The problem with using microfilm to find an obituary from the distant past is twofold. First, the paper wasn't organized the same way in, say, 1922 (the year I was experiencing today) as it is now. The obituaries might be on page 2, or 6, or tucked in with the local news, on any given day. They might be on two pages. You might not be able to find them at all--does that mean that you are dumb? Perhaps. But, more likely, it means that your modern brain and tired eyes can't make out the location of the DEATHS on the page. Also, as happened to me today, there is sometimes a big chunk of the paper missing, usually right on the date that you are looking for. But this is really minor business compared to the other problem, which is the distraction of the headlines and advertisements from 1922. For example, "War Dog, Bemedaled Hero, Passes Beyond" just begs to be read for the details. Advertisements for Prohibition related votes loom large.
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It was very difficult for me to do my work when what I really wanted to do was discover why "Four Husbands Were Poisoned" and who "Advises Women to Smoke Pipes." What I took out of today's session, fortunately or unfortunately, was not the obituary I was looking for, but an urge to refer to the Midwest (some time in the future, in a casual conversation or newsy letter) as the Middle West. And to get me one of those Bemedaled Dogs. That seems like a good breed to have.