May 25, 1912 — The Foreign

Continued from “The Familiar.”

At the same time, there’s a foreign ‘sense’ in the articles and illustrations a century ago.

It was an America where street corners were serenaded with hurdy-gurdy operators instead of saxophonists. An America that seemed to be continually shopping for socks (i.e., “hose”) and garters, straight-edged razors, long underwear, typewriters, and cigars.

It was an America with a sense of humor that included bit more of cruelty than we appreciate now. For example, this item—


When Fred Kelly first broke into Cleveland journalism he was put on police. One night he was sent to a big fire down on the flats. A reporter named Brown was sent with him. The fire was a ‘whale,’ and presently Brown disappeared. A wall had fallen and Kelly was sure Brown was under it. He rushed to the telephone and called up his city editor.

“Say!” he shouted into the telephone; “Brown is gone! He’s burned up!”

“What’s that?” asked the city editor.

“Brown is burned up, I tell you! He fell into the fire!”

“All right,” said the city editor, hanging up the telephone. “I’ll send down another man.”

There was a Fred C. Kelly who wrote for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in the 1900s. Perhaps it was considered funny because it actually happened.