Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weird history

For many years, I have relied upon Earle Forrest's files when doing historical research. Forrest worked at this newspaper from 1920 to 1962, all the while meticulously clipping stories and putting them in manila envelopes. Four filing cabinets are filled with many hundreds of these envelopes, organized alphabetically by subject. Forrest was a tireless chronicler of local history and that of the Old West, and his files are a treasure.

All you need to do to find something interesting is to open a drawer, reach in and pull out an envelope at random, as I did yesterday. Neatly typewritten in the left hand corner of the envelope was, "Flying Saucers Found in Washington County."
The caption under the above photo that appeared in The Reporter on April 17, 1950, read: "Shown above is a peculiar, many-sided kite-like object found early Saturday near Donaldson Crossroads. The object, which has alternating sides covered with a reflecting silver coat, spins in the air and dangles a small flashlight below so that the light will be reflected. It was found in the rear yard of a home owned by George Sepelak. Shown holding the object are Arthur B. Day, Strabane, and Mrs. Sepelak."

The headline on the article accompanying the photo read, "Flying Saucer Kite Lands In This County." How the reporter and editor of this newspaper suspected that the object might be from outer space is mystifying, given that it was adorned with a U.S. Army Signal Corps number, other numbers and initials written in pencil, a two-cell battery and a bulb.


Anonymous said...

You might want to move those files and clippings out of manila folders. Acid-free folders will help preserve your collection. It's an expense, but losing a priceless collection to acid is worse. Acidic paper is the bane of archivists.

Something to think about.

Anonymous the Great

Park Burroughs said...

That the clippings themselves are acidic paper doesn't help much, either. I have suggested that we donate Forrest's files to the Washington County Historical Society, which could preserve them and make them accessible to researchers.
That might be possible once the building the Society recently purchased is renovated to house archives.

Sandy said...

What's sad is that when newspapers keep drifting over to the Internet and stop printing, as a lot of them are doing, future generations will not get to use what we are doing now for research. I think the same thing will happen with photographs because of the use of digital cameras.