Everyone needs a good day brightener

© 2018-Brookings Register

The Best of Stubble Mulch

I miss “day brighteners” on a newspaper’s front page.

Not a big story, mind you. Maybe a paragraph of two of something interestingly insignificant or an item for a small headline on an inside page.

Day brighteners might bring a smile, or an eye-rolling groan.

They occupied a tiny part of newspapers’ front page.         

Of course, those front pages published during the Dust Bowl and the Depression years were filled mostly with grim news of the week.

Crops failing, people going broke, and often the suicides because of lost investments in banks or in a dry and dusty field. People hungry and stealing or begging for enough to feed a family. Prohibition was under way, bringing about crime and major social problems.

The automobile was by then part of everyone’s family, and mechanical advances for safety’s sake and the safe rules of the road hadn’t kept pace with the more powerful motors Detroit was manufacturing.

Horrible accidents more often than not occupied the page’s upper righthand spot then always reserved for the editor’s choice of the big story of the day or week.  

So with all the dreariness, I suppose newspaper editors sought out those minuscule little day brighteners to help lighten the load.

I found a few while thumbing through issues of the 1930s.

The Register noted that Brookings’ oldest Civil War vet didn’t attend the town’s July Fourth parade in 1933. A.T. Grove, 97, decided to stay home and away from all the excitement and heat. The temperature was a simmering 107 degrees.

Brookings American Legion members voted to go on record as being against staging pheasant dinners down at the Legion Hall due to the scarcity of birds caused by the drought.

Pheasants were digging up potatoes and pecking out the moisture in them to slake their thirst.

A smiling traveling necktie peddler approached his first customer of the day on Main Avenue. It just happened to be Brookings Police Chief Crosser, who promptly arrested the man.   

Another brightener listed the names of four local men arrested for following the city fire truck in their cars to a bogus fire. It was a sting operation staged by firemen and police to ferret out Brookings’ most noted siren chasers.

At the new Montgomery-Ward Store on Third and Main that is now Skinner’s, the weight of a shipment of linoleum displayed on the store’s second floor caused the floor to collapse, but fortunately no one was hurt.

A railcar filled with 28 common, everyday flatland draft horses left Brookings bound for a wealthy horse lover in Vernon, N.Y. Freight cost was $618, plus feed charges to be added when the nondescript plugs were unloaded in New York.

Why were there so many dead, frozen birds on downtown sidewalks and Main Avenue one December morning? Streetlights and the colored bulbs of Christmas confused the birds, a local ornithologist surmised.           

One day a horrible smell wafted across Brookings. The paper tracked down the source. It came from P.R. Bell’s place on the south edge of town at 203 Sixth Ave. Mr. Bell was having his feedlot cleaned up, and the wind was just right for transporting that mess’s miasma all over a much smaller Brookings.

The safe at the White Eagle filling station went missing one night, but it mysteriously turned up the next day in the basement of the Christian Church across the street. What was that all about?

Fred Peyton brought a hen’s egg into the newsroom. It was more than seven inches long. Who could bring in a bigger one?

Dr. Harold Miller’s lawn was 40 by160 feet, and it was absolutely free of dandelions.

A college Holstein cow, Mutual Ollie, gave 18,699.5 pounds of milk over a 10-month test period.

Police closed down Saturday night barn dances at the Barney Scofield and Earl McKeown farms because Barney and Earl failed to obtain dance permits that the county commissioners then required.

Proprietors of grocery and meat markets in Brookings announced they would discontinue the long-standing practice of keeping stores open Sunday mornings so folks could shop on their way home from church.

Finally, believe it or not, but there on the front page, readers learned that Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Ronning’s new baby had just been by golly born with two front teeth.

I miss day brighteners.


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