BRIDGE STREET HISTORIC CENTER
Melinda Jo Ray is a longtime Granbury resident, retired public school writer and librarian. Her post-retirement work was as a magazine writer for local history articles, which formed the basis of her book “Limestone Legacies”. She is the author of a novel, “Safe in the Arms of God”, based on the beginnings of colonization in the Granbury area.
Editor’s Note: The following is from the book “Limestone Legacies”, written by Melinda Jo Ray.
My mother used to say very wisely that there are no new sins. And in the same vein, that people are just people, as they always have been. As a history student, I fundamentally agree. In my study of the contrasts between our fast-paced modern world and the slower-paced world of the past, the assumption has often been made that the 24-hour news cycle and the apparent lack of privacy caused by CNN, Facebook, and Twitter are a modern problem. Likewise, the ravenous hunger and thirst of the people for all those juicy details is also ridiculed as a fallacy of the 21st century mentality.
NOT SO! Such thinking shows a lamentable disregard for the existence of those staunch Facebook predecessors and ALL news, both real and fake: community and even urban NEWSPAPERS!
The border papers are a hoot to read! If your eyesight is still good enough and you’re looking to be entertained, you could do worse than check out a site called Journaux.com – and calling densely printed, usually faded microfilm images of actual copies of hundreds of thousands of entire newspapers from 120 years or more ago. You will be amazed at what you find!
Most of the articles followed a particular pattern. For avid FACEBOOK fans, the fun begins right on the FIRST PAGE! Unless something REALLY major has happened, like an declared war or a presidential assassination (or the governor being involved in a shootout or a duel), the homepage is ALL LOCAL NEWS!
Are you filled with a burning desire to know who is visiting your neighbors, what they ate for dinner, how many people (and animals) came to someone’s birthday party, and Who were they and who were they with? – All these juicy little information on the private life of our fellow citizens that we devour every day on Facebook…? They are all there, on the front page of the local weekly or biweekly. Are you a fan of these Buy, Sell, Trade pages? Check out all of those ads on the outside edges of the homepage, then look down and you’ll find all of these notes from people around town saying things like, “I’m looking to raise my price bull. If you have a good cow, ask …… ”or“ Ms. Ben Morris says Dr. Watkins Cherry Tonic is what you need if you feel bad. This will reassure you right away! The variety of information available is generally astonishing! There is usually an entire column reporting everything that is happening in all of the schools and churches, all with detailed descriptions of everyone who was involved. And get this – Hotels posted lists of who checked in each day, where they were from and generally for what reason and for how long they were in town!
Who needs privacy, eh? There was usually a similar list of all local people who traveled out of town, including mode of transport, where they went, who they went with, and who they went to see. AND how long they planned to be gone. Another nearby item will certainly inform the curious reader that everyone in town was sick, what they were suffering from, how long they had been sick and what the prognosis might be. Seems familiar?
Pages TWO and THREE are right behind, and this is where CNN News junkies can find THEIR kind of news! WORLD NEWS from around the world were duly reported with amazing detail and feature articles describing foreign cultures, history and customs. National issues and politics are also reported in great detail with issue-oriented articles that are often very long! Political cartoons also appear from time to time, and there are usually places where local citizens are quoted – expressing their often strongly felt views on the issues in question! There is also quite a bit of sensationalism. You’ll find SCANDALS in Washington like the duel between Andrew Jackson and the man who insulted his wife, and stories of violent acts of terror such as John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry abound, all illustrated with spooky drawings depicting dramatic versions of the same.
Further afield, FAKE NEWS folks could often have fun checking out the SERIAL TALES where outlaws, famous Indian fighters and lost gold mines abound! The people of Legend are here – Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, the James Brothers, Wyatt Earp and Butch Cassidy – real people whose embellished feats have been turned into serialized soap operas that have been read aloud by many around the corner. fire, as readers across the country waited breathlessly for the next episode! Fifty years later, those same stories have become fodder for two new entertainment media: radio and film.
Further on, there were market reports, sports reports, and even puzzles and games for children and adults. The last notable deaths, local and national and even international, were reported in detail on the obituary page, and there was also usually a page on religion, with Bible lessons and excerpts from famous and local sermons. There were articles on history, animals and the latest scientific discoveries. Sounds a lot like programming on your cable TV or Netflix, doesn’t it?
So we 21st people of the century think we have no privacy? We think fake news and scandals are new inventions? We think people obsessed with the daily life of their neighbors are something new? Not hardly! These things are as old as time itself. It is only the media that changes. Another old family saying, my grandmother’s, sums it all up. “It takes all kinds of people to create the world, and they’re ALL here! ” It’s true! Just check out Facebook, CNN or the Discovery Channel and see… or browse an 1895 edition of the Granbury Tablet or the Fort Worth Star! They are all there too! Take a look and see!