1894 Comet Periodically Offered “This & That” Desultory Banter

The Comet, an early newspaper of Johnson City, occasionally included a column titled, “This and That,” aptly named because of its unusual subject matter and curious wording.

One 1894 winter edition offered several diverse entries. The vintage newspaper received news that a nameless Johnson City voter had exchanged his registration certificate for anything he could get for it. The average going price on the street was five dollars. While this was a common practice for those individuals desiring to buy votes to swing the general election, it was generally frowned upon and considered a dreadful practice by most townspeople.

Since Easter was just around the corner, the ever-busy hen would, consequently, have to redouble her efforts to satisfy the public demand for eggs. With good weather and plenty of feed, the newspaper saw no reason why the faithful foul couldn't meet the challenge without “having egg on its face.”

On another matter, The Comet launched unflattering comments about Hotel Carlisle (once located at the southwest corner of E. Main and Division streets, which, according to the paper, “remained where it was built and was in the same condition as then – empty.” The structure later became the Franklin Apartments)

Although reports, it said, were published some time ago that it would be opened in grand style in the near future by an Atlanta businessman, the paper saw and heard nothing additional to verify the reports. The streetcars still ran a block shy of the hotel and the Atlanta man never showed up.

In actuality, the streetcar would never pass by the hotel. Instead, it turned a block away at E. Main north onto Roan, then east toward Carnegie.

On another matter, the Taylor Brothers, furniture store owners, graciously allowed patrons to come into their business establishment and rest in their comfortable chairs. During cold weather months, they could also enjoy the warmth provided by a cozy wood stove. This practice was halted for a period of time after the business experienced a serious fire.

Two Advertisements from the 1894 Comet

During the blaze, when confusion had reached its highest pitch, Bob Burrow of The Comet, was forced to his knees, in a praying position, by the forceful hose in the hands of excited firemen. He remained in that position for a while and when he finally regained his footing, he yelled something to Mr. Gump, who was executing a similar jig on the street also trying to maintain control of his pressurized hose. The short scuffles offered a brief chuckle to an otherwise serious event. 

The store manager, George Ferguson, wittingly noted that the fire was made even warmer by the owners' hospitality. They promised that once repairs to the store were completed, the meetings around the hot stove would resume and continue with unabated interest in its new quarters with one notable exception: No chestnuts (old or stale jokes) were allowed to be spoken; only new topics were acceptable.

1894 advertisement  for the Johnson City Steam Laundry “Called for and Delivered”

The Comet continued its desultory banter by saying, “Take to heart, ye crucifiers of horseflesh. Treat that faithful animal (the horse) kindly and with the consideration due its faithfulness. The steed can't talk and tell you, but he tries by signs to inform you that he has put his strength to its utmost to perform his duty. Considering this fact, it is a great pity that he doesn't kick your head off when you wantonly beat and abuse him.”

The newspaper next commented on the weather: “Last Sunday, the 4th, was by far the prettiest day seen in this section since last spring. Notwithstanding, March was usually blustery. Up to that date, no evidence of uncommonly windy weather had been noted. The month was still in its infancy and there was no telling how the latter part would supply.

The weather forecast was a bit prophetic: “For on that day, the tail end of the month reached around and dealt its forepart a blow that came near lifting the hair.”