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Another moving day

post-dispatch building 1950sThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as of 2019, has had eight locations*  since the paper was founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1878. But the only office built by the newspaper’s owners was at the northeast corner of 12th and Olive, now 300 North Tucker Boulevard. The newspaper was based there from 1917 until 1959.

star-times building 1940sIn 1951, Pulitzer bought and closed its afternoon rival, the money-losing St. Louis Star-Times. The Star-Times was located at 12th and Delmar (now 800 North Tucker). The building is now the home of St. Patrick Center. Read more of this post

Legacy

StAll vying for attention, ticking off entries on a résumé, of places visited, of objects and living things consumed and possessed, of citations and honors collected; cataloging ancestors who lived unremarkable lives during remarkable times, and through repetition and embellishment become pieces of other biographies Read more of this post

A ‘network of surveillance’

G Herbert Walker smallThe goal was to counter German spies and saboteurs during the Great War, but the American Protective League appeared to be more successful at helping criminalize speech and neutralize dissidents, including leftists and labor activists.

The league functioned as a “voluntary auxiliary” under the U.S. Department of Justice, a network of amateur secret agents of 200,000 or more “loyal” Americans. Its work in St. Louis was highlighted in a lengthy feature, “Fighting German Spies in St. Louis,” published in the Post-Dispatch on Aug. 18, 1918.

Among the revelations in the report: the chief of the St. Louis division, which was said to number some 3,000 agents, was none other than George Herbert Walker, described as “a wealthy broker.”

Walker was a power in the local Democratic Party who became an influential investment banker with W. Averill Harriman’s New York firm after the war. Today, he’s best known as the maternal grandfather and great-grandfather of former presidents Read more of this post

Goober, 2000-2018

He was born in St. Louis, rescued by former Riverfront Times writer Melinda Roth, and ended up with my family. Like us, he lived in several places, but he managed to spend most of his time on a sofa. In 2013, he returned to St. Louis, where he spent his final years. He was my favorite cat and, in retrospect, deserved a more dignified name.

goober4

Reviews

From review of Carey Gillam’s “The Monsanto Papers: Deadly Secrets, Corporate Corruption, and One Man’s Search for Justice” (2021): “Despite the subject matter — complicated science and legal proceedings — “The Monsanto Papers” is a gripping read that provides an easy-to-follow explanation of how this litigation unfolded, how the jurors reached their verdict and why Bayer appears to be, in effect, throwing up a white flag now.”

From review of Ben Montgomery’s “A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South” (2021): “Montgomery does more than resurrect this old story; he digs deep into trial testimony, newspaper records and archives and weaves a richly textured and dramatic story that underscores a truth of the Jim Crow era — that Black people faced oppression with great courage and resilience, and that their fearlessness and moral rectitude made even unreconstructed apologists for an unjust system bend.”

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‘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), Donal Blossom, Oliver K. Bovard, Helen Britton, Garrett Brown, Harry J. Cantwell, Giuseppi Carotti, Charles Chapin, Winston Churchill, Jack Clark, Charles W. Conrad, Col. John T. Crisp, Thomas Anthony Dooley, Elmer Sylvester “Dutch” Dowling, Amerigo Dumini, 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, Fenwick Yellowley Hedley II, 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, Alcander Longley, Robertus Love, Herman C. G. Luyties, Amadeo S. Marrazzi, Alice Martin, Clark McAdams, Mary Margaret McBride, Francis L. McIntosh, William ‘Red’ McKenzie, Marguerite Martyn, Marie Devereux ‘Mimi’ Medart, 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, Dr. Denton Jaques Snider, 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, John Volpi, Dora Wagner, Minnie Walden, George Herbert WalkerJoseph Weydemeyer, John W. Wheeler, Bruce Widaman, 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.”

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‘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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‘The highest form of reporting’

thriving

“News is easier to recognize than to define. News is an overt act; it is an animated picture of people doing something, not a still-life of the condition of society….

“News is created out of shifting elements: it is relative, not absolute. It is an ingredient in the human awareness of related circumstances — not an isolated fact or incident suspended in time. Something might be news today, and not tomorrow — or an event might be news next week and not today….

“The highest form of reporting is the ability to understand and fit together certain isolated and apparently unrelated trends before they become news. The public knows what news is after it becomes news. Only the accomplished and skilled reporter or editor knows what it is before it becomes news….

“News is what your city editor says it is.” — John H. Sorrells, “A Handbook of Scripps Howard” (1948)

‘Factious, flippant and reckless’

Frederick Law Olmsted  (Library of Congress)“Questions of the most momentous importance come up daily, and exact grave consideration from all. The experience of most persons will confirm the assertion that the manner in which the daily newspapers deal with these questions is most defective and unsatisfactory. Their false prophecies, their abandonment of all attempt to sift evidence — often unavoidable, it is true — their constant sacrifice of the truth to the demand for startling effects, the factious, flippant and reckless way in which many of them deal with the most serious topics, constantly remind their more intelligent readers that they are prepared to suit the requirements of the greatest number, but not by any means the best qualified, of those whose judgment goes to make up that force in human affairs called public opinion.” — “Prospectus for a Weekly Journal,” June 1863, from the collected works of Frederick Law Olmsted, a co-founder of The Nation.

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

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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.

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