In this scrap, Charles A. Thayer is claiming that
the prices on his fruits and nuts are the lowest in Kings County. At least I
assume we can include fruits, as only the letter “s” is remaining from that
word. Below, in addition to the nuts, we can see the prices of raisins, prunes
and lemons and so can safely assume the word was indeed “fruits.”
It’s interesting to see the phrase, “Kings County”
used. Many of you have heard of the area of New York known as Queens, but
have not often heard of its neighbor Kings, or Kings County. In truth you may well
be familiar with this section on the western tip of Long Island, but you know
it better as Brooklyn.
And so to the nuts! Almonds seem to be the big
ticket item here, and many a housewife must have complained at the price of 22
cents a pound. Brazils, Filberts and Peacans fare a little better, at only 15
cents a pound. And while my spell check has underlined, in shocking red, that
spelling of pecan, at the same time I hear the voices of those from long ago as
they whine, “That’s how we spelled it back then!”
And perhaps they did. Still,
doubt remains, as in the ad the word “department” is misspelled with an “h” in
the position where the second “e” should be. This is clearly a result of poor
proofreading, as we can safely say that at no time in history, today or in
1884, was the word ever spelled like that. I wonder if some poor guy got in trouble,
or fired, for the error.
Hey, good catch. How do I know that this scrap of
paper is from 1884? You can see there is no dateline on the top of the page.
Ah, but a look on the other side of the scrap shows three columns of news under
the heading “News of the Day,” and on the very edge of the fourth column there
is a bit of a calendar displaying just a part of the first three months of
the year, along with the year itself, which is 1884. My birthday was on a
Sunday that year, even though my first birthday was actually still seventy
In the news we are told that a great disaster
occurred near Ontario, Canada, where there was a collision between two trains.
It says, “What had before been a car full of strong, hearty men became in an
instant a sickening death trap filled with mangled, bleeding humanity.” Now that’s some evocative writing!
In other news…”five men dead and two dying is the
result of a lynching case in McDade, Texas.” Now, I have no idea what is being
said here, although I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not fully understanding
this 19th century English, or the writer is being vague on purpose.
I suspect the latter.
Another story tells us that a woman in Illinois
invited a man to her house. The man had allegedly “made aspersions on her
character,” and when he admitted to the woman that he had, she shot him. Dead. Also,
an intoxicated couple died when they drove their wagon over an embankment and
were “smothered in the snow.” You know, I can’t help but think that people from
130 years ago would have really enjoyed television.