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Early Times Capsule

Saturday, January 14, 2012

By JIM ZBICK

jzbick@tnonline.com

Heading into the new year, Tamaqua Courier readers knew that times were tough for many families in the region.

That was evident in the tone of the children's letters to Santa Claus which the newspaper had received for Christmas. Instead of toys, many children were asking for family necessities, such as food and clothing.

Just how desperate conditions were again surfaced in mid-January when a Tamaqua mother, with no means of support, offered her baby up for sale.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com

The new year of 1912 was just days old when a cold wave descended over much of the eastern portion of the country.

On Jan. 6, a weather forecaster said that the single-digit temperatures were the coldest weather the eastern portion of the nation had experienced in years. After a slight moderation over a few days, the thermometers again plunged during the second week of the month and this time, there were fatalities.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas tree has a colorful history, even predating American independence.

The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia, in 1510 and the first use of small candles to light a holiday tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.

Christmas trees have been sold commercially in this country since about 1850. Thomas Edison's assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Years before the airplane emerged during the first decade of the 20th century, ballooning had been the one way to conquer flight.

Before ice hockey teams in the U.S. and Canada began competing for the Stanley Cup, aeronauts were competing in a balloon race with the winner receiving the Bennett Trophy.

In 1911, a writer for the Tamaqua Courier noted how balloon races, despite their slow-motion-like movement, had become very competitive between America and Canada.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pennsylvania has a history of tough tobacco laws.

In Colonial times, among the common offenses courts had to deal with were stealing, swearing, working on Sunday, assault and battery and selling rum to the Indians. But tobacco laws of the day were also strict. Anyone caught smoking tobacco in the streets of Philadelphia or New Castle was fined. The money collected was used to buy fire buckets and other fire apparatus.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

By jim zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com

In 1911, a writer for the Tamaqua Courier joked in his column that had one of the "old Puritans" stopped by for Thanksgiving dinner the size of the feast would have been enough to honor "the Lord of Gluttony."

In offering a brief history lesson, he explained how the "purely New England institution" of Thanksgiving had first spread through the Northern states by about 1830, and then down through the South by the mid-1850s.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mushroom picking has long been a popular autumn activity in this part of the country. Whole families would often venture into the woodlands, picking bucketfuls which could then be dried or marinated for later consumption.

"A certain romance lends its fascination to this mysterious creature of the field and woodlands," a Tamaqua Courier writer said in his column a century ago. "In childhood we used to read how the fairies danced on the toadstool, and on the green rings of grass that often grow around them."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A writer said the young woman "majored" in horse thievery, once leaving hundreds of pursuers in the dust with her fleet-footed mustang during one caper.

The 18-year-old brunette was also described as being "perfectly beautiful." She was sometimes accompanied by a companion, "a flashily-dressed young man who is also handsome." The pair worked the town of Mount Pleasant and the surrounding area.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The auto industry depended on and thus helped build the steel empire of Charles M. Schwab during the early decades of the 20th century.

Ironically, the automobile was also responsible for one of the most traumatic incidents in the life of Schwab's wife, Emma Eurana (Dinkey) Schwab.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

By jim zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com

Participation in Tamaqua's Halloween parade in 1911 was quite simple. The only requirement was to wear a mask.

Hundreds of mummers took part in the unofficial procession.

"Many fantastic and original costumes were on display on Broad Street and there was a good deal of good-natured jostling and pushing in the crowds, lots of weird and ear-splitting noise producers in use, but it was all orderly and respectable with no evidence of rowdyism," the Tamaqua Courier reported.