A High Altitude Halloween: Searching Monterey’s Highland Recorder, 1920-1929

This photo was peeled off and expanded from Monterey’s Wiki page and presents to the eye a view likely little changed since the decade of our interest here, the 1920’s.  In fact, the town’s population was twice then was it is today which the latest census reports as 147 and projected to be even less in the next.  Somewhat surprising, then, the Recorder takes the honor of claiming status as Virginia’s longest consecutive published newspaper. It’s maybe a little less surprising when its geographical isolation is considered, yet still impressive, just the same.

That firm handhold half way up on the state’s western border is the high edge of Highland County and the solitude therein might be reconsidered as you imagine this community before the arrival of outside voices vibrating from a strange, boxed device of irresistible magnetic intimacy, the radio.

And a special link persists still, despite the lure of television and internet, between subscriber and paper. Thanks to that connection, as announced in a Fit To Print blog of earlier this month, the Project was granted permission by the current publisher to digitize beyond 1922, where copyright fencing begins.  Within our digital archive of the The Highland Recorder, a pursuit into the past is aided by finer search tools—as demonstrated here in a search entry of simply the word “Halloween” specific to the decade of the 1920’s.

searchAs noted in the margin, the result:  39 discoveries.

Are you thinking, only 39?  Bear in mind, commercial America has not yet come to borrow the Halloween imagery so familiar to later generations.  You’ll find no ads embracing the occasion to their product. Nearly all references are found in the social columns contributed by correspondents scattered about the county.

And now a collection of social events, comings and goings, pulled from those 39, which together forms a fractured glimpse, a collage of a remote small town Halloween.

The first, as well as others, speaks of what certainly was an object of pride to the county-the high school, now a community and history center, and recently entered into the National Registry of Historic Places:school1headercakeschoolboysfloodmissemilyHappy Halloween and here’s to enjoying a 21st century celebration carried out in every detail.

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