WorcesterThen: 1909




Serendipity (taking some liberty in the definition): finding good stuff that you weren’t looking for.  Case in point:  Many years ago I searched the Worcester Telegram for a story on the sale of a pair of adjacent farms to a real estate developer thought to have occurred about  this time.  I found the story in the Telegram of November 3, 1909, in two columns, page one above the fold, completely surrounded by accounts of the elections in New York and Massachusetts. On such a news day, it was amazing to find the “lesser” real estate story given such prominence.

The headline writer used an interesting device to make the desired statement in fewer words:  “It Buys Chamberlain and Hammond Estates”



Other election stories included the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts in which Gov. Eben S. Draper was re-elected by a much lower margin than he had been the previous year.

On the same page were at least two other stories worthy of notice here:

In the upper-left of the page, the story was of city elections in New York. Tammany candidate William J. Gaynor was elected mayor, but the organization lost its grip on city construction spending, which was expected to run to $1B during the term, as Republican-Fusion candidates won control of the Board of Estmate and Appropriation.


One of the two losing candidates for mayor was William Randolph Hearst of the Independence party, of which he was the originator.  His comment to the press upon hearing of his loss and of Tammany Hall’s loss of control of the construction budget:

“If an anti-Tammany board of estimate has been elected, I consider my efforts well rewarded. I went into the campaign to accomplish exactly that, as I stated in my letter of acceptance.”

This was when Hearst was still in his original, left-leaning Progressive phase.  He had already lost bids to be elected Mayor in 1905 and Governor of New York in 1906.


 Lower-right of the page:  


Another story about the elections was of a completely different nature. It was about the Telegram’s effort to provide up-to-date election night coverage by projecting bulletins on an outdoor screen, using a 100-candlepower light bulb (imagine that).


The article is well worth the time rquired to read it in the original.  (To make it easier on the eyes, right-click save image as, load it into your photo viewer, and zoom in sufficiently.)


This amounted to an early attempt to do what is now commonplace in election night coverage by the media: up-to-date returns and related chatter. It was a start, and clearly a forerunner of today’s computerized arrays of numbers along with running commentary  throughout the evening.


Not to be overlooked is that the Telegram referrred to itself as “The Only,” and called the area where it was displaying returns on a wall “Only square.”  Having become by far the largest circulation newspaper in the area, it had begun calling itself  the only source of news in Central Massachusetts, and literally referred to itself throughout the article as The Only. 


On the whole, it was an interesting set of news items on the same page, one that was discovered because of the search for the sale of the farms for Lenox.


For more on the history of The Only, see Albert B. Southwick, 100: The Telegram Story 1884-1984, published by the Telegram & Gazette, 1984.