All The News That’s Fit To Print

This morning, I depart from cribbage but move to writing. Read on.

This last semester of grad school has been a wonderful, exhaustive and exhausting experience; I’ve joined several other writers as we edit the creative nonfiction submissions for Hamline’s own Water~Stone Review, and we’ve been reading a few books on the business of editing. Between my day job at a publisher, night classes at Hamline, and working on this book of mine in what little meantime remains, my eyes and ears are rather attuned to a little creative word-smithing, which leads me to this:

My hometown of Duluth has a pretty good blog. As I looked through old posts, I stumbled across the gem below, which is notable not only for its colorful depiction of various drunks, but the narrative flair the editors used to relate the stories. I don’t know how many police blotters today might describe the perpetrator (the perp!) as “[contributing to the city treasury]” or, in an even more impressive act of narrative journalism, falling into “the clutches of the police,” a sentence suggesting significantly more policing than may have in fact been necessary. Excerpted from the blog:

Regular folks getting drunk used to be front page news. Ah, the good ol’ days.

From the first issue of the Duluth Herald, April 9, 1883:

James Clark got drunk yesterday and was run in by Officer Turcotte. He was taxed $8.50 this morning by Justice Martin.

A. Lonquest was drunk and disorderly at Rice’s Point last night and Officer Peloski found considerable difficulty in arresting him. He had an infernal machine called a self-cocking revolver on his person besides a dangerous looking knife. He contributed $10 to the city treasury this morning.

P. Peck was a plain drunk who was picked up by Tom McLaughlin yesterday. He paid the customary $8.50 this morning.

Mary McGraw got beastly drunk yesterday and fell into the clutches of the police. This morning she woke up financially embarrassed and the result was she was sentenced to ten days’ confinement in the county jail.

I love it. Close reading tells us that despite Mary McGraw’s “beastly” intoxication, it is in fact P. Peck we must be wary of in the future; a “plain drunk” opposed to Mary’s night of excess. I’m glad she didn’t have an “infernal machine,” or there’s no telling what sort of skulduggery she may have found!


2 thoughts on “All The News That’s Fit To Print

  1. So, was she sentenced to jail for ten days simply because of lack of money or because she was a woman? Considering the times, would the man have been sentenced longer or at all? Intriguing…

    On top of that, why can’t newspapers be written that way now? This reminds me of

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