Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Grit

In 2006, as I was rehabilitating my grandparents' 150 year old house (where I now live), I discovered a yellowed and badly deteriorated 12" X 8" newspaper that had been laid down on the floor and covered with several layers of linoleum (see my post for February 29, 2012 for photos of the linoleum). The newspaper was the April 4, 1937 issue of The Grit.

The Grit, begun in 1882, was a weekly publication that targeted residents of the rural United States. It was subtitled "America's Greatest Family Newspaper." On Ocracoke, subscriptions were sold door-to-door by various school children over the years. The newspaper was very popular on the island in the 1930s.

The Grit, April 4, 1937

My copy has a number of stories, including "Rangers is Powerful Hard to Kill, Continuing Caddo Cameron's Story of Two Hardboiled Gun Slingers," "Killer's Greed, Telling How a Smart Cowboy Overpowered a Brutal Slayer," ""Hills of Destiny, Concluding An Appealing Love Story," and "Triangle, Aunt Margaret Just Cannot Understand the Modern Viewpoint in Regard to Marriage."

The center section includes several comic strips: "Bringing up Father" and "Rosie's Beau" by George McManus (1884 -1954), and "The Bungle Family" and "Short Stories" by H. J. Tuthill (1886–1957).

The advertisements are just as fascinating. In 1937 you could purchase an "Amazing New Popular Pictorial Ring" for 59 cents, a "Shock-Proof Watch (with a Free Knife and Chain)" for $1.48, a "Typewriter 1/2 Price, Easy Terms Only 10 cents a Day," or earn up to "$14 a Day" as an agent selling the "Streamlined Diamond Iron" that "Burns 96% AIR, only 4% kerosene (coal oil)."

In 1937 there seemed to be a cure for almost any ailment -- warts, leg sores, catarrh, grey hair, itch, stomach ulcers, rupture, or intestinal torpor -- you could purchase patent medicines for any of these.

The Grit ("Celebrating Rural America Since 1882") is still being published. You can visit their web site here:

You can read more about the Grit on Wikipedia:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Project Nutmeg, and how Ocracoke almost became a site for testing nuclear weapons. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Philip...You are such a packrat! Lucky for us. :)

  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    hmm in the six years you now have the the grit exposed to air, now that the newspaper is under the light of day-- how much has it deteriorated? when it was covered it was preserved so to speak much like garbage in modern day land fills your example is proof, that bury the garbage and society leaves behind a treasure trove for archeologists and anthropologists. Talking trash love it. Do OI residents recycle== separate glass from aluminum, newspapers and such to send off to be recycled Or does it all get mixed together ( so UN Earth Day) and buried in a landfill? I would hope all the tourists would want to help in preserving the beauty that is OI and Embrace recycling. Please comment.

  3. Anonymous6:41 PM


    Anon 126p sparked an interesting thought re. day-to-day refuse on Ocracoke: Where DOES it all go? And where HAS it all gone in the past--say, in the days before paved roads?

    I know that bottle collectors love to scour the ruins of long-ago privvies, since they apparently were a common repository for empties of all sorts, now collectible.

    The prospect of a "landfill" tucked away somewhere on Ocracoke seems unlikely, since I presume any hole dug deeper than three or four feet would soon fill with ground water.

    In days before the modern tourist era, I suspect island life was simple enough, and the population small enough, that folks managed their own affairs--with the equivalent of "shell piles."

    These days, though, I'll bet there is a landfill involved (or an incinerator), many miles inland.

    Come to think of it, I seem to recall taking a ferry ride down or back some years ago, parked alongide a big old refuse hauler.

  4. In years past most islanders had little trash other than clam & oyster shells, chicken bones, and a few bottles and cans. Non-organic refuse was simply buried in the back yard. Every now and then folks today unearth old bottles. In the 50s and 60s there were a couple of unofficial dumps created, one on the edge of the beach. It soon became evident that that situation would not work for long.

    Nowadays all trash is carried off the island. The "convenience site" (next to the sheriff's office) has compactors for household garbage, cardboard, and co-mingled recyclables. Other bins are designated for construction debris & yard debris. On Mondays they have a chipper available all day to mulch tree limbs.

  5. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Great find, Philip! Know you are enjoying reading "The Grit". Thanks for sharing. NC Mainlander so enjoys these stories.