News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

July 17, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: Chuckles from news of way back when

TERRE HAUTE — Way back when I worked on my college newspaper, the staff, me included, kept on the lookout for what we called “fillers.” A filler was a brief bit of fun or fact, or sometimes both. When the story ran out before the column was filled, we could plug in one of these tidbits to fill the space.

The other day a friend passed along a fist full of short items from a paper over near Springfield, Ill. The bits are similar to what Dorothy Jerse culls from past issues of the Tribune-Star. The collection I received date from as recently as 20 years ago, and as far back as 150 years ago. The older they are the more fun they are.

One item of 75 years ago noted that nearly seven inches of rain had fallen during the month of June. This was an event to be envied this year in Terre Haute, although maybe it would be considered a flood here. Maybe it was a flood in Jacksonville, too. In any event, I’d bet that Mr. Harry Craig, also of Jacksonville, would have welcomed those seven inches when a pile of hair sweepings ignited and burned a hole in the floor of his barber shop.

Also 75 years ago, the Morgan County commissioners had to set a deadline for paying bounties on groundhogs, crows, crow eggs and fledglings because money was too tight to provide a means of ridding themselves of the carcasses.

Reaching back 100 years, I learned that Dr. H.L. Griswold hooked six fish with six minnows while J.R. Taylor won the title of champion crow hunter after bagging six crows with one shot. What a guy.

A robbery at P.R. Briggs grocery netted the robber 26 pennies, 48-cents worth of stamps and six nickels from a cigar wheel. He cleaned the place out of cash. These days the grocery cleans me out.

Going back 150 years, I discovered that a runaway team towing a load of strawberries overturned strewing the cargo all over downtown Jacksonville. The treat was consumed by little boys anxious for the first berries of the season. They should have haunted the office of the Jacksonville Sentinel the day a local citizen presented the staff with a basket of strawberries.

One final item certainly drew my attention. Only 20 years ago, the first day of summer — the hottest season of the year — celebrated by setting a record of only 39 degrees for an overnight low. I’d like a touch of that, please, as well as an option on most of that seven inches of rain which fell those 75 years ago. PLEASE!

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to


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