, well, that seems alright for a comic book tale.

I honestly didn’t crack open the old newspaper website thinking I would wrap this up suddenly interested in critical-cultural examinations of Wonder Woman, but I also didn’t expect to learn about Edgewood Lake, or that Raymond Rochell, a once-prominent soft drink bottler figured into that environmental project. (He’s in that issue of the paper three or four different times for different reasons.)

And if you don’t think I spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to tie Wonder Woman to either Rochell or Edgewood, you’re sorely mistaken. I mean, sure, she might have liked Orange Crush or 7-Up or even Grapico back in the day, but she’s clearly a Dr. Pepper fan, now.

Comments are closed.