Monday, May 11, 2009

1800s ASCII Art

Dusty Diary LOVES reader requests! Happily, I found one today in email!

(You can email queries to dustydiary at gmail, OR you can write them in the "Skribit" doodad down in the sidebar. I have added this one to Skribit just so you can see what it looks like).

The query:

According to info at hand, Prohibition ended in Michigan at 6:00 pm on today's date, in 1933. Any Ypsilanti accounts of drunken and disorderly behavior that you've come across? Enquiring minds want to know!

Oh, dear reader, you should see the thickness of my "Booze" folder! I also have one for Prohibition, and many of the file stories about U-M students concern drunken behavior. Let's find some aperitifs in celebration of Prohibition's end:

[inevitable sidetrack rambling] Of course, Prohibition movements and laws in Michigan were alive and well long before 1919. Highlights:

1790: Law passed that no one residing in or passing through the Northwest Territory give liquor to any Native American
1790: Law passed that no one may sell liquor to soldiers in the Northwest Territory within ten miles of a military post
1795: Law passed preventing saloonkeepers from selling liquor to minors, servants, or slaves
1800: In order to get a liquor license, a potential tavern-keeper must be recommended by "twelve respectable freeholders"
1812: Law passed that anyone selling/giving liquor to Native Americans be fined not less than $5 or more than $100
1815: Law passed that intoxicating drinks may not be sold to soldiers without written permission of officer in command
1815: Law passed that liquor may not be sold on Sundays, "except to lodgers and travelers" (day trip to Ann Arbor?)
1845: Law passed that residents of townships and cities could vote on whether to allow liquor in their municipality: this was called "local control."

[sidetrack to ongoing sidetrack rambling] If this post were a martini, here's the delicious juicy olive: In 1888 there was a vote for local control. Many Michigan counties voted. So how did the editor of the April 12, 1888 Ypsilantian decide to depict the results? He sure couldn't whip something up on Photoshop.

Well, sir, he typeset, by hand, a map of Michigan, showing the "dry" counties with dotted lines, the "wet" counties with swirly brackets, and the non-voting counties left blank.

(Click for larger view)

This is the single most jaw-dropping tour de force of typesetting that Dusty Diary has ever seen in any old Ypsi paper. "We found this part troublesome enough to set," says a little story under the map, "and if any printer thinks it a simple job, he may try it for two or three days." Egads! No thanks!

[sidetrack to sidetrack to sidetrack rambling] This Ypsi graphic is also older by a decade than the first preserved work of typewriter art, which was a butterfly (pictured at right) done entirely on a typewriter by one Flora Stacey in 1898. She used hyphens, slashies, brackets, periods, some o's, and a single judicious asterisk.

Dusty Diary realizes she has not, in fact, answered the kind reader's very reasonable question, at all. But...er,...slashies butterfly with asterisk! Typeset map! Quirky timeline!

Ah, phooey. Keep those reader questions coming!

Ypsilanti: Kickin' the ASCII art old-school--REALLY OLD-SCHOOL--since 1888!

9 comments :

Fritz said...

I like the way the curly braces suggest water or waves in the "wet" counties.

Dusty D said...

You are right...or perhaps the waves are meant to suggest whitecaps between the Scylla and Charybdis of poverty due to overindulgence and loss of dignity through drunkenness.

moatn said...

According to a history I read, in the early days, word was in the itinerant preacher community that Ypsilanti was best avoided, as the citizenry will not come to your tent revival on account of drunkenness.

Dusty D said...

That's interesting about the drunkenness, moatm; might you remember the source? I'd love to find some sources for that info; I do have some old Methodist convention reports and things, and the whole itinerant movement in this area was Methodist.

I love reading about the old itinerant preacher community, and even wrote a big article about one guy, Elijah Pilcher, who used to work this area. He had a very disdainful and prissy attitude about the accomodations he was forced to put up with on his rounds (families would usually put him up for a night in the cabin). He was a toughie, though--it was not an easy job, or a lucrative one.

I do have another story in my files somewhere about a revivalist in Ypsi whose big tent was ripped down and burned by the citizenry, although the issue there if I remember was that he was not preaching a form of religion palatable to the townspeople. This was in the 1930s I believe. I'll have to see if I can dig it up.

Dusty D said...

Whoa, whoa, WHOA!!! I've been METAFILTERED?!? Wow, talk about a compliment! Hello to Mefites out there--I read Metafilter regularly, visited tonight, and great gosh in the morning, couldn't BELIEVE you had honored me by posting my tidbit!

Hey, can I make a plug while you're here (grabs your coat lapels firmly with both hands). My book "Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives" will be coming out this midwinter. Has this story and tons more, by Laura Bien.

Aside from that, thank you, kind Mefites, for visiting! I'd comment on Metafilter but I don't have an account, dang nab it. Thank you for your kindness in posting this and visiting! (bows)

Dusty D said...

Signed up for a Metafilter account after years of lurking. What a pleasure to see my story there.

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