Amy Lowe has always been interested in “older things.” When she was little, Lowe used to go to both her grandmothers’ homes to “look at all the old pictures.”
So when Florence Long passed away about 10 years ago, Lowe, of Madisonburg, asked to keep all the boxes of newspaper clippings in her grandmother’s attic.
At the time, Lowe had been helping Long around the house and “just knew that there were a lot of older things in the attic. ... I’d just been curious about all that stuff.”
Lowe said that Long, who lived during the Depression era, made use of everything she could.
Long “used to line the bottom of (her) dresser drawers with newspaper.”
Through the years, Lowe has gotten to know even better her grandmother and others who lived in the home — including her great-grandmother Maggie Long and her great-great-grandmother Ida Long — by reading the articles they chose to clip.
The articles — taken from local newspapers including the Centre Daily Times — date back to 1902 and span a variety of topics.
“Back in the old days, there wasn’t much for entertainment, so when they found an interesting story that they read, they just clipped it out and kept it.”
After reading through all the clips, Lowe organized them into categories — obituaries; county news; Brush and Penns valleys; fires; poems, riddles and cartoons; weddings, engagements and anniversaries; birthdays; animals; regional history; army and war news; Mrs. Myers (a local gossip column, Lowe said); kids; murders and suicides; tips and hints; and church news. She stores them in thick 3-ring binders.
The clippings are also organized by date, something that hasn’t been easy for Lowe to figure out since most of the clips don’t have exact dates printed on them. But Lowe has figured out some creative ways to narrow it down.
“Sometimes if there’s a birthday or an obituary on the back and it says how old they are or when they were born, I can figure it out,” she said. “I figured the date out of one because somebody got thrown out of a baseball game, and I looked it up.”
For years, Lowe has passed around the binders to friends and family who have contributed their own bits and pieces of infomation about the clips.
But Lowe wanted to expand their reach.
“They’d just been collecting dust, so I thought I’d put them online and share them,” she said.
In May, Lowe launched a Facebook page, called “Aged Pages,” and posts a picture of one clip a day.
“I figured if I do them all at once, it would take me forever,” she said, adding that people might visit the site one time to view them all and then be done.
So she figured “if I posted one a day, it would string them along.”
So what types of stories caught Lowe’s relatives’ attention?
They “used to copy their dress patterns out of the newspaper,” Lowe said, and she has “a whole box full of recipes.”
But of particular interest to Lowe are the stories about family members and buildings in Penns Valley that have since been torn down.
The rest of the stories run the gamut of newspaper coverage of the past, including fires, murders, local history and church news.
Clips detail a tornado that tore through Penns and Brush valleys in 1945 and a photo of a round barn in Brush Valley that has since been lost.
Even the common wedding and anniversary announcements open the reader up to a different time.
“Some of them look so happy to be married,” Lowe quipped about the serious faces displayed in older photos. “Well, he’s happy, she’s not,” she said with a laugh.
There are also many stories that you might not see in a newspaper today.
“Somewhere there’s something about Maggie and so and so had a nice stroll ... how is that news?” Lowe said of a short clip about her great-grandmother. “They posted pretty much anything in the newspaper back then, even if it was hearsay.”
Her grandmothers also saved many stories about breaking records, including headlines about “Centre County’s biggest man” (At the time, he weighed in at 385 pounds.); a photo of a mother and her 5-day-old newborn who weighed 18 pounds; and the “largest rainbow trout ever raised.” In an accompanying photo, one of Lowe’s uncles, who ran a hatchery in Pleasant Gap, proudly displays a 19.5 pound fish.
Heather Hottle can be reached at 231-4636.