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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Slice

Basement time capsule

I guess just about everyone doing some remodeling of homes of a certain vintage discovers old newspapers that had been used as insulation or what have you.

Earlier this week our friend Ken Scott, who is doing some work in our basement, came across wads of pages from a Jan. 16, 1954 edition of the Spokane Daily Chronicle. That's about four years after the house was built, and about a year before my wife and I were born.

The front page was dominated by a story on the McCarthy Red Scare hearings.

The Chron's phone number, listed on the front page, was Madison 1121. The paper cost seven cents.

There were important national stories, such as one on progress with a polio vaccine. And there were stories such as one headlined "Wheat League/To Meet Here/On February 16."

A brief on a fire at an Asian oil depot started by a cigarette was headlined "Fag Causes Blast."

An ad for the 1954 Packard Clipper touted it as "First Time in Spokane."

The prices of everything were eye catching. Apartments for $55, for instance.

It was all fascinating. The church listings (it was a Saturday paper), the movie ads, radio program listings, ads from The Crescent and some really readable classified ads.

One started this way: "Why settle for less than $14,000 in a year?"

Why indeed.

As always, the society pages were a hoot. You know. Where various upper-crust families will be vacationing, what women's clubs will be gathering, etc. And Myrtle Gaylord's "Glimpses" column.

It seems this working widow with a young son was hearing from the public library that he had some overdue books. Well, they looked high and low for them. But no luck.

In the end, it turned out a once-a-week cleaning lady had shelved them with some other books, where they had essentially disappeared. Case solved.

And then there were the comics. I was reading a crinkled up "Pogo" strip when, on the last panel, I came to a reminder of why some people are creeped out by basements. Lets just say a spider had also checked out that "Pogo."

The Slice

The online home for Paul Turner's musings and interactions with disciples of The Slice.