Newspaper Nostalgia – Socials and Personals

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.”

Doug Larson, Journalist

Reading old newspapers has always fascinated me. The Ogdensburg Journal is no exception. We all know the major historic events of our locality, but how much do we know about the day-to-day personal lives of the people who lived here? I recently scoured through the “Socials and Personals” sections of the Ogdensburg Journal from the 1930s. I was amused at the reported activities of the time. This nostalgic niche of journalism detailed the private happenings of citizens, including social visits, illnesses and family entertaining. Just to be clear, the socials and and personals listed here were perfectly normal for this era.

Let’s start with Milton Merry’s intestinal issues. Think of how embarrassing it would be to read that you had a belly ache in the paper!

I’m guessing it was a big deal to visit friends all the way over in Canton! Way to go, Mrs. Evans and Mrs. Griffin!

I wonder what Mrs. McIntosh served for dinner. To be fair, I would love a newspaper entry every time I have my daughter over for dinner!

A disconcerting items of note:

  • Adult, unmarried women were given the title “miss” and reported by their first and last name, while married women were represented only by their husband’s first and last name

I became infatuated with historic newspapers during the late 1990s, when I was exploring my family ancestry on the internet. I found a trove of information while tracing my Scottish roots, specifically in the central part of New York State. The full details escape me now, but I found a brutally honest obituary written about the unfortunate death of an ancestor, who froze to death.

The article stated that my ancestor, who was a known drunk, was found frozen solid, after “taking a pee” on the shoreline of a lake! I was astounded, and yes, frankly amused that all this detail was so blatantly laid out in print for everyone to read. Also, please forgive me, but I also gave him a spiritual high-five; because my generation also has been known to throw down a glass or two of wine, every now and then!

For a Rainy Day

If you’re bored and looking for hours of entertainment, look up the online archives of your local newspapers. You’ll be amazed at what was considered news back in the day.

Here’s a starting point if you live in New York State:

Speaking of Nostalgia…

Navy Medical Service Corps Ball, Okinawa, Japan

Every time I was promoted, completed a training program, changed duty stations or added a college degree, the Department of Defense Hometown News Program would send notification to my local newspaper, the Herkimer Evening Telegram. After my mother passed away last year, I was going through her belongings and found newspaper clippings of all four of us “Cross girls.”

The Ogdensburg Journal Today

Each week, I look forward to extracting the newly resurrected “Journal” from my mailbox. Although much of the news has already been reported on Facebook and online news sites, I still enjoy the feel of holding the newspaper while drinking my morning coffee. It gives me a strong sense of being connected to our community. It offers objective, factual news, something that seems nonexistent on national TV channels and websites. I specifically enjoy reading Matt Curatolo’s “Maple City Musings” and David “Doc” Shea’s local sports coverage. They both do an amazing job.

Changing Gears….Happy Veterans Day!

Today is Veterans Day, and I continue to be humbled that my friends, family and community members go out of their way to acknowledge my service in the Navy. Joining the military was a great decision, and staying in for a whole career was even better! It was a pleasure to serve, and I would certainly do it all over again, if given the opportunity.

Thank you to all my sisters and brothers-in-arms, past and present, for protecting our democracy and American values.

Thank you for reading! – Barb, the River Blogger (Btrb)

Feel free to reblog anything I post. I welcome all comments and discussion.

🇺🇸 Happy Veterans Day! 🇺🇸


  1. Being a bit of a cynic on National Journalism Day, I recall the unsigned editorial that a local community newspaper (The Surrey Now-Leader) printed just before Earth Day 2017, titled “Earth Day in need of a facelift”. Varied lengths of the same editorial, unfortunately, was also run by some sister newspapers, all owned by the same news-media mogul who also happens to be an aspiring oil refiner. It opined that “some people would argue that [the day of environmental action] … is an anachronism”, that it should instead be a day of recognizing what we’ve societally accomplished. “And while it [has] served us well, in 2017, do we really need Earth Day anymore?”

    Until reading this, I had never heard anyone, let alone a mainstream news outlet, suggest we’re doing so well as to render Earth Day an unnecessary “anachronism”. Considering the sorry state of the planet’s natural environment, I still find it one of the most absurd and irresponsible acts of editorial journalism I’d witnessed in my 3.5 decades of newspaper consumption.

  2. Barb – another great blog – the old days sometimes sound so much better than the hectic days we are now experiencing.

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