Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yesterday's News

We went to an estate sale today. It was only about a mile from our house, so I was skeptical about it. "Estate sale" is what some people like to call a garage sale when they don't have a garage and it's too wintery for a yard sale. These people are liars. A true estate sale occurs when a person, preferably old, dies or has to go live in a home, leaving behind years worth of wacky collections and furniture. The older the house, the better the offerings -- usually. Plus, I like old houses. But a lot of the houses around here were built in the 60's or later, which isn't that thrilling. Go to inner Southeast or Northeast Portland and you'll find old houses, suitable for proper hauntings, with the creepy but mesmerizing third floors, small bedrooms, miniature closets, and stairs so old and creaky, they would scare Alfred Hitchcock himself.

I love estate sales.

The house we visited today wasn't that old. From the 50's maybe. But the person who lived there, and had probably bit the dust, was definitely bordering on old. You can usually tell by the kind of stuff they've accumulated. (Unless, of course, they've discovered ebay, in which case they could be 98 or 18. But whatever.) As I was perusing one of the bedrooms, I came across two boxes of old newspapers. I don't know how long I spent sitting on the floor, going through the boxes, but it was indeed a long time. I came home with over 20 newspapers, mostly focusing on/including the following:

*The Vanport flood of '48, which wiped out an entire city and killed a bunch of people. (Topical because we've had a lot of flooding this past week, and there have been a few deaths -- though nothing like back then.)

*The infamous "Columbus Day Storm" that hit Oregon in the 60's, notable (well, to me) for its destructive ways at my college, Western Oregon University (which went by a different name then), knocking down the bell tower/steeple, which they later rebuilt, sans bells. (When I attended WOU, we were subject to a recording of bell music no less than three times per day.)

*JFK's assassination. It's not like there's any shortage of information about that, but it's interesting to have a copy of the Oregonian from when it happened.

*Newspapers about the time a plane crashed into a neighborhood not far from here, back in the 70's. And not just a little plane. We're talking a passenger jet. Amazingly, I don't think anyone on the ground was killed, even though it went down in a residential neighborhood.

*Newspapers from the 100th anniversary of Oregon, full of copies of articles from the 1800's.

Not only am I glad to be able to read these articles, but I LOVE old newspapers because they're just so different from today's. The comics, the movie ads, the department store ads. Low prices. And just the different writing style. How they'd put "Mr." and "Mrs." So-and-So when talking about someone -- ie "Mr. Bob Jones," instead of "Bob Jones." The small print. The silly headlines. Those are just a few things I noticed. I'll spend more time going through them soon.