The Feb. 14, 1935, edition of the Johnson City Press
While the Press has served Johnson City and the surrounding area for almost 80 years, it has also evolved to expand its coverage of local events.
More than 79 years ago, 13 stories graced the front page of the Feb. 14, 1935, edition of the Press, but only two of them could be considered local news items.
One of those stories was a request for aid for an anemic woman living in Johnson City. The story tells the plight of Mary Bennett, formerly of 1008 Montgomery St., who was “suffering severely and rapidly losing strength” because of anemia. Authorities with the Appalachian Hospital issued a plea for a blood transfusion for Bennett, who, they said, was “in the last stage of pernicious anemia.”
“Although Mrs. Bennett has previously had two transfusions, her blood supply is only one-fifth what it should be,” the story reads. “If her condition is to be relieved, Mrs. Bennett, who is trying to do her work and care for a bed-ridden daughter, must receive immediate treatment.”
The only other local news piece focused on an investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department into the death of Elizabethton resident Emerson Cole, who, on Feb. 13, 1935, was killed after he was struck by two vehicles while walking down Glanzstoff Highway. According to the story, Cole was struck by an automobile driven by Jesse Bowery, and after Bowery left to get help, was hit again by an unknown driver while lying in the road. The story concerned a phone call that was made to the CCSD asking about Cole and another man, Butler Wilson, with whom he was traveling.
“The person calling asked particulars both Cole and Butler Wilson,” the story reads, “but refused to give any name.”
While local news was limited, the front page offered no shortage of national and international news. The day’s top story concerned the trial of German-born Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who, on Feb. 13, 1935, was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Charles Lindbergh Jr. — the Lindbergh baby — and sentenced to death. In addition to reporting on the death penalty, the story, written by William A. Kinney of the Associated Press, detailed reactions in the courtroom when the verdict was read.
“The jurors who sentenced him showed more emotion than did Hauptmann as he stood before them,” Kinney wrote. “With a look of affection, the 28-year-old prisoner turned to his faithful wife and said: ‘It’s all right, Annie.’ Back in his cell, out of the gaze of the curious, Hauptmann burst into tears.”
In all, six AP stories, including the aforementioned piece, concerning the Hauptmann trial were placed on the front page: One of them told the story of how Hauptmann’s mother, who was still living in Germany, was going to appeal the decision to President Franklin Roosevelt; another showed a timeline of events, from the day the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped to Hauptmann’s sentencing; one story detailed the reaction from Hauptmann’s attorney, Edward J. Reilly, who said the verdict was “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice” he had ever seen; a fourth story detailed coverage of the trial in England; and another discussed the jury’s deliberation.
Unlike more modern page designs, only two photos graced the front page, and they shared a caption. One of the pictures was of the New Jersey “death house” where Hauptmann would ultimately be executed, and the other was a shot of the electric chair that would be used to do it.
Although most of the headlines concerned Hauptmann, he may not have been the most notorious German representative to grace the front page. The Press also featured a story about an announcement from Adolf Hitler concerning the construction of a new line of German cars. The Associated Press story wrote that Hitler promised the cars — Volkswagen Beetles — would offer “the least imaginable fuel consumption,” and indicated that Germany was planning on exporting them in bulk.
Other national and international news stories ranged in topics from an investigation into a French spy ring to muskrat shortages negatively affecting the price of fur.
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