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Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Gangs of New York

Almost Yesterday
Southeast Missouri State University

It seems like Almost Yesterday that the movie, Gangs of New York shocked American audiences with its graphic portrayal of New York City in the middle of the nineteenth century. Martin Scorsese’s 2002 production is a shockingly violent account of the gangland struggle for the territorial control of lower Manhattan.

The film grossed over two hundred million dollars and won a number of significant awards for direction, acting and music. Ticket sales were helped by the publicity surrounding the leading actors:  Leonardo Dicaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Residents of Southeast Missouri were interested in this prominent movie due to the fact that it was based upon the 1928 book: The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, written by Herbert Asbury of Farmington, Missouri.

Asbury was born in Farmington on September 1, 1889, the son of Samuel and Ellen Prichard Asbury. Educated in the public schools of Farmington, Asbury attended Carleton College and in 1917 joined the U. S. Army, served in France, and rose to the rank of second lieutenant. In 1918 he was seriously affected by exposure to poison gas, causing permanent damage to his lungs.

After leaving military service Asbury began a career in journalism, writing for newspapers in Illinois, Georgia, and New York City. He first gained national recognition for a controversial article about a lady of the night from Farmington which appeared in H. L. Mencken’s magazine, The American Mercury.

Prior to his death in 1963, Asbury published seventeen books, hundreds of articles, and numerous plays for screen and Broadway.  But, this most famous writer from Farmington, Missouri will always be remembered for his account of the “Gangs of New York.”

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.
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