New in the collection: Brown Lung Association pinback

Burgundy pinback with the words, "Cotton Dust Kills. Carolina Brown Lung Association."

“Textile workers asked Congress today to pass laws that would upgrade state compensation for disabled employees with brown lung and other occupational diseases.

“The Carolina Brown Lung Association believes federal legislation is necessary because state compensation laws are not working and the textile industry is using its power and money to fight claims.

– From “Textile Workers Press for Upgraded Brown Lung Compensation” by Janet Staihar of the Associated Press (March 26, 1980)

 

The Charlotte Observer today won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service for its series on brown lung disease….

“Industry and government responded with anger and resistance, but changes occurred…. By the end of 1980, textile workers in North Carolina had received a record $4 million in workers’ compensation for brown lung — more than the total paid in the previous nine years.”

— From “Charlotte (N.C.) Observer wins Pulitzer” by UPI (April 13, 1981)

 

New in the collection: Newspaper club for kids

Pinback buton with image of person blowing on two horns and the words "National Sunshine Club, The Charlotte Observer."

The National Sunshine Club was part of Observer Junior, an eight-page tabloid insert in the Charlotte Observer, 1928-1934. Sending in coupons from four successive Sunday editions would bring you this pin — and if your story, joke, poem, cartoon or pen-pal letter was published, you could even win a dollar!

New in the collection: Billy Graham crusade rack card

Newspaper rack card that reads, "Billy Graham Crusade, Special Keepsake Section, Tuesday, October 1, 1996
“Billy Graham may have paved the way for rock concerts at Ericsson [now Bank of America] Stadium.

“After dismantling equipment for Graham’s Carolinas crusade, officials found the field in good condition, alleviating a major concern about holding nonfootball events at the stadium….

“For organizers, the extra time and money it took to convert Ericsson was well worth it….In three offerings the crusade brought in more than $800,000, and 305,400 people attended the four-day crusade.”

— From “Stadium held up well under crusade” by Ky Henderson in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 1, 1996)

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New in the collection: Commemorative Elvis rack cards

Charlotte News rack card for Elvis series beginning August 12

Charlotte Observer rack card for Elvis series beginning August 13

 

When Elvis died — Aug. 16, 1977 — the Charlotte Observer wasn’t prepared for the enormous demand for single copies. (We weren’t the only ones.)

A year later, however, the Observer and the afternoon Charlotte News had days of commemorative coverage lined up, as these two rack cards illustrate.

 

FBI probes Observer’s spy claims, finds…nothing

“[During World War II] the Charlotte Observer took up the hunt for un-American activities, claiming that over 2,000 subversives were present in the area and arguing that the U.S. Constitution did not protect anyone accused of Communist or Nazi sympathies. The paper chastised those who complained about FBI investigations as more concerned with civil liberties than with victory….

“The bureau examined a number of cases, including the rumor of a Nazi spy ring in Salisbury, and found no saboteurs….”

— From “Home Front: North Carolina during World War II” by Julian M. Pleasants (2017)

 

‘War of the Worlds’ terrified listeners in Charlotte

“Sgt. John Dwyer, who was not listening to the radio, was on the desk at the Charlotte Police Department that Sunday night. He became aware of the hysteria when a woman walked in, an infant in one arm, a Bible in the other and a trembling boy clutching at her dress. She asked for protection from Martians.

“ ‘Sgt. Dwyer admitted that it was the strangest request the department had ever had,’ The Charlotte Observer reported the next morning beneath the banner headline: ‘Thousands Terrified By Mock-War Broadcast.’ He did his best to assure her all was well and sent her home.

“She was but the vanguard of Charlotteans who would be appealing to police that night, most of them by phone.

“At the Observer, calls poured in seeking information on the invaders’ advance. After answering 100, those on duty lost track of the number.

“ ‘Many of them refused to believe that what they heard was a play,’ the paper said. ‘Others seemed panic stricken.’ ”

— From “Remembering the night WBT dominated the scarewaves” by Mark Washburn in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 30, 2013)

 

Pointing out the perils of a ‘one-party press’

“President Truman’s frequent blasts at the editorial pages of U.S. newspapers have not overly concerned us. If a majority of U.S. newspapers have backed the Republican Party candidates in recent Presidential elections, it does not follow that (1) they are wrong, or (2) they are dishonest….

“But there is another aspect to the ‘one-party press,’ as Governor Stevenson has dubbed it, that cannot be passed over lightly. This is the tendency of some newspapers to give emphasis in their news columns in accordance with their editorial viewpoints.

“This newspaper has very stringent standards for reporting political campaigns, and every person who handles the news is under positive instructions to give the opposing parties and candidates an absolutely even break in the news columns….”

— From “One-Party Press Dangerous” in the Charlotte News (Oct. 14, 1952)

This editorial may have been targeting the rival Charlotte Observer, which endorsed Dwight Eisenhower over Stevenson. I found it reprinted on the backside of a flyer promoting a speech at the Armory Auditorium by Truman’s vice president, Alben Barkley.

A Charlotte News headline writer had played a small part in the 1948 presidential election, coining a catchy but unwelcome nickname for the States’ Rights Democrats.

 

Charlotte Observer to visiting drivers: Step on it!

On this day in 1911: The Glidden Tour, a cross-country caravan promoting the automobile, approaches North Carolina from Virginia, where residents have complained about their dogs being run over. The Charlotte Observer, however, doesn’t hesitate to roll out the welcome mat:

“Roaming dogs are not held in high esteem in this community. . . . Speed up and enjoy yourselves. . . . “

 

In praise of Ty Cobb — ‘he never attended a lynching’

“In later years — probably to burnish his image as a hero and spokesman for his sport — [Ty Cobb] and his boosters went out of their way to note that his early encounters with the Negro race were either inconsequential or benign. A 1909 editorial in the Charlotte Observer said, ‘Cobb, born with the prominence that is universal among white persons in Georgia, sought no further prominence by buckshotting his compatriots. So far as is known, he never attended a lynching.’

“Faint praise indeed, but baseball was just as racist as the rest of society…..”

— From “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” by Charles Leerhsen (2015)