It seems tautological that an old newspaper will be historical. We live history every day. Still, the newspaper I found when unpacking from a move yesterday seems unusually so, not in the big event that everyone remembers sort of way, but as a collection of stories related to an eventful year and foreshadowing the future.
Wrapped around an old plate that has been moved and stored many times in the past 50 years was the (Baltimore) Evening Sun from July 11, 1968. It was tattered and yellowed and nearly went straight into the bin, but I was curious and ready for a distraction from the unending unpacking.
The headline above the fold was the first reminder of the times. “Clifford Going To Vietnam; Will Brief Johnson On War.” Only about six pages were used to wrap the plate, but Vietnam was a recurring theme. On page A2 there was a short story about Dr. Benjamin Spock’s antiwar activities, noting his recent conviction and sentence to two years in prison and a fine. I have his famous book on parenting somewhere, but had no idea that he was an antiwar activist. Despite his conviction, he pledged to continue his activities. “There’s not a shred of legality in the Vietnam war.” The Book review on page A5 was of a biography of Ho Chi Minh. The reviewer noted that “The prose is lackluster and sluggish. But the subject is interesting.” Page A10 carried the obituary of a marine private from Maryland, killed in fighting in Quang Tri province.
Czechoslovakia made the front page. In the summer after the Prague Spring, the story centered on the on-again off-again plans of the Soviets to remove troops, this time delayed because of anti-Soviet leaflets.
Governor Ronald Reagan’s office denied plans to announce his candidacy for president of the United States. Apparently, stopping Nixon was a concern of many Republicans at the time.
Beneath photos of the (white) Miss South Africa was a story about Miss Congo referring to Coffee and Milk and titled “Congolese Beauty Boosted By Whites”. The Miss Universe pageant was held in Miami that year. Amid speculation that she could be the “first of her race” to win the title, and supported by her roommate Miss France, Miss Congo said she would be happy to win, but “there are many other pretty girls in the United States and they don’t seem to like colored girls here.”
Gun control legislation faced uncertain future, Arab-Israeli peace talks were stalled, …
Of all the headlines and stories and photos, the one that would catch most Baltimorean’s attention was the banner across the top of the front page: “Weaver Replaces Bauer As Orioles Manager”, announcing a new job he would hold for 17 years.
In other news, the word “parley” was used in two front-page headlines on different topics, the bank robbers caught on camera wore cool hats, and a 1968 Chevy Camaro cost $2,280.
I’m sure I could have found the same pages archived online somewhere, but finding them the way I did made the history more interesting. When we were packing up to move to another house in the summer of 1968, when I hadn’t yet started school or visited Slovakia or moved to Vietnam or seen an Orioles game, these were the stories making news. Sometimes the wrapping paper is more interesting than the item it was meant to protect.