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July 1, 2003

Some of these old things that keep arriving here are wonderful to study. When I sit down to read them, they are like a time machine, transporting me back to another era when manners, morals and even the Americanized version of the English language differed from today's usage. A fine example is the material just received from Harold Luter, who delivers the U. S. mail to farm homes in the Red Rock community. Among other things, Mr. Luter has an actual-size reproduction of the Red Rock Record, a now-defunct weekly newspaper published in that area. The four-page paper is dated April 17, 1917, when this country was experiencing significant changes. It is a fine example of publications from that period.

Considerable space in the four-page copy is devoted to a host of patient medicines, and of course there is a heavy emphasis on comings and goings among residents of the community. It's a style of news writing that you don't see very often in this time of advanced technology and interlocking national interests. The paper did have a full-page report on Oklahoma's preparations for armed conflict in Europe, or wherever needed, but even that page contained several inches of advertising, such as "Danderine," a cure for dandruff; "Swamp Root," to battle kidney ailments; and "Fletcher's Castoria" for infants and older children, although the ad neglects to name the ailment it's intended to cure. Don't laugh. Those peculiar little ads paid the bills for many newspapers.

Rex A. Clemons was editor and publisher of the paper according to the masthead on an inside page. Subscriptions were one dollar per year. Here's a partial list of some of the Red Rock area advertisers: Dr. D. F. Coldiron, Pinkstaff Auto Livery, the Eagle Cafe, Carpenter Brothers Oil & Gasoline, Bird's Quality Grocery, W. T. Donahoe Feed & Seed, C. A. Fraser (offering an effective blackleg vaccine), and numerous others.

Here's a small sampling of news items presented by the Record on that April day. "The music students of Miss Lorene Greer gave a recital at the Christian church Monday evening to an unusually large and attentive audience."

"The most successful celebration ever held in Red Rock was the Barbecue and Loyalty Day Program by our citizens last Saturday, April fifth, to celebrate the victory of the "Wets" in the recent election. No money or labor had been spared to make the event one long to be remembered with pleasure by the town and community....Mrs. M. A. Miller, assisted, by the Boy Scouts, decorated the speakers' stand."

"NOTICE When you want Hail, Fire, Cyclone or Life Insurance, tell Barney Woolverton, Red Rock, Okla. He will get it for you. (This one probably was a paid ad, but it appeared to be a news item.)

"Mr. and Mrs. C. M. Bird and the Editor and wife motored to Ponca City Sunday and spent the afternoon with friends."

The Carpenter Brothers' large ad urged housewives to check out their Detroit Vapor Stoves. The copy read: "This spring and summer you will not want your kitchen as hot as a bake oven. You can do your cooking and baking easily if you get one of (these Detroit Vapor Stoves.)"

Finally, here's an item that pretty well mirrors the time. "Below we publish the names of our boys who went to Oklahoma City Tuesday evening to take the examination for enlistment in the navy: John Washebaugh, Elbert Bruce, Lester Stanley, Ray Cruts and Orville Sullins.... Orville Sullins, Ray Cruts and Lester Stanley passed the examination successfully."

Thanks to Mr. Luter for letting us borrow this copy of a Red Rock newspaper that served its readers well at the turn of the last century in this young state.