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Construction worker discovers treasure trove of old news

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Sanuel Phillips, construction worker, finds `America‘s Greatest Sunday Newspaper’ 82 years after it was printed while demolishing an old house in Fairylands. The copy of the New York Journal was dated Sunday, August 25, 1940 (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A news trove from 1940, stashed inside the walls of a Fairylands home undergoing demolition, yielded an unexpected time capsule for a construction worker and his son.

One man’s trash became another’s treasure as Sanuel Phillips and his son Jeremiah helped to gut the interior of a Fairylands, Pembroke home last week with a team from North Point Contracting.

“It was in the wall — guys were throwing it in the trash,” Mr Phillips said. “I said, I have to preserve this. It can’t be trash. It looked too interesting.”

Newspapers including The Royal Gazette and other publications came to light, although many of the pages had decayed.

But strikingly fresh pages from the New York Journal and American, billed as “America’s Greatest Sunday Newspaper”, emerged almost exactly 82 years after they went to print on Sunday, August 25, 1940.

A strikingly preserved page from 82 years ago offers a snapshot on the day’s news (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Coverage included the death of Edna Waldron, 27, a starlet nicknamed “the Gam Girl” who died the day before print from injuries after rescuing a child from a fire.

Other news of the day was a New York painters’ strike and a call from the US Navy’s rear admiral Harry E. Yarnell for aid to Britain, then embroiled in the Second World War.

The US would not formally enter the war until late the following year, although the Americans would begin providing military aid to the beleaguered Allies in September 1940.

Sanuel Phillips reads the Sunday news from an 82-year-old American paper unearthed from a house demolition (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Mr Phillips got permission to take the old documents home.

“People asked me, ‘You’re just going to keep it?’ ” he said.

“I told them, ‘Of course. Definitely’.”

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Published August 31, 2022 at 9:50 am (Updated August 31, 2022 at 9:50 am)

Construction worker discovers treasure trove of old news

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