This week I went to the Beebe Library and researched some long-ago issues of the former Wakefield Citizen & Banner to see what people were doing and talking about back around Christmas, 1908. What I found was a lot of interesting Christmas-themed ads, a terrible crime that will appear in a follow up article tomorrow instead of on Christmas Day, and a man who wrote in to warn people not to waste their time with those new-fangled airships.
Before I get to the Christmas stuff, let’s start with this airship thing. Here is a letter that ran in the Citizen & Banner in its December 25, 1908 issue.
“Editor, at the risk of being called an old fogy, or worse, I wish to express my private opinion about the doings of some of my fellow men. For instance, there are air ships, of all kinds, over which some people are about crazy at the present point in time. Now I am just as much interested in modern and useful inventions as any one can be, and yet when I see men spending their time, money and lives over inventions which in my judgment can never be of much practical value to mankind,” wrote Samuel L. White in a letter to the newspaper.
The letter author went on to denounce the alcoholic beverages trade as well (from a prohibitionist standpoint), and back on the airships, noted that one farmer in New York had been trying to insure his property against damage from airships dropping out of the sky.
Christmas Shopping, 1908 Style
- Gratten’s on Albion Street was advertising “anything in the eatable line,” including ice cream, cake and coffee.
- An establishment called The Wakefield Shoe Hospital was located at 92 Albion Street and presumably for repairs.
- Gifts offered for sale at Jordan’s Pharmacy included Oxford chocolates and Roger Gillette’s Toilet Articles (if that doesn’t sound like some kind of early bathroom reading material, nothing does).
- The Wakefield Shoe and Clothing Co. had boys’ suits on sale from $2.70 to $6.00.
- Optician H.C. Ormsby was advertising “toric” lenses for glasses that curved.
- J.W. Poland had a shaving kit, among items, suggested for Christmas.
- Jordan Drug Co. featured tobacco products and ice cream in its ads. “Get your smoke here, not hereafter,” said the cryptic ad slogan.
At this point in time, many advertisements appeared on the front page of this and other newspapers. Also, many of the businesses advertising during this era did not seem to feel a need to include their street addresses when advertising.
Quackery, Community Notes, And More
The early 1900s were still the age of quackery to a certain extent, and this is reflected on the pages of the Citizen & Banner. An ad for Lydia Pinkham’s vegetable compound claimed that four girls had been restored to health by drinking the stuff, while another ad cited a woman who claimed she had avoided an operation by drinking the vegetable compound.
Another local alleged cure was Middlesex Fells Spring Water, which had two Wakefield men among its purveyors. Just drinking the stuff for two weeks could allegedly cure rheumatism, stomach trouble, and kidney disease (unless chronic).
Lynnfied Centre: Most weeks, the Citizen & Banner would run a column focusing on news items out of Lynnfield Centre. A separate article on Lynnfield Patch this morning focuses on some of those news items that came up during last week's research.
Note: On Wednesday, a followup article will look at a high-profile crime that was reported in the Christmas Day, 1908 issue of this newspaper but which really didn't fit with the day given its subject matter and some similarities to other things currently in the news.