Column written in 1935 still humorous today
As we begin a celebration of the birthday of Nebraska (150 years), we also find ourselves examining the history of our own community as well as the history of the newspapers in Hamilton County. That has brought us to the revelation of an Aurora Republican-Register editor Joseph E. Allen, who in 1935 published many of his columns in booklet form called, “Home Town Tales.”
They were a recollection of his memories of the Aurora community when it was his home for 36 years and he then wrote in the book’s preface, “With the thought of some of these writings might be enjoyed by former residents.” Throughout the year of our state’s 150 year celebration we hope to honor his wish. One of those recollections follows and emphasizes history can have humor, too.
Editor Allen wrote:
“This episode concerns a tide in the affairs of women -- members of the Ladies Aid Society of the old Congregational Church. The original church was not a thing of architectural beauty and community was relieved when the Ole Strand was moved to South 13th and made a rooming house of it. But, while it was still a religious and social center some of the good church women looked at the bare windows and thought it would add considerably to the attractiveness if the windows would be stained. Money was scarce and the purchase of stained glass was out. Someone came forward with the suggestions the windows might be frosted.
I do not think it would be safe to say which husband of which member of the Aid broached the idea and offered the windows be treated inside with stale beer and salts similar to the decorations used on saloon bar mirrors. After a vote the women of the committee who then on the following Saturday treated the windows with beer and salts. The effect was lovely.
The committee went gleefully to the church the next morning to hear the praise of the congregation. They were met with hostile looks and later fiery words. It seems that after being closed tight all night the place on a peaceful Sabbath morning smelled like a brewery. Some male members settled down and liked it while the irate sisters fidgeted through the church session. Monday’s sun had gotten no more than a mid-morning high before apron-clad women with pails and cleaning rags washed away the new decorations in a flurry of hands and hot words.”
Yes, after all these years, even local history can have lots of humor.
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register