Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Features

December 4, 2013

Happy 100th to the crossword puzzle

(Continued)

She called it her "inadvertent profession." When she started in the 1920s she never expected such a seemingly genteel activity to be so controversial. The crossword craze killed mah-jongg virtually overnight. (Mah-jongg dealers put this note in the New Yorker: "Roses are red, violets are blue, we'd like to cut your throats for you.")

There was a crossword-related news story in the New York papers almost every week: A Baptist preacher constructed a crossword for a sermon. A man refused to leave a restaurant until he finished a crossword and had to be escorted out by police. A Cleveland woman was granted a divorce because her husband was obsessed with crosswords. A Budapest waiter explained in a crossword why he was committing suicide; police were unable to solve it.

The Broadway show "Puzzles of 1925" had a skit in which crossword fans were depicted as patients in a sanitarium. Commuter trains started putting dictionaries in every car. The Los Angeles Public Library had to enforce a limit on how long you could use the dictionary. England's Queen Mary became a crossword fan. The Chicago Department of Health declared that crossword solving was beneficial to health and happiness. And thesaurus author Peter Roget was declared "the patron saint of crossworders."

All the while, the Times called crossword solving "a temporary madness," serving "no useful purpose whatsoever," and an "epidemic" that would soon be over.

In 1942 the Times finally gave in and hired Margaret P. Farrar as its first crossword editor.

So whatever happened to Arthur Wynne?

As readers of The Washington Post may know, I make the crossword for the Post magazine every Sunday. I live in Tampa, Fla., but in this age of instant everything, I just attach the puzzle in an email and click "send."

Text Only
Features
  • VIDEO: Texas shoppers smash window to rescue children in hot car

    Shoppers in Texas took matter into their own hands, smashing a Jeep's windows with a hammer when they say they saw two young children inside the hot car. The children's mother reportedly said she left them while she went to get a haircut.

    July 16, 2014

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scientists exposed to anthrax as U.S. lab procedures break down

    About 75 scientists may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria in government labs after the material was mishandled while being used in experiments, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

    June 25, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.17.35 AM.png VIDEO: Twin twisters in Nebraska

    Storm chasers captured some incredible footage of a pair of tornadoes on the ground near the northeast Nebraska village of Pilger earlier on Monday.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alison_Lundergan_Grimes_2011.jpg Kentucky Senate race hangs on coal counties that rejected Obama

    President Barack Obama's decision to propose tougher limits on power-plant emissions poses a threat to Democrats in the coal-rich mountainsides of Kentucky and to their efforts to keep control of the Senate.

    June 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • airplanes-work-1.jpg Airfare honesty? It may be an oxymoron

    The issue of fare advertising has taken on a renewed sense of urgency now that Congress is considering removing the Transportation Department's full-fare advertising rule, which requires airlines and ticket sellers to display a price that you can actually book.

    May 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Is hashtag activism better than doing nothing? Or about the same?

    More than 1 million people — including first lady Michelle Obama — have tweeted the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. But whether they're helping the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria or hopping on some kind of first-world digital bandwagon depends, frankly, on whom you ask.

    May 14, 2014

  • A mom, a printer, and the new digital ease of counterfeiting

    Tarshema Brice hardly ranks among the world's elite counterfeiters. But with the help of modern consumer technology, she developed an exacting system for crafting fake U.S. greenbacks.

    May 14, 2014

  • The secrets behind Starbucks' secret menu

    You see, Starbucks has gone well beyond allowing people to build custom orders around its traditional coffee drinks.
    Last weekend, before my daughter and I left home, she had already searched for "Starbucks secret menu" on the computer and narrowed her choices to a handful of drinks (all of which involved various ingredients from Starbucks' menu for adult drinks)

    May 7, 2014

  • Your phone may not have the right to remain silent

    Big Brother would have loved your smartphone. It not only knows where you've been and who's in touch with you but also records your photos, texts, e-mails and social media exchanges. Linked to the cloud, it allows access to your entire digital lifespan, including financial and medical records.

    April 30, 2014

Poll