Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Tearsheets | Media Kit | All Access E-Edition | Routes | Photos | Home RSS

Little stories, big newspapers

May 2, 2008
By Howard Riley
The cost of newsprint keeps going up, and newspapers keep getting smaller (and we are not talking about tabloids). Old copies of the Enterprise, the Syracuse Herald American and the Syracuse Post-Standard were nearly all half a foot wider than they are today, and one had to have long arms to read them. When spread open, a double page measured almost three feet.

Hoist by his own petard

(I have to use this quote once a year.)

Here is an unusual story that probably wouldn’t make the papers today. Remember the creed of the mailmen and mailwomen (wow, there’s an oxymoron for you), “Neither rain nor snow, nor sleet nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” … Well, here is one fellow who is lucky to have even survived to make his appointed rounds. This story and the ones to follow are from the Syracuse Herald American, March 17, 1943:

“Francis Murphy, Hillcrest Street, Massena, who carries the mail on the star route from Massena to Hogansburg, was caught in a regular trap yesterday morning.

“He had a blanket in front of the radiator (which back then acted as a thermostat) when the motor became warm, he decided to stop and remove the blanket. He unlocked the motor hood from the inside of the car, went around to the front and started to remove the blanket. The wind was blowing hard, bearing snow, and the hood slammed down, locking itself. When the hood slammed down, it caught both sides of his heavy corduroy coat (man, I love the details in those old stories), so that he could not free himself by crawling out of the coat.

“His first thought was that a passing motorist would stop and unlock the hood from the inside of the car. Mr. Murphy said that it was snowing and blowing so hard at the time that he could not see more than two or three feet ahead of him. He braced his foot against the car and after much effort tore the heavy corduroy coat and freed himself.”

How much do you think he got kidded about Murphy’s Law? “If anything can go wrong, it will,” to which O’Toole answered, “Murphy was an optimist,” and another variation, “a Smith & Wesson beats four aces.”

War deaths and accidents

Haven’t we all read of the hundreds of American military men and women and civilians who have been killed in accidents, car and otherwise, in Iraq?

Of course, the same accidents happened in other wars, caused when that many people are thrown together in those perilous situations. Here is a story from WWII, with a different twist, about the Sullivan family from Colton — it was April, 1943:

“Sgt. John E. Sullivan, 26, son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Sullivan of Colton, has died of injuries received on the African front, according to word received Thursday by his parents from the War Department. He was seriously wounded on March 21, a telegram informed his parents, just eight days after his brother, Corp. Lawrence Sullivan, 23, was fatally injured in an automobile accident near his station at Camp Davis, N.C.”

Other stories no longer covered

Capt. Francis McGarvey of Troop B, New York State Police, submitted this report of “car mishaps” for the Troop B area for 1941:

“Ten persons were killed in Essex County in 1941 in automobile accidents. The 391 accidents reported to troopers of Troop B resulted in injuries to 251.

“There were 12 fatal accidents in Franklin County; five in Clinton County; 12 in Jefferson County and 37 in St. Lawrence County. Nineteen of the 96 persons killed in the Troop B territory were pedestrians.”


Remember the “Howling Dog Farm” on Kiwassa Road? Did we realize what a prominent man the owner was in the dog world? Read this:

“Felix Leser, prominent sportsman and proprietor of the Howling Dog animal farm has been named a judge at the Boston dog show. He will judge the Chesapeake, Golden, Curly Coated, Flat Coated and Labrador retrievers; Whippets, Greyhounds, Otter hounds, Alaskan malamutes, Eskimos, Siberian huskies and Samoyedes. He has served as a judge at shows in New York City, Baltimore and Philadelphia and his sled dogs have been shown throughout the east.”


“Lake Placid — Fourteen children and one adult passed their proficiency tests, fourth class recently at the Fawn Ridge slopes (slopes now covered with houses behind the Lake Placid Center for the Arts) with Mr. & Mrs. Roland MacKenzie acting as judges.

“Those who passed the fourth test were: Mrs. Helene Devlin, Marjorie Wilson, Kitten Bryant, Jerry Devlin, Georgianna Prime, Sybil Campbell, Mary Bola, Jane McDevitt, William Bowman, Jr., William McDonald, Jr., Peter Franklin, Raymond MacIntyre, Robert Damp, John Pollatschek and James Devlin.”


I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web