I was inspired by Stacy Juba's first mystery,Twenty-Five Years Ago Today (a very good read about an amateur detective who finds her first clue in the 25-year-old newspaper files). I started reading the weekly Flashback column in my local newspaper. Besides Stacy's book, the 75-year story called to mind another of my favorite books. (See that one listed at the end.) These are a few events from February in past years. My favorite - 100 years ago!

25 Years ago - 1987
Motorists were facing higher gas prices since "lead-free" was the new mandate. Locally, the Amoco was the first to go all lead-free. Their cheapest regular was 82.9 cents a gallon.

50 Years ago - 1962
Work had begun on a fallout shelter under the city square. Workers planned to enlarge a basement that ran under the sidewalk, creating a space about 36 feet square with a ten foot ceiling. It would support 60 people.

75 Years ago - 1937
A former assistant to Harry Houdini testified in a case against a local spiritualist camp that was accused of manipulating a woman into bequeathing her $16,000 to the spiritualists. The camp claimed to be a place of worship. The lawyer for 13 heirs called it a nest of "quackery and fraud." Harry's assistant demonstrated how some of the supposed supernatural feats were performed.

100 Years ago - 1912
File under "Crooks too stupid to live." Thieves broke into an ironworking shop, spun the safe dial for some reason (maybe to see if they'd accidently hit the combination), then using tools in the room, drilled 25 holes around the lock before they managed to pry the door open. Time estimate - six hours. The loot? Fifteen cents and several post cards. The kicker? The owner had left the safe unlocked, and the thieves had locked it with their first action - twirling the dial.

Now for my second book recommendation: Uneasy Spirits by M. Louisa Locke. It's a Victorian San Francisco Mystery that deals with spiritualists in 1879. It is fiction, but each chapter is headed by real advertisements in the local newspaper, including a great many by the spiritualists of the day!
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Published on March 01, 2012 08:50 • 164 views • Tags: history, m-louisa-locke, mystery, newspapers, stacy-juba
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message 1: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Gulley Those things are very interesting and sometimes very funny. Thanks for the M. Louisa Locke recommendation.

message 2: by Norma (new)

Norma Huss You're welcome! I should have filed this post under SinC25 - or is in 25Sinc? It fits.

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