Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not the Last Picture Show

This photo was taken in October 1951. Here's what's written on the back of it: "Parkie in the process of getting undressed when he got sidetracked with the funnies."

That's right, that's me – the G.O.E. – in the picture. Just proof that I was, ahem, attracted to newspapers at an early age.

This is also the last post of the Grumpy Old Editor blog. I've been keeping this up daily for more than four years now, and I think it has run its course. It's time to move on to something else.

That something else is a continuation of what I've done here the past several weeks – "Picture Box" – a gallery of old and interesting photos from the archives of the O-R and area historical societies, and from boxes in attics and cellars all over Southwestern Pennsylvania. You can find the new blog here.

Answering complaints, sharing my gripes and telling serialized stories has been fun and rewarding, but this blog is starting to get green around the edges and smell funny. Besides, I've taken on some additional duties lately and must turn my attention to the editorial page in the old-fashioned paper newspaper.

I do thank all of you regular readers for your loyalty, your comments and for buying my book.

Your grumpy old friend,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Picture Box

This West Middletown girl managed to scoot around town 100 years ago in her wagon powered by a one-goatpower engine. I guess before there were go-karts there were goat-karts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Picture Box

I call this one, "Shave and a haircut, two bits." It's yet another photo from the West Middletown collection, circa 1910.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Archie update

Longtime blog readers will remember Atyom "Archie" Sergazinov, the kid from Kazakhstan who worked so hard to live in America before Immigration told him to scram. Here's the latest from him...

"Yesterday I arrived in Austria. The country is truly beautiful - seems like everything was just built the other day. I've met some of the staff from my university; everyone is friendly and helpful so far. I moved in my dorm. It is a huge apartment! Sebastian and Christopher are the names of my Austrian roommates. There is a room for each of the three of us with pretty much everything in it. There are a kitchen, a toilet, and a bathroom that we have to share. Everything is clean and nice!"

(We're happy for you, Arch!)

Picture Box

Here's another photo from the West Middletown collection, this one of the West Middletown School, circa 1910.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Picture box

Here's another scene of everyday life – this one of basket weavers – in West Middletown 100 years ago.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Picture Box

Banking, as it was done 100 years ago in Avella.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Picture Box

Here's a typical family portrait from perhaps the 1920s. It was taken by the Harbaugh Studio. Like so many group photos at the time, bodies do not touch, even though it is obvious that the photographer urged the people to move closer together.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Picture Box

Here's what Washington looked like in the 1890s, during the height of the oil boom. Hundreds of wells in and around the city produced as much as 18,575 barrels a day from the Washington field.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Picture Box

I call this one "Children of the Corn." It's from the West Middletown collection, circa 1900.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Picture Box

This is difficult to make out, but I like it because it is rare: a photo from the 1880s that is not posed. It is a scene of the east side of North Main Street in Washington, when the Observer offices were located there.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Picture Box

I could use some help on this one. That's the very recognizable Jessop Steel structure in the background, but I have no idea when this photo might have been taken or who the workers are. The photo was taken by Washington photographer Charles Rodgers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Picture Box

Remember when gas stations looked like this one operated by the Andy brothers? This photo was taken sometime during the 1940s, but I can't determine the location. City directories from that period do not list the station under this name.

Comments and questions

Q: Since the Postal Service has now found itself in a loss of mailing business, would it not be cheaper, now, for you to have the paper once again delivered through the mail?

A: No. Back in the 1970s, most of our home delivery – all of it not delivered on foot – was delivered by mail on the same day. It worked well for a while, and our circulation grew dramatically. But then the U.S. Postal Service began raising rates, placing more restrictions on content, and demanding that the papers be sorted and delivered to the post office earlier and earlier.

Eventually, it became more cost-efficient for us to hire independent contractors to deliver newspapers by vehicle. Going back to mail delivery would be impractical an illogical. Many subscribers now complain that delivery of their newspaper by 7 a.m. is not early enough; certainly, they would not stand for papers being delivered later in the day by mail. Postal rates keep rising. There is no mail delivery on Sunday, so we would still need to maintain a delivery service for that day, and we can't imagine why the Postal Service is still delivering mail on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Picture Box

We stopped sending our photographers to ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings years ago. Here's a good example of what we used to publish – grim white men in shiny suits engaged in silly ritual. This was from the opening of the Franklin Mall in June 1970.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Picture Box

Here's another detail from that photos of the plasterers in Washington around 1912. All of them are splattered with paint or plaster, but what's with the businessman in the suit in the middle of this group?