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Need me some Lydia E. Pinkham

February 1, 2012 - Karin Elton
Jane Bednarek of Marshall recently brought into the newsroom some old newspapers, magazines and a Sears catalog from 1939 and 1940.

The yellowed copy of The Minneapolis Star The Minneapolis Journal, “Two great newspapers in one,” is 30 pages and 17 inches across — the Independent is now 11 inches wide — and had about 18 articles on the front page.

One was an awful story about two 11-year-old girls walking in the woods near Warroad. One girl was carrying a white cup that she was going to use to collect raspberries. An off-season deerhunter, a poacher, thought the white cup was the white tail of a deer and aimed for the cup. He shot off three of Ruth Ladd’s fingers. Fragments from the cup ripped into her chest. She and her friend, Ione Temple, started to run and Laurence Haugen kept shooting his rifle, hitting Ladd in the upper leg. After he realized what he had done Haugen hurried both to a hospital in Roseau. The man received a 60-day term in the Polk County jail — for attempting to take deer out of season.

Another story mentioned FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover setting up a "clearinghouse of crime" to coordinate efforts among "federal and state prosecutors, G-men, narcotics agents and local police throughout the nation." The top story was about Robert A. Taft of Ohio expressing a willingness to become a Republican presidential nominee in 1940. He was the son of the former president and chief justice.

The Sears catalog offers women’s rubbers for 67 cents a pair. Rubbers are rubber boots you wore over your shoes in the winter or when it’s raining. Women could also buy 12 “hankies” or handkerchiefs (washable Kleenex) for 39 cents. Men could order ribbed knit cotton union suits on sale for 48 cents. Union suits featured button-up tops and long underwear.

A Coldspot refrigerator could be bought on time for $104.50 by paying $5 down. A Water Witch wringer washing machine could be yours for $35.95, $3 down. A “modern hand pump” was worth $175 according to the ad, but could be bought at Sears for $109. “Heavy cast iron, anti-freezing, easy to prime!” A “Davenport” could be bought for $52.88. My mom used to call the couch a “Davenport.”

An engagement ring with 1/8 of a carat diamond could be purchased for $37.95 marked down from $57.95. It features the "(f)inest blue white center stone with two side diamonds superbly mounted in richly engraved 14-K yellow or white solid gold." A half carat is $164.95.

Last but not least are the magazines Bednarek brought in. The newsroom women had a fun time leafing through “True Confessions” and “True Experiences.” Both were published in 1940 and cost 10 cents. We laughed over some of the titles, “I Married a Gangster” (the story of a woman trapped between hate and love) and “Scandalous Lie: The Story of a Designing Woman” and my personal favorite — “Ashamed: The Story of a Girl Who Faltered.”

The ads featured Noxzema for 49 cents a jar. Or you could try Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound for “women suffering FEMALE WEAKNESS.” It helps “quiet weary, hysterical nerves, relieve monthly pain and weak dizzy spells due to functional disorders.” Women could also buy Hudnut marvelous face powder “for that modern natural look.” The "harmonizing rouge and lipstick" are only 55 cents each. One ad showed a tuxedo-clad man talking to another man about Peg. “Politeness has its limits — I just won’t dance with Peg!” After Peg used Mum, she was able to close dance again. “prevent Underarm Odor with Mum. Stay popular!”


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