House History

While we were preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, Kirk was cleaning out around the bulkhead to bring in loose items (like our rain barrels, for example). But he made an outstanding discovery, which sidetracked us for a couple hours: an old newspaper from August 31, 1931. It's dusty and crumpled and in several pieces, but we love stuff like this, so spent some time piecing it back together:


The paper is The Advertiser, which was the first daily newspaper in Boston. It was acquired by William Randolph Hearst and eventually died off. By the date of this piece, they were just using the name for their Sunday paper.

And what we have definitely has the feel of a Sunday paper, complete with an arts section (devoted to radio plays, as you can see in the photo above), travel articles, and an advice column. There are also plenty of ads, my favorite of which is below. Check out the new car and fashionable hats:


Another page includes a decorating advice column. We were pretty disappointed that the answer to a young bride's dining room dilemma was ripped off the bottom. There was also an interesting description of brightening up black leather armchairs with brown and orange denim, with handmade hooked rugs (by the way, "made of all old sweaters and woolens"), likewise brown with orange poppies in the corner. The finishing touch: a bowl of orange poppies on the buffet. 

Another gem is from the "Members of the Sewing Circle" Advice column, which is worth quoting in detail:

Q: Dear Sewing Circle--I am rather a homely girl. Where I live there are only three girls. One of them does not like me, and because of her she seems to keep the other two away from me. I am very unhappy, and would like to have advice to make me popular. [Part is missing here. but based on the following response, it seems to involve an unrequited crush.]

A: Be yourself first. Stop mooning about this lambkin of 15, and start in to be somebody on your own account. Join a girls' club. Read, walk, swim, play tennis. Be the BEST in the club at something. In two years you will be a peach, and not one, but many boys will tell you so.

Go on as you are and you will be emotionally anemic and mentally retarded and a flop. Have you ever made a batch of bread? Well, you learn a lot from a bowl of bread mixture. If you tried to bake it just as it is when the yeast just begins to work, you would have an unsightly, unwholesome loaf that no one would want. But give the yeast a chance, and you have the wholesome loaf that everyone loves. If you want to have something even finer, add a few things, shape it more carefully, take a little time with it and you can produce the finer textured loaf, tempting, superior. A second rising and you can have exquisite rolls--the ultimate.

You are like that, honey. Give yourself a chance. Don't be the crude unwholesome loaf. Work over yourself a little, give the yeast a chance, be at last the fine-textured, exquisite rolls--the ultimate.

Finally, the saddest part that has been lost to time is this section:


Not the dog picture, although he apparently had a real-life incredible journey:

TEDDY JR., Boston-born Spitz, now in Nova Scotia, has had a life of adventure. He took an 850-mile journey alone, and was once nearly killed by gnawing off electric light wire insulation.

It gets even better – look at the (unrelated) headline below that photo! Here's a transcript, in case you can't make it out:

Barber Kept on Liquid Diet When Explosion Ruins His New Teeth

Hillsboro, NH, Aug. 30

A certain barber in this town despairs of ever receiving his set of chewing apparatus from a local dentist.

After many months of patient waiting and devotion to diet, the set of molars was blown to pieces when the little gas oven in the dentist's office exploded and distributed the bits of porcelain to all corners of the room. 

Unless his digestion becomes more impaired than at present, the barber will continue to trim hair and serve his patrons fondly hoping....

The rest is silence.

A seriously red-letter day in the history department here at the Port Potager. I may spend the dark winter evenings holed up in the archive room of the local library, browsing old-timey advice columns and trying to find out if the Barber of Hillsboro ever got his dentures after all.

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