Good News!

The Evening Star (Washington, DC), January 14, 1951.

Presenting feel-good news stories to round out our posts for the year and say farewell to 2020 on a positive note! Hopefully, these uplifting, heartfelt, funny, and touching stories from yesterday’s news in Chronicling America* serve as a diversion from the darker news of this year…

“REMORSE: ‘I’m Sorry I Cheated You. Help Yourselves.’,” The Evening Star (Washington, DC), December 21, 1947.

In 1947, after scouring newspaper stories around the country, the Evening Star published a compilation of “good news” stories in a year-end feature. Read examples of goodwill and charity such as the case of Louis Stone, a druggist from Detroit, MI who for years threw Halloween parties for underprivileged children. Speaking of children, we did some scouring of our own and found other uplifting stories, like discovering why New York Giants’ baseball great Willie Mays “gives the youth of America a big part of the credit for his success” in this 1955 piece.

Let these encouraging stories of yesteryear be a balm. For instance, see what happened when a pair who “fought like cats and dogs” found themselves seated beside each other on an airplane. (Surely these two could take a lesson or two from BFF Beau and Arrow, a cat and dog duo?) 

“WHAT’S WRONG with a CAT-AND-DOG LIFE?,” Detroit Evening News (Detroit, MI), July 27, 1941.

You’ll also find lots of hopeful images in the newspaper pages in Chronicling America, like this  image of these cheering celebrators in the streets of Washington, DC after receiving the news of the war’s end in 1945.  And Girl Scout Winifred L. Turner is all smiles in this picture as she looks forward to her upcoming trip to Switzerland as one of the three national scholarship award winners for the year 1932. This Washington Times photograph and article about a blind pet kitty who is saved from a burning building will be sure to warm your heart.

Read about kindhearted gestures that continued on in the afterlife. When veteran newspaper editor of the Evening Wisconsin, William E. Cramer, died, he left money in his will to various public charities in Milwaukee, with all religious denominations represented. Similarly, John Deferrari, a penny-pinching millionaire from Boston, MA, bequeathed his life savings to the Boston Public Library. 

After receiving letters from Indiana orphans prior to the Christmas holiday, the Kendallville auxiliary responded in kind – granting each child’s wish, all 152 of them. And here’s a heartwarming story about baking cookies for another important cause. 

In 1950, long-time Evening Star columnist and society writer Betty Beale offered readers a list of cheerier alternatives to “grim” stories. And here’s another 1947 compilation of stories, including the story of a grocer, known for usually short-changing his customers, suddenly having a change of heart, opening his doors to his customers to anything they want in the spirit of Christmas. 

“Peter Rabbit,” New York Tribune (New York, NY), December 10, 1922.

You can also read some true-life tales about the kindness of strangers. For example, in 1960, the President of the National Urban League published a thank you to the anonymous donor who made the publication of the National Urban League’s Fiftieth Anniversary section possible. In Oakland, CA in 1910, a complete stranger offered $60 to “young lad” Clarence Liebrandt, saving the youth from a jail sentence. In 1913, a fellow traveler and bystander saved New York magnate Theodore P. Shonts from “sudden death” when he pulled the man out from beneath the wheels of an oncoming train in Le Breuil, France. Mr. Shonts also had the fortune of traveling alongside American actress Lillian Russell, who happened to have a “band aid outfit” with her and bandaged his injuries. 

Sometimes it’s hard to believe people can be so altruistic. In 1948, Joe Mueller lost his wallet containing his life savings. When Mr. Mueller learned the wallet had been recovered by boy scout Herman Hoffman, who had turned it in directly to the authorities without a cent missing, he fainted right then and there at the police station.

“WALLET RETURNED. FAINTS,” The Nome Nugget (Nome, AK, England), July 12, 1948.

Newspapers are not the only source of good news.  In 1938, the Women’s National Radio Committee selected the “Good News of 1938” radio program as the “Best Variety Program on the Air.”  The program aired Thursday nights and featured music, drama, and comedy- an hour of entertainment “the whole family can listen to and enjoy together.” 

And in case you missed them, you can always find more good news in our Headlines and Heroes blog posts. Have you found any uplifting stories of your own searching the historical newspapers in Chronicling America? Share in the comments!

*The Chronicling America historic newspapers online collection is a product of the National Digital Newspaper Program and jointly sponsored by the Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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