Funny thing happened on the way to the autumnal equinox…

nasa equinox
Image courtesy of

Happy Equinox, everyone! Today is the day when the angle of the sun is straight on the equator, and the amount of day and night are nearly equal. In the northern hemisphere, this makes it our autumnal equinox (southern hemisphere has the vernal equinox). So for those of you who have been eagerly awaiting the “official” start of fall to decorate your yard with pumpkins and chrysanthemums, have at it!

photo by K.B. Owen
photo by K.B. Owen

On the equinox, some folks claim you can stand a broom on its brushy end or an egg on its pointy end, but that’s just an urban myth. (If it works, send me a pic!).

...a little salt was added to keep it upright. Pic by Hustvedt, wikimedia commons.
…a little salt was added to keep it upright. Pic by Hustvedt, wikimedia commons.

Here at K.B. Owen Mysteries, we like to give many of our posts a historical feel, so when I was putting this one together, I wracked my brain to figure out how I could make it historical. I turned to one of my favorite resources: the Library of Congress’s historical newspaper archive, Chronicling America. It’s a terrific source of U.S. digitized newspapers from 1836 to 1922. Here’s the link, if you’d like to do some searching of your own.

So I plugged in “autumn equinox,” and some date parameters (1880 to 1900, I think). Here are some of the fun items that turned up:

the Evening Herald, Shenandoah PA 25 Sept 1891
The Evening Herald, Shenandoah PA Sept 25, 1891

Wow…24 new ways to tie men’s neckwear, cheap cider, a scarcity of squirrels to hunt, and leaving couples by THEMSELVES? What is the world coming to?

fall clipart

I love the tagline for The Evening Herald, by the way:

Who could pass up a deal like that?
“All the news for one cent.” Who can pass up a deal like that?

The next article is quite poetic for what we’re used to seeing in a newspaper. There’s a little astronomy lesson, with some astrology thrown in. Didn’t know those two were compatible – except for the fact that I used to mix them up all the time.

Alexandria Gazette, 1 Sept 1892

Alexandria Gazette, 1 Sept 1892
Alexandria Gazette, 1 Sept 1892

Sometimes, what I find next to what I’m looking for is even more interesting, such as this ad:

Alexandria Gazette, Sept 22, 1893
Alexandria Gazette, Sept 22, 1893

Oh, the horror! Poor, slaughtered blankets. But hey, winter’s coming, so get yours while you can!


If the equinox isn’t enough occasion to celebrate, Sept 23 is also: National Checkers Day, and Dogs in Politics Day. This link explains.

Are you looking forward to fall? Ever try to stand a broom or an egg on its end? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,


P.S. – next week: cover reveal for the latest Concordia Wells mystery, Unseemly Haste!

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6 thoughts on “Funny thing happened on the way to the autumnal equinox…”

  1. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    I can’t rid myself of images of slaughtered blankets, Kathy! Yikes! Actually, I always find the language used in articles and advertisements of that time to be absolutely fascinating. Thanks for sharing these!

  2. PatriciaPatricia

    Wow – things were crazy back in the day. Slaughtering blankets and creative new ways to wear men’s neckwear? No wonder we’re a totally mixed up society today, look at our past.

    You do find some unusual things my dear. But, I for one, love it.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. Deborah MakariosDeborah Makarios

    Spring, glorious spring! Unfortunately here it’s a wet spring following a sodden winter and a damp autumn, so I won’t be slaughtering my blankets just yet!


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