Former resident recalls special newspaper
Marking a memory
“MOONDAY” was the front-page dateline for Monday July 21, 1969’s edition of what was then the Dunkirk Evening Observer. It featured a large blue illustration of the event — almost unheard of for the black-and-white papers of the day — and was a giant broadsheet in keeping with print widths of the era.
And what a 20-page newspaper it was. Clearly, local businesses fully participated, with ads from long-gone area stores sprinkled in with lunar coverage on virtually every page. On Page 2, astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s comments about the moon’s surface’s “looking wet” shared space with a Kobacker’s ad for a patio and fabric clearance.
The other historic story of the day was Page 3 coverage of the Chappaquiddick drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne connected to Senator Ted Kennedy. The lift-off from the lunar surface, however, took up many more column inches.
Local reactions to the moon mission were featured along with advertisements from Leed’s Jewelers, McCroskey’s, and Ludlum’s, where Space Toys (“All systems are ‘GO’ at Ludlum’s) were on sale, and one item, a Grippidee-Gravidee, was a special. A small ad tucked in for Preparation H discreetly mentioned piles instead of hemorrhoids.
Along with the expected editorials and cartoon about the mission was a Paul Harvey piece on the relationship between President Nixon and Saigon, as America was in the thick of the Vietnam War. The legendary Dear Abby column had a sign of the times with its controversy over sex education in schools.
“Parties” and “Vacationlands” were two social-whirl columns, the latter featuring guests summering in Van Buren Point cottages. Coverage of the Chautauqua County Fair shared space with the daily horoscope, but two items on Page 10 stand out: “Space Center Deluged by Phone Calls” and “Cig Firms May Okay Ending TV Advertising.” “Chit Chat from the Moon” ran alongside Dr. George Crane’s “The Worry Clinic.”
A who’s who of former Dunkirk-Fredonia businesses ran ads on Page 12: Town &Country, Sidey’s, Geo H. Graf, Bentley and Renckens.
Sensibilities of the era produced at least two politically incorrect headlines: “Jewish Couple Killed in Crash” and “50 Negroes Demonstrate at Space Center.” Differing points of view on the lunar mission were captured in the stories “Hopi Indians Hope Moon Will Be Treated Kindly” and “Only Silence from the Surly Land of Red China.”
The comics and crossword page, with its “Hints From Heloise”, featured that night’s television listings for the “Big Three” networks: NBC/Channel 2 WGR, CBS/Channel 4 WBEN, and ABC/Channel 7 WKBW. Included was the local Public Television outlet Channel 17’s WNED.
The last pages were devoted to sports coverage (“Joe Namath Ready to Return to Pro Football” and “Buffalo Team May Abandon War Memorial”), automobile/tire ads, and Classifieds — one real estate noted an outhouse was included on the property. The County Fair invited folks to come out to the Demolition Derbies, male and female, plus noting vaudeville acts.
And movies! The Westfield Drive-In showed two X-rated features, “Love Factory” and “For Love and Money” (No children or babies allowed.) The Van Buren Drive-In caught the lunar fever with “The Stalking Moon.” The Regent, however, went with a Disney double feature: “Smith” with Glenn Ford and “Noah’s Ark.”
An amazing edition for only 10 cents. This small-city paper triumphed that day.
Leslie Roman-Williams is a resident of North Chesterfield, Virginia. In 1969, she, her parents and sisters lived at 3760 East Lake Road in the town of Dunkirk. At the time her dad Leonard Roman owned a business called Modern Builders Supply, which the family lived behind.