For years, maybe for decades, a piece of Casper history sat half-buried under a collapsed dirt wall in a house on Conwell Street. It waited in the bottom of a box, waited in a basement for someone to discover a window into Casper life circa 1945. Specifically, May 7, 1945: the day the Germans surrendered to the Allies, ending the Second World War in Europe.
To mark the occasion, the Casper Tribune-Herald devoted nearly all of its broad, 48 pages to the war’s end, from the top headline, “GERMANY QUITS,” on A1 to an understated brief on the final page, “German Navy Experienced Steady Decline.” Article after article chronicled not only the surrender but the entire bitter conflict, complemented by scores of photos and cartoons. Businesses across the Casper area bought advertisements celebrating the victory and threatening Japan with a similar defeat.
It was this edition, printed 75 years and four months ago, that Jeremy Amack and James Snelling found in the dirt basement. The two flip houses and take a casual interest in the old items that previous owners sometimes leave behind. So when they spotted another newspaper on the top of the box — a Casper Star-Tribune report on the bombing of Baghdad at the start of the Persian Gulf War — they decided to set it aside for a more thorough look at another time.
“We’re always looking for something, you know, always paying attention to the stuff that’s left inside,” Snelling said.
That careful attention to the past paid off Thursday, when the pair finally looked through the rest of the box. There they found an intact, “European Victory Edition” of the predecessor of today’s Casper Star-Tribune.
“We stopped everything we were doing and looked at the paper for 20 minutes,” Amack said. “We looked at each other, we looked at the paper, we just couldn’t believe what we were holding.”
The pages are yellowed and wrinkled, but considering the newspaper was found buried in a dirt basement, it’s in surprisingly good shape. Its most notable feature might be its completeness. It’s not unheard of for someone to have a crinkled old front page hidden away somewhere in their house. But it’s another thing to find a complete edition marking one of the most important events of the 20th century.
The then-editors of the newspaper largely used wire services to cover the German surrender. But on page 2, there is a short story that offers a hint at how people in Casper reacted to the fall of the Nazis.
“The news that German had ‘unconditionally surrendered’ was received in Casper Monday morning in rather a calm manner and no demonstration was held,” the newspaper reported. “Everyone went about usual tasks calmly awaiting the announcement of V-E day.”
The story goes on to suggest that local leaders were worried that Casper’s populace would get overly exuberant about Germany’s defeat. They requested all bars and liquor stores to close for 24 hours after the surrender announcement.
While most of the articles are wire stories, the paper is loaded with advertisements, and they show how small business owners in Casper reacted to the war in Europe finally concluding after six long years.
The sentiment can roughly be divided three ways. Businesses like the Wonder Bar concentrated on the newfound peace with biblical imagery and language. Others celebrated the downfall of the Nazis. Finally, many noted that the war wasn’t over and offered ominous warnings to Japan.
“Germany has been brought to its knees again,” Curline Beauty Shop wrote in an advertisement on the bottom of page seven. “But there can be no World Peace until Japan has been taught the outcome of its treacherous deeds.”
Amack and Snelling recognize the obvious historical value of the newspaper they discovered. They’re not exactly sure what they will do with it, but they know they’d like it to find a home where the public can appreciate it.
“We don’t want it to sell it to someone and no one sees it,” Snelling said.
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