D.P. has two bound copies from two illustrious American newspapers, The New York Sun from January of 1947, and The Boston Globe from July of 1929. Newspapers were, in those days, not digitalized, and what D.P. has is an example of how newspapers were archived in libraries. Thus, I am assuming that the two bound copies exist in D.P.’s family because something important and related happened which affected her family, OR that something important happened in the world that lead to someone in D.P.’s family keeping these two specific dates.
Let’s look at what happened in January of 1947 and July of 1929 that would be news of a similar nature, and then let’s assume that because these papers relate to specific cities, that this news would have had an impact on Boston and/or New York. This method of research is intuitive: jumping off into a hypothesis that something related happened in both times that caused someone to hand on to these for 69 and 87 years resprectively.
Looking at the news in these months in these years, we find one TYPE of news common to both dates having to do with current events taking place around ports of transportation. In 1947-8 the New York Sun featured a momentous series of articles in “Crime on the Waterfront” by Malcolm Johnson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this story. What he discovered happening on the waterfront of Hoboken was the basis for what is arguably called the best American film ever produced, nominated for 12 Oscars, winning 8, voted the 8th greatest American film of all time by the American Film Institute, On the Waterfront.
The facts of life on the Hoboken docks in the 1940’s, uncovered by Johnson’s exposé, involved the murder of a New York dock hiring boss, the New York court’s Waterfront Commission, and the whistleblower, longshoreman Anthony DiVincenzo (played as Terry Malloy by Marlin Brando in the film). “A mans gotta do what a mans gotta do,” immortalized in Elia Kazan’s movie, galvanized the story of organized crime and corruption. Critics attribute Johnson’s 1947 articles with the transformation of the New York Harbor as well as Kazan’s controversial testimony before the 1950’s (equally power-driven) House on Un-American Activities Committee, after he made this movie.
The Boston Globe in July of 1929 also dealt with a scandal involving a port, the Boston Airport, called Logan later in its history. In 1928, the Boston Airport was owned by the U.S. Army who passed it to the Massachusetts Legislature. In 1929, the city took control of the airport with a 20-year lease under Boston’s Parks Department. The Parks Department reclaimed 200 acres from Boston Harbor, and at great cost of men and money, added buildings, runways, access roads, and landscaping, all for an industry that was thought “never to get off the ground.” This took place scenting the storm clouds of the devastation to be wrought by the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Nevertheless, aviation won: air travel proved to be a moneymaker for Boston: international flights and flying celebrities from Charles Lindbergh to Amelia Earhart flew in and out of Boston Airport.
Perhaps I am stretching to find a common theme of port activity to the ownership and retention of these two particular newspapers. Although the Hoboken Harbor story is compelling for my choice of these in 1947, the year 1929 in July also held huge events that may have had nothing to do with interests in portside news. D.P.’s relative might have been a sports buff in 1929, reading about the 42nd Wimbledon tournament, or St. Louis’ 2,10-run innings, beating the Phillies 28-6, or, the Pirates and the Phillies 9 home run hits, one in each inning, and most incredibly, the New York to San Francisco footrace ending after 2 ½ exhausting months with the winner being a Mr. Monteverde at 60-years of age! Perhaps he was reading that at the Davis Cup in 1929 of that month, France beat the U.S. in Paris, and a Belgian rider took the Tour de France.
If D.P. were to sell these two volumes, she might receive as little as $20 each. Unless, of course, the provenance help that D.P. was the relative of the great journalist who uncovered the “on the waterfront” story in 1947, or that D.P. was related to the 60-year old who won a 2 ½ month race across the country. In those two cases, we would be talking irreplaceable value to D.P.’s family.
Certified appraiser for estates, inheritances and trusts.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart's column appears every week in the Salon & Style section of the Santa Barbara News Press. Email her your questions and high-resolution photos at ElizabethAppraisals @ gmail.com
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