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.