(WV) Shirley Donnelly’s Yesterday and Today First Published 65 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of Shirley Donnelly’s column “Yesterday and Today“. It is a column I loved as a kid, listening to my Dad talk about it. Rev Donnelly loved my great uncle Tom Seletyn and wrote about him a few times. I was able to visit his museum on school field trips. He was considered a staple of good country living in my home growing up.

I wrote about Shirley Donnelly’s history here:


I thought to myself, would Shirley have a column about the anniversary of his column? Why, of course he would! I have transcribed it below and after the transcription is a scan of the column itself.

I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Honestly, his musings in this one column might be my favorite and have touched my heart: my lack of knowledge of WV history, that he did not write the titles of his columns and that so much remains to be found and written. I hope I can do my part to continue that thought.

Column Had Another Birthday

By Shirley Donnelly

This column just celebrated a birthday. It was on May 2.1955 that the first column of “Yesterday and Today” appeared in the Beckley Post-Herald.

The world and I were much younger when the task of writing “Yesterday and Today” began. It was the late Eugene Scott (May 13, 1912 – Jan. 7, 1861), then editor, who gave the column its name. Since then the column has appeared in this paper 313 times a year for a total of at least 6,800 times.

There were times when it did not show up in the paper due to a spell or two of illness or while I was away on foreign travels. Often in cases of that kind there was a re-run of some previous writings.


FOR ALMOST two years, the column was edited by Gene Scott and since Jan. 1957, by Emile J. Hodel who now has resigned to go on to other things.

I do not write the headings of the columns. That is a task that devolves upon the editor who names it what he will. Strange to say, writing an article a day has never been a burden or an unwelcome chore.

Trouble is, there’s so much to write about that the editor gets the idea that I might not be heard because of my much speaking! Not everything written and sent to the editor is printed. As often as not, he blue pencils a whole lot of what is written.


WHETHER the new owners of the Beckley Newspapers will continue the same policy the previous owners maintained remains to be seen. Those previous owners would never “fire” an employe in his absence!

Knowing that to be true, I mail in my “copy” faking time to drop by the paper office only once or twice a year or two.


LETTERS and calls from readers have been legion, way up into the tens of hundreds. All the letters cannot be answered, only a few and a very few at that. The cheapest a letter can be produced and mailed by a big firm like oil companies, they tell me, is now around $2.50 to $3 per letter. Not being “a big firm” myself, a letter which I write and mail costs considerable money — with a stamp costing 13 cents.

As one who gets a lot of mail I save the envelopes and recycle them in the interest of conserving pulp and further, to cut down on mailing expenses.

Those who write for newspapers are among the poorest people on earth as their wages are never the standard of those paid to other working people.


MOST OF THE “song and dance” of “Yesterday and Today” is local history in particular and West Virginia history in general.

As a group, West Virginians know but precious little of their state’s history.

Long ago I reached the conclusion the only way a native West Virginian be any more ignorant of the history his state than he is, is simply to weigh more!

As Solomon, or somebody, spent a lot of time in ferreting out the “proverbs” — knotty sayings of the Hebrew people and made them into a Bible book, so have I spent no little time in getting together a lot of the folklore of our people.

A study of all this constitutes a good study of the mind of the mountaineer. Many of the superstitions of folks have been searched out and written herein. Still, only the surface of such matters have been scratched. Much remains to be found and written.

Beckley Post-Herald The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
07 May 1977, Sat  •  Page 4

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