Part of it is the look and feel of history in its original form. And there's all the period detail that gives context to the stories of events in Tangier and beyond.
In the 1900 volume, for example, readers are concerned with the ongoing Boer War in South Africa and the siege of foreign legations in Peking's Boxer Rebellion.
Closer to home, anglophones in Tangier worry about French designs on Morocco, and the legations of "the Powers" are busy enforcing the quarantine rules of the Commission of Hygiene, precursor to the establishment of Tangier, International Zone. This is still a time of typhus, cholera, and worse.
But then if you're not feeling well, there's always "Garibaldi's Pectoral Balsam" and Garibaldi's Tonic Wine, "ideal for invalids and Convalescents." Those Garibaldis had a whole range of treatments: ointments, teething powders, and "iodized Sarsaparilla" which will "purify the blood." And I thought that "Sasparilla" was what tenderfeet ordered at Wild West saloons when the cattle rustlers and gunslingers were downing their rotgut whiskey.
The ads in the Tangier Gazette are almost as instructive as the articles. Three-plus decades later, 1938, and Garibaldi's elixirs are gone, but there are new remedies: "American bars" proliferate in local hotels, serving, among other things, Dewar's Scotch. In a few years, the ads will be reduced to wartime public service announcements to save water or contribute to the British Red Cross.
Surfing the web can be instructive, but there's another level of pleasure in picking up a volume of the Tangier Gazette at random to see what was going on this week in, say … 1898. Here's what:
The Hon. Gummery, the new United States Consul General, is expected to arrive here early next week.
Samuel R. Gummere, who was to serve in Tangier for more than a decade as Consul General and then Minister, was to have quite an event-filled tenure representing the United States in Morocco.
But that will be the topic of a subsequent post.