As I spoke about a few weeks back, the clip files at The Post-Journal hold many marvels of our local history.
Much of what is in there is helpful to us as we are searching to supplement the newspaper each day: chronicles of the best known pieces of Chautauqua County's past.
Other bits of information in there are quite ephemeral - brief memories that may have been lost forever had they not been trapped within those filing cabinets.
Remembering the excitement I exhibited last month after finding an article about a cat that was taken to court, our education reporter, Liz Skoczylas, recently came to me with a finding of her own. While searching for "Elementary Schools," she spotted "Elephant On The Loose." Even the least inquisitive among us would pull that envelope out and see what is inside, right?
What Liz found and shared with me is a clipping from the June 11, 1956, edition of The Post-Journal. In very descriptive and poetic language, the article tells the tale of Lena, an elephant that wandered through Mayville and was, according to the headline, "looking for supper."
"Residents of Blanchard Street couldn't believe their eyes in the twilight of Sunday evening but soon the telephone of Police Chief Harold A. Land was jangling with a series of reports of an elephant loose," reads the unbelievable lede, before the article goes into detail about how the elephant had broken loose from its "basement quarters" at a local business, whose owner had purchased the beast from a circus that had just left town.
I can't help but wonder how the media would handle such a story today, approaching 60 years later. Surely there would be fewer tongue-in-cheek phrases, such as how Lena "sauntered throughout Blanchard Street looking for the makings of a salad." There might be reports about dangers to local children, or about abuse to the animal, or about the ethics of buying and selling such creatures.
Today, though, it's easy to read such an article from the past and laugh while picturing the scene. I can only imagine what else is hiding in those filing cabinets back there - likely no more elephants.
(In regard to my previous, related column on the case of Molly the cat, I'd like to thank the Hon. Willard W. Cass for giving me more details. Judge Cass, acting Supreme Court Justice at the time, was behind the bench for the case in 1978. He reports that after two days of testimony, Molly's owner decided to send her to the country, "where she would have a good home and no longer bother the residents of Chautauqua," and the case was settled. He also remembers that Chautauqua's leash law for cats was brought out during the proceedings. I can't believe there was only one clipping in that file.)