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Early Monrovia Sensationalism: 'Reduced Rates to Widows and Orphans'

Delving into Monrovia newspaper archives yields an array of interesting tidbits about early life in the “Gem City of the Foothills.”

When newspapers started appearing in Monrovia, they were usually published only weekly.  Local news items dealt primarily with the movers and shakers of the young town or with events that helped shape its development.  Reading through the coverage of community news provides us with a glimpse into daily life in those early years.  Often, these glimpses can coax a smile from even the most staid reader.

  • April 23, 1887, Monrovia Planet

Monrovia’s population is now fully one thousand.

  • July 13, 1907, Monrovia News

Monrovia is up and coming.  Let him who would deny this fact, walk along the streets and take note of the shiny, new numbers which deck the fronts of the houses.

Note:  Houses in Monrovia did not have house numbers until after 1900, so reporting of their arrival was newsworthy.

  • March 12, 1891, Monrovia Messenger

Elsewhere will be noticed a reward of $100 which has been offered for the arrest and conviction of the parties who have been stealing oranges from some of the orchards in the town lately. … As the thieves left their little dog behind them, they are pretty well known.

  • January 25, 1887, Monrovia Planet

An eastern bride did not want to live in Pasadena because there were so many consumptives there.  She said, “Consumption requires a great deal of pure air, I am told, and I’m afraid the consumptives will use up all the good air and we’ll get sick.”  Rats!

(Note:  Consumption was an old name for tuberculosis.  Monrovia almost from the beginning was promoted as a city where those suffering from the disease could come to recuperate, away from the humid conditions in the east and the south.  The Pottenger Sanitarium was opened in 1910 and concentrated on the treatment of those suffering from TB.  As a result, it was not uncommon to see obituary notices name the cause of death as consumption.)

  • February 26, 1887, Monrovia Planet

The following excerpt counseled wives on the proper way to handle their hubands. Any wild guess as to the sex of the author?

Don’t disturb your husband while he is reading his morning or evening paper by asking foolish questions. He may be only reading the latest scandal or divorce suit, but he is just as much interested as though it were foreign news or market reports. Be patient, and when he comes across anything he thinks you can comprehend, perhaps he may read it to you.

Don’t ask him to walk the floor with the baby half the night. A man who tramps industriously around a billiard table three nights in the week or buys an admission ticket to the opera can’t be expected to be on duty at home the other three nights. Have mercy on him and give the man an opportunity to recuperate.

  • September 24, 1887, Monrovia Planet

When are we to be eternally free of the accursed saloon?  Next week another one will be opened in the old stand by a man named Burton, of Pasadena. He says that if anyone tries to persuade him to quit, they will have to do so in front of a 42 calibre.

  • December 24, 1887, Monrovia Planet

Bee keeping is a favorite and profitable business and the “bee ranches” are seen along the foothills. The honey product for 1884 exceeded 8,000 tons.

  • December 4, 1886, Monrovia Planet

Wanted Immediately – 500 energetic men and women to subscribe to THE PLANET. Reduced rates to widows and orphans.

  • April 25, 1889, Monrovia Messenger

The simplest way to fumigate a room is to heat an iron shovel very hot and then pour vinegar upon it drop by drop. The steam arising from this is a disinfectant. Doors or windows should be opened that it may escape.

  • March 5, 1887, Monrovia Planet

"Hints About Courting"

Select the girl. Agree with the girl’s father in politics and the mother in religion.  If you have a rival, keep an eye on him; if he is a widower, keep two eyes on him. Don’t swear to the girl that you have no bad habits. It will be enough for you to say that you never heard yourself snore in your sleep. Say goodnight at a reasonable hour in the evening. Don’t wait until the girl has to throw her whole soul into a yawn that she can’t cover with both hands. A little thing like that might cause a coolness at the very beginning of the game.

Patrick Lee April 15, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Sound advice to new wives and men dating their future wives. NOT.
Tim Young April 15, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Tremendously informative as well as entertaing!Great job Jim.Keep'em coming.....
Gayle M. Montgomery April 16, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Really enjoy these hysterical historical pieces! Thanks for taking the time to research and share.
Jessica Hamlin April 16, 2012 at 04:17 PM
This is amazing. And bonus points for using a pic from "Newsies." :)
Susanne Hayek April 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Jim, you are my new favorite local writer! As a new-ish Monrovian I've been reading your past columns with interest. Thank you.

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