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The Family Archivist

Last week, when I wrote about reading newspapers, I thought that was my only column about newspapers.  But then Husband brought home two cardboard boxes stuffed with papers from his mother’s home. 

            My mother-in-law, Ann Ray who passed away recently, saved documents from and about those she loved.  She kept personal letters, all kinds of greeting cards, school programs, wedding invitations, birth announcements, and celebration of life programs. Among these are a few newspaper clippings, but it seems Ann often saved the entire paper when a picture or the name of someone she knew was printed. So, Husband and I have looked for those pictures and articles.

            We turned the pages of The Sparta Expositor and The Sparta Tennessean, both published in Ann’s hometown.  We looked through The Tennessean, the Nashville Banner, and local papers, The Citizen, the Herald-Citizen, and the Dispatch.  We searched editions of The Oracle, published by Tennessee Technological University during the years Ann’s children were students.  We saved editions of The Charger, the Putnam County Senior High School paper, to give to Husband’s brother who was the 1972-73 editor.  And we found the Christmas 1972 Cain-Sloan Co. catalogue, probably because Husband was the Rivergate store manager at that time.

            Going through these many papers, a stack almost four feet high, was a walk back in time.  I cut out my picture with the hostesses of my bridal shower given by Ann’s friends.  There are pictures and a long two-column article, including a description of the bride’s bouquet, about her niece’s wedding in 1970.  In a July 1972 issue of the Herald-Citizen, a picture of Husband’s grandparents and their children was published when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

            Husband and I relived his 1985 campaign for and election to the Cookeville City Council.  There are pictures of Son playing basketball and Daughter with her volleyball team when they were high school students in the 1990s.

             I became sidetracked by local ads and society news.  On August 15, 1967, Kroger advertised stewing hens for $0.29 a pound and watermelon for $0.69 each.  June 1971 Bob’s Shop for Men held a Semi-Annual Clearance sale offering short sleeve sport shirts for $4.50-7.50. In that same paper, McMurry-Roberson had a full-page ad featuring wedding dresses.  I read lists of admissions, dismissals, and births at Cookeville General Hospital.  A 1975 issue published a column entitled, “In and Around Cookeville” which included names of out-of-town overnight guests visiting their relatives.

            Husband and I cut out every article about and picture of someone we know, but after looking through many issues, we said, “Why did she save this?  You look through it.”  Some papers went to recycling intact.

            A paper I’ve turned through several times is the Nashville Banner, published May 14, 1946.  The one thing different about this paper is a section has been cut out – a small 1 ½ inch x 1 column clipping.  This paper might prompt a third column.  What was the missing article?  Is it saved somewhere?


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