Saturday, March 23, 2013

“Geauga News, Reviewed”




c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(3-13)


The habit of pursuing historical research is a natural activity for any writer. And in personal terms, this life-mission is seemingly programmed into the family DNA.
A vast reserve of newspaper archives can be found in cyberspace. As one might expect, the great bulk of these documents come from population centers like New York City, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. But even small-town America is represented in this mix of verbiage.
During a recent search, Geauga County stories were everywhere. They offered a glimpse of life as it used to be in yonder days among our forebears.
I had written before about our local connection to the ‘push button’ telephone. But another story appeared that offered greater detail about this technical innovation from yesterday:

TELEPHONES BUTTON UP
The Miami News, December 18, 1962

“NEW YORK – The era of push button telephone moved a little closer today. The Chardon Telephone Co., of Chardon, Ohio, put into service its first push button model and offered others to subscribers in the northern Ohio community outside Cleveland. The instrument, manufactured by Stromberg – Carlson division of General dynamics, has 10 push buttons on its face in place of the customary dial – three rows of three buttons each and a single operator button centered below. Push button phones, more accurately called ‘touch tone’ dialing, have been under test by various U.S. telephone companies and equipment manufacturers for some years. The Bell System has been market testing them in Findlay, Ohio, since November 1960 and in Greensburg, Pa., since February 1961. Some 2,200 push button phones are in service in these communities. The extensive cost of the new type set, which must be used with electronic controls at the telephone exchange, has been the main reason holding back general introduction of the new type phone, engineers say. Chardon Telephone Co., a subsidiary of Mid-Continent Telephone Corp., Elyria, Ohio, said this will be the first use of the push button unit on a commercial, non-testing basis. Subscribers desiring the new unit will pay an extra fee. Mid-Continent said the telephone also will be available early next year to subscribers of its Kenton, Ohio operating affiliate. The push button unit uses electronic tone signaling rather than the electro-mechanical signaling system used by current models. At Chardon the telephone company will use new, transistorized electronic switching equipment in conjunction with a conventional electro-mechanical central office. Mid-Continent said this will be the first marriage of the two in commercial service.”

In modern terms, religious speakers have taken on dramatic social and political overtones. But I discovered another story about Geauga that offered a pithy portrait of preaching from the past:  

ALLITERATION AN ASSET
Youngstown Vindicator, July 6, 1941

“CHARDON, O – Rev. Cromwell C. Cleveland, ‘alliterative pastor’ of Chardon’s Christian Church, is resigning, effective Oct. 1. Rev. Mr. Cleveland says he has no immediate plans, but folks in Geauga County think he is going on a hunt for bigger and better alliterations. He has sprinkled his sermons with them. The pastor says it’s just a gift – the accomplishment has run in his family. The alliterations just come spontaneously, he says. That recalls his description, in a sermon, of the prodigal son: ‘This loose, lavish, lustful lad had lost his love for the Lord and all things lofty, and was living in luxury; but now at the length of his lilting lark, being listless and lank, he longed for at least a little lunch, for he at last languidly limped to a loathsome level that was lamentably lousy and low.’ That is only one of the accomplishments of the 30-year-old pastor. Failure of the church organist to appear is no inconvenience for him. He is an accomplished organist and pianist. He has been pastor here for three and a half years.”

Sometimes, stories uncovered with a local slant simply make the reader smile. A report about the postal service shipping one-brick-at-a-time did just that, with powerful prose:

CHARDON IS IN ON BRICK HOUSE THAT IS BEING SHIPPED BY PARCEL POST
The Telegraph-Republican February 21, 1913

“Ben F. Pease of the Chardon Brick & Tile Co., sent Friday morning by parcel post a brick of local manufacture to be used in building a brick house at the Coliseum, Chicago, during the Clay Produce Exposition there February 26 to March 8. This brick is one of 25,000 sent by parcel post from every brick plant in the United States, to be used in the construction of this house, which will be given away and re-erected after the exposition, says the Geauga Republican. The idea was originated to test the merits of parcel post system. A record of each brick is kept from the time it is mailed until it is delivered in Chicago, in order to see how speedily Uncle Sam can deliver a brick house by mail. It is probable that Uncle Sam’s mail carriers will not be overly enthusiastic for this method of delivery of a brick house. While the brick fire-proof home is becoming more and more popular because of its permanency, economy and superiority, it is not probable that they will be delivered by mail to any alarming extent. At any rate Chardon will have a brick in the first house ever sent by mail.”

An editor from my past used to say that as writers, we were composing the reading material for historians of a hundred years forward. While reading such text from bygone days, it is pleasing to think that some researcher in the future will enjoy the same habit I have pursued, today.

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