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Bob Lind, Published February 23 2014

Neighbors: Bertha Schultz saga was big news in 1944

The verdict is in, neighbors. The screaming headline reads “BERTHA SCHULTZ ACQUITTED!”

“The long-awaited verdict in the now famous trial of the State vs. Bertha Schultz was brought in today,” the story says. “Miss Schultz was found not guilty of the murder of her employer, Thomas Leaming Jr., and returned to the arms of her loving family.”

But before you call your family to report this dramatic news, you should know the story is from a 1944 edition of the Fairview Clarion. And that’s a “newspaper” that was published by the General Mills company concerning the radio programs it sponsored during the “General Mills Hour.”

That’s right. The story about Bertha Schultz is from a soap opera.

A copy of the Clarion was sent to Neighbors by Gloria Anderson, Fargo, who says she found it one day “when I was in a ‘sort-and-toss’ mode.”

The soap operas listed on the masthead are “The Guiding Light,” “Today’s Children” and “Woman in White,” along with a choir program, “Hymns of All Churches.”

“Some of your readers might remember at least one of these,” Gloria suggests.

This issue of the Clarion has an editorial by the editor telling of how he and “other young men” had returned from serving in World War II; two articles about motherhood; a recipe for hush puppies written, as Gloria notes, “by the bogus Betty Crocker”; and photos of soap opera stars, as well as plugs for Wheaties and a new Betty Crocker packaged soup mix.

The Clarion doesn’t say which soap opera included the Bertha Schultz story. But it plays it straight, as though it really happened, reporting that, “When the foreman of the jury pronounced the fateful words ‘not guilty,’ Miss Schultz, who throughout the trial had shown evidence of great mental strain, collapsed completely. She was carried from the court room and rushed to Municipal Hospital for observation.”

Neighbors hopes Miss Schultz recovered and the dastardly murderer was found.

Guess you had to tune in tomorrow to find out.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors,

The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com