Articles favored local scoop

David Gomez

Editor’s note: This is part of a series that will examine the kind of news reported by the Northern Star through the decades.

“Yesterday, the rumble, creak and plod of cart and oxen. To-day and to-morrow the zoom of airplanes,” stated a General Electric advertisement in the Northern Illinois’ first edition of the 1930s.

Published weekly, the newspaper featured a cleaner format compared to the magazine-like style it used in the 1920s. However, most articles still lacked a byline. Major events of the decade, such as the Depression, were pushed aside in favor of local news.

A 1938 news article about a local fire told the story of one Northern Illinois reporter’s heroic rescue.

“N.I. has again nurtured a super-man in the person of one Bill Smith, who Tuesday night in a valiant effort to save the raiment in the Blackburn Dress Shop from a holocaust, tore down the door with a valiant shove of his one good shoulder.”

Seeing a huddled form, Smith dove through fire and smoke only to find a “dressmaker’s dummy, draped in a $1.98 creation of the finest percale.”

Another 1936 article detailed a visit to the school by aviator Amelia Earhart, who came to advocate airplane travel safety.

“One doesn’t need to worry about having an airplane accident until he’s 128 years old,” Earhart said.

Despite the paper’s strong focus on local news, the changes in Europe didn’t go unnoticed entirely. A look at a 1935 editorial reveals an ignorant perspective on world events.

“Adolf Hitler tells the Nazis what to do, and Mussolini seems to be doing a pretty good job over in bologna land,” the editorial read, “but these strong men are just a couple of pikers compared with our registrar, Miss Norma Pearson.”

Others mocked the advances in technology.

“Whole cities will be wiped out, disintegrated, blown to smithereens. With what? Why, with super-deadly gases, uncontrollable germs, death rays and devastating radiations that will cause even atoms to fly into bits,” H.W. Gould wrote in a 1935 editorial.