Reviews of Wit
& Wisdom of Missouri's Country Editors:
Wit & Wisdom Of Missouri's Country Editors is interesting and
entertaining reading. It is a must for those who need quotes for research
or speaking. This book won't make you yawn... Russell
Hively, The Ozarks Mountaineer, April/May 1998
Peering into newspapers from a century ago, Dr. Taft finds a wealth of
information about Missourians from crusty editors who didn’t hold back
in their criticisms, comments and observations of the day…Among the
hundreds of offerings from years ago, don’t be surprised to find some
applicable today... Doug Crews, Executive Director, Missouri Press
Over the years, Dr. Taft has immersed himself in the history, legend
and lore of Missouri newspapers and their editors. Anyone who knows him
and his witty, raucous and at times acerbic sense of humor will find those
same qualities in many of the selections he has compiled here. There is
something for everybody—some sage advice and more than a chuckle or
two... James W. Goodrich, Executive Director, State Historical Society
William Taft knows more about Missouri newspapers and their editors
than any other person. Here he reports the thoughts and literary gems of
Missouri’s outstanding newspaper editors back in the days when their
readers read every line in the paper, and they had the courage to express
their thoughts. It is historical, entertaining and worthy of the reader’s
time... James C. Kirkpatrick, newspaper editor/publisher, Missouri
Secretary of State, 1965-1985.
Wit & Wisdom of Missouri's
Country Editors Table of Contents
Chapter 1: It All Began in the Garden
Chapter 2: On the Road to Matrimony
Chapter 3: Matrimony: A Dangerous Journey?
Chapter 4: Children Have Their Place
Chapter 5: Family Life a Frequent Topic
Chapter 6: Slippery Legal and Political Issues
Chapter 7: Money, Taxes and All That
Chapter 8: Preachers Share the Limelight
Chapter 9: Doctors Have Their Problems
Chapter 10: Animals Always Attention Getters
Chapter 11: Education a Major Concern
Chapter 12: Feature Stories Attract Readers
Chapter 13: Editors Often Focus on Themselves
Chapter 14: Other Wit and Wisdom Too Good to Pass Up
Wit & Wisdom
"An English farmer recently remarked that 'he
fed his land when it was hungry, rested it when it was weary, and weeded
it when it was foul.' Seldom, if ever, was so much agricultural wisdom
condensed in a single sentence."
"James Russell, a one-legged soldier, who
recently stopped a runaway horse by pushing his wooden leg through the
carriage wheel, stopped another dangerous runaway in New Hampshire last
week. He saved four lives and has been given a medal by the Humane
"A husband at home is worth two in a
"The dictionary spells 'good' with two o's, the
Bible with one."
Memphis Conservative, 1-24-1878
"'When I die,' said a married man, 'I want to
go where there is no snow to shovel.' His wife said she presumed he
"When a woman has had nine children, she begins to have suspicions
about some of the beautiful passages in love stories."
More than 600 pithy sayings from pioneer
Missouri papers. Many of these quotes and quips date to the 19th century
yet remain timely for today's readers. Richly illustrated and fully
indexed to help you find that perfect quote.
From the Back Cover
No other living thing is so slow as a boy on an
Unless the child goes beyond the parent there is no progress...
If an untruth is a day old it is called a lie; if it is a century old
it is called a legend...
Some children are spoiled in their raising because it's the easiest way
to raise them...
To die at the proper time and leave a good impression on history is a
Willie lit some powder sticks, Willie's funeral July six...
H. Taft, Author of Wit &
Missouri's Country Editors
H. Taft taught journalism for 35 years, 25 at the University of
Missouri-Columbia. His special research concerned Missouri newspapers,
with three books on this topic. Now the Professor Emeritus spends most of
his time going through the collection of 35 million pages of Missouri
newspapers on microfilm at the State Historical Society.
Wit & Wisdom is a collection of over 600 sayings gleaned from this
research. The book is grouped into 14 different section of these
In this latest volume, Dr. Taft reveals the lighter side of the
editors' duties, showing how knowledgeable they were on diverse subjects,
together with their willingness to write as they felt, regardless of the
In his introduction, the author states: "This book's goal is to
provide amusement and education for those who enjoy reading past items
that remind them of situations today. In compiling this book, I've stuck
to the editors' creed: 'Make them laugh, make them cry, make them mad,
just don't make them yawn."
Dr. Taft, born in Mexico, Mo., graduated from Westminster College,
University of Missouri and the Western Reserve University. Retired in 1981
as Professor Emeritus from the University of Missouri(Columbia Journalism
School, he continues as historian of the Missouri Press Association and
remains involved in other research projects.
Previous books by Taft include Missouri Newspapers (University
of Missouri Press, 1964); Missouri Newspapers: When and Where,
1808-1963, a listing of more than 6,000 newspapers
that have appeared in the state (State Historical Society of Missouri,
1964); Newspapers as Tools for Historians (Lucas Brothers, 1967); American
Magazines for the 1980s (Hastings House, New York, 1982); Encyclopedia
of Twentieth-Century Journalists (Garland, New York, 1986); Missouri
Newspapers and the Missouri Press Association: 125 Years of Service,
1867-1992 (Heritage House, 1992). He has also published numerous
encyclopedia articles, Journalism Quarterly articles and others.
He began his newspaper career as a teenager on the Mexico Ledger,
writing "locals" and a high school column. At Westminster he
handled public relations. He has taught at Youngston, Hiram and Defiance
Colleges in Ohio, and founded the journalism program at Memphis State
University prior to returning to Columbia in 1956. He has been married for
more than 55 years to his wife, Myrtle, and they have three children.
from Wit and Wisdom
Missouri's Country Editors by William Taft.
© 2008. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
From Chapter 9: Doctors Have Their Problems
Doctors Have Their Problem
With a limited supply of doctors in the
smaller communities as well as fewer medical facilities in these early
years, it was only natural that many individuals turned to their weekly
newspapers for advice on how to cure their ailments.
In addition, frequently so-called backwoods
prescriptions were mentioned by the editors, who weren't adverse to poking
fun at some doctors and their activities.
All too often, these problems continued to
exist, as one editor wrote: "Some people suffer more from imaginary
troubles than real ones." Today, the television world continues to
"create" such "imaginary" illnesses.
Articles pointed out the danger from smoking
and from drinking whiskey, although, unfortunately, many of those editors
writing such material might have been smoking and/or drinking at the same
time they were advising their readers on a better life.
Aside from advice from editors, cures were
prominently displayed throughout the paper, as well. There were
advertisements promising to remedy every ailment. For example, cures for
baldness were plentiful. And they were probably as effective then as they
Medical World Described
Pain is the price of all deep
pleasure. -Lathrop Monitor-Herald, 12-6-1906
Never-heard-of-germs fill the
air, But people keep on living everywhere.
-Ashland Bugle, 5-18-1939
A Russian scientist has traced
all of a man's diseases to the fact that he wears clothes. -Platte City
The doctors have discovered
that high-heeled shoes cause blindness. It has been noticed that a high
instep and neatly turned ankle are also very straining on the eyes on
windy days. -Princeton Peoples Press, 6-13-1894
Women are the chief patrons of
the doctors, and they live longer than men. Does this seem one in favor of
the M.D.'s or does it prove it's the people who are always ill that never
die? -Lamar Democrat, 6-10-1909
Bargain Day (?) at the Doctor's
A doctor uptown gave the
following prescription for a very sick lady a few days since: "A new
bonnet, a new cashmere shawl, and a pair of gaiter boots!" The lady
recovered immediately. -Oregon Holt County News, 8-21-1857
The trouble with the man who
goes to see a doctor is that he wishes to be cured in a day of ills it has
taken him years to acquire. -Doniphan Prospect-News, 1-25-1912
A young physician asked
permission of a lady to kiss her. She replied: "No, sir, I never like
to have a doctor's bill thrust in my face." -Paris Mercury, 6-10-1848
Texas invalids are appraised
of their approaching decease by seeing the doctor trying on their coats
and boots. -Platte City Landmark, 8-4-1871
No Refund Either
"I don't believe it is
any use to vaccinate for small-pox," said a backwoods Kentuckian,
"for I had a child vaccinated, and he fell out of a window and was
killed in less than a week afterwards." -Liberty Tribune, 1-13-1882
Take That Nose Outside, Please
"How dreadful that cigar smells!"
exclaimed Dobbs to a companion. "Why it's an awful smelling
"No, it's not the cigar
that smells," was the reply. "What is it, then?" inquired
Dobbs. "Why it is your nose that smells, of course, that's what noses
are made for." -St. Louis Sentinel, 6-16-1855
Doctors Blame and Blamed
China is a remarkable country.
The mother of the emperor was recently taken sick and was attended by 423
doctors, yet she recovered. -Fulton Sun, 12-29-1893
An exchange gives an
illustration as follows: A doctor bet a man a dollar he could not get a
billiard ball into his mouth. The man won the bet, but the doctor got
fifteen dollars to get it out. Another form of advertising with the
results about the same as usual, the advertiser spent one dollar and gets
fifteen in return. -Lilbourn Herald, 1-30-1914
A medical student asked a
famous surgeon: "What did you operate on that man for?"
"Two hundred dollars," replied the surgeon. "Yes, I know
that," said the student. "I mean what did the man have?"
"Two hundred dollars," replied the surgeon. -Auxvasse Review,
Some Such Folks Still Around
Some people suffer more from
imaginary troubles than real ones. They always worry about the future and
conjure up difficulties that do not exist. Because of this their life is
robbed of more than half its joy and blessings. -Martinsburg Audrain
County Oracle, 1-6-1910
Probably Guaranteed Too
An observing individual in a
very healthy village, seeing the sexton at work in a hole in the ground,
inquired what he was about. "Digging a grave, sir."
"Digging a grave? Why I thought people didn't die often here-do
they?" "O, no, sir, they never die but once." -Albany
Just Can't Win
When I was young I was poor;
when old I became rich, but in each condition I found disappointment. When
the faculties of enjoying were bright, I had not the means; when the means
came, the faculties were gone. -Columbia Missouri Sentinel, 4-8-1852
First the Vote, Then . . .
Women are living longer then
they did twenty-five years ago, but the doctors aren't agreed on the
reason. Though all admit it isn't due to the spread of the suffrage
movement, they are widely divided in their opinions. Statistics compiled
in England show that the expectation of life of a woman of fifty is a year
greater than it was in 1875 while that of a man is only a few months
greater. One school of doctors, who believe that death is due entirely to
a wearing out of brain tissues, says the longevity of women is due to the
fact that they don't use their brains as much as men. On the other side of
the scientific fence is a group of doctors who insist that woman lives
longer now because she is more sheltered . . . doesn't have to face the
wearing competition of business . . . and spends most of her time at home
which is more airy and healthful than the offices where men work. -Clinton
Daily Republican, 3-31-1913
But Still That Taste!
An old physician of the last
generation was noted for his brusque manners and old-fashioned methods.
One time a lady called on him to treat her baby who was lightly ailing.
The doctor prescribed castor oil. "But doctor," protested the
young mother, "castor oil is such an old-fashioned remedy."
"Madam," replied the doctor, "babies are old-fashioned
things." -Linn Unterrified Democrat, 1-16-1908
Unless They Watch TV?
Men seldom die or get mad
during the first two hours after dinner. -Richmond Missourian, 9-5-1901
It is said that worry kills
more people than work-probably because more people worry than work. -
Richland Mirror, 1-11-1923
Baldness, an Ancient Cure
A loafer says that the best
remedy for baldness is to rub whiskey on your head until the hairs grow
out, "then take inwardly to clinch the roots." -Lexington
Missouri Register, 5-28-1865
While a kid nearly a hundred
years ago, mothers would put five drops of turpentine on a lump of sugar
to give to each of the children. This was a practice in all well-regulated
families and was given for worms. We hesitate to recommend this dose to
some flappers we have seen who wiggle a great deal, but it might prove a
blessing and be a permanent cure. -Sikeston Standard, 1-17-1930
Colds Always a Challenge
Of all other means of curing
colds, fasting is the most effectual. Let whoever has a cold eat nothing
whatever for two days, and his cold will be gone, provided he is not
confined to his bed, because by taking that surplus which caused his
disease to breath, he soon carries off the disease by removing the cause.
This will be found more effectual if he adds copious water drinking to
protracted fasting. By the time a person has fasted one day and night he
will experience a freedom from pain and a clearance of mind in delightful
contrast to that mental stupor and physical pain caused by colds. And how
infinitely better is this breaking of colds than medicines! -Columbia
Missouri Sentinel, 1-25-1852
A hot lemonade is one of the
best remedies for a cold. It acts promptly and efficiently, and has no
unpleasant after affects. One lemon should be properly squeezed, cut in
slices, put with sugar, and covered with half a pint of boiling water.
Drink just before going to bed, and do not expose yourself the following
day. This remedy will ward off any attack of chills and fever if used
promptly. We give it on the recommendation of one of the judges of our
courts who is a just man and never takes bribes. -Neosho Times, 12-26-1872
Smoking Techniques, Dangers
Do not smoke either while
fasting or for a short time before meals. -Union Franklin County Tribune,
Did you ever see good molars
in the mouth of a man who chews tobacco to "preserve his teeth"?
-Hartsburg Truth, 8-14-1903
There's always hope for the
man who is ashamed that he chews tobacco. -Platte City Argus, 11-28-1901