ROCKLAND—On December 30, 1919, The Courier-Gazette put out its Tuesday issue for its usual price of three cents for a single copy.
The headlines were nothing spectacular on that day, even though it was the day before New Year’s Eve. Maine, along with the rest of the U.S., was just about to enter a decade known as the Roaring ‘20s.
The newspaper industry was concerned about a partisan and capitalistic threat to democracy, according to a small piece on the inside pages. “The world is in greater peril today than during the war period. One half of the world is determined to subdue the other half. Capital is in conflict with Labor for supremacy. Labor is in conflict with Capital for supremacy and the rank and file are paying for the conflict.”
A few column inches were reserved for local tidbits of color. One gentleman (unnamed by the paper) who worked on Rockland’s Main Street, was thrilled, to say the least, to receive an unexpected Christmas gift.
“Don’t open this until you get home,” said a Main Street businessman, the day before Christmas, handing an envelope to his clerk. When the envelope was opened, a hundred dollar bill dropped out. And this handsome gift was by no means a misplaced one.
The prominent section of the front page was reserved to announce that Arctic Explorer Donald B. MacMillan was visiting the Midcoast for the purpose of commissioning a boat called Bowdoin to be built in Boothbay the following year for an upcoming expedition.
Central Maine Power had private investigators looking into malicious mischief done by some disgruntled power customers. “This investigation shows that the interruptions were due to the fact that “someone shot away insulators on the high tension line of the company,” according to the report.
In the Shipping News, The Courier-Gazette reported that the owners of the schooner Lavina M. Snow contacted the Coast Guard to assist their schooner, which had been stranded on the southwestern point of the Abaco, Bahama Islands.
Over in Camden, there was mention of The Penobscot Woolen Mill, “Camden’s newest industry,” located on the corner of Washington and Mechanic Streets and “handy to to the trolley line,” which was using the Megunticook River as its power source. The mill had about 20 looms at that point, employing 50-60 people.
And in other news sure to rankle local citizens who made their own cider, the front page noted that a collector for internal revenue for the District of Maine proposed that all sweet cider be taxed from now on.
In December 1919, Maine was still the only state under legal Prohibition, so any revelry that was being planned for the following day had to be done under covert action. A bold and accusatory advertisement with the all-caps title DRUG HABIT appeared at the bottom of the front section. It was paid for by The Neal Institute, a Portland franchise of an Iowa company, which claimed it could cure those with drug and alcohol problems within three days.
The Courier-Gazette’s own classified advertisement
Other ads placed within the paper announced post-Christmas bargains, with Christmas nuts on sale at 35 cents per pound, fresh cod at 25 cents per pound and two large grapefruit for only 25 cents.
Automobile dealers were already looking ahead to the latest 1920 models of Buicks and Chevrolets, Scripps-Booth and G.M.Cs., which could be purchased at The Rockland Motor Mart (care of Dyer’s Garage Tel. 124.)
New Year’s Eve
Little could be gleaned about the Midcoast’s plans for a festive New Year, but some planned to go ice skating that evening from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Skating Rink at Training Station. The Empire Theater was “business as usual” with a Wednesday night New Year’s Eve screening of “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” The novel, adapted into film featured a rakish gambler who fell in love with a girl young enough to be his daughter. Not to be outdone, the Park Theatre planned a racy NYE show of “Bathing Beauties in Person,” a Mack Sennett five-reel comedy for 25 cents plus War Tax.
For fans of a more rowdy New Year’s Eve, the Rockland A.C. Spear Block was putting on two wrestling championship matches between Patsy McCarty (the Irish Giant of New York) vs. Charles Metro (of Laconia, N.H.) with another match between Kid Bolduc from Lewiston and Young Stecher from N.Y. And lest you think this was only for men, there were “Special Seats for the Ladies” from $1.00 to $1.50 in ticket prices.
The Tuesday issue didn’t offer any reminiscing editorials or any year-end retrospectives. One only had to skip ahead two days into the future to see what values The Courier-Gazette reflected upon in its January 1, 1920 issue.
These prophecies for the year 1920 were an annual tradition, printed by The Courier-Gazette. “Made by Dr. Delmer Eugene Croft and adduced from the Pythogorean Code” these prophecies are laid out in essay form one by one, taking up most of the front page.
And as a new day passed, Mainers continued their lives, forging ahead through another winter, as they always have.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com