For most of us, and most of the time, we worry about time only when we look at our watches, when we are late for an appointment or when an important date is right around the corner (metaphorically) and we haven’t bought a gift. On the occasion of February, a unique month, in a leap year, it is a good time to look at some aspects of time. Clearly February is the Rodney Dangerfield of months; it just doesn’t get much respect. Not only is it shorter than other months, but when we need to adjust our calendar, we pick on February again. We make it a little longer or shorter to keep our clocks in line with the planets and our own spinning world. So, in honor of February 29, 2012 we will look at some aspects of time, leap years and the events of February 29’s over the next several days. Today, we look back a century at the Port Townsend Leader edition of February 29, 1912 to see what was going on around here 25 leap years ago. The Leader’s historical issues are available through the Port Townsend Public Libraries research area.
One front page article from the leap day Leader related how the interest in the presidential election was beginning to grow with Teddy Roosevelt’s announcement of his candidacy – something the political commentary weary might note with interest. One Lucian McCardle of Quilcene was appointed “Roosevelt Manager” for Jefferson County by the Mayor of Seattle and there was an extended discussion of the merits of county conventions versus a direct primary as the method for selecting delegates.
An inside story – or maybe unsigned editorial – in the category “the more things change the more they remain the same,” will interest local pedestrians. It appears that complaints were growing about violations of the City ordinance against riding bicycles on the sidewalk. One of the many forays of “local wheelmen” onto the sidewalks resulted in an injury to the daughter of a “prominent citizen” and resulted in a call for the sort of strict enforcement that had characterized the period just after passage of the ordinance. We hope her insurance was up to date, and their liability coverage was adequate.
The Rose Theater was advertising the Final week of a production of “Pumpkin Husker” presented by the Ralf Belmont Company. For those not versed in century’s old slang, a pumpkin husker may be synonymous with Rube or a less than complimentary reference to rural folk. A little research suggests the play traveled widely in 1912, playing to satisfied audiences in New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia before reaching Florence Alabama in November, 1912.
The automobile industry was beginning to burgeon as well as evidenced by the large ad for Michelin “Anti Skids.” One sincerely hopes the Washington auto insurance industry was also active, because a leather tire with metal studs does not sound like a safety feature today.