A Window to History: New Year’s Resolutions in Old Colorado Newspapers

Should auld publications be forgot and never brought to mind? Not on my watch!

The Moffat County Bell, December 29, 1922

While many of us I’m sure are glad to wave bye-bye to 2020 and look only to a brighter future, I have been drawing comfort and entertainment (comfortainment?) from old newspapers, courtesy of the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. To see a little of how Coloradans of times gone by rang in the new year, join me in the final Window to History of 2020!

Do you have any new year’s resolutions for 2021? I know I can probably think of a few of my own. Here’s what the students of Regis University were resolved to do in 1920. A few favorites for you beginning with this contrasting pair:

A. Seep—’To smile once a month.’

T. Lawler—’Not to giggle more than 27 times a day.’

A rather modest one:

T. Rogers—’To have his white corduroys died’

Here’s one that requires explanation, but none, alas, has been given:

F. Bischofberger—’To stay away from the Springs’

(This leads me to ask: What did you do in the Springs, F. Bischofberger?!)

And finally:

D. McAuliffe —’To keep the peace.’

In browsing for a particular subject, in this case the new year, it is always worth glancing at the articles that surround your search, for the real gems are always found by accident. In doing so I saw that directly before these resolutions there is an article called “Diary of a Dog,” which prophecies the popular Thoughts of Dog twitter feed by about a century (you’re welcome for yet more comfortainment). In Diary of a Dog, we read about the doleful days of a street dog with tonsillitis who tries to join the circus.

From the Georgetown Courier – December, 26, 1908

The Moffat County Bell December 29, 1922 edition offers a sort of rebuke against new year’s resolutions, which all too often, “we make and fail to keep.” It begins with some philosophical thinking on the nature of the new year – how the prior year “joins the phalanx which stretches back into the mists of antiquity,” – and continues in this sort of unapologetically poetical language which is unthinkable in today’s journalism/infotainment:

What of the New Year resolution. We take check of our short comings as the Old Year dies, and resolve to start the next twelve months with a clean slate; then as the days pass the same old traits and habits continue, the same old defects and short comings fill our days. New Year resolutions are somewhat on a par with house cleaning; the annual agony comes, is endured, passes, the house is spotless for a few days or weeks, but soon the windows cloud, the closets fill, the walls become soiled, the job is to be done over. […]

Isolated as northwestern Colorado is, its people should be drawn close in community interest, should be burden bearers each for the other, all working towards better living conditions, and the prosperity of this part of the state. Such a resolution, lived up to, would work wonders in the next twelve months. […]

Instead of the usual list of resolutions which we make and fail to keep, let us in our secret souls determine to bury Jealousy, to work for community prosperity and good feeling, and to close each day with its pages white, at peace with the world, no quarrels carried over into another day, all discords and misunderstandings straightened out before the shades of night settle […]

From the University of Northern Colorado’s The Mirror, January 6, 1928

The Norwood Post’s December 30, 1921 issue contains THE BEST RESOLUTION, a small article that reads in its entirety:

The best New Year resolution we ever heard was this: I will try to be clean and lofty in my thinking. For, as Shakespeare said: ‘First above all to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day thou canst not then be false to any man.’

So, here’s to clean and lofty thinking in 2021!

Michael Peever