Why did Santa Rosans take a tumble whenever orange peels appeared on the sidewalk? The Press Democrat also reported this was a hazard the spring before, when likewise the fruity threat lurked on Fourth street. Or could it be that there was just some fuddy-duddy at the newspaper with a Queeg-like obsession over orange peels? Let’s see: editor Ernest L. Finley lived at 1127 McDonald Avenue, and if he walked to his downtown office on Exchange Avenue, he’d probably pass the scene of the slippery crimes all the time…


On Thursday morning on one block of pavement on Fourth street no less than eight pieces of orange peel were noticed on the walk along which pedestrians were passing. One citizen stopped on his way down town and took time to kick the dangerous refuse into the street. Of late several people have had serious falls by stepping on pieces of peel. There is an ordinance which should govern the matter and the only remedy seems to be to make example of offenders. Children on their way to school eating oranges should receive some instruction of the danger caused by the thoughtlessness of allowing the peel to fall on the sidewalk. Some older people are also in need of a reminder.

– Press Democrat, March 17, 1905

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The first Sunday funnies appeared in 1897; probably the following Monday, the first critic snorted indignantly that comics were corrupting the youth of America.

In early 1905, a growing number of newspapers were offering Sunday comics sections that included such gentle offerings as Little Sammy Sneeze, a strip about a small child with high-velocity sneezes, and The Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo, a novelty cartoon meant to be viewed from both ends. The roughest stuff came from the Katzenjammer Kids (a slapstick cartoon that probably inspired many of the contemporary nickelodeon comedies) and Buster Brown — in the panel to the right, he had just released some mice at a ladies’ party. Both were about pranksters that might have been the great-great grandpas of Bart Simpson, although these rapscallions rarely got away with their misdeeds; Hans and Fritz usually ended up with spankings, and Buster always repented with a final panel reminding kids to obey their parents, tell the truth, or uphold other virtues.

Neither Santa Rosa paper had a Sunday comic supplement in 1904, so the author is probably criticizing funnies that came with the San Francisco Examiner or San Francisco Sunday Call.


The Saturday Afternoon Club held a very interesting meeting Saturday afternoon at the High School… Mrs. C. D. Barnett read a paper on “The Influence of the Funny Paper.” She took the position that the paper had a bad influence on children and they would be better without it.

– Press Democrat, February 5, 1905

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Hurrah for Teddy Roosevelt! In the 1904 elections, he came close to bringing the nation together for the first time since the Civil War — even in the “Solid South” outpost that was Santa Rosa, Teddy won every precinct by comfortable margins, despite the Press Democrat’s race baiting and hysteric attacks on Republican candidates (including an over-the-top editorial cartoon showing a “Rooseveltism” bayonet through the U.S. Constitution). But it was time to end the snarky attacks once it was clear that the community — and presumably the paper’s readership — overwhelmingly backed a new direction for the country. Right?

Well, no. The PD complained that the “useless and uncalled for” inauguration ceremony had killed dear old Senator Bate, a former Confederate general. Worse yet, an African-American had been appointed to a position of authority!


Just what reason President Roosevelt has for appointing a negro to the position of collector of the Port of New York is not plain, unless it is his desire to humiliate as much as possible the white people compelled to do business with that branch of the revenue department. It cannot even be urged in extenuation that such “recognition” is justified by the fact that a large number of the persons brought into contact with the official in charge there are colored, as might possibly be said of some of the southern ports. Not one man in a thousand having business with the collector of the New York port is a negro. The office is the most important of its kind in the United States, and should most certainly go to a white man rather than a negro. The President’s determination to name a colored man to the place is an unnecessary and uncalled-for affront, not only to the people of New York but of the entire nation.

— Press Democrat, March 14, 1905


The pomp and pageantry attending presidential inaugurations in this country has become so conspicuous as to occasion wide-spread criticism all of which appears to be justified. Why should a citizen of the United States, just because he has been temporarily elevated to the position of chief executive of the nation, seek to outdo the princes and potentates of Europe in their display of the material attributes of mere temporal power? A well-known Washington correspondent in discussing the matter says:

[“]All the fuss and feathers, fanfarronade [sic], fiddlesticks and the cheap and tawdry blare of trumpets attendant upon the inauguration of a President of these United States are passed and gone, the crowds have melted away, and there is not a man in the city not the direct beneficiary of all this noise and beating of tomtoms who is sorry that it is over.

[“]Some day maybe the people of the nation will have the good sense to elect a man President who will eschew all this tommyrot and who will refuse to have anything to do with it. He will be unpopular with the saloon and the hotel men, but he will have the thanks of all the quiet and orderly people of the city and the country.

[“]If they are to continue this idiocy, then why in the name of common sense do they not change the date of holding this inauguration to the 30th day of April? You can be assured of the nastiest weather on record on the 4th of March each year in this city of any time during the year. And each year, or at least each inauguration, sees its harvest of death from colds contracted from exposure under inclement skies while the President is delivering his inaugural address.

[“]This time the victim was dear old Senator Bate of Tennessee. He took cold and lived only four days after sitting fifteen minutes in the cold March wind that was blowing while on the reviewing stand. There is no telling how many more that we will never hear of, and thus it is at each recurring inauguration. This parade of nonsense and noise is becoming greater each time. Either the American people are getting closer to the ideas of the effete monarchies of the old world, and long to have a king to install on his throne, or else are going crazy. It is the opinion of all right-thinking people here that the thing ought to be stopped.[“]

The pompous display of wealth and power on state occasions is a survival of the days of barbarism, when the heads of government considered it necessary — and rightfully so — to impress the people with the exalted station and claims of superiority…do these conditions exist in this enlightened land? If so, well and good; if not, such tomfoolry [sic], as was carried on in Washington a couple of weeks ago should be abandoned forever as useless and uncalled for.

— Press Democrat, March 22, 1905

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