No News Is Unheard Of

Many of the faithful few who read this web site have noticed the paucity of information from the period 1938 through 1945. The Times-Messenger began publishing in 1933 but no archives are known to exist from 1933 through 1945. Archives are available from 1946 until it ceased publication but that still leaves a significant gap in the goings on in Fairmont. The Robesonian published very little Fairmont news after Charlie Stafford became Sales Supervisor for our tobacco market. I don't know if that is significant or just happenstance.

I have researched Fairmont's history almost every day since Labor Day 2013. More Google searches have been performs than you can possibly imagine and I've browsed the NC Digital Archives online until my eyes began to cross. Very little verifiable information has surfaced that can add to our knowledge of Fairmont from this time period. For weeks at a time, the only Fairmont-related news appeared in the "community news" column written first by Mrs. Sallie Inman, then by Miss Nettie Ruth Floyd. There were no want ads, no display advertising, and no news from Fairmont. It was as if we had disappeared.

(What follows is pure conjecture on my part.)

The Great Depression began with the stock market crash of October, 1929 and continued until the beginning of World War II. Unemployment reached 25% in some areas during 1932-33. Because Fairmont's economy was agriculture based, most people still could get food to eat even though there was very little money in circulation. My dad talked of days when his dad only had receipts of fifty or seventy-five cents per day in his store. These were the tough times that our grandparents spoke of when we were young.

Since the Times-Messenger began printing in 1933 (exact date unknown), the merchants advertised in the local paper rather than the Robesonian. This meant no local coverage since fewer people were buying Robesonians in Fairmont. In 1938 & 1939, the tobacco board of trade did not buy their usual large amount of advertising, choosing instead to advertise locally with the Times-Messenger. This helped continue the dearth of Fairmont news.

World War II brought more belt tightening. Rationing immediately impacted every business in every community. Food was rationed. Gasoline and fuel oil were rationed. Coal was rationed. Shoes and clothing were rationed. Newsprint was rationed. Automobiles and automobile parts were rationed. Building materials were rationed. There were scrap metal and scrap rubber drives. Families were required to collect their used cooking fats and turn them in to their local meat markets. Rationing drastically changed the way all businesses operated, including newspapers.

All these things contributed to the lack of publicly available information about what was happening in Fairmont during this time period, arguably the most vibrant and exciting period in Fairmont's history. Should you doubt what I am saying, feel free to go to newspapers.com where the Robesonian archives through 1977 are located and verify this for yourself. I will continue to search for tidbits of information to fill in the blanks for this time period but, as of now, I am declaring victory and moving on to post-war Fairmont.


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