News From The Past

Does your news­pa­per pub­lish week­ly reminders of our past? Mine does. One week they tell us what hap­pened 25 and 75 years ago. The next week they give us the lat­est from 50 and 100 years ago. (They’ve been in busi­ness a looong time!) It’s always enter­tain­ing, and often eye-open­ing.

Here’s a stun­ner for you. Only twen­ty-five years ago one of our local hos­pi­tals phased in a total smok­ing ban for all vis­i­tors, employ­ees, physi­cians, and patients. Up until then, smok­ing had been allowed in the cof­fee shop, in employ­ee and physi­cians lounges, and in patient rooms (by the patient). And, this was the first hos­pi­tal in our coun­ty to issue such a ban. Wow! Now the smok­ing ban is almost uni­ver­sal.

It’s so easy to for­get the time-line of our more recent his­to­ry. Have we always had zip codes in our address­es? Nope, that began fifty years ago. Our coun­ty, along with the nation, began using the Zon­ing Improve­ment Plan (ZIP, or course) in 1963.

Sev­en­ty-five years ago state police were hap­py with their crack-down on speed­ers. They were so hap­py, they began think­ing of doing the same for the slow-pokes who bot­tled up traf­fic. There was no law set­ting a min­i­mum speed, but they thought thir­ty miles an hour on main roads would be about right. They exper­i­ment­ed with loud-speak­ers to install in the six hun­dred patrol cars. They hoped to devel­op a speak­er that could be heard sev­er­al miles down the road “to break up those traf­fic jams caused by bee­tle dri­vers by bark­ing to them to speed up or get off the high­way.” Don’t think that ever hap­pened!

One hun­dred years ago, the cir­cus came to town. In 1913 the Hager­beck-Wal­lace Cir­cus was the sec­ond largest in Amer­i­ca (the Rin­gling Broth­ers and Bar­num and Bai­ley Cir­cus was num­ber one). There was a large crowd in town brought by trol­ley cars filled with peo­ple. Many oth­ers came by steam roads (what­ev­er that is‑a mis­print maybe?) and drove in. The streets were lined with peo­ple. Ele­phants and camels walked. Hors­es pulled bright­ly-col­ored wag­ons. There were a dozen cages filled with wild ani­mals. Six (count them) beau­ti­ful women rode pranc­ing steeds. There were four bands, and (let’s men­tion this again), a large num­ber of ladies. Per­form­ers on horse­back, fun­ny clowns, and a steam cal­liope round­ed out the parade that took sev­er­al hours to pass through the city streets. Way before my time. I’d have been right there sit­ting on the curb, dream­ing of join­ing the cir­cus. What a glo­ri­ous life! (Yeah, as a kid I did dream of the cir­cus. Can’t remem­ber actu­al­ly see­ing one, but I prac­ticed my skill for months. I’d be a cham­pi­on ball-bounc­er. Hey, I was a kid, a young kid.)

How about you? Did any of these news items from the past spark a mem­o­ry, a desire, a gig­gle?


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