Wanted: Old False Teeth, and other oddities in the newspaper archives

Everyday items from Dayton’s past seem peculiar today


Highlights

Plenty of items from the Dayton Daily News a century ago seem odd today.

Do you have any false teeth lying around?

If you lived in Dayton in 1916, you could find a buyer for them.

PHOTOS: Peculiar newspaper items

I often come across items in early editions of Dayton’s newspapers that remind me of how times have changed. Quirky news items and peculiar advertisements gave newspapers a different flavor compared to today’s periodicals.

An individual at 36 E. First St. in Dayton placed an ad for used choppers under the headline “WANTED TO BUY.” The going price for a full set of used false teeth was $1.10.

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The collector of old dental work was also interested in bridgework and “broken plates in proportion,” according to the ad. “Bring or mail at once,” it read.

In 1920, Stearns Electric Rat and Roach Paste claimed to be the only thing that could prevent the spread of disease caused by vermin and insects.

“RATS MUST BE KILLED,” read the type above a drawing of an infectious rat. The electric paste was also good for the extermination of mice, cockroaches, ants and waterbugs, “the greatest known destroyers of food supplies and property.”

The deadly product was described as creating “a desire in these pests to run from the building for water and fresh air, dying outside in a few moments.”

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The headline, “THE GRIM REAPER IN MIAMI VALLEY” introduced readers to the obituaries in a 1916 edition of the Dayton Daily News. The bleak and somewhat unnerving wording stands out in contrast to today’s “In Memoriam” pages of the newspaper.

And while we’re on the subject of death, a short news story in an early local edition detailed the resurrection of an Urbana man.

Napoleon Powers headed to Alaska in 1894 to seek his fortune, but his relatives believed he had died when they learned a steamer called the “Islander” had sunk.

His family mourned his death for years, but his wife never gave up hope and wrote to the governor of Alaska for help.

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Powers, who had become “very wealthy” while in Alaska, saw his wife’s plea published in a local newspaper and “wrote that he would soon return home.”

Today, we don’t worry about having enough coal to keep us warm through the winter, but in 1918 the Peoples Fuel Co. made sure the Dayton community knew it should plan ahead for an ample supply.

“LAY IN YOUR COAL NOW!” barked an early advertisement, which noted a labor shortage could prohibit a warm winter.

“Coke, in chestnut and egg sizes,” was available for furnaces, stoves and grates. Residents could do “their own hauling” or the company could conveniently “dump into your wagon.”

When is the last time you came across a lost carrier pigeon?

In 1933 “an exhausted carrier pigeon” was found by Ray Paul outside of his home at 307 Grafton Ave.

The newspaper brief detailed the band found on his right leg had the number 2554. An inscription on the left leg read, “Columbus, O., H-44.”

And sometimes on especially slow news days, ink and newsprint were spent on the purely whimsical.

A description of “an eccentric individual” losing his hat in a “stirring breeze” and then taking “French leave… through the mud and dirt” on Third Street was deemed worthy of mention.



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