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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

A mighty blast from the past

Sometimes I like to just drop out of the present and linger in the past for a few minutes, usually while the tea is brewing. This morning I was hunting online for information about a mysterious uncle in Iowa, so I went to a site called Iowa Old Newspapers. It coughed up such intriguing little lead lines about shocking local events of 100 or more years ago that I finally had to read one. Poor Uncle Ambrose was left in the dust by this tale.

Read all about it! This is the murder in cold blood of Mr. Blood (sorry for the bad joke, but it's true) by Mrs. Blood, in 1898. It gave me pause: the sympathy given to a woman who murdered her husband would not seem politically correct today and I've been debating with myself if this is progress. Mrs. Blood, I think it is.

On the other hand, it sounds like the sympathy was well placed, which would cause most newspaper editors today some problems with the sacred cow of objectivity in journalism, a relatively recent development. Add to this a new media fear of litigation and I think we might have lost something. I can't imagine any newspaper in the U.S. these days publishing this damning remark:

"We have never known a person in our life but that some word of commendation could have been said of him until we knew the one who so recently met a violent death. Absolutely nothing good could be said of him. He was not a good citizen neither a good neighbor nor a good husband or father. Those who have lived near him for years all tell of him in the same strain." (Hull Index Newspaper, Hull, Iowa)
If you don't have time for the whole story, the charges were dismissed on grounds of insanity (women of her age, 43, were considered susceptible to it) and Alice Blood lived for another 50 years.

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