Cats, Cats, Cats

Cat PortraitsAre you one who enjoys perusing the plethora of cat pictures on the internet? Today you’ve come to the right place–superfluous cat pictures are not just a thing of the present, oh no. Newspapers throughout the years have done their duty in capturing the prideful, curious, and aloof expressions of our feline companions as well.

Have a gander at this collection of feline photos. Cats make the perfect subjects for photography—at least, so says the intro to this trifecta of kitty cuteness. “Entirely unselfconscious, they fall into poses at the click of a shutter…” Click through the image below to the full page and be rewarded with tips on the taking of formal and informal snapshots of your furry friends.

Cat (S)naps!

“Cat Photos Evoke Greater Response Than Other Types,” says this headline. Oh, don’t we know it.

Here’s another article for the scrapbook. With the tips from this expert cat photographer, you too can take appealing pictures of cats toting around their adorable offspring.

Cat Photography Tips

This example brings it back to a real classic—pet art. The woman highlighted in the story had a goal to paint 1,000 cat pictures. After all, “with a 900 record behind one, 100 more seems few.” Good point, Mrs. Gardner.

Woman Who Has Painted 850 Cat Pictures

There’s more where that came from, of course! Try any number of searches about kittens, cats, cat photos and more on Newspapers.com for a slew of pictures and articles about our favorite purring pals.

The Axeman of New Orleans

Morbid accounts of the work of an ax-wielding serial killer had shaken up New Orleans for months when a mysterious and worrisome letter was printed in the local newspaper. Supposedly from the killer himself, the author claimed to be a spirit, a demon, uncatchable, and threatened to return again the following Tuesday night for more murderous mayhem. The warning came with a helpful hint, however: any house or establishment enjoying the music of a jazz band on the evening mentioned would be spared the killer’s ax.

The Axeman's Letter

Was the letter from the killer himself, or was it a hoax? Many people joked about the letter; one man even offered to leave his window open for the Axeman if he would promise to leave the door undamaged. But despite any doubts, the night of March 18-19, 1919, was flooded with music. Jazz blared in the dance halls and amateur bands played at house parties, the music drifting through open windows. True to his word, the Axeman killed no one that night.

Night-Long Jazz Music Stops Murders

A few months later he struck and killed again, the last crime ever attributed to the Axeman. Just as the letter predicted, the jazz-loving murderer was never caught.

Try your own searches for mysteries like these using the search page on Newspapers.com. 

Jackson’s Profane Parrot

Jackson's foul-mouthed parrot

Here’s a comical tidbit about one of our presidents past. Seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson once purchased an African Grey parrot for his wife. When she died, Jackson himself took over care of the bird, whose name was Poll. Jackson had a bit of a temper, and dear Poll the parrot must have picked up on some rather fowl foul-mouthed language around the fiery man. When Jackson died many were invited to the funeral, Poll included—until the parrot launched on a loud and repetitive cursing binge, shocking the reverent crowd. The offensive bird was promptly removed from the house.

Check out Newspapers.com for more strange stories like these. Try looking for a topic that interests you on the search page.

Payback Worth Savoring

It’s often said that revenge will get you nowhere, but it turns out that is not necessarily the case when it comes to snack food. If it hadn’t been for the frustration of a certain cook, potato chips might never have come to pass.

A Happy Accident - Potato Chips

In 1853, as the story goes, a wealthy customer came to dine at the restaurant where a man named George Crum worked as a chef. The rich patron’s meal included a side of fried, sliced potatoes, a fairly popular dish at the time. The man was dissatisfied with the thickness of the potatoes and promptly had them sent back to Crum. Crum, frustrated with the man’s complaint, proceeded to slice the potatoes paper thin and throw them in a vat of oil, thinking the man out in the restaurant would surely feel his displeasure. Instead, the wealthy diner found the taste of the crispy-thin potatoes to be incredibly delicate and raved about them. Thus, potato chips were born.

The Beginnings of Potato Chips

Raving about potato chips

Who knew revenge could be so sweet…er, savory?

Read more about this happy accident here, and feel free to enjoy Newspapers.com’s wealth of newspaper history through searches or browsing.

The First Christmas Card

Have you ever wondered, as you sort through your December mail, why we bother sending our friends and family cards for the holidays? Where did this tradition come from? Who began it all?
The First Christmas Card

The idea for the first Christmas card is credited to Sir Henry Cole, who commissioned it in 1843. The card, illustrated by J. C. Horsley, was drawn in three panels: two showed the charitable work of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, while the third showed a contented family raising their glasses to the card’s recipient, bidding them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The First Christmas Card

Cole had a thousand copies made available for purchase at a shilling each, and while the image of the alcohol-wielding family proved unpopular, the idea still managed to catch on. The practice of sending Christmas cards to family and friends has only grown since then, an increasingly profitable business for their manufacturers. Over the years a larger selection of cards have become available, allowing for more holidays, personality and design.

Only twelve of Cole’s original thousand still exist, one of which holds a Guinness World Record as the most expensive greeting card sold at auction after it was bought in 2001 for over $28,000.

Want to read more contemporary articles about Sir Henry Cole and his Christmas card endeavors? Try this search, or craft one of your own with Newspapers.com’s search function.

The Accidental Start of the NORAD Santa Tracker

NORAD tracks santa

Don’t you just hate accidentally calling the wrong number? Especially if that number happens to be the top secret phone line for the Continental Air Defense Command?

A typo in a 1955 Sears ad led to just that sort of mix up. The ad encouraged children to call a number and speak directly to Santa Claus, but instead of ringing up the North Pole, the printed number would take callers straight to the ominous red phone reserved exclusively for national crises in the Colorado Springs CONAD (now NORAD) office.

Imagine the dread U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup must have felt when that red phone rang. When he answered it was not the Pentagon who replied, but a little boy excitedly asking if he was speaking to Santa Claus.

At first Shoup reacted harshly, thinking it was some kind of prank. But when the little boy began crying, Shoup decided it was best to play along. He ho-ho-ho’d and asked the boy if he’d been good. He then spoke to the child’s mother who explained that a Sears ad had printed this phone number for anyone to call. Whoops.

Shoup begins Santa Tracker

The calls kept on coming, and Shoup, who was considered a pretty straight-laced and disciplined man, decided to humor the callers. He assigned men to take the calls and pretend to be Santa Claus. That Christmas Eve, Shoup walked into the office to find Santa’s sleigh drawn on the board they used to track airplanes in the country, a little joke. The airmen responsible worried that Shoup would be annoyed, but instead the colonel called a radio station and announced that an unidentified flying object had been spotted—Santa’s sleigh!

From then on, CONAD (and then in 1958, NORAD) continued the tradition of taking Christmas calls and tracking Santa Claus every Christmas Eve. They just made sure to use a different telephone number.

Start of Santa Tracker

Visit NORADs Santa tracker here to see where Santa goes this Christmas Eve. Check out Newspapers.com for more articles about Christmas and other holidays.

WWII in the United States

Axis Declares War

Today in 1941 Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States. Days earlier, Pearl Harbor had been infamously attacked by Japan’s military, prompting the U.S. to consider their own declaration of war against the island country. This declaration passed with only one dissenting vote on the same day that Hitler was drawing up his own declaration of war against the United States, convinced war with the U.S. was inevitable. With the declaration of war from the Axis, the U.S. was drawn into a massive global conflict that would continue for nearly four more years and would later be known as World War II.

Dec 11, 1941 - US enters WWII

There’s much more to find about WWII on Newspapers.com. Use the search page for specifics, or pick a specific date using the “Show Advanced” or “Add More Info” drop-down menu on the search bar. You can also use the “Narrow by Date” option in the left-hand column of the website after making a search.

Narrow By DateAdd more info

Rosa’s Prostest

Dec 1 1955, Rosa Parks Arrested

The above is a clipping from December 5th, 1955, just a few days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. The arrest was made December 1st when Parks sat in a seat directly behind the white section of the bus.

Riding the bus in 1955

When those seats filled and more white passengers boarded, the bus driver moved the sign designating the “colored section” further back on the bus and asked Rosa Parks and three other black passengers to move. The others complied, but Parks refused, tired of bending to arbitrary and unjust rules. She was arrested at the insistence of the bus driver.

Rosa Parks on the day she was arrested

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the same bus driver had once insisted Parks pay the fare and then get off the bus to reenter in the back door. The back of the bus was brimming with people, and Parks suspected he might just leave her on the sidewalk if she got off. She was thrown off the bus when she ignored the driver’s instructions.

Rosa Parks, 75

Find more about Rosa Parks’ famous bus experience with this search or create your own search for more articles about this and other moments in history.

The Turkey Pardon

Presidential Pardon Saved the Gobbler

The story of the presidential turkey pardon is a strange and mysterious one. Strange, because it involves pardoning a large fowl to save it from ending up in your Thanksgiving dinner. And mysterious because no one is sure where or why it began.

Thanksgiving Trivia

Commonly, the tradition is said to have started with President Truman in 1947, the year the first turkey was supposedly pardoned. This is despite the lack of any newspaper articles, stories, letters or other similar things proving the connection between Truman and the turkey pardon. Stories of Abe Lincoln pardoning the turkey meant for their Christmas dinner after his son grew attached to the bird also abound, leading many to believe that perhaps he is the reason for the custom.

Lincoln's Turkey History

As the article above mentions, Reagan was the first to mention an actual pardon for the lucky turkey, but it was a passing joke. The first official Thanksgiving turkey pardon didn’t happen until 1989, during George H. W. Bush’s presidency. Since then it has been a standing tradition every Thanksgiving holiday.

Turkey gets presidential pardon

The annual turkey pardon has been fairly well-documented in the last few decades. Here are some other articles about presidents pardoning their feathered friends:

Clinton's First Presidential Pardon Granted to a Turkey

Presidential Turkey Pardon

Strong Turkey Pardon Feelings

Obama Pardons Turkey

Of course there are many more similar articles to be found, full of stories of the origins of this bizarre tradition. Some are not quite factual, but all share different angles to this silly story. See what you can find on Newspapers.com.

The Facts of Facial Hair

Mustaches

Whether you know it as Movember, No Shave November, or something in between, this month is the time when many a man forgoes the razor and lets his face fur grow freely in the name of promoting men’s health. In honor of this strange and ever-growing tradition (pun intended), today’s post will center around the lip sweater, the cookie duster, the soup strainer, the caterpillar, or, as it is most commonly known…the mustache.

Mustaches—and their frequent companions, beards—have been a rather hotly debated topic over the centuries. Some find them disgraceful and a sign of derelict character, while others see them as the ultimate expression of a true gentleman. Here are a few articles that brave the subject of mustaches (click on the images to read the whole article):

1. Waiters in years past had a struggle if they were the mustache-loving type. For a while, waiters were banned from sporting lip fuzz, a rule that began in France and trickled into the high-end restaurants in the United States. Many pushed back against the insistence on bare faces, though not all succeeded.

Let His Mustache Blossom!

2. Did you know there are national mustache days? They are varied and many now, without as much consensus on a date as this article has. The many difficulties and advantages of wearing a mustache are delved into here.

Mustache advantages vs. disadvantages

3. Ever wanted to know about the facial hair decisions of past presidents or the longest mustache in the world in 1972? Look no further: here lies the history of the mustache. And in case you were curious, the current world record for longest mustache is 14 feet, which is just a little longer than the record in this clipping…by about 5 feet. That’s a lot of mustache.

Unsightly Hair or Beautiful Brush?

4. What does your mustache say about you? (Spoiler, it says a lot.) This article amounts to a zodiac of mustache meanings. Where do you fall on the scale from timid to murderous? And don’t overlook the fabulous last line of the clip below, “The Cleanly Shaven Upper Lip is Open to Suspicion.”

The Cleanly Shaven Upper Lip is Open to Suspicion

You’d be surprised how many newspaper stories mention the mustache, some with great vitriol. Take a look at this search to look for more about how mustaches are signs of insecurity, make you more manly, or attract the ladies. It plain to see that they can do all these things and more—depending on who’s talking.