When did our writing lose its charm?

From my hometown newspaper, October 1936:

“On Sunday afternoon an automobile full of young men, who were evidently full of something stronger, disturbed the quiet and decency of the Village Sabbath-keeping by halting before one of the places of business and proceeding to dance the Charleston to the noisy accompaniment of cheers and shouts. It continued for some time, increasing in noise as the dance progressed.

A citizen, who objected to the disturbance and desecration wrote down the number of the license plate. As soon as this was noticed, the party brought the dance and shouting to a speedy ending and with no furthur waste of time boarded their car in haste and were gone.”

The passage makes me smile. I envision the scene so clearly, and I empathize with the young men enjoying a rowdy afternoon in the middle of the Great Depression. How they must have needed that joyous release.

But the charm of the writing really warms my soul.

Would we ever read the phrase “full of something stronger” in news today? Or “quiet and decency of Village Sabbath-keeping?” The paragraphs break all kinds of writing rules followed by journalists today. A news story covering a similar event today would be soulless and half the length.

We can’t claw back the advancements of time, but occasionally we can dip into the past to revisit the charms of the era. And maybe we can inject just a little of that character into our lives here and there.

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