Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Hy Mayer

Henry “Hy” Mayer was born in Worms-on-Rhine, Germany, on July 18, 1868, according to passport applications and profiles in several books. The American Jewish Year Book, Volume 6 (1904), said Mayer’s parents were Hermann Mayer, Sr., and Helene Loeb.

Who’s Who in America (1908) said Mayer was educated “in England and Germany” where he graduated from the Gymnasium, Worms, in 1886. He “entered business life in England” and came to the U.S., through Mexico and Texas, in 1886. However, Who’s Who in New York City and State (1907) said Mayer “went to Mexico in 1885”. The Jewish Encyclopedia said “In 1885 he went to Mexico, and subsequently to Texas. There he discovered his ability to draw, and developed his talent without the aid of a teacher. Mayer next went to Cincinnati and thence to Chicago, where he began his career as caricaturist and illustrator.” Information at Ancestry.com said Mayer arrived in New York on August 31, 1885. He was aboard the Cunard steamship Servia from Liverpool, England.

Mayer was profiled in Godey’s Magazine, January 1897. Mayer’s whereabouts were described as follows: 
…Mr. Mayer graduated from the Gymnasium at Worms at the age of sixteen. he went from there to England and held a clerkship in a broker’s office. Finding little suited to his taste, he came over seas to Cincinnati and drew for a comic paper there, called Sam the Scaramouch, which went the way of most comic papers, good and bad, into the sardine-packed limbo of “discontinued” publications. Thence Mr. Mayer went to Mexico and soon to Texas, where he became a clerk again, this time in a general store, where, as he catalogues it, he “sold coal-oil, beer, ‘pants,’ molasses, rails, and other household furnishing.”

Chicago next called him, by way of Cincinnati, and he drew for another ephemerid  Light, and for various newspapers…
According to Mayer’s 1920 passport application, he resided in “El Paso, Chicago, Cincinnati & New York” and “was naturalized as a citizen of the U.S. before the Superior Court of Cook County at Chicago, Illinois, on the 30th day of August, 1890”.

Mayer’s first passport was issued September 1, 1890. On the application, Chicago resident Mayer said he was an artist and journalist. Mayer picked up his passport in New York City. Mayer lived in Chicago when he received his a passport on August 14, 1893. Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in New York City and State said Mayer resided in New York City beginning in 1893.

Mayer’s home in New York City was 53 Wast 59th Street when the illustrator obtained a passport on February 26, 1896.

The Columbian (Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania), January 14, 1897, reported the upcoming debut of “The Sunday Press Jester” by the Philadelphia Press newspaper. Mayer produced a color cartoon for the front page.

The New York Evening Telegram, April 7, 1897, reviewed Mayer’s gallery show.

Mr. Henry Mayer is also, in a way, a student of Americanism. His drawings now on exhibition at Keppel’s gallery, in East Sixteenth street, seldom fail, whether consciously or unconsciously, to preserve the traces of at least one parent race in his most characteristically American skits.

But Mr. Mayer is a humorist, a caricaturist sometimes, with a wonderful facility of ludicrous invention, and at times a feeling for character and a skill in its delineation that almost suggests Forain’s acrid ironies. At other times his humor has a Rabelaisian touch.

The present exhibition of Mr. Mayer’s work covers a number of years and is made up chiefly of designs that have first made their appearance in the various comic weeklies. Several of them have been seen in the Evening Telegram. In the greater number of instances they seem to have lost nothing by reduction, but even one who has followed Mr. Mayer’s work through the humorous publications of the day can gain an increased regard for his attainments in his particular field by the massing of his work in a single gallery.
The exhibition was also reviewed in the New York Sun.

A month later, Mayer received a passport. The Manhattanite’s address was 55 West 59th Street.

The Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1899, reported that Mayer, artist Albert B. Wenzell and another American were attacked the previous evening in Paris by a group of Nationalists. The trio refused to shout “Vive l’Armee” as demand by the Nationalists. Mayer was knocked to the ground by a walking stick. The Americans and a Nationalist were arrested. The Americans were released when they threatened to demand help from Ambassador Porter.

Who’s Who in America said Mayer contributed illustrations to Fliegende Blaetter (Munich), Figaro Illustre, Le Rire (Paris), Black and White, Pick-Me-Up, Pall-Mall, Punch (London), Life, Judge and Truth, Harper’s, Century, Collier’s, Leslie’s, the New York Times, and New York Herald.

The Critic, October 1900, published five caricatures by Mayer.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Mayer produced several comic series in the early 1900s. For the New York World, Mayer drew The Plunk Family, Brother and I and Sandman, and one Charley Hist the Detective. World Color Printing distributed Mayer’s Professor Presto, Master of Magic, Bobbie Binks, and Main Street. Mayer contributed two short series to the New York Herald: Zoological Kindergarten and Will O’ Dreams and the Sandman. The McClure Syndicate handled Mayer’s Adventures of a Japanese Doll.

Mayer’s books include The Autobiography of a Monkey (1897), In Laughland (1899), Fantasies in Ha! Ha! (1900), A Trip to Toyland (1900), Adventures of a Japanese Doll (1901), and Alphabet of Little People (1901).

Mayer’s work was examined in Brush and Pencil, June 1901, and The New Era, February 1904.

The 1904 American Jewish Year Book listed Mayer’s address as 30 West 24th, New York.

Mayer was in the American Art Annual, Volume 6 (1908): “Mayer, Henry (‘Hy Mayer’), 55 West 33d St., New York, NY (I.[llustrator]) Born Worms-on-Rhine, Germany, July 18, 1868. Specialty, cartoons.”

In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, self-employed illustrator Mayer resided in Manhattan at 55 West 33rd Street.

In 1913 Mayer played vaudeville and was on the first bill at the Palace Theatre.

According to Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons (2006), Mayer went into animation in 1913. His assistant was Otto Messmer. However, in Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress, Sara Duke wrote “Credit goes to Mayer as the innovator of the ‘hand in motion’ drawing technique, by which cartoons are drafted under the eye of a camera. An active practitioner in the field of animation, he produced over fifty Travelaughs and drew Animated Weekly shorts (1909–16).”

Mayer’s appreciation of Phil May appeared Munsey’s Magazine, January 1914.

Advertising & Selling, April 1916 

During World War I, Mayer sold Liberty Bonds. One of his animated cartoons was sent to overseas allies.

A profile and photograph of Mayer was printed in the Great Falls Daily Tribune (Montana), August 29, 1920.

Exhibitors Trade Review, February 25, 1922, reported the transfer of distribution rights to Mayer’s Travelaughs.

World Biography, Volume 2 (1948) said Mayer married Alice McKenna in January 1924. On May 30, 1924, Mayer and his wife Alice returned from a trip to Europe. Mayer’s address on the passenger list was The Lambs, 130 West 44th Street, New York, New York. According to the 1930 census, Mayer was 55 years old when he married Alice. The following year Mayer, his wife and stepson John visited Europe. They departed Bremen, Germany and arrived in New York November 20, 1925. The same address was recorded for this trip and another in 1927.

A 1928 passenger list said Mayer lived in South Norwalk, Connecticut at 300 Flax Hill Road which was the same address in the 1930 census. Passenger lists and the census listed Mayer’s stepson with the Mayer surname.

The 1940 census recorded retired illustrator Mayer and his 45-year-old wife at the same location in South Norwalk. Mayer’s stepson was recorded as Jack McKenna, a laundry truck driver, who was married with one child and resided in Norwalk at a different address.

Mayer passed away September 27, 1954, at his home in South Norwalk. His death was reported the following day in The New York Times.

—Alex Jay


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Monday, September 18, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: Charley Hist the Detective

In the hands of accomplished cartoonist Hy Mayer Charley Hist the Detective, a pedestrian strip in which a would-be gumshoe gets the stuffing beat out of him, is actually pretty darn awesome. If you follow Stripper's Guide regularly, you are familiar with the fact that in early comic strips, comedic violence was a constant ingredient in the Sunday comics stew. Most of it couldn't bring a laugh to a hyena, but when Hy Mayer sets his hand to the genre, wow!

How amazing that with the simple addition of great character design, effective body language, and dramatic staging, you can turn the typical dreck into something worthwhile. Charley Hist the Detective is no classic by any means, but at least it is worth the ink it took to print it. Compare that to a more typical 'funny violence' strip of the day, say Sunny Sam and Shy Sue. What a difference.

Charley Hist the Detective ran on February 9 and March 2 1902 in the Pulitzer paper St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ken Barker's New York World index indicates that a third episode ran there, on March 9, unless it was a typo.

Thanks to Cole Johnson who supplied the scans.


I followed the link for Sunny Sam and got a Canadian real estate listing. Looks like a nice place, though.
How's that for stealth marketing, eh? Nice house, just down the road from me.

Link fixed now.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017


Herriman Saturday

May 11 1909 -- The Portland Beavers seem to be getting roughed up a little, and manager-2nd baseman Walt McCredie has apparently had about enough of it.


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Friday, September 15, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Albert Carmichael

Here's a postcard from Carmichael's "Gee, I Wish I Had a Girl" series, which was produced by Taylor Pratt & Co. as series #568. Like his "I Love My Wife..." series, this one had quite a few different cards, though this particular one is one of the less common ones.


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Thursday, September 14, 2017


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 9 Part 3

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 9

The Myth of the "Message to Garcia" (part 3)

link to previous installment   link to next installment

Adjournment of the Alabama legislature turned my mind to unfinished business with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. It required considerable probing to learn how my plan for a message to Garcia had been blocked. The facts, pieced together nearly a year after their occurrence, changed my disappointment into a grievance. The assistant night editorship of the Globe-Democrat served as a poor emollient for my discomfiture.

A minor part in the organization and operation of an exclusive cable service invested the next fifteen months with lively interest. The Globe-Democrat, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Tribune pooled interests in a worldwide news enterprise. American correspondents were assigned to the leading capitals of the world. My anonymous share in their direction afforded an experience that was extensively capitalized in later years. The court-martial of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus at Rennes was covered as if it were an American cause celebre. The lavish use of cables in reporting the Anglo-Boer War set a new journalistic mark. It was the relief of Ladysmith—the turning-point in that struggle—that resulted in my resignation from the Globe-Democrat.

By dint of diligent effort, a two-column narrative of the siege of Ladysmith, kept in type for the purpose, had been freshened and revised from day to day over a period of weeks. Pains had been taken to make it read as if it were written within the hour of publication. Our first word of the deliverance of the beleaguered stronghold came from the Associated Press. It was a seven-word flash. It came after the last edition had gone to press. The bulletin was used as the first line of the “standing story.” Within a few moments, the Globe-Democrat was on the street with what read like a 2,000-word dispatch from Ladysmith. More than a quarter of an hour later, our more or less despised rival, the Republic, appeared with the news, occupying less than twenty lines.

Elation over this beat was swallowed up in a curious anticlimax. Capt. Henry King, who had succeeded McCullagh as editor, drowned my triumph in a grouch. Captain King strutted a ponderous dignity. The gravity that creased his brow raised the handicap odds against Atlas. The Captain professed an all-inclusive devotion to the highest plane of journalistic ethics. He was dissatisfied with my handling of the Ladysmith extra. There had been an inexcusable oversight. The story should have appeared under a line describing it as a “special dispatch to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.”

The phrasing of the dissent that then and there ended my professional ties with Capt. Henry King was no more sulphuric than the fumes of its provocation. Here was a preceptor of the proprieties censuring the omission of a fraud. An efficiently performed task had failed of approval because it lacked the touch of trickery. To have represented the story as a “special dispatch” would have been a deception of the reader. The ingenuities of later years would have devised a more impressive credit to the Globe-Democrat for its Ladysmith extra. But it was impossible then, as it has been ever since, to adjust my conscience or my judgment to the use of false labels—to hold forth to the public a spurious designation of a news source.

A mordant humor attended my departure from the Globe-Democrat. No publication in America, then or afterward, matched more fully my journalistic code. My quarrel was not with the newspaper. It was solely with the editor, who had blamed me for failing to violate a principle expounded by his predecessor. The clash with King emphasized the breach that often opens between institutional and individual leadership. It cast a flare into a partly hidden corner of newspaperdom—a comfort station for pharisaic pundits and holier-than-thou nincompoops.

There, visual constriction was deemed a major virtue. There was practiced the fine art of dressing nastiness in nicety—of masking the wickedness of sensationalism by squeezing its bawdy curves into the refining stays of small type. In that court of self-righteousness was found an editorial proneness to overcompensation for restraint. This was indulged at times in ways beyond the hardihood of even a yellow journalist. But these sins were limited to nonpareil. They would be unthinkable in large print. Captain King would never have dreamed of using a fake credit line in big, black letters.

Charles R. Webb, who, as the successor of Obadiah R. Lake, had been my immediate chief on the Globe-Democrat, advised me to go to Chicago. James Keeley’s brilliant career as managing editor of the Chicago Tribune was under way. Webb was self-confident that Keeley would make a berth for me. He wrote a letter glowing enough to have assured a job almost anywhere. Keeley turned me down. Several amusing occasions to remind him of the incident arose in the subsequent years of our friendship. Meanwhile, his rebuff shunted me to the journalistic hospice deluxe—the Chicago Chronicle—the daily into which millions were plowed with no harvest save an elaborate newspaper technique.

John R. Walsh, one of the leading bankers of the Middle West, owned the Chronicle. Vast promotions, tinctured with political corruption, ultimately led to his ruin. The Chronicle disappeared with the collapse of Walsh’s fortune. That was a couple of years after the completion of the last of my three separate terms of employment on the newspaper. Each of those tours of duty supplied an important item for my professional kit.

The Chicago Chronicle was by far the most thoroughly edited newspaper in my range of experience. It was a tower of technicalities. Its rules for copy-reading alone embraced a special vocation. They were the work of Horatio W. Seymour. A master craftsman, he was unfairly reputed less for his profundity than for his cleverness.

To write a head on the Chronicle required more time and labor than the editing of several stories. First was imposed meticulous compliance with a copiously intricate style sheet and a voluminous set of rhetorical formulae. Then came the prescription for the top line—a minimum of four words including an active verb in the present tense. After that, each of the subsidiary divisions— inverted pyramids—must start with a noun. All this—with accompanying minutiae—was the preliminary task. The major job remained. Type symmetry must be perfected. The counting of letters and spaces to achieve this uniformity often entailed revisions involving more effort than the original composition.

The Fourth Estate is beholden to the Chicago Chronicle for a priceless testimony. Its operation established a classic truth. It was a test case of journalism. It proved the utter impossibility of building a successful newspaper chained to private purposes. The Chronicle had everything needed for a daily of surpassing power —everything except a soul. An abundance of capital, an amplitude of brains and a superior plant, devoid of the spirit of public service, made up the furnishings of a whited sepulcher. Yet no skeleton rattled in my hearing. Never once, even by indirection, was any instruction issued in my presence to distort, color or misplay the news. The editorial page frankly revealed the owner’s policies. But that editorial page was a negligible item in Chicago’s affairs. The Chronicle cost John R. Walsh several million dollars. Perhaps he, himself, never knew what he got for his money.

An offer of a position on the Chicago American brought my first contact with the Hearst organization. It was in the summer of 1901. Frank E. Rowley, managing editor of the Chronicle, coupled acceptance of my resignation with an odd warning. “You won’t like it with those folks,” he said. “They play a queer game. But we don’t mind a few singed feathers around here and we’ll keep the latch open for you.” Rowley’s prediction was fulfilled. A few months later the Chronicle again found a place for me. This time it was on the reportorial staff.

My break with the American was actually a prearranged incident in an inner-circle conflict. It followed a brush with Andrew M. Lawrence, then W. R. Hearst’s chief lieutenant in the Middle West. Victor H. Polachek was managing editor of the morning edition. He believed Lawrence was “hamstringing” him. At least Polachek’s efforts to form a satisfactory staff were being blocked. Lawrence had authorized a rate of salaries higher for day than for night workers.

Polachek wanted to resolve his problem into a statement concrete enough to warrant “going over Lawrence’s head to Mr. Hearst.” Would my case—with notice of my resignation—have weight enough for the purpose? Polachek thought it would, if Lawrence didn’t back down. Thus came about my first meeting with the man who was to be the chief antagonist on my newspaper path. Lawrence was a busy bundle. A slight facial resemblance to Napoleon caused him as much care as pride. Posing like the Corsican didn’t mix easily with either his unconscious swagger or his over-conscious suavity.

Lawrence couldn’t approve Polachek’s recommendation for a salary increase. Instead, he invited me to join his “personal staff” —to occupy a desk to be installed for me in his private office—but with no immediate change in compensation. Bumptious intrigue presented itself. William Randolph Hearst was the paragon of journalism. Fame and fortune awaited members of his retinue. But the waiting was briefest for those who wore the ribbon of Andrew M. Lawrence’s favor. The odor of the picture dispelled its lure. My resignation went to Polachek to help him prove his point. That may have been the starting of a habit. Resigning from the Hearst organization was not an uncommon practice of my later years.

The term “executive editor” is a modern newspaper accommodation. It covers a variety of compromises. It may be a bandage for a nose out of joint. It may be the camouflage behind which a new chief of staff bides the delayed exit of his departing predecessor. It may signify the assumption of duties that have grown too burdensome for a managing editor scheduled in the future to do less managing and more editing or vice versa. Usually, it indicates the functionary expected to supply kinetic elements that have been lacking. In my case it was plain bait. It lured me from the Chicago Chronicle to the Minneapolis Times. The impressiveness of the title—it had never before reached my attention as a working designation—was not the only attraction to the new job. A monthly salary of $250 was to be supplemented with the “office string,” the privilege of selling special and local news to out-of-town newspapers. That might “add up to fancy figures.”

The reason the position was so temptingly garnished for me involved more personal than professional equations. John S. Spargo was managing editor. We had worked together in St. Louis and Chicago. He had several irons in the fire in Minneapolis that required tending away from his desk. It had been decided to delegate most of his duties to a substitute. Spargo insisted that he select this alternate. He wanted to be sure the new man would not snap the lock on his own job. He chose me. The executive editorship of the Minneapolis Times spelled my first complete responsibility for the news management of a metropolitan daily.

Spargo’s chief activities outside the office were directed toward the uncovering of a fabulous underworld sovereignty. Eventually, this crusade led to an historic exposure of official depravity. “The Shame of Minneapolis” was without duplicate. Vice and graft were operated on the basis and with the methods of approved business pursuits. Members of the police department shared in the conception, direction and commission of sordid crimes—burglary, robbery, swindling and even extortion. It was the ripping apart of this emporium of iniquity that enriched criminal terminology with the “big mitt ledger.” That was the name by which became known a systematic record of the “takings and split” of moneys gouged from partner and prey alike by the most brazen organization of municipal corruption ever bared in America.

Officers of the law stood guard against interruption of felons at work. Thus, not only were the cracksman’s talents allowed full play, but his loot was counted for higher-ups. Prostitution, crooked gambling and confidence games were given percentage franchises. The “squeal of the sucker” was hushed by patrolmen in uniform. Threat of arrest as a co-defendant was usually enough to squelch an accusation. Crooks were not unappreciative of the hospitalities awaiting them in Minneapolis. Col. Fred W. Ames, the chief of police, was genuinely solicitous about the opportunities and facilities available for the plying of their respective vocations. His attitude was easily understandable. It was prompted by a concern for the interests of his brother, Dr. A. A. Ames, the mayor.

Never did the underworld enjoy the favor of a more polished patron than this chief magistrate of Minneapolis. His collectors were instructed never to take more than half the cash on hand. “Always leave an egg in the nest,” might well have been the motto.

A puny joke opened the first chapter of the expose. Spargo was discussing with me the seeming obtuseness of the average Minneapolis policeman. He blamed this stupidity for most of the obstacles he had encountered. He cited a current yarn by way of illustration. A sergeant had defined a new patrolman’s beat as running from the spot on which they stood to “that red light yonder.” The next day the rookie telephoned for instructions from Shakopee, forty miles away. The red light had turned out to be a lantern slung across the rear axle of a moving-van.

T. J. Dillon, acting city editor, entered just as Spargo started his story. He waited for the end of the anecdote with his hand on the shoulder of Roxy Prenevost, the doughty little chief of our sports department. “That cop belonged to a breed different from the bunch Roxy just saw at Union Depot,” Dillon remarked. “Three policemen are trying to get an obstinate yokel aboard the next west-bound train. He was trimmed in a card game. When he squawked, he was turned over to the coppers. They advised him he’d be much happier and safer back home. Their clincher is the claim that if they pinch the crooks, they’ll have to arrest him also, because his complaint is in itself a confession that he was guilty of gambling.”

“Let’s hang a lantern on that fellow for Roxy to follow,” I urged. A moment later, Prenevost was sprinting toward Union Depot. Two weeks passed before we saw him again. He hadn’t reached “the end of his beat” until he got to a lumber camp in Idaho. Then his red light carrier yielded to Roxy’s arguments. There was little about this victim of crooked gambling to suggest the shorn lamb. Roland Mix asked no odds of his fellow-man. But he didn’t want to give any to crooked cops. He divided his time regularly between wrestling steers on the plains and timber in the forests for the wherewithal to buck the tiger in the cities. Assured of the Minneapolis Times’s backing against police trickery, Mix came back with Prenevost. His testimony before the Hennepin County grand jury was the first formal step in the exposure and destruction of the incredible Ames Institute of Municipal Debauchery.

Whatever may have been my part in the undoing of Minneapolis’ vice trust, the material reward was disproportionate. It was, in fact, demoralizing. It led to the paradox of relinquishing a post because of excessive compensation. For several weeks, the story, with its daily developments, commanded conspicuous newspaper displays throughout the country. The Times’s office string —my perquisite—attained an unprecedented volume. There were fourteen regular clients. Each night, an identical schedule or query was wired to the entire list. Formulating this message and filling the resultant orders from extra sets of proofs consumed a scant half-hour. Yet, at the end of the month, my log showed the sending of approximately 284,000 words—more than $1,420 at the usual space rates.

An incidental chore, consuming less than one-twentieth of my daily effort, had netted nearly six times the sum of my monthly salary. On the hourly basis, the difference in earnings was more than a hundredfold. This was lopsided economics. For nearly half a year, the office string had yielded an average of $75 monthly. True, the jump of nearly 2,000 percent was from the springboard of one story. But the range between maximum and minimum was too wide to exclude a feeling of neglected opportunities.

A convention of the National Federation of Teachers in Minneapolis helped to bolster my space bills for the next four weeks. They totaled $980. In August, the succeeding month, this revenue shrank to $86. The let-down was too hard. It disrupted my scale of values. Without any change in the nature or hours of work, my compensation, including salary, had dropped from $1,670 to $336 for equal periods of time. The mental readjustments thus imposed were intolerably onerous. The larger sum seemed exorbitant. “It was a shame to take the money.” On the other hand, the smaller figure appeared, by comparison, illogical and unfair. Concentration of more effort on the out-of-town newspapers might swell my income. But that would mean the subtraction of a corresponding stint from my services to the Times.

Caught between these horns of a dilemma, I took to the woods. My resignation was not accepted with good grace. As Spargo put it, “We don’t understand a man quitting a job because it paid too much.” But the fault lay in the method rather than the amount of recompense. It was a corrupting practice. My revulsion was by no means quixotic. Continuance of the arrangement with the Minneapolis Times was likely to cultivate an appetence for profits which at any time could be transferred. The office string was not my property. It belonged to the Times.

The system of split payments for editorial work had ramifications far beyond my individual instance. A compulsion to derive earnings from segregated units impaired integrity of service. It marred morale. It enforced conflicts of obligation—cleavages of a fidelity no more subject to honest division by geographic lines than by social, political or economic partitions. A cure for this evil was devised in an addendum to my professional code. Here is the prescription:

No performance of journalistic duty shall entail a choice between masters. Separate sources of remuneration engage separate loyalties. Responsibility for news may not be divided. Its unity is an imperative requisite for the good faith which must prevail through every editorial process.

The unfolding of the Minneapolis municipal scandal has been the theme of a number of newspaper legends. None of them obscures the stellar role played by “Dillon of the Times." With a disarming smile, the presence of a Roman senator and the mien of a cloistered monk, he gained the confidence and counseled the confessions of close-mouthed criminals impervious to pleas from their own accomplices. It was a staff of Trojan workers that boosted the Times’s circulation from 23,000 to 42,000 during my term as executive editor. Dillon ultimately outdistanced the rest. After a brisk interlude on the Pacific Coast, he returned to Minneapolis, assuming editorial chieftaincy of the Tribune, which had meanwhile absorbed the Times.

The standing promise of welcome on the Chronicle drew me back to Chicago. A slight shift of personnel was necessary to make an opening for me. It was a reportorial job. That was quite a come-down from my position in Minneapolis. From colonel to private, from star to chorus man or from superintendent to laborer would have meant, on its face, no greater demotion. But it brought me no sense of humiliation. That was chiefly because the change had been my own choice. Such a reduction, if peremptory, might have been unbearable. On the other hand, the field of employment is a determinant of journalistic values. A newspaper berth in Chicago rated at least two ranks higher to me at that time than a similar post in Minneapolis.

The foremost subject of civic interest in Chicago was the municipal railways problem. For a generation, it had kept the community agog. It was the football of a mad political game that eventually commanded the whole country’s attention. A great majority of Chicagoans accepted the theory that the franchises of the street railroad companies had expired. Continued use of rights of way, without compensation, was denounced as arrogant trespass. Once, when a transit ordinance came up for aldermanic action, a threatening mob of tens of thousands surrounded the city hall. Ropes were brandished to “string up ‘gray wolf’ councilmen if they voted away any more of the people’s rights.”

For years, the traction story was a major daily stunt on every Chicago newspaper. Burdened with intricacies of legislation, finance and transportation, it required intensive simplifying for the average reader’s understanding. A striking phrase—“the 99-year clause”—helped to serve that end. It referred to an expression in an underlying franchise on which the transit corporations based their rights. It was the epitome of a controversy of inordinate bitterness. On one side were “the rabble demanding the confiscation of property—the impoverishment of widows and orphans, for many of whom inherited stocks and bonds of the street-car companies were the sole means of subsistence.” On the other side were “the bloated plutocrats, conscienceless despoilers of the poor, who by fraud and artifice would strip the workers of their birthright, making them the slaves instead of the masters of their own streets.”

All this made up the “heaviest” regular assignment on the city editor’s schedule. It kept me busy during my third tour of employment on the Chronicle. My first task was to gain a practical comprehension of the municipal railways litigation. That was essential to a grasp of day-to-day developments. No published work was available for a satisfactory study of the facts. There were experts galore. Nearly all of them were biased by political or professional considerations. The outstanding authority was Levy Mayer. Classed as one of the two highest-paid members of the American bar, he was credibly reported to have received a single fee of one million dollars. It came from the Whiskey Trust. Levy Mayer patiently led me through an exhaustive review of the traction situation. His chief clerk was deeply impressed. “Mr. Mayer has given you at least $5,000 worth of his time,” he confided.

The true import of this comment would have astonished the speaker. Its personal implication was misleading. Its significance traveled the length and breadth of newspaperdom. Levy Mayer’s generous assistance evidenced a cultural phenomenon scarcely recognized but as pervasive as the printed word. It is the practice by which masters in every field of endeavor cheerfully enlist in the reserve corps of journalism. Some serve as a public duty. Others welcome propinquity to the press. Still others act in undefined hope of advantage. All tingle to the touch of news “in the raw.” Together, they contribute the greatest single endowment of the Fourth Estate—an unexampled treasury of technical knowledge—a University of All the Arts and the Sciences, free to chroniclers of current events.

Levy Mayer brought about my return to the Hearst organization. He had shown a flattering interest in my career. We were chatting in Peacock Alley in the Congress Hotel, then the Auditorium Annex. “Do you realize,” he asked, “that we are standing on one of the four corners of the world? Years ago, it was the boast of Londoners that if you waited long enough in Trafalgar Square, you’d meet everyone you knew. That might not have been a pleasing prospect for some folks, but the thought was an effective description of a universal center. Parisians made a similar claim for the Rue de Rivoli. Then New Yorkers put out an identical label for Broadway and Forty-second Street. Now Peacock Alley is entitled to tack up the same sign. And, by George! I’ll prove it to you. Here comes an old friend I’ve met at every one of the other crossroads.”

A dapper man in the middle forties was approaching. Of medium stature, his poise betokened bodily discipline. Every lineament spelled alertness. An ample mouth promised a lively humor. Singularly brilliant brown eyes diverted attention from the encroachments of a ruggedly inquisitive nose. This was Foster Coates, one of W. R. Hearst’s principal editors. It soon became apparent that the meeting was due more to Levy Mayer’s friendliness than to accident. My introduction to Coates was the pivot of my professional course. At the moment, he was editorial director of the Chicago American. The post was temporary. He held a roving commission as minister of first aid to ailing Hearst newspapers. It was his job to jack up declining circulations.

My first conversation with Coates was wilting. Clearly, much of my time had been wasted on the tow-paths of journalism. The speed circuits remained to be ridden. Work that had seemed to me expert now appeared stodgy or perfunctory. Most of the editors who had commanded my respect as masters were now shown as mere artisans. They left off where Coates began. They fingered the body of a story. He probed its anatomy. News that expired in their hands drew renewed vitality from his treatment. He opened for me the windows of an art within an art.

At our second meeting, Coates’s invitation to join his staff was eagerly accepted. My distrust of the Hearst organization was forgotten. The warmth of enthusiasm inspired by Coates dispelled the misgivings that had been engendered by Andrew M. Lawrence. And thereby hung many bitter moments. But they were redressed by many happy hours.

Chapter 10 Part 1 Next Week   
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George Herriman wrote about his encounter with Coates, a most eloquently profane gentleman, at the LA Examiner in a letter to a friend reprinted in Michael Tisserand's superb Herriman bio KRAZY.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: City Sketches

Although I savor ever bit of comic art to ever come out of the notorious New York Evening Graphic, even I have to admit that City Sketches is one of their lesser features. Patterned after Pulitzer's urbane and sophisticated Everyday Movies panel, City Sketches offers slice of life glimpses of the Big Apple. While the gags hit the mark, the art is pretty questionable. I've only seen three examples (the two above courtesy of Cole Johnson), and while the one signed Reed has sort of a nice Ashcan School quality, the unsigned top one is pretty amateurish -- and perhaps by a different artist?

Tringulating based on Cole's and my spotty collections of the Graphic, it seems as if City Sketches started no earlier than late August 1929, and made it only into early October. The panel series apparenly did not make it into McFadden's other papers, at least I did not find it in the Philadelphia Daily News. Based on such a small sampling, I can't even say whether this Reed person was the regular artist on the feature, or if it was a group effort of whoever looked underworked in the Graphic's art department.


Julian Ollendorff had an animated cartoon series released by Educational pictures called "Sketchografs" in 1921-2. Don't know if any examples survive, but starting 2 July 1928 he began a comics version of it, syndicated by McNaught. It was an all-topic commentary or short bit of slapstick series, offered in two long thin panels so it might be stacked into one column. It had different sub-titles, one that was re-occuring was "Big City Sketches". I bring this up to say that perhaps the Graphic's "City Sketches" was likely unsyndicated, and ran only in the Graphic.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Warren Largay

Warren James Largay was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on November 4, 1894, according to his World War I and II draft cards which also had his full name. His birth certificate, at Ancestry.com, said his parents were Edward Largay and Elizabeth McPeck.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census said Largay was the youngest of five children. Their father, a Canadian emigrant, was a lumber piler. The family resided at 41 Monroe Avenue in Oshkosh. Largay would be at this address through 1919.

A 1914 Oshkosh city directory listed Largay as a student. The 1915 directory is not available. In 1916 Largay was a commercial traveler.

On June 5, 1917, Largay signed his World War I draft card. He was an unemployed salesman and described as slender build, medium height, with blue eyes and black hair. The Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, at Ancestry.com, said Largay enlisted July 8, 1918 and was discharged February 1, 1919.

Largay was listed in a 1918 Milwaukee, Wisconsin city directory as a salesman residing at 130 13th Street. The 1919 Oshkosh city directory said Largay was in the U.S. Army.

In the 1920 census, salesman Largar was married to Lillian. The couple resided with her mother, Louise Fechtmeyer, a widow, in Milwaukee at 888 Wright Street.

Milwaukee city directories for 1920 and 1922, listed Largay at 890 9th Street. At some point, Largay moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 1926 directory said Largay was a clerk who lived at 4110 19th Avenue South. From 1927 to 1929, the directories recorded Largay as a sales promoter for the Dollenmayer Advertising Agency.

Largay, his wife and mother-in-law were Milwaukee residents in the 1930 census. His address was 999 59th Street.

Largay’s listing in the 1932 Milwaukee directory was supervisor at the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company. His home was at 2629 North 59th Street. The same address was in the 1936 directory that said his occupation was “advmn.”

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Largay produced the panel That’s Frieda. It appeared from November 30 to December 18, 1936 in the Milwaukee Journal, and January through March 1937 in the Milwaukee Leader. Up to this point, there is no evidence that Largay had any art training.

Largay was divorced in the 1940 census. He was in his brother-in-law’s household at 938 North 16 Street in Milwaukee. Largay was doing clerical work for a newspaper project.

Largay signed his World War II draft card on April 27, 1942. His home was 915 North 16 Street in Milwaukee and his employer was the WPA Newspaper Index.

A 1953 city directory had his address as 502 North 14th Street and occupation as post office clerk.

A 1973 issue of the Franciscan Message published the article “Mr. Largay’s Penny-Pinchers” and said in the first four paragraphs:

When the countdown to Easter 1956 began, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin postal worker decided upon a unique “little Lenten penance.” He would beg daily from fellow postal employees a few pennies for charity.

Some days he collected a mere 18 pennies; other days, a mite over a dollar. By Easter he had 4,500 pennies. He sent the amount to a Wisconsin priest doing missionary work in India.

Eighteen years and four million pennies later, Mr. Warren J. Largay, now 79, is still at his “little Lenten penance.” It has become a year-round labor of love. “Pennies trickle in any and every day that God wills it,” he comments, his eyes twinkling.

Launched as a Lenten project, Mr. Largay’s “Penny Pinchers” organization has practically orbited the earth with its highly appreciated help. Yet the humble penny program gets scant publicity and makes no effort to draw attention to itself. In this it constantly heeds the wise advice which Mr. Largay, a secular Franciscan, received from his spiritual adviser, Msgr. Julius Dorszynski, back in 1956: “Never get too big!”
The Milwaukee Sentinel, March 9, 1968, said Largay was the “founder, organizer, caretaker and sloganeer” of Penny Pinchers and the organization’s slogan was, “Our IQ may not be high but we do have cents.”.

Largay passed away July 20, 1982, in Milwaukee according to the Wisconsin death index at Ancestry.com and the Social Security Death Index

—Alex Jay


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Monday, September 11, 2017


Obscurity of the Day: That's Frieda

I think of the typical newspaper features editor as a person who's seen it all a million times, and rejects 99% of the prospective features that cross the transom with hardly a second's thought. But then I see a feature like That's Frieda, and I begin to wonder if my conception is all wrong.

I can just image Warren Largay walking in to see the features editor at the Milwaukee Journal, explaining that he has a feature that's entirely new and different from anything before seen, and it's going to be a big, big hit for some lucky paper. "Y'see, it's a feature that educates and entertains at the same time. I'm real sneaky about the education part; I teach readers the meanings of words by giving their synonyms. Like I pair 'equestrian' with a simpler term 'horseman', see? But it's not just that, because each one is told in a lilting musical verse. And I've got this great character, Frieda, who knows all these synonyms and drives people batty using them all the time. She's a real sourpuss and everyone laughs at her behind her back. She's a million laughs, right? So in each panel you get a vocabulary lesson, a song, and a hilarious cartoon featuring my character, Frieda."

The features editor I have in mind had ushered Warren out of his office about half-way through that pitch. But, miraculouly, the powers that be at the Milwaukee Journal said they'd give it a try. Maybe Frieda said the magic word Gratuitous, as in Free, and that won the editor over. That's Frieda debuted there as a daily on November 30 1936.

Strangely, though, the panel did not immediately inspire fan clubs. The Journal thought better of their rash decision after just three weeks, and That's Frieda last graced their pages on December 18.

But our story isn't over. Largay then went to a competing paper, the Milwaukee Leader, and talked them into running That's Frieda. Maybe Frieda once again flashed her big vocabulary, mentioning the term Unrecompensed, as in No Charge. I don't have definite running dates for That's Frieda in the Leader, but it definitely appeared there for at least three months, January through March 1937.

As far as I know, that's it for Frieda. Most likely after having people laugh behind her back for four months, she walked out onto an ice floe in Lake Michigan and said "Goodbye Brutish, as in Cruel, World". I don't know if Warren Largay made any other forays into newspaper cartooning; while That's Frieda was patently awful, in fairness he was a perfectly passable cartoonist and I do hope he tried again.


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Saturday, September 09, 2017


Herriman Saturday

May 8 1909 -- A nice character study of Los Angeles Angels' manager Hen Berry.


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Friday, September 08, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from an Anonymous Rube Goldberg Copyist

This is another of my Foolish Questions postcards produced to fool buyers into thinking they were getting a real Rube Goldberg production. The art and gag does pretty good justice to the verisimilitude of the fake, but the artist always seems to  leave a clue  -- here the dog and the face of the questioner just don't look like Goldberg's work to me.

Thanks to Evan Schad, we now know that G&B is Gartner & Bender out of Chicago.


"Wish you were here"
Glad I'm not, you take care there in the penisula!
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Thursday, September 07, 2017


King News by Moses Koenigsberg: Chapter 9 Part 2

 King News by Moses Koenigsberg

Published by F.A. Stokes Company, 1941

Chapter 9

The Myth of the "Message to Garcia" (part 2)

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Disappointment pursued me throughout the war with Spain. The failure of my attempt to carry a message to Garcia was only the beginning of a series of frustrations. Hope of winning a commission in a competitive examination was destroyed on May 12th. That day Governor Johnston announced his appointments of field and staff officers. He had broken his promise. Chagrin turned my thoughts to Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. They were assembling at San Antonio. There, in my home town, I might find better auspices for enlistment. A conversation with Colonel Craighead dismissed this notion. He pointed out that Roosevelt’s men came largely from the West and Northwest. That fact made it unlikely that they would reach Cuba ahead of troops claiming immunity to yellow fever. Perhaps more important was my job as correspondent. That would be impossible for a member of Roosevelt’s regiment.

On May 21st, the Gulf City Guards were mustered in at Alba’s pasture near Frascati, outside Mobile, as Company E of the Second Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Eight days later, a trainload of laughing, cheering troops rolled through our camp, waving the campaign sombreros that were destined to symbolize for a number of years the elan of the American soldier. They were Roosevelt’s Rough Riders en route to Tampa. It was a tantalizing spectacle. Apparently, I had foozled my calculations. These boys from the West were beating me to the front.

Two more weeks of dejected waiting brought suddenly revived hopes. On June 15th the quartermaster began the issuance of ordnance and clothing. We were given rifles of the same pattern used by the state militia. Nearly all the equipment was secondhand, but that only spelled the shortening of delay. Indications that we were on our way to real action increased hourly. We were assigned to General Coppinger’s command. On June 17th we broke camp at Frascati and marched eleven miles to Spring Hill. We were part of the second brigade of the First Division of the Fourth Army Corps. At reveille on June 19th the camp was in a hubbub. Orders had come to board transports in Mobile Bay. But the tents were not struck that day. Somebody in authority had discovered at the last moment that General Coppinger’s corps was not quite ready for front-line duty. The second brigade was armed with single-shot Springfield rifles with black-powder cartridges. It might be at some disadvantage facing smokeless Mausers, each capable of a spurt of five bullets.

Other deficiencies magnified the absurdity of the embarkation order. A supply of Krag-Jorgensen automatics identical with the regular army rifle would have been of scant help to the volunteers. Without a course of instruction in its use, they would have found this gun more of an embarrassment than a weapon. Not a third of the brigade was fit to approach, much less enter, a combat area.

Henry Flagler
On June 20,1898, General Coppinger was directed to move the first division of his corps to Miami, Fla. To the rank and file, this news came as glad tidings. Our tents would be “just around the corner” from Cuba. To the staff officers, the order came as a shock. They recalled publication of the results of a survey of the area by Gen. J. F. Wade. He described the section as unfit for camp purposes. Only two years before it had been the site of an Indian trading-post. The settlement consisted of a couple of dwellings, a general store and Fort Dallas, a little stone relic of the Seminole uprising sixty years back. Then Henry M. Flagler extended the Florida East Coast Railway to this primitive spot in a palmetto wilderness. He began the construction of the Royal Palm Hotel. It was to be the nucleus of an expansive pleasure resort. Plans for this development were still in embryo at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.

Flagler was an intimate of Russell A. Alger, Secretary of War. Of course, patriotic motives guided their discussions of Miami as a proper place for the training of volunteer regiments. The wildness of the terrain was a point in its favor. However, $10,000 of Flagler’s personal funds would be spent in making the tract more usable. It is not recorded that General Wade’s report was mentioned in the conversations between Flagler and Alger. Surely, there were no predictions that any fault in the General’s findings would be cured by the War Department’s approval of Miami. Assumably, hygienic conditions entered into Uncle Sam’s selection of a cantonment location. Such a choice was interpretable as government indorsement of the region’s salubrity. That would make ideal advertising. So, there could have been no talk about the tremendous promotion values that might accrue.

Twenty-three months after Miami’s incorporation as a township with 260 population, its name was regularly appearing in newspaper datelines throughout the country. Daily dispatches reported the military schooling of the First and Second Alabama, the First and Second Louisiana, and the First and Second Texas regiments. On arrival in Florida these units had been transferred to Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s Seventh Army Corps as its First Division. For several days, press accounts of what happened to the troops at Miami were tinged with humor. My own stories paralleled those of the other correspondents. By a strange unanimity, the unexpected job of clearing a jungle for an encampment was treated as a joke on 6,000 rookies. It turned out a miserable jest. Its ineptitude was emphasized by the damningly excessive rolls of dead, disabled and invalid members of the First Division.

My first experience with censorship came in mid-July. Dr. Vilas, the surgeon in charge, had denied me admission to the division hospital. A soldier able to walk should apply at his regimental headquarters for medical treatment. The Second Alabama’s camp was nearly three miles away. It was a scorching afternoon. Dr. W. H. Oates, a contract physician working under Vilas, noticed my condition. He motioned me inside his own marquee. An examination showed a temperature of 104°. Dr. Oates quickly settled me on a cot in the nearest ward and then sheared off enough red tape to assure me of its occupancy until pronounced fit for return to my company.

News drifted around me of such a nature as would have been unobtainable by direct inquiry. Fretful surgeons, in the presence of harmless invalids apparently too apathetic to listen, flouted the inhibitions that ordinarily would have checked their tongues. They spilled story after story. The urge toward a telegraph wire became an obsession. The steward on duty was a conciliatory fellow especially responsive to pecuniary favors. By the end of the third day he had agreed to help me file dispatches. When tattoo sounded at nine o’clock, he would draw aside the canvas flap behind my cot, permitting me to slip out unnoticed to the Western Union office in the Royal Palm Hotel 1,500 yards east. It was his own idea to fix an ice pack inside my campaign hat.

That night a drunken nurse set the tent afire. He had overturned a kerosene lamp. Flaming oil spattered over the delirious typhoid-fever patient who lay next to me. In the consequent racket my get-away was unobserved even by my confederate. But an exasperating hindrance awaited me. The telegraph operator refused to transmit my copy without the censor’s O.K. That seemed unbelievable. The only ban on news transmission, of which notice had reached me, related to troop movements. Now any need for even that prohibition was gone. The power of Spain had already crumbled at Santiago. So there was no longer a dangerous enemy to justify a tightening of censorship. Surely there could be no official restriction of intelligence concerning American soldiers encamped on American soil and addressed by an American correspondent to an American newspaper. The censor promptly vetoed this conclusion.

“My instructions,” he said, “are to cut out anything calculated to discourage recruits from enlisting.” An American censorship to deceive Americans! A formula to suppress that character of information to which the public was more fully entitled than any other disclosures the war might produce! A barrier to prevent or impede corrective measures on which the survival of our armies might depend! It aroused in me an indignation that never fully subsided. It prompted the formulation of a protest the issuance of which was to bring one of the most stressful of my experiences. Its publication was necessarily deferred until my release from army discipline.

The usual course of censorship followed. It generated rumors more alarming than the truth would have been. The real conditions were bad enough. An over-arduous drill-master was piling unbearable ordeals on a plethora of tropical malignities. Prevalent incompetence was deepening and widening this nasty slough. Regular routine was repeatedly suspended by regiments too debilitated to assemble for inspection. Letters to the folks at home sowed widespread fears. Most of these messages of misery harped on a common subject—a persistent feeling that the published obituary lists, despite their staggering length, covered only a part of the actual death-roll. Reports spread through the South that epidemics of smallpox and typhoid fever were wiping out the First Division. An outcry arose to “rescue the troops from the Miami ‘Camp of Horrors.’ ”

Plain abandonment of this military site at that juncture would be an awkward confession of an ugly error. Why had it been chosen in the first place? While army diplomats wrestled with this embarrassment, popular pressure intensified. A newspaper statement by Governor Culberson marked the climax. “If the War Department is unable to move our two regiments to a safe distance from their present quarters,” he was quoted, “the State of Texas will presently undertake to do so.” The Governor was never required to explain this challenge. That afternoon, July 29th, the War Department found a way out of its strait. Orders were issued to mobilize the Seventh Army Corps at Jacksonville. This obviated the need for any mention of the mistake of Miami. It provided a sufficient reason, together with the instructions, to transport the First Division 400 miles north.

Unbridled joy over the news of their deliverance swept through the six regiments. Bonfires were lighted. At the head of each regimental street, hundreds of soldiers danced around the flames yelling and singing. The rhythm of a Civil War chant rolled through the camp to the refrain, “We’ll Hang Old Flagler to a Sour Apple Tree.” The celebration grew into a deafening charivari. It wound up in song services of praise at the half-dozen Y.M.C.A. tents.

We were installed in Camp Cuba Libre at Jacksonville—Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s headquarters—during the first two weeks of August. The succeeding month witnessed more bickering than soldiering. A consensus that the war was practically over divided the volunteers into two factions. One, comprising most of the enlisted men, looked eagerly forward to muster out. The other, including nearly all the commissioned officers, preferred to continue under arms. The difference frequently flared into bitterness.

Results of informal polls, allegedly taken to ascertain the wishes of the rank and file, were always hotly disputed. Each day added to the virulence of the controversy. The epauletted group sent delegations to Washington. They sought every amenable agency to urge retention of their units for service overseas. The plain soldiers were forbidden any joint movement in opposition. Orders were posted threatening punishment under The Articles of War for any concerted action intended to shorten the army’s term of duty. More than forty years later, another American army—the draftees of 1940-41—found itself in a similar plight.

The pother about the muster out of the volunteers of 1898 increased the power of the mills grinding the wrath of a journalist in soldier’s khaki. My contemplated remonstrance against military censorship in particular had broadened into an attack on military outrages in general. It would be best presented in book form. Its vehicle would be a first-hand history of the First Division of the Seventh Army Corps. The harrowing scenes enacted in Miami suggested the title—Southern Martyrs.

The Brown Printing Company, of Montgomery, agreed to publish my book if assured of the cost of printing. This guaranty was promptly forthcoming. It was furnished by Maj. W. W. Brandon, my battalion commander, afterward Governor of Alabama and a picturesque figure at Democratic national conventions. Brandon was a lawyer. His advice steered me through the shoals of a unique crisis. Subscription blanks for Southern Martyrs were distributed. They set publication for October 20th. That was the day on which the Alabama regiments would be mustered out. Some of the slips for subscribers fell into unfriendly hands—officers uncomfortably certain of censure in any critical review of the volunteers’ sufferings. A committee visited the Brown Printing Company.

The spokesman warned the publishers that the book they proposed to issue from the pen of a sergeant in the United States Army might be indefinitely delayed. The callers brought some confidential information. Evidence was claimed that the manuscript constituted insubordination, contumacy and disloyalty of such grossness as warranted the arrest of the writer for trial by court-martial. Under such circumstances publishing plans might be most unprofitably disarranged. The committee was glad to offer this intelligence in time to prevent a loss. Moreover, there were important friends who would be pleased to know that the Brown Company had withdrawn from a venture that threatened so much unpleasantness.

This warning produced effects wholly opposite to its purpose. It infused the printers with an odd optimism. “If they put you into prison, your book will sell like hotcakes,” the head of the firm jubilantly assured me. The prospect was not nearly so beguiling to me as it was to my publisher. The solicitude of a partner who would welcome an increase of profits through my confinement behind jail bars did not impress me. In fact it pinned a queer suspicion to Mr. Brown’s sinuous aura. Besides, my paramount obligation in this transaction ran to Major Brandon. There was pressing need for his counsel.

Southern Martyrs were stacked in racks on top of which a cot for my use was fastened with ropes.
Brandon confirmed the possibility of my subjection to a trial by court-martial. He had considered this before giving his pledge of security to the Brown Printing Company. Until that day, it had seemed too remote a contingency to bother about. Now stringent precautions should be taken. Brandon had been present when several angry officers discussed ways and means of effecting my arrest. Their ebullitions had concerned him less than the disclosure of Brown’s attitude. My vigilance must be especially directed toward my publisher. No part of the original manuscript or any reproduction thereof should be allowed to reach censorious hands until the day of the writer’s discharge from the army. Only by locking myself in the printing plant was it possible to provide the safeguards Major Brandon advised. Every second of the next three weeks was spent in a self-imposed incarceration. The author slept on the type for his book. The page forms of

Brown’s resentment did not ease the strain of that stretch. On the other hand, we beat our schedule. The 212-page cloth-bound volume was ready for distribution on October 18th. A somewhat pretentious sales show was arranged to coincide with the muster-out proceedings of the Second Alabama regiment in Montgomery two days later. As each soldier stepped from his last function in the army—the collection of moneys due him—he would turn to face a tally-ho fifty paces in front of the paymaster’s booth. The vehicle was filled with copies of Southern Martyrs. Beside it several attendants in scarlet surtouts were blowing hunters’ horns to attract attention.

The performance wasn’t well received by the disbanded soldiers of the First Alabama regiment in Birmingham. An angry throng, surrounding the coach, ordered it driven to the edge of East Lake. There, while the horses were being unharnessed, the driver and his companions sought safety in flight. The tally-ho, with 1,000 copies of my book aboard, was tossed into the lake.

It relieved me afterward to learn that this was not just an uncouth form of literary criticism. It was an explosion of mistaken partizanship. The mob had been actuated by a baseless rumor that my book presented Colonel Higdon in an unfavorable light. Perhaps it was fortunate that the task of getting my certificate of discharge from the army detained me in Montgomery that day.

Dispersing members of the Second Alabama were more favorably disposed. They bought 700 copies of Southern Martyrs in three hours. At $1.25 each, the proceeds not only canceled Major Brandon’s obligation but also left a margin of gain.

Release from the restrictions of military discipline redoubled my eagerness to press the crusade which it had been my intention to initiate with Southern Martyrs. My exhortations fell on unresponsive ears. Those accessible to my urgings had other views. They would defer action until the outcome of the inquiry ordered by the President. “There’ll Be a Hot Time in The Old Town Tonight,” became the song tag of the Spanish-American War. More appropriate might have been the childhood chant—’“Here we go ’round the mulberry bush.” The fanciful shrub of that juvenile game would have been a fitting emblem for the volunteer army regime. And its make-believe foliage would have furnished a suitable canopy for the commission appointed by President McKinley “to investigate the conduct of the War Department in the war with Spain.”

The pussy-footing report of that board of inquiry discouraged me less than the general indifference with which it was received. There was no public disposition to appraise the military establishment. The common attitude of the average American—then, as always, except for two intermissions—reflected a species of bottomlands reasoning reported by the long-forgotten Arkansaw Traveler. The native was explaining to the wayfarer why he didn’t repair the gaping rent in the roof of his shack. “When the sun shines,” said the local sage, “there’s no need for fussing with that hole; and when it rains it’s too slippery to get at the darned thing.” The age of this parable never lessened its pertinence. It always served as an apt commentary on the American way of handling the national preparedness problem—adherence to a statesmanship in complete harmony with the breadth and contours of its cornfield origin.

While Southern Martyrs fell short of its aim as an agency for reform, it led to the breaking of an employment record. Maj. W. W. Screws, editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, thought the book entitled me to residence in Alabama with membership on the staff of his newspaper. Colonel Craighead, learning of this arrangement, invited me to report the proceedings of the state legislature for the Mobile Register. Then—without solicitation of any kind on my part—five more jobs were handed to me.

Salaries came to me as assistant reading clerk of the House of Representatives, as assistant secretary of the Senate Committee on Rules, and as correspondent watching certain types of proposed enactments for three interstate business organizations—the American Proprietory Association, consisting of owners of patent medicine brands, a society of bankers and a group of manufacturers. They were perquisites regularly given to the correspondents for the two leading papers of the state during the legislative session. My earnings reached $135 a week.

Chapter 9 Part 3 Next Week   
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Wednesday, September 06, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Arthur Lewis


Arthur Allen Lewis was born in Mobile, Alabama, on April 7, 1873, according to a passport application and several volumes of the American Art Directory.

In the 1875 New York state census, Lewis was the only child of machinist Seth and Ida. They resided in Syracuse, New York. Lewis, his parents and sister, Grace, were Buffalo, New York residents in the 1892 New York state census.

A profile of Lewis, at the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections, said after graduating from high school, Lewis enrolled at the Buffalo Art Students League where he studied under George Bridgman. 

A passport was issued on August 16, 1894 to Lewis whose occupation was clothing manufacturing. Who Was Who in American History, Arts and Letters said Lewis studied art at Ecole des Beaux Arts, in Paris, under Gerome. Lewis exhibited at various salons and at the 1900 Paris Exposition.

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census, recorded artist Lewis, his parents and sister in Chattanooga, Tennessee at 721 East 8th Street. However, Who Was Who said Lewis returned to America in 1902.

The Daily Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), February 3, 1903, reported a show of Lewis’s etchings.

Arthur Allen Lewis, who has studied for the past eight years in Paris at the Colarossi and other schools, and who is a friend of C. Field, who baa also been abroad for some years, has about forty-one etchings displayed in a private exhibition now being held in Mr. Field’s studio, which is in his home, at 106 Columbia Heights.
Brooklyn city directories, from 1904 to 1907, the 1905 New York state census, and 1910 census, said Lewis, an artist, lived at 104 Columbia Heights. Lewis was a Brooklynite in 1915 New York state census; his address was 68 Cranberry Street.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said James Montgomery Flagg and Lewis produced the Sunday comic, Nervy Nat. They took turns drawing it from May 2, 1909 to September 5, 1909. For the New York Herald, Lewis drew the Sunday feature, The Rag Tags and Bob Tail, from March 12 to July 16, 1911.

Art by Lewis

In 1915, Lewis illustrated Charles Stephen Brook’s book, Journeys to Bagdad. Years later, Lewis’s title page lettering was developed into an alphabet for the New Yorker magazine by its art director, Rea Irvin. In the profile of Warren Chapel, Something About the Author, Volume 10 (1990) said:

In 1915, Allen Lewis had made wood-engraved illustrations for Charles Stephen Brook’s Journeys to Bagdad, a Yale University Press publication. The display letter he used was one he had designed himself and cut in wood. Rea Irvin, art director of the New Yorker, had used the design as the basis for the special face that was cut for the magazine without leave or credit.

Who Was Who said Lewis married Bessie Jayne on May 2, 1917. The couple lived in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, when Lewis signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. He was described as tall, medium build with brown eyes and black hair.

Lewis was a Southington, Connecticut resident in the 1920 census. He and his wife lived on Spring Street. The couple’s next home was on North Maple Avenue in Bernards, New Jersey, according to the 1930 and 1940 censuses. In 1940, Lewis’s mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew were part of his household.

The Bookplate Annual for 1922 published the article “The Chiaroscuro Bookplates of Allen Lewis”.

Lewis was an instructor at the Art Students League, New York, 1924–1932, and the New School for Social Research, 1932–1934. 

Lewis won many awards and honors including a bronze medal at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition; the Logan Prize of the Chicago Society of Etchers; the Brooklyn Society of Etchers’ Noyes Prize; medals from the Expositions of San Francisco; St. Louis and Philadelphia (Sesquicentennial, 1926); and the Nathan I. Bijur and John G. Agar Prizes of the American Society of Etchers and the National Arts Club.

Lewis passed away March 20, 1957, in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He was laid to rest at the Florida Cemetery in Orange County, New York. Lewis’s death was reported in the New York Times, March 21, 1957

—Alex Jay


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