While putting together some Thanksgiving-related content this month, I thought it might be fun and interesting to see what local media was talking about during some long-ago holiday season.
At the , I found microfilm of the former Lynnfield Village Press, which made its debut on Nov. 23, 1939, and which does not seem to have lasted much beyond the World War II era. In what seemed like a fairly remarkable coincidence, this website, Lynnfield Patch, went online Nov. 23, 2010, 71 years later to the day.
So what was the town doing to prepare for Thanksgiving in 1939? Well, the paper noted that "A turkey whist party will be held in Chemical Hall next Monday evening," with the proceeds to benefit Our Lady of the Assumption Church, on Broadway. I have no idea what Chemical Hall was, nor do I know if OLA once had an address other than Grove Street.
Also, Lynnfield's Compass Club held a turkey dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23, 1939. Rev. William T. Murphy, Jr. of the East Baptist Church in Lynn was the guest speaker.
Vintage "News" Items
Reading these old papers gives considerable insight into just how much the news business has changed over the years. Stuff used to get into newspapers that just seems out of place or delightfully hokey and maybe a bit wacky by today's standards. Consider this one:
"Mrs. Robert Ramsdell of Salem Street left last Tuesday for two weeks to visit with her daughter in Bergenfield, NJ. After celebrating Thanksgiving today in New Jersey, she will return home for the real Thanksgiving next Thursday."
Or, check out this entry:
"A lot of us would like to know what Frederick Doherty, popular manager of Kimball's Starlight Ballroom; Everett Webster, chair of the Board of Selectmen, and Ralph Wilkinson, who recently returned from a hunting trip to Maine, have done with all that dear (sic) meat."
My former newspaper, the Laconia (NH) Citizen, also went into operation around the early 1930s. I was told that around this same period in history, the Citizen actually had a paid correspondent who would meet the train downtown each day and speak to arriving passengers, putting together items not unlike the above ones.
A Note On Typos
As a writer, I hate using (sic) because it just feels arrogant or pompous, but it felt in this previous "dear meat" case that there was no real way around it. In general, this got me thinking about journalism and typos - mainly the idea that if you make a typo, several generations later somebody could be looking at it (although online articles can always be corrected). In fact, I spotted a few typos in this introductory issue of the paper, which made me wonder if that sort of thing helped contribute to its short existence.
Another typo noted that "Hollywood's newest potential star, Lena Turner" (instead of Lana Turner) was starring in "These Glamor Girls" with Lew Ayers, which could be seen at The Wakefield Theatre. Also playing was "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" with Basil Rathbone and "Night Worw" with Mary Boland and Charlie Ruggles. That last title actually turned out to be "Night Work" according to the theater listings elsewhere in the paper.
Religious Services And Volunteers
Several scheduled church services were listed in this paper, although it is not clear whether they were regular Sunday services or actual Thanksgiving ones. Either way, Reverend Ward Fellows presided over the services at the Centre Congregational Church in 1939, Rev. Laforest Hodgkins was at the Lynnfield Community Church, and Rev. Stewart Harbinson was at St. Paul's Chapel - which is today known as St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Also, Dr. Charles Bush and his volunteer committee from the Red Cross were expecting to wrap up their annual membership drive on Thanksgiving Day. Between Columbus Day 1939 and Thanksgiving of that year, the committee had planned to visit every household in Lynnfield for the drive.
Local Business Ads
Among local businesses, Kahn's General Store at 739 Main Street (right near Essex Street) was selling Bell's Seasoning for nine cents a box. "Malden" brand mincemeat was 10 cents, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce was 21 cents, and Diamond walnuts (new crop) were a quarter.
Goodwin's Clam Shoppe announced in the paper that it would be open from 1-6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, inviting customers to call LY 5-9283 to reserve their full course turkey dinners. Elmer W. Goodwin, the proprietor, was selling the dinners for $1.25 each.
That sounds like a pretty good deal. However, the Ship's Haven restaurant boasted a seven-course Thanksgiving dinner that year - $2 for adults and $1 for children under 12. Entree options were turkey, duck, steak or lobster, and a table of six or more would get a whole turkey brought to their table.
Carter's Market was another place where Lynnfielders could pick up "native" turkeys, ducks and chickens for Thanksgiving - and some sliced bacon to go with leftover turkey sandwiches could be had for just 25 cents a pound. Other such items could be found at Preston's Cash Market, which stood at 234 Lynnfield Street.
At George M. Roundy and Co., the Roundy's Special Coffee was 23 cents a pound, while a pound of Ritz butter crackers went for 22 cents.
At the Turnpike Bottle Shop, unspecified "holiday specials" were being advertised. This may be due to the fact that Prohibition had been repealed only six years previously at that point so it might have still been dicey to run more specific ads in local small town media offering deals on beer, wine and whiskey.
Finally, the Perley Burrill company was selling range oil (apparently used to run stoves) for 7.5 cents a gallon (cash and carry). However, that range oil wasn't necessarily a good investment - another ad from the Reading Municipal Light Department (which was apparently somewhat in the appliance business) highlighted a new Ardsley Electric Range, available for just $109.50.