The Good Old Days

Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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9 Responses

  1. I presume “the weed” was tobacco, but I’m not sure if he was chewing or smoking it.

    But either way he was no Doc Ellis.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Certainly smoking, but I have the benefit of knowing a bit of his history:

      “Holder (smoking) tipped, and was caught on the fly by McCosker.” Source: New York Sunday Mercury September 19, 1858

      The parenthetical aside is in the original.Report

      • Chris in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        There was a famous writer at the Sunday Mercury around that time.Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Chris says:

          You lost me. I will confess that I have mostly read the Sunday Mercury for its baseball coverage, which was excellent. Henry Chadwick would be its baseball editor after the war, but not this early, and I doubt he counts as a “famous writer” outside 19th century baseball history circles.

          During the war, the Sunday Mercury had a flash of brilliance. The war was make or break for newspapers. The public wanted good war coverage, and this was fantastically expensive. Some papers of long standing went down, while other, younger papers made their names. The Sunday Mercury’s flash was to solicit letters from soldiers, paying them with a free copy of the paper where the letter was published, thereby getting its war coverage on the cheap.

          Karl Marx was a correspondent about this time for the New York Tribune, a bit of an oddity from the modern perspective.Report

          • Chris in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            Orpheus C. Kerr was a great Yankee satirist of the war. Here is a collection. Skip down to the sample “Rejected National Anthems” by “anonymous” famous writers such as “H. W. L——, OF CAMBRIDGE,” “JOHN GREENLEAF W——,” and “RALPH WALDO E——”.

            Or on everyone’s suddenly having known Lincoln his whole life, and telling stories of his youth:

            Once, while Abe was practising as a lawyer, he defended a man for stealing a horse, and was so eloquent in proving that his client was an honest victim of false suspicion, that the deeply-affected victim made him a present of the horse as soon as he was acquitted. I tell you what, my boy, if Abe pays a post-office for every story of his childhood that’s told, the mail department of this glorious nation will be so large that a letter smaller than a two-story house would get lost in it.


            • Chris in reply to Chris says:

              Also, he should be the official OT humorist, as he clearly shared our taste for the pun:

              “There!” says the serious New Haven chap, as he finished reading, stirring something softly with a spoon, “what do you suppose Poe would think, if he were alive now and could read that?”

              “I think,” says I, striving to appear calm, “that he would be ‘Raven’ mad about it.”


        • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

          Not for another six years or so.

          He was a fan of the Hartford club, but apparently the only thing he ever wrote about the game was this bit from Methuselah’s Diary.Report