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It’s a Mystery

I love a good mystery.  The who-did-it stories.  The why-did-it-happen questions. Recently, I was curious as I looked through a huge stack of newspapers that my mother-in-law, Ann, saved. 

            After her death in June, I wrote a column about Husband and me searching those papers. We cut out many pictures and articles of people Ann knew, but some papers went to recycling intact because we didn’t find anything to keep.

            There is one paper we have studied many times and can’t find anything about anybody we know, but there is something unique about this edition of the Nashville Banner, published May 14, 1946. A section has been cut out.  A 1½ inch x 1 column section.  What’s the missing article?

            It’s bordered by a story of charges against a grocer violating Tennessee Sunday blue laws, an engagement announcement from Scottsville, Kentucky, and an obituary from Columbia, Tennessee. So, maybe we were looking for a personal article.

            Ann kept detailed lists of family members, including dates of births, weddings, and deaths.  Husband searched for May 1946, but didn’t find anything.  We hoped his aunt, who has a very clear mind at age 93, would remember something.  She didn’t. 

            Then, I looked carefully at the small pink address label, that is glued upside down on the front page, and here was another mystery.  Who was Fred Luke whose address was Route 2, Cookeville?  Husband knew a Luke family, but doesn’t remember Fred. A google search gave no clues.

            Next, I used the services of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.  I filled out the online Microfilm Copy Order and mailed my request, with the required $5.00, for page 6 of the Nashville Banner May 14, 1946.  On the subject line, I listed the titles of surrounding articles.  Finally, we’d know what had been cut out of this paper.

            Two weeks later, I received an email including a pdf file.  I immediately looked at the bottom of the page and it was completely different from the page I held in my hand.  Thinking I’d been sent the wrong page, I checked the date of the microfilmed page: Tuesday, May 14, 1946.  So, I took pictures of the page we have and sent it.  I asked if there might be a page that matched in a different edition on file.

            I received a long letter of explanation from the assistant director for reference services of the state library.  He had looked through microfilm for that date, and others, for pictures and articles that matched those on our page and found nothing.  He explained that it was common for a newspaper, at that time, to print early and late editions and some content was printed aimed at specific communities, not appearing in all editions. He only has one afternoon edition on file.            

What was this missing article?  Why did Ann save this paper?  Did Fred Luke, whoever he is, cut out the article?  Maybe you can provide clues.  As much as I love a good mystery, even more, I love a mystery solved.


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