When I was studying writing and journalism, my teacher said that to attract attention you need a “news peg” for your story.

Mention the news event and then, having reader attention, present your message.

Somebody here learned this lesson long before I did, and tied his (or

her) business to one of the biggest news stories of the 20th century - the

sinking of the megaship Titanic after crashing into an iceberg in the North

Atlantic on April 14, 1912.

The April 18 Sumner County News ran a front-page story entitled

“Great Disaster on the Sea.” Headlines further said “Sinks in Two Miles of

water with 1,300 lives on board.”

Rich and famous people were among those lost, including Major

Archibald Butt, military aid to President William Howard Taft and Col. John

Jacob Astor of an aristocratic New York family, the story pointed out.

This event, though tragic to many friends and families, furnished a

commercial opportunity for a newspaper reader.

“Being without glasses the man in the crow’s nest could not see the

iceberg (that ugly spot) with the naked eye,” observed a local business

owner in the next edition of the paper.

He (or she) instantly saw a similarity to a customer, though in vastly

different circumstances. “Neither can he see spots of dirt, grease, etc., in

your clothes when cleaned by the Citizens' Pressing Club.”

Not having to be rescued or lose a friend or loved one, what a

happier outcome they would have here, “Give us a trial, and be satisfied.”

The shop was on South Water Street “over Snowden’s Grocery


Perhaps this announcement brought in business.

Al Dittes is a member of the Highland Rim Historical Society.

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