While we are still basking in the glow and reflected glory of an issue filled with Owensboro’s best … let’s look back in time to see whether there are any references to “the best” in the news of 100 years ago.
A generic search of that phrase – “the best” – on Newspapers.com brings up surprisingly few articles, but they offer an insight into a wide variety of topics.
An article published on April 23 indicates that gardens are being planted in the warming soil, with tobacco plants “looking fine” and “very hardy with the exception of those damaged by the flea beetle.” That pest, the article mentions, was mostly kept under control by use of arsenate of lead. That chemical, by the way, was later banned. Oops. So maybe that wasn’t “the best” choice.
The same article, however, goes on to say “The second spraying of fruit trees was made last week and prospects for fruit in Daviess County were never brighter, in fact by many farmers considered the best in years.”
And if you wanted to drive out into the country to see those fruit trees? Well, 1922 was your year: “The roads are in good condition, practically all of the deep mud holes having dried out, so that traveling on the county roads is very pleasant.”
By the conclusion of 1922, the Chamber of Commerce looked back on a successful year, planning its annual meeting on Dec. 29. A highlight to be celebrated was the payoff of all debt, amounting to $3,600, with $540 remaining in the bank. “This is considered the best year the Chamber of Commerce has ever had in Owensboro,” a newspaper article crowed, “and it is stated everything has now gotten down to a settled working basis.”
On a significantly smaller scale, students in the manual training department of Owensboro High School were looking forward to showing off their projects during an annual exhibit that included drawings, blueprints and lettering, as well as about 200 pieces of furniture that the boys – yes, they were all boys – had constructed, including foot stools, telephone stands, smoking sets, library tables, piano benches, writing desks, hat racks, hall trees … and “one typewriting table, china closet and one cabinet phonograph.”
“Medals will be given to the two boys whose exhibits are voted the best by the visitors,” the article promised, encouraging the entire community to come out and “see the practical results of the training given in the manual training department.”
Another interesting reference to “the best,” and one that has stood the test of time, is mentioned in an article about retired jockey Johnny Loftus, who was beginning a new phase of his career as a trainer.
Loftus had ridden “most of the great horses of the last 15 years,” the article states. “Here is what he thinks of them:
“The best horse I ever rode was undoubtedly Man o’ War,” Loftus is quoted.
He also describes “the meanest” horse he ever rode: A horse named Shadrach, who was racing in Juarez, Mexico. “Coming out the chute, he would turn the wrong way (on) the track,” Loftus recalled. “His owner asked me to try him. I made up my mind that Shadrach wouldn’t take the wrong way of the track with me. He didn’t. He took the fence, and dropped me off going over.”
News articles about “the best” may be scarce … but there are hundreds of advertisements that feature that phrase, touting everything from best egg-laying chickens to best cobblers to best prices on corsets. One item promised as not only “the best” but also “the cheapest” is for Little Brown Liver Tablets – an ad decorated with a rather devilish-looking imp. The chocolate-coated tablets’ promotion said, “In nearly every case, one tablet will thoroughly evacuate the stomach and bowels and arouse the liver and secretions to healthy action.”
Ten doses, only 15 cents.
Quite a bargain for “the best.”