It took a few weeks, but I finally decided to go through “the box.”
I’m glad I did.
A month or so ago, when Frances Woody returned to work after her leave, I started telling her about plans for the 125th anniversary celebration of the start of what would become the Times-News in 1887. As I went down the list of things the newspaper, Don Bolden, our advertising and online staffs are planning I got to the part about classic front pages. We are hoping to reproduce as many as we can — by photo, computer pdf or whatever– and make them available for viewing online or even for sale if the reproductions are good enough. We plan to include many in a special section available on our birthday, July 25. At the moment, we’re posting them one or two at a time on our website dedicated to the 125th birthday celebration. Only five or six are there now. When we’re finished there should be close to 100.
“Well, make sure you check the box under that desk over there,” Frances said and pointed. “There’s some stuff you can use.”
A couple of weeks passed and every now and then Frances would ask, “you looked in the box yet? Some good stuff in there.”
Finally a couple of weeks ago I looked in the box. There was indeed lots of good stuff in there. Frances is always right.
A stack of old and very discolored newspapers were tucked away in that box — the oxidation process is almost unstoppable — and many were from quite a few years ago. The biggest find in the stash was a succession of World War II era copies of The Daily Times-News. We had newpapers chronicling the rise of Germany (Hitler Makes Last Plea For Peace), and the war’s beginnings (Italy Enters War). Many were in a type size in excess of 100 — befitting the rather significant news being provided.
The true treasure in the bunch was an “extra’ put on the Burlington streets on the morning of June 6 1944. The headline: “France Invaded by Allies”. The story contained early dispatches about the D-Day invasion of Normandy Beach.
We packed up the newspapers — spanning 1918 to the early 1990s — about 20 in all — and took them into the photo department so Sam Roberts and Scott Muthersbaugh could take photos. The images are crisp even if the subjects are very yellowed, battered and creased from years of folding.
We added those to a large file we had already compiled of our classic Times-News editions. Managing editor Jay Ashley brought in a few he had stored at home — including a very sad one about the deaths of Times-News staff members Steve Daniels and Sylvia Johnson who were on their way to cover a story and became involved in an accident. Judi Baker had a copy from August 1974 when President Richard Nixon resigned. The news that day came via headlines printed with red ink. Hadn’t seen that before.
We also had some other older newspapers in better shape, preserved and copied from microfilm. It’s an expensive process so there are but a few of them.
And from 2003 to today we have newspapers archived by coputer via our online edition. I’m going through and selecting more recent news papges for display or possible sale. Some sports pages will be there, too.
We plan to keep adding pages of varying age and time periods throughout the next few months. Readers can check each day to see what we might add on a given day. It could be anything from a UNC or Duke national championship to “Germany surrenders.”
I would also invite readers to submit their own saved Times-News or Daily Times-News copies for possible inclusion. Contact me by calling 506-3030 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. People can drop them by the office and we’ll have our photographers take a photo.
Right now we have just a handful of the dozens of newspaper pages we’ll utlimately publish on our website. Check it out each day. There’ll be some cool stuff in there.