Tag: History

Old Time Bloopers

Old Time Bloopers

People of modern times may think bloopers are a recent invention. They’re not. The name may be new, but early newspapers reported “curiously worded advertisements” for all to enjoy.

The January 3, 1884 edition of The Leadville Daily Herald reported these from a London paper.

“Mrs. And Miss May have left-off clothing of every description. An inspection is invited.”

Oh, my. I hope the inspection is of the clothing and not the ladies.

 “Wanted – A nurse for an infant between twenty-five & thirty, a member of the Church of England & without followers.”

Sounds like a pretty old infant. I’m not even sure what “without followers” means. Couldn’t be referring to Twitter, could it?


The January 16, 1896 edition of the Aspen Daily Times also reports items from a London paper.

“Annual sale now on. Don’t go elsewhere to be cheated – come here.”

“For sale – a pianoforte, the property of a musician with carved legs.”

Is this some kind of fancy peg leg?

“Mr. Brown, furrier, begs to announce that he will make up gowns, capes, etc. for ladies out of their own sinks.”

“Bulldog for sale; will eat anything; very fond of children.”

Is eating anything a selling point?

Old time bloopers went viral. These same bloopers showed up in the Fort Collins courier, February 4, 1897 and The Ouray Herald, February 14, 1901. Going viral took longer back then. No Share button. These items probably appear all over the country. Maybe the globe since they come out of London.

When I read the historic newspapers, I see things that look like bloopers. But who can tell with their odd humor and word usage?

From the January 6, 1884 edition of the Leadville Daily Herald, in a note about the need for a preacher.

“A live young man is needed for the onerous and multiplied duties of any Leadville pulpit.”

As opposed to a dead young man? And the word “onerous” won’t entice anyone.


Also, from the January 6, 1884 Leadville Daily Herald,

“- Detroit Michigan has a dog oil factory. The product is used by consumptives.”

I don’t even know what dog oil is. I Googled it and I still don’t know. Did they somehow use oil from dogs? Maybe I don’t want to know.

From the January 8, 1884 edition of the Leadville Daily Herald,

“Don’t forget that John Harvey has a fine lot of sleighs and cutters, which he is selling very low.”

And then there are articles which apparently seek to expand the public’s vocabulary.

The January 21, 1888 edition of the La Plata Miner includes the following phrase in an article about a murder.

“charging him with the crime of oxuricide (the killing of one’s wife)”

Why not just say the killing of one’s wife? And, did this happen so often that they needed to come up with a word for it?

Nice to know, as a writer, when I make a bloober. . . blooper. . . I’m in good company.

Because once the word has been pressed to paper, it lives forever.


Noooo. Not the Dentist.

I only want to have my picture taken. Where’s the photographer?

Imagine being dressed in your best finery. You open the door to the photography studio and hear an evil dentist say, “Bwaaa haaa. Sit in my chair and have some gas.”

Worse yet, imagine it is 1884 in the new state of Colorado and the dentist has a four-foot-tall drill mechanism which is powered by a foot petal.

I was perusing the January 4, 1884 Leadville Daily Herald . . . because I write historical fiction and that’s how I spend my free time. I call it research.

I noticed advertisements for two businesses both located above the post office. A photography studio and a dentist office. Whose brilliant idea was that?

The ads weren’t next to each other, as I have placed them here, but they were in the same newspaper. So, they had to be very near each other. How big could the space Over the Postoffice be?

I imagine a lot of screaming and noise from the dentist’s office. Not a civilized affair like in modern times. The dentist’s ad offers gas for painless extracting, and artificial teeth are guaranteed to fit. Doesn’t say what kind of gas. This is a time when ads for children’s cough syrup explicitly state that morphine is not an ingredient. Because it could be the active ingredient.

Perhaps the gas calmed the patient enough to ignore the giant dental drill. It could keep everything quiet.

Even without a dentist next door, a photography session could be a frightening ordeal.

No one ever smiles in old-time photos. A museum guide told me that’s because it is hard to hold a smile during the long exposure time. The person could end up with a blurry mouth or face. People were told not to smile and to hold as still as possible. Some photographers even had wire stands to hold the subject’s head still.

And who knew what a camera pointed in your direction would actually do? That camera looks like a mini-canon. Maybe I’d be better off with the dentist and his gas.

And, how much noise and commotion carried to the post office below? It could be enough to keep patrons from visiting either establishment.

In fairness, I’ll note that by 1884, Kodak cameras were available, and photography had become more common. So, the dentist might be the more frightening of the two.

I researched the dentist and photographer in the advertisements further to look for other interesting tidbits.

In 1888, the photographer was in a legal dispute with Laura LeClair. The Leadville Evening Chronical says, “he had an agreement with Laura to take pictures of her girls ‘with’ and ‘without tights,’ whatever that may mean.” And, “Miss LeClair claims that the photographs were ‘improperly taken’ and were not meritorious.”

In modern times, Judge Judy would have heard this lawsuit.  Mrs. LeClair promised it would be “spicy.”

I wonder if the dentist office was still next door during this photography session.

All of this speculation gives me an idea for a novel. Plenty of potential for conflict.

Facebook Posts From Old Newspapers

In researching for my historical novels, I’ve read through old newspapers from Colorado’s early mining days. I planned fun trips to historical archives and libraries only to be told that the historic newspapers had been scanned and are available online. I could read them from the comfort of my easy chair. So much for writing off research trips as a business expense.

The easy chair is comfortable, but the print is tiny and scans can be hard to read. Still, the newspapers give a glimpse of everyday life in an old mining town. It turns out, people in the old days wanted to be connected in the same way we want to connect today.

A section in the Lake City paper reads just like Facebook and Twitter, except without pictures and modern terms.

I thought I’d translate a couple of the old bits of news into Social Media Speak.

From Silver World, Lake City Colorado, January 8, 1876

Mr. H.M. Rhoads, of the Mountaineer, has gone east to be married. The happy event is to occur about Christmas.

On Facebook, this would read:

H.M. Roads was tagged in a post.

Twenty days and counting. Soon I’ll be Mrs. Roads. Boston, here we come. #Christmaswedding #Bringonthegifts


From Silver World, Lake City Colorado, January 8, 1876

Sam Hougland has returned from Saguache.

On Facebook, this would read:

Sam Hougland added 35 photos to his album – Saugache trip.

Had a great trip to Saguache to visit my aunt and cousins. #Saugachetravel #Cousinpranks #Lovemyfamily


From Silver World, Lake City Colorado, February 19, 1876

A very pleasant party was had at the residence of J.H Surles on Last Monday evening.

On Facebook, this would read:

Loved seeing all these crazy friends again. Who says you can’t party on a Monday? And, Jules, next time, no wine for you. LOL. #Lovemyfriends #Toomuchchocolate


From Silver World, Lake City Colorado, January 15, 1876

People who have parrots ought to consider before they teach them bad language.

On Facebook, this would read:

Bwaaa Haa haa. Toby taught his parrot to say @@**@. Here is a video of unsuspecting old ladies walking past. #Parrotcusswords #Nevertrustaparrot


From Silver World, Lake City Colorado, January 29, 1876

Snow is several feet deep at timber line on Pikes Peak.

On Facebook, this would read:

Snow is several feet deep at timber line on Pikes Peak. #Mustbewinter

Some things never change.


From Silver World, Lake City Colorado, January 29, 1876

A little boy led his dog two miles recently to see if his hind feet would catch up with is front ones; and still some people think juveniles haven’t original theories.

I’ll just leave that last one, although I can think of lots of fun hashtags.

The ability to post high quality pictures and videos has undoubtedly altered our world, for better or for worse. And, the lack of censorship has changed the tone of the posts. But human nature and the need for community hasn’t changed.




View 11 Comments