Headlines from past not unlike many of today’s

Sometimes, we naively think that we are the first people to face certain problems. That can be true, but it, too, is naïve, because history can aptly demonstrate the opposite. These are headlines in the Durango Evening Herald in 1918 illustrate that fact.

July 27, 1918

Race Riots At Washington

Four Killed Many Wounded In Street Fighting At Night

Dirigible Crashing Into Bank 11 Killed 26 Injured

Drops In Flames And Gas Explodes

Forest Fires Are Still Gaining Hold

Government To Go After The Trusts In October

Robbers Make Big Bank Hall

Fall Makes Public Letter To Mexico

Would Spend Million Fighting Influenza

Government Faces An Aviation Strike

Commission Would Cut Out Waste And Standardize Products

Step Toward American Financial Controllment

Democrats Plan 3rd Term For Wilson Looking For Excuse

Eleven Drowned On Camping Trip

July 30, 1918

Wilson To Make Tour About August 6th

Chicago Fiend Arraigned

American Boy Ransomed Mexican Bandits Draw $1500

Twelve Hundred Forest Fires Rage

Some of these headlines from two days of the Evening Herald could be found in today’s Durango Herald. The question of race was heated and had been so in the south and some northern cities as well. Forest fires also raged and did a great deal of damage particularly in the West. New Mexico’s Sen. Albert Fall long championed intervention in the Mexican civil war. He later served as President Warren G. Harding’ s Secretary of the Interior and eventually went to prison for accepting a bribe for leasing oil lands.

Rape and incest were not discussed as openly, despite what the article said about the “fiend.” Dirigibles were thought to be the wave of the future, but accidents such as this one dimmed their future considerably. Airplanes had already been seen by most Durangoans either in person or in photographs, in newspapers or in magazines. Financial issues were nothing new, and the country had already gone through several “crises” recently. Trusts, or big businesses, were not popular since President Theodore Roosevelt had gone after them.

The third-term presidential issue proved a tricky one, as it violated the long standing custom of only two terms. Wilson, however, suffered a stroke in September 1919 and never fully recovered, leaving the issue moot. The flu as yet had not raised great concern among Durangoans nor most other Americans.

Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.

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