Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Fake News: A Weird Wednesday Collection

Fake News---This term has become quite the buzz word over the past year or so, almost to the point where you can't read the comment section of any news article without seeing it shouted at least once or twice. But, 'fake news' isn't...new. I once read, many years ago, that newspapers would often publish completely fictitious news, under the guise of REAL news, to help drum up readership. I'm sure that most readers at the time had a pretty good understanding of what was real and what wasn't, just as contemporary readers can usually discern between actual news and the sensational stuff found in grocery store tabloids. They knew the difference between entertainment and what was actually going on in their community.  However, as modern readers go back and look at these vintage archives, it can be a tad confusing. WAS this actual news? Did the people of the time BELIEVE it to be real?  Just what the heck was going on?!?

I love looking through old newspaper archives, and many times, I find some really strange little gems! And while newspaper articles featuring fantastical stories can be found year round, even in our local publications, I recently noticed that quite a few were published in the month of January. January of 1914 was an especially weird month for some reason. 

I won't come out and say that any of these news stories are actually 'fake news,' but I will venture to assume that January has, historically, been a slow month for reporters here in the tri-state!

1. The Mountain Octopus:  The story of the Mountain Octopus appeared in local papers on January 11, 1946. A group of students in Thomas, WV, discovered several of the creatures in a local stream, and brought two back to school with them to show to staff/students. No one was ever quite sure how and why an ocean creature got (and survived) in our cold, freshwater streams of West Virginia.

2. Hungarian Woman Sought Murder Clue from Spirits: This strange story appeared in a Huntington, WV newspaper on January 23, 1914. A widow from Thurmond, WV made a stop in Huntington after traveling to Ohio to seek the services of a well-known medium. The woman was seeking information from the spirits concerning her husband's recent murder.

3. Meteor, or Bad Omen Over Huntington?:  Here's another weird story from Huntington, WV that appeared in the local paper on January 13, 1914. Around that time, a meteor was seen streaking over the skies of Huntington. However, a group of kids playing near the old C&O Hospital claimed that they saw the meteor then spell out a name in fire, and then morph into the image of a woman's face in the sky! 

4. Women in Hysterics as Ghost Runs Down Street: Although the account was published in a local paper on January 8, 1914, this tale actually comes from New York and is a humorous telling of how a prisoner on the loose with a sheet flung over his head terrorized some church ladies leaving a service. 


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