Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 5, 2013

05/05/2013 — Lee Ward: Old newspapers yield more than work research

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Much research was needed to write this week’s Sunday feature story about the Ashland chapter of Jaycees.

Fortunately for me, the Boyd County Public Library had a large box of information and a large scrapbook, donated by the Kopp family, of Jaycees information.

I spent one morning going through every speck of that information to piece together the early history of Jaycees in Ashland, including old clippings from the newspaper.

Unfortuntely for me, I’m easily distracted when I look at old newspapers.

Old newspapers fascinate many people for many reasons.

Newspapers reflect the style of the newspaper business at the time. Journalists used to freely label people and situations in ways modern journalists would be in trouble with the boss for now, including commenting on the attractiveness of women and shaking a finger at someone who is guilty of perceived wrongdoing, even if that wrongdoing is something like wearing white after Labor Day.

Old newspapers used more formal language than we use now and use words I’ve never heard before. In fact, I learned a new word while working on this story: pulchritude, which means the beauty or comeliness of a person or thing. In this story, the reference was the to the pulchritude of a young woman in a pageant, another example of something a modern journalist wouldn’t say.

In researching this story, I got distracted by a couple of the stories and for different reasons.

I opened a paper from more than 50 years ago to find a photo of a beautiful Boston terrier, one of my favorite breeds. The caption said the dog had inherited $50,000 from its late owner, who left it the cash because she was worried that, without it, the dog would miss out on the “calf liver and steak dinners it had grown accustomed to.”

That was a lot of money for a dog to inherit in the 1950s.

The other terribly distracting story from 1949 was a police report.

It stated several passersby on Winchester Avenue were distracted and concerned about what sounded like a dog trapped in a trash receptacle provided by a Jaycees fundraising project.

People stopped to investigate and finally were able to open the trash receptacle only to find there was no dog inside.

The story unfolded: Dan-Dee Darling of Huntington, a ventriloquist, was standing down the street from the trash receptacle, throwing his voice to see how people would react.

Ultimately, city police came and took Darling to the station, gave him a stern talking to and released him.

With no arrest, modern newspapers wouldn’t have reported the story, but I say that might have been the most interesting story of the year.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.