Couple’s gift of old newspapers is a snapshot of history

June 30, 2019 GMT

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — At the time, they were headlines proclaiming the latest news. Today, they are recordings of history.

World war victories, successful moon shots, presidential visits to the Shoals and a presidential resignation are among announcements proclaimed on the yellowing newspapers that Earl and Barbara Pugh recently brought in as a gift to the TimesDaily.

The newspapers included The Florence Times and Florence Times-Tri-Cities Daily.

Pugh said many were collected by his wife and her family through the decades.

“Barbara’s dad was Odie Brian Richardson and he was a lifelong resident of Florence,” Pugh said. “He collected quite a few of those. Some of the later ones, Barbara collected, but most of those, he collected.”


Some have large-point banners proclaiming in all caps such major events as “NAZIS QUIT UNCONDITIONALLY” while another featured a rare blue headline reading “Home Safely!” after the crew from the first moon landing returned.

“Some of these are very, very interesting,” Pugh said. “Our hopes is they wind up in a museum somewhere.”

He laughed when cautioning that one newspaper, dated Sept. 4, 1937, doesn’t contain any major news item for the public but it was a very important day for the family.

“It has Barbara’s birth announcement,” Pugh said.

Reading through the headlines and accompanying articles provides a great deal of interest. So, however, does looking at some of the unique local items in the newspapers on those days.

A Sept. 7, 1917, edition updating the latest World War I news also contains an odd local articles headlined, “Wagon contained liquor, not hogs.”

The article states, “Sheriff J.E. Keeton heard a wagon was heading toward Tuscumbia with hogs to sell. He and Deputy Oscar Johnson met the wagon driven by Pink McBridge and discovered it had no hogs, but five quarts and several broken quarts of ‘mountain distilled whiskey.’ The four legged swine was not aboard, but that which makes the two legged hog was carefully stored.”

The Aug. 23, 1933, Florence Times edition lays out National Recovery Administration plans for the area.

It also revealed the love this area has for a certain time of year, featuring a column proclaiming football season was nearing, “and the boot will soon be resounding against an inflated pigskin, and padded shoulders will be thumping against each other in the line of scrimmage.”

In the May 7, 1945, edition where the headline blared, “Nazis Quit Unconditionally,” there is an Associated Press article from a reporter who interviewed people at the Rainbow Crown Red Cross Club in London.


The article found a particularly tired but happy soldier who was stationed there throughout the celebration. It identified him as “Corp. Charles Weatherford of Florence, Ala.”

“Boy this is the roughest day I have ever had and it is getting rougher,” Weatherford said of keeping up with the celebration’s demand.

Incidentally, that same day’s newspaper had word that a Lauderdale County inmate who had escaped from the “Tuberculosis Ward” at Kilby Prison had been apprehended.

A couple of months later, the Aug. 18, 1945, issue reads, “Surrender Emissaries Leaving Japan Sunday.”

It also has on the front page, “Florence Will Open Schools September 10.”

The Florence City Schools System’s first day of school for this coming academic year is Aug. 8.

On July 22, 1969, as “Apollo Speeds Home” was proclaimed by the Florence Times-Tri-Cities Daily, the Rogersville Library had its official opening after being built at a grand total cost of $100,000.

Also on that day, the Florence police report tallied that the week saw “8 funeral escorts, 704 tickets written, 43 complaints answered, 37 arrests, 20 accidents and four anti-litter tickets.”

Two days later, the newspaper reported the Apollo mission was completed with the splashdown. It also had a photo of a different mission that is nowhere near completion to this day. The photo was of then-Sheffield Mayor Buddy Walden and state highway department officials conducting surveys and feasibility studies for a railroad overpass in Sheffield.

An Aug. 9, 1974, the Tri-Cities Daily told us about President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Inside was an editorial on the resignation, plus a smaller editorial on a completely different subject: commending the Merriam-Webster dictionary for adding new words to appeal to younger people. Those words included “super,” ″funky,” ″right on,” ″pop art” and “ego trip.”

There was good news for the state on the sports page that day, with the World Football League standings showing the Birmingham Americans were off to a 5-0 start.

And if you were in the mood for some wrestling, Don Carson was set to go up against Bearcat Brown at the Florence Armory, “with a mask at stake.”


Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/