‘There was great rejoicing in hell this morning’

prisonRemembering George Dinning, a black Southerner who in 1897 defended his family from a white mob, then courageously brought suit against his tormentors — and won. 

FRANKLIN, Ky.  •  Late on the night of Jan. 21, 1897, a group of 25 armed white men showed up at the home of George and Mary Dinning and told the family they had 10 days to leave.* They accused George Dinning, a former slave, of stealing chickens and hogs.

Dinning insisted he was no thief, but these Night Riders weren’t listening. They shot into the house — most of the couple’s 12 terrified children were there — and hit Dinning in the arm and grazed his forehead.

Despite his wounds, Dinning returned fire, killing a 32-year-old man named Jodie Conn. After the whites fled, Dinning made his way to nearby Franklin — the county seat of Simpson County, Ky. — where he turned himself in to the sheriff.

The vigilantes, as Dinning had feared, returned to his home and on a bitterly cold night forced his wife and children to leave. They then plundered the Read more of this post

Journalism! (Artifacts)

Neile AdamsNeile Adams in “This Could Be the Night” (1957)  https://bit.ly/30NJtmB

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Names

Alice Martin for blog

Some St. Louis names -> Archer AlexanderAnonda Allen, James J. Allman, Roger Nash Baldwin, Henrietta Bamberger, The Rev. William C. Barlow, Gordon Lee Baum, Charles W. Beehler, Napoleon Bland (Napoleon A. Rahim), Oliver K. Bovard, Helen Britton, Garrett Brown, Harry J. Cantwell, Charles Chapin, Winston Churchill, Jack Clark, Charles W. Conrad, Col. John T. Crisp, Thomas Anthony Dooley, Elmer Sylvester “Dutch” Dowling, Cyrile Echele, Rev. Grant Edwards Sr., Chauncey I. Filley, Lovett Fort-Whiteman, Julia Fortmeyer, Flint Garrison, Emme and Mayme Gerhard, Jeff Gluck, Frank J. Guetle, Benani Guiseppe, Edward Michael Harrington Jr., A. Lincoln Hartley, Louis Hempelmann, Jeptha D. Howe, John Eads Howe, John L. French, John W. Jacks, Jerry the orangutan, Col. Charles Henry Jones, Joe Jones, Thomas ‘Red’ Kane, Madge Keith, Claire Kenamore, Anton Kessler, Raymond KloseJean Knott, Felix P. Lawrence, Ivy Lee, Robert Lemen, Julius Lester, Robertus Love, Herman C. G. Luyties, Amadeo S. Marrazzi, Alice Martin, Mary Margaret McBride, Francis L. McIntosh, William ‘Red’ McKenzie, Marguerite Martyn, Hyman Minsky, Charles H. Mott, Bryan Mullanphy, Reinhold Niebuhr, Barbara Ann O’Merry, Nicholas A. Mortell, Nelson O. Nelson, Rick NewburgerKate Richards O’Hare, Chris Pepus, Paul Piccone, John Henry Pippin, Benjamin Pitezel, Chief Pontiac, Cyrus Rastegar, Roy S. Rauschkolb, Dr. Amand Ravold, Ripley Saunders, Eleanor Schlafly, Fannie Sellins, William and Toni Sentner, Menlo Smith, Nicole Staits, Henry Morton Stanley (John Rowlands), Nicole Staits, Marvin “Gene” Starr, Dr. Henry A. Stimson, Julia C. Stimson, Ignatius Strecker, Tony Tabacchi, Curtis Thomas, John S. Thurman, Henry M. Tichenorthe Rev. Irwin St. John Tucker, Harry S. Turner, Harry J. Tuthill, Rev. Frank G. TyrellGeorge P. Vierheller, Dora Wagner, Minnie Walden, George Herbert WalkerJoseph Weydemeyer, John W. Wheeler, Lee and Lyn Wilde, Mary Young

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‘Inner St. Louis’

09-27-1917 inner 3 smallA century ago, the Commission on Comity of the St. Louis Church Federation surveyed “Inner St. Louis,” the area east of Grand.

This portion of the city, the Protestant ministerial group found, accounted for “half the population, three-fifths of the saloons and four-fifths of the crime.”

The “East End” held the city’s “foreign colonies” and “most of the factories and factory workers.”

The survey, the Post-Dispatch reported on Sept. 25, 1917, found conditions that tend to “weaken the family relationship: Bad housing, many divorces, common-law marriages and other marital irregularities, desertion, nonsupport. Of 15,000 births in the district within a year, 750 were out of wedlock.”  Read more of this post

The influence of big business

hb portrait“The influence of big business has always been present in our federal government. But there have been some checks on its control. The mere presence of a Supreme Court, a House of Representatives, a Senate and a President would not be sufficient protection against the utter centralization of power in the hands of a few men who might hold no office at all. Even in the case of Hitler, many shrewd observers feel that he is no more than a front man and that his power is derived from the large munitions and steel barons of Germany. …

“Now one of the first steps which Fascism must take in any land in order to capture power is to disrupt and destroy the labor movement. … I think it is not unfair to say that any business man in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions, is laying foundations for Fascism.” — Heywood Broun, journalist and founder of the American Newspaper Guild, quoted in 1936 (from George Seldes’ “Facts and Fascism.”)

The ‘talking newspaper’

09-10-1911 news that talks smallFound by accident, while searching for something else, this Sept. 10, 1911 feature published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the Telefon Hírmondó, the “talking newspaper” of Budapest. Newspaper subscribers would receive news dispatches via a special telephone.

One paragraph in the article about the new news delivery platform has a familiar ring to it: an argument that the new technology would enhance, not threaten, print newspapers:

It may appear at first that the “telefon hirmondo” would seriously cripple the newspapers by depriving them of circulation, but such is not the case. In the first place, only newspaper subscribers can avail themselves of the service, and the advantage of having the news telephone in the house therefore attracts many who would not otherwise be subscribers. Moreover, in the telephone message, the subscriber is given only enough of the news to make him hungry for details, and he consequently looks with greater interest for the arrival of his printed sheet.

 

These exit signs could be characters in a novel

Alta AldersonAlta Alderson (Exit 161, Interstate 64, West Virginia); Louisa Ashland (Exit 191, I-64, Kentucky); Antonio Barnhart (Exit 185, I-55, Missouri); Bill Gillette (sign along Wyoming Highway 59 north of Douglas); Ebenezer Goodman (Exit 146, I-55, Mississippi); Cooter Holland (Exit 4, I-55, Missouri); Marie Lepanto (Exit 41, I-55, Arkansas); Victoria Luxora (Exit 53, I-55, Arkansas); Jerome Dixon (Exit 172, I-44, Missouri) and Waddy Peytona (Exit 43, I-64, Kentucky).

Gathered these from recent trips. Got any others? 

‘Never be satisfied with the surface of the news.’

Bovard gravestone“In this space I cannot hope to describe his singular abilities or indicate the range of his sinewy, searching mind. Through one rule which he laid down for reporters he may be glimpsed. This was the rule: ‘Never be satisfied with the surface of the news.’ If he considered the pupil worthwhile he would explain: ‘There is a formal and superficial aspect of every story. It may be a police report, a lawyer’s brief, an application for a trolley franchise, or a President’s message to Congress. As such it may have a proper place in your story. But to print that alone may result in misleading the reader partially or completely. Read more of this post

‘What’s the use of living if you can’t help somebody else?’

03-11-1917 madge keith portraitOccasionally, a gem shows up in the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This item, published on March 11, 1917, shows how a worker found the courage to demand a better shake from her employer. This is taken from the much-longer story, which is included at the end of this summary.

Getting arrested has become a “regular thing” for Madge Keith, 24. In 14 weeks of picket duty at Robinson’s, a restaurant in downtown St. Louis, she’s been picked up by police 25 times. “And I might be arrested 25 more — but it’s all in a day’s work with me now,” she told a Post-Dispatch reporter.

She’s on strike for a wage increase. “We don’t want so very much, either. The restaurant pays $1 a day and 8 hours’ work. We want $1.10 a day 8 hours’ work. We couldn’t get it. So we struck.”

Read more of this post

‘The house where Eugene Field was not born’

eugene-field_edited-1A plaque on the Eugene Field House says “the children’s poet” — famous for “Little Boy Blue,” “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” and other works — was born there. The Field House Museum, on its website, says “Eugene Field was born in St. Louis at 634 South Broadway, on September 2, 1850.” And some contemporary news stories also say Field was born there.

But he wasn’t.

A former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter named Robertus Love took the blame for the confusion — a century ago. In letter to the newspaper, published on Feb. 12, 1917, Love wrote: “About 15 years ago I suggested a story on Eugene Field.… My suggestion was approved and I was assigned to get the story. I interviewed several persons who had known Field more or less intimately when he lived here as a young newspaper man. Also I interviewed his guardian, an elderly gentleman now dead…. In reply to a specific query as to where Eugene Field was born, his guardian told me it was the house on South Broadway.” Read more of this post

Jerry the smoking St. Louis orangutan

jerry-postcard(Several links restored on July 17, 2018)

St. Louis still celebrates some of the long-ago residents of its famous zoo. Phil the gorilla. Mr. Moke the chimp. Moby Dick the sea elephant. Siegfried the walrus.

But not Jerry.

This much-photographed orangutan showed up in newspapers across the nation in the 1940s — and even scored appearances in Life magazine and in at least one newsreel.

Today, though, Jerry seems to have been forgotten.

I became curious about Jerry when I spotted an old postcard that showed him in uniform, smoking a cigarette. I made a few inquiries and checked archives.

Here is what I learned. Read more of this post

First uses

The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation. — George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language

Apparent first use of certain words employing the “-ize formation” in English-language newspapers, based on a review of online archives. (Does not include variant spellings.) Updated Jan. 2, 2022. 

“‘I think that one want to demonize and other-ize because it makes the world more manageable,’ Kushner says. ‘The whole struggle in American culture now – multiculturalism, difference and inclusion –is really about breaking down those barriers between people, but in a smart sophisticated way.…” [Profile of playwright Tony Kushner, The Los Angeles Times, Oct. 25, 1992]

“By photographing the buildings when not in use, there are no images of people, the emphasis is shifted to the elements of architectural design and the formal composition of the photograph. In essence the image de-contextualizes the building (architectural design). [Ed Bailey-Mershon, “Competent but not really compelling, Southtown Star (Tinley Park, Ill.) Aug. 19, 1979]

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‘Pockets of volume’ ‘Locally heavy’ ‘Hearts go out’ ‘Great’

weather

Weather words: Cone of concern. People are bracing. Blanketing. Dampening. Spotty mix. Icy patch. Wintry mix. Barreling. Lashing. Churning. Taking aim. Little blustery. Frozen stuff. Ridge of high pressure. Packs a wallop. Packing winds of. Packing a punch. Gusty winds. Heavy rain. A line of showers. Intermittent. Periods of rain. Severe. Isolated. Spot. Strong. Sun is starting to peek back in. Pop-up shower. Stray and scattered and residual showers. Hit-and-miss. Notches. Hooks. Locally heavy. Couple sprinkles. Rumbles of thunder. Breathing a collective sigh of relief. Weather-related disasters: Shredded lumber. Twisted metal. Reduced to rubble. Wide swath of destruction. Raked.

Social unrest words: Reckoning. A watershed moment. Tipping point. Turning point. Game-changer. Real change. Not just treat the symptoms. Substantive change. Time for healing. Remove the cancer. Rush to get back to normalcy. Systemic changes. Highest ideals. Speak your truth. Boots on the ground. Seats at the table. In the room. Power to inspire and heal. Having a conversation. Root causes.

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We keep entering ‘a new and dangerous phase’

The week-long offensive to retake the ISIS stronghold (of Fallujah) has now entered a new and dangerous phase. [CBS News. May 30, 2016]  The Palestinian president today accused Israel of provoking a danger“religious war” … amid mounting concerns that their long-running conflict is entering a new and dangerous phase. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 11, 2014]  Declaring a victor before a negotiated settlement could mark a new, dangerous phase of the crisis surrounding the vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai. [The National Journal, September 11, 2014] The 48-page report released Tuesday is grim, Read more of this post

The armadillo in all of us


Weigh inIt may be small-brained and shortsighted, but the armadillo has managed to take over most of the Americas.

Only one armadillo showed up for this year’s “World Famous Armadillo Festival” in Hamburg, Ark., and it couldn’t have cared less.

After a ceremonial weigh-in and photo shoot with the reigning Teen Miss Armadillo (a local high school beauty), the creature was released in the designated “racetrack” — a makeshift chicken wire enclosure — where it immediately began to nose around for bugs and grubs. Read more of this post

Jinx Rag

 

1911 clip“Dedicated to the famous cartoonist Jean Knott.”

Knott (1883-1937) worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he drew the popular “Penny Ante” strip and other cartoons. In 1916, he joined the Hearst syndicate.

Recent accounts say Lucian Porter Gibson of St. Louis (1890-1959) wrote “Jinx Rag” in 1915.  But a clip from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, published on Oct. 8, 1911, says Gibson and Jesse Dukes “jointly composed” the song. Little is known about either man. Copies of the score include the instruction: “Not Fast. Don’t Fake

 

Spring Pests_edited-2 (2)

The exposure era

04-08-1906 the exposure era “One of the chief requisites of a successful author-exposer is that he shall take himself and everything he touches most seriously. An appreciation of the humorous would be likely to mar what would otherwise be masterpieces of exposure literature. … He takes the world seriously, he demands to be himself taken seriously, else he may brand you as one of ‘The System’ or a sympathizer of that aggregation of corruptors.” — The Exposure Era in the Magazines, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 8, 1906.

The homicide record: ‘A truly terrible state of lawlessness’

The SpectatorIn December 1915, The Spectator, a weekly that covered the nation’s insurance industry, looked at the large increase in mortality caused by homicide in the previous decade. It focused on 30 leading cities. Many of its findings are familiar, including a condemnation of “the unrestrained sale of firearms.”

The largest numbers of homicides were recorded in places with the biggest populations, including Chicago and New York City’s then-biggest boroughs (Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn).

But the highest homicide rates were found in cities in the South, led by Memphis, Tenn., which recorded a rate of 63.7 homicides per 100,000 people in 1904-1913 and 72.2 in 1914. Those numbers, wrote statistician Frederick L. Hoffman, “reflect a truly terrible state of lawlessness and indifference to human life.” A distant second was Charleston, S.C., at 32.7 in 1904-1913 and 33.3 in 1914, followed by Savannah, Ga.; Atlanta; New Orleans; Nashville, Tenn.; and Louisville, Ky.

St. Louis  —  the nation’s fourth-largest city until 1920, when it was overtaken by Detroit and Cleveland — had the eighth-highest homicide rate, according to the 1915 ranking.  Read more of this post

Patience in the face of adversity

Saint Louis

. . .

“If God send thee adversity, receive it in patience and give thanks to Our Lord and bethink thee that thou has deserved it, and that He will make it turn to thine advantage.” — Louis IX

Guiding principle

e.w. scrippsI have not a whole series of journalistic principles. I have only one principle, and that is represented by an effort to make it harder for the rich to grow richer and easier for the poor to keep from growing poorer. –– E.W. Scripps, 1910

We can only hold together, having supporting us the army of our followers, so long as we fight hard and win battles for them; so long as we fight against privilege and successfully and by degrees transfer continually some of the privileges of the few to the many. — E.W. Scripps, 1915

One year, 250 links

FergusonA lot was written about #Ferguson. Some of it was interesting. Some was good. A few things were important. http://bit.ly/1ww93uA

Seeing the world through the eyes of the Globe

0 md

People who knew Martin Duggan as the elderly, avuncular host of a St. Louis PBS talk show also remember that he was a veteran newspaperman, the former editorial page editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

They may remember the Globe-Democrat as a conservative voice; they may forget, however, how reactionary, how out-of-step with the times, and how often foolish that newspaper could be.

In early 1983, the same year the Newhouse chain announced it was closing the Globe-Democrat, I interviewed Duggan for a profile of his newspaper’s editorial page. He was 62; I was 24.

Read more of this post

‘Your work is not important. It is merely interesting.’

OKBA scale of basic values for an individual, or for a newspaper, in [O.K.] Bovard’s thinking, started with the concept of man as primarily an economic animal, whose life being was shaped to a great extent by his search for the necessities. But, while food, clothing, and shelter as basic needs of man provided the skeleton of his news philosophy, it was large enough to include such factors as the right to work, the right to know and learn, and medical care for the sick. Until a bed existed in every hospital for every sick and needy person, or until a desk was provided in every schoolroom for every child, Bovard felt that the question of a symphony orchestra for St. Louis should remain relatively unimportant. Thomas B. Sherman, the paper’s music and book critic, might argue that music should be classified as a necessity, but Bovard would not have agreed. This concept of news values explains in part Bovard’s desire to minimize the entertainment features of the paper and his eagerness to replace them with more solid stuff. He told Marguerite Martyn, who wrote about fashions and women’s activities, “Always remember, your work is not important. It is merely interesting.” When men were unemployed and starving, he grew impatient with the “fluff” and trivia that filled great quantities of newspaper space.” – James W. Markham, “Bovard of the Post-Dispatch (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1954) pp. 137-138

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‘Worst in the world for discovering genius’

EL_Masters1915Current_opinion“Your newspapers are really wonderful in many ways; they are positively audacious, astonishing, but they are the worst in the world for discovering genius. … It was an awful shame that a second-rate critic from England should have to be called in to tell Americans who their poets are.” — John Cowper Powys (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1915)

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Happy in Ząbkowice Śląskie

https://vimeo.com/90680375

Formerly Frankenstein, Silesia.

A strategy based on more campaign ads, less industry competition

give light

E.W. Scripps Co. is in the process of shedding its newspapers as part of a combination with Milwaukee-based Journal Communications.  The newspaper-free E.W. Scripps will focus primarily on broadcast and digital. Its future, outlined by CEO Rich Boehne (excerpts below), anticipates a windfall of heavy campaign spending in a post-Citizens United political marketplace. It also looks to a future with fewer competing media voices in local markets.

Boehne & Co. have been singing the same tune for more than four years. In a 2010 presentation to analysts, E.W. Scripps gloated about the windfall it garnered from midterm elections. “We took more than our fair share — by design” read one slide in the presentation that was headlined: “2010 political winners: GOP and SSP.” (SSP is the ticker symbol for Scripps.)

Some idealists may think such a strategy — one that depends fewer competing news organizations and on 30-second, often vitriolic and misleading, TV spots — is cynical, Read more of this post

St. Louis, 2014

Saint Louis 2014

A Christmas tale: How ‘Santa’ ended up buried in St. Louis

1900 SantaEarly on Christmas morning, in the year 1900 in the city of St. Louis, an old man with a long gray beard and shoulder-length hair wandered north on North Grand Avenue, leaning on a cane as a brisk cold wind stung his face and whipped his coat.

Sitting at the front window of 3615 North Grand the home of butcher Edward Ladain and his wife, Lulu  seven-year-old Elizabeth watched the old man with growing amazement.

Who would be outside on such chill morn were it not Santa Claus himself, weary from a night of hard toil and on his way home?

Little Elizabeth and other children in the house  their names lost to history  opened the door, and invited Santa inside to warm himself.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, then an afternoon newspaper, recounted in a story published Dec. 25 (“Mistook Him for Old Santa Claus“): “The old man paused, then he entered. He mumbled something and shivered with the cold.  The children bade him be seated before the big fire in the grate. He looked with vacant eyes at the demonstration of his little hosts. He could not divine the cause. It was so different from the other receptions he had had.”

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Mr. Mooney

May 8, 1918(C.P.J.) Mooney was a newspaperman’s newspaperman. He would, if necessary, throw out features and even advertisements to make room for news. Incidentally, under his editorship, the Commercial Appeal not only attained the biggest circulation in the South but it probably reached its all-time high for profits. News-room reports had it that, one year, the paper paid dividends of sixty-four percent! Maybe Mooney had the right idea after all  give the public a newspaper, thorough, fair and interesting, and all these other things, including profits, shall be added unto you.

People would buy a copy of the Memphis afternoon newspapers with their heavy headlines about some tragedy, read the story and then remark: “Well, let’s wait and see what the Commercial Appeal says in the morning.

Get the story first but get it right” was one of Mooney’s mottoes. On the wall of the office hung this:

“The three essentials of reporting: First, Accuracy; Second, Accuracy; Third, Accuracy.” — From “Cub Reporter” by Boyce House, 1947.

Charles Patrick Joseph Mooney is still regarded as the greatest editor of The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper of Memphis. He died in 1926, a full decade before the paper became a link in the Scripps chain. Mooney ran the newspaper, but he kept the title of managing editor. Nobody held the title of “editor” or “editor-in-chief.”

Filling in the blanks

anti-coon clubSeveral years ago, as I looked for coverage of a long-ago dairy show (I was helping a friend research a book), I spotted a brief article on page 4 of the Oct. 14, 1909 edition of The Missourian. It was a short report about a new campus organization.

Here’s the lede:

The ‘Anti-Coon Club’ is the latest at the University of Missouri. It was organized to keep negroes off the campus of the University of Missouri unless they have business there. The club was formed by thirty-two students who met in the smoking room of the law building yesterday morning. They object chiefly to the practice of negroes of carrying bundles of laundry, pushing wheel-barrows and riding bicycles through the campus.

The article listed the organization’s officers. Their plans: to post warning placards on campus and produce buttons for members to wear. “These buttons are to contain a picture of a negro standing on his head and above his feet the inscription, ‘I Belong to the Anti-Coon Club.’”

I was unable to find subsequent coverage. So I don’t know if the organization gained followers or lasted beyond the announcement of its formation. But it wasn’t difficult to track most of the individuals associated with the group’s leadership. Read more of this post