ST. JOHNSBURY – Caledonian-Record’s D-Day coverage took on a more literal meaning for a couple renovating a room in their Ladd Avenue home.
Under three layers of flooring in an 8 by 12 ‘room in the home of Rebecca and Ben Christie, there were complete original copies of the newspaper covering the entire floor. Among the editions, there were a handful of June 6, 1944 with the giant headline “BATTLE OF INVASION”.
The Christies have been in the house for about a year and are making progress through renovation projects. Rebecca said the house was built in 1900, but the room where the papers were found was an annex built some time later. The discovery of the newspaper was part of a recent project that should not involve the entire floor yet.
Ben said it was initially his intention to pull only part of the floor to build a shelf. He removed several layers of floor in search of the base surface. First, there was a rug. Then there was another rug. Next was the vinyl floor with a flower pattern.
“I pulled (Rebecca) and made her look at that beautiful flower floor,” said Ben with a sarcastic emphasis on the word ‘beautiful’. “So I tore it up and saw a small newspaper corner.”
At first, he said, he hoped it was just torn pieces of a newspaper. As he pulled more from the floor, he saw that the newspapers were intact. At that point, Ben said, Rebecca wouldn’t let him stop. “She tore the floor all over,” he said.
What they found covering a wooden floor were 23 copies of The Caledonian-Record from June 5, 1944 to June 9, 1944, along with some copies of the Boston Post for the same period.
The papers are yellowed, but not scaly. Several have no tears. Rebecca said she liked to pass by them.
“Most of them are quite readable,” she said.
Two details about the papers stood out for the Christies: width and cost.
“It only cost 3 cents,” said Rebecca.
As for size, holding a 1944 Caledonian open requires considerably more arm extension than is required today. The papers at that time were 35 inches wide when opened. Newspapers today are 23½ inches wide.
The articles contain eight pages. The pages are full of news, many of them related to World War II. The Associated Press stories provided details related to the fighting in Europe, and local collaborators wrote about war-related issues close to home, including details about soldiers serving in the war in local cities.
One of the articles printed on the front page of the June 6, 1944 edition was entitled “How Caledonian Got and Handled the News”. He observes the process that the newspaper went through to communicate one of the most significant moments in the country in its history.
“The boys were thrown out of bed to sell newspapers to those who were looking forward to the news before they left for work. Other scores rushed to the newspaper’s newsroom for copies of the extra.
“The invasion broke out too late for morning newspapers and the Caledonian-Record was the only newspaper here today that brought a word about the biggest news of all time.”
The editor at the time was Herbert Smith, great-grandfather of the current editor Todd Smith. Herbert Smith’s editorial on June 7, 1944 featured the D-Day invasion. It started with “The time has come” and noted: “Finally, the time for liberation has come. The shadow of darkness has already fallen on the attacker. “
The documented history of the 1944 newspaper found by the Christies records announcements from the past. Russell Drugstore in Lyndonville promoted “Tobacco Gifts For Dad”. Emmons and Hebert Hardware and Plumbing in Lyndonville was selling a gallon of paint for $ 3.25. Hovey and Caplans stores also had advertisements.
It was also reported that the 1894 St. Johnsbury Academy Class held its 50th meeting.
Not wanting to throw away the old newspapers, the Christies turned them over to The Caledonian-Record.
The Christies say they still have a lot of work to do to renovate their home and are looking forward to the next discovery.
“This is the only floor I have torn up so far,” said Ben.