by Steve Joos
A look at the life of a critic on a winter's day 100 years ago.
|Horace Graham awoke that cold January day in 1919 and went about his ritual of preparing for his work day and huffing about the state of the world.
Part of that was Horace’s job as the advertising manager of the local newspaper, the Evening Star. He saw so much from that position and while he had little in the way of solutions to what was happening, he didn’t have much good to say about any of it.
“What are you doing now?” Horace demanded of his wife as they ate breakfast.
“I’m writing to the Senator,” Edna Graham replied. “About granting votes to women.”
Horace snorted and finished his ham and eggs. What else?
“My wife is out crusading for the outrageous notion that women should vote,” Horace thought to himself. “If that isn’t enough, my children have been taken in by my nephew Arthur and his radio crystals, whatever they are, and now here I am, standing in his doorway waiting for Clarence Adams and one of his four-wheeled horseless contraptions.”
All throughout this new century, things had changed at such a rapid pace that Horace simply felt overwhelmed, not to mention more than a little disgusted. Who were all these people, like Arthur and the women influencing Edna? Who were they with their new ideas, upsetting everything? Women voting, the human voice going out over what did Arthur call them? “Radio” waives? The very thought.
And don’t’ even mention politics.
“Wilson again,” Horace thundered time and again regarding the President. “Woodrow Wilson. He ran around bragging about keeping us out of war and then took us into one. Why, if it hadn’t been for that madman Roosevelt, Taft would have been re-elected, and maybe we might have stayed out of that infernal war!”
“Why are you always so negative, so critical? ´Mrs. Graham had often demanded of her husband. “Things are changing, Horace, but all you do is sit on the porch or in the parlor and find fault with everything. These people are trying to make things better.”
And here was Clarence Adams, not two months removed from being a soldier in the Great War, puttering down the street in the latest automobile his brothers were trying to sell.
Horace snorted again. Why did Clarence’s older brother insist on turning his father’s blacksmith shop into a garage?
Of course, since the Adams dealership was an advertiser, Horace could endure Clarence’s boosting of what was the name of this monster?
“The 1919 Franklin!” Clarence beamed. “Now on sale at the ABC Motor Company! Just 15 minutes from downtown on,”
“Clarence please!” Horace moaned. “Do you have the ad for the paper?”
The streets around the newspaper office became more somber as Clarence’s car approached it from First Street. A strong sense of mourning was present as Clarence pulled the car up to the main entrance of the Star’s office.
“What is going on?” Horace enquired of a reporter as he passed the newsroom,
“We just got the word,” was the reply. “Col. Roosevelt is dead.”
“The news just came in a short while ago. They say it happened overnight at Oyster Bay.”
Horace stood for a moment in disbelief, then moved on to the advertising department. Noticing the automobile ad in his case.
“We’re taking ads from the Adams brothers,” he murmured. “To hear Clarence talk, he probably thinks that someday he’ll be making that pitch on some of Arthur’s crystals, or whatever they are. What fools.”