Friday, February 15, 2008

George W. Peck

There is something altogether remarkable about George W. Peck -- Will Rogers probably took a few pages out of his book -- his characters are are often just a tad on the mischievous side ("Peck's Bad Boy" more than a tad of course), and he occasionally flirted with the boundaries of good taste, but by and large, Peck's stories left readers feling good about themselves. Harmless joshing with a bit of bite might be a good way to explain them.

When Peck took over Brick Pomeroy's LaCrosse Democrat in 1874 and renamed it The Sun, it took a few years for it to really catch on. Peck's humorous paragraphs and stories made up the bulk of the paper, and when he moved the newspaper to Milwaukee and put his own name on the masthead, the circulation rose exponentially. Subscriptions started to pour in from all corners of the nation, and Peck himself set the stage for a highly successful career in politics by the 1890s. Every issue of the paper bore this inscription:

"The funniest newspaper in America. What vaccination is to the smallpox, Peck's Sun is to the Blues,"

We will go into more detail about Peck soon. But treat yourself to a chuckle or two and listen to some of the stories we are reading in the Basement this week and next.

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