[Cover page], Interview 1
FLINT HILLS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewee's Name: Everett Ray CALL, retired Executive Editor, the Emporia
Gazette Date of Birth: February 5,1932 Place of Birth: Lowe, Kansas
Date of Interview: Not indicated, but early July, 2007
Interviewer: Loren E. Pennington, Emporia State University Emeritus
History Interview Editor: Loren E. Pennington
Editor's Note: This is the first of what became three interviews with Mr,
Call. It is of special interest for his relations of his boyhood days in
Sedan, Kansas and his early days as a newspaper photographer, and for his
commentary on William Allen White. Mr. Call never knew White personally, but
the commentaries include incidents Mr. Call picked up during his long career
at the Emporia Gazette. Mr. Call's interviews are notable for their
analytical and frank nature. In reviewing the interview Mr. Call made only a
few additions and some small changes. The additions, as well as minor
corrections by the editor, are enclosed in square brackets. Taken as a
whole, the manuscript closely follows the material on the tape.
Release Form: Enclosed
Interview Tapes: 2 audio cassette tapes: Tape 1, Side A & Side B; Tape 2,
Side A to
count 401 (total count per side of tape is 436) Manuscript Transcript: 40
pp. Depositories: Kansas State Historical Society: Manuscript Transcript
Lyon County Historical Archives: Interview Tapes and Manuscript Transcript
Emporia State University Archives: Manuscript Transcript
Manuscript Contents by Pages:
Family background, parents and grandparents, pp. 1-4, 6, 9-11,20-21
Boyhood employment during Great Depression, pp. 4-5
Early interest in automobiles, pp. 5-6, 16-17
Sedan, Kansas, in 1930s, p. 6
Reaction to Pearl Harbor attack, pp. 6-7
Family interest in foreign news after Pearl Harbor, pp. 7-8
Interest in music and family musicians in Sedan, pp. 8-9, 12-13, 17
Boyhood farm experiences, pp. 10-11
Early schooling, pp. 11-12, 18-19
World War II years in Sedan, pp. 14-17
Meets future wife, Helen Dalton, pp. 19-20
Attends Coffeyville Junior College, pp. 21-22
As dance band musician, pp. 21-22,24
As elementary school teacher, p. 22
Joins Army Reserve, p. 22
Called to active duty during Korean emergency, pp. 22-23
[Cover page], Interview 1
Active military service in Alaska, pp. 23-24
Takes up career as a photographer, pp. 24-25
Attends Emporia State University under GI Bill, pp. 25-26
Editor of ESU Bulletin, p. 26
Hired at Emporia Gazette as photographer, p 26
Hired at Kansas City Kansan as photographer, pp. 22-26
Returns to Gazette,, p. 27
Hired at Sedan Times-Star, pp, 27-28
Returns to Gazette, p. 28
Career at Gazette, pp. 28-30
William Allen White and his reputation, pp. 28-34
William Allen White and the Finney Bond Scandal, pp. 34-36
William Alien White and international personality Belle Livingston, pp.36-39
William Allen White and Theodore Roosevelt at Estes Park, Colorado, 39-40
[Page 1] Interview 1
This is a Flint Hills Oral History Project interview with Mr. Everett Ray
Call, who resides at 927 W. 24th Avenue in Emporia. Our subject is the
Emporia Gazette and its owners, William Allen White and his descendants.
Mr. Call was a long-time employee of the Gazette, beginning as a part-time
photographer and retiring as executive editor. [This is tape 1, side A.]
Loren Pennington: Ray, I should note here that you and I have known each
other for more than forty years as social friends, so this is definitely not
an arms-length interview, and we shall keep it as informal as possible. I
should like to have you begin with a sketch of your life before you started
working at the Emporia Gazette, where you were born and grew up, who your
parents were, what they did for a living, how your family fared during the
Depression and World War II, and your education and your occupational life
before you came to the Gazette.
Ray Call: You asked me to distill thousands of memories into a four- or
five-minute summary, Loren, but briefly, I was born in a little village of
Lowe, Kansas, which is about ten miles west of Sedan, Kansas, which is just
seven miles above the Oklahoma border, down in southeastern Kansas. Both my
parents were brought up on farms west of Sedan, Kansas. My mother was from
a family of eight children. My father was from a family of seven children.
They grew up on the farm. One unusual aspect was [that] my father was
stricken with polio when he was about eight years old, and his left leg was
left paralyzed for the rest of his life. And he was one of those who chose
to ignore his handicap, and I think watching him get through that handicap
has had quite an effect on my life, because we all have ailments as we get
older. Anyway, my Grandfather Goode (my mother's maiden name was Goode,
sort of a German extract) had perhaps a little
[Page 2] Interview 1
better farm than my Granddad Call did. They had a fairly average house,
they had animals, they raised crops.
LP: Let me interrupt you. You did live on the farm, then?
LP: Okay, I'm sorry.
RC: I'm talking about my mother. My mother was brought up on the farm.
LP: Oh, I see.
RC: My Grandfather Call's farm was not quite as prosperous. They had
natural gas, and one of my vivid memories of growing up was being involved
with my dad and his brothers drilling for oil. It was rather like a scene
out of God's Little Acre, for those who lived in that period, in that they
would drill on one part of the farm and maybe find a little bit of gas but
no oil. Then they would move the rig over and try again, and so on and so
on through the years. And as I got old enough, I became what they called a
tool dresser on cable tools drilling for oil, and then worked for my uncles
a little bit growing up. That was also a forming experience.
LP: Ever find much oil?
LP: Any at all?
RC: No, but I got an education about the oil sands of southeastern Kansas
from the Peru Sands down to the Bartlesville Line, or the Mississippi Line,
rather. So I have a lot of memories growing up from that. On my mother's
side, I spent several summers out on the farm and was involved, as young men
were, very young men in those days, bringing in the cattle to milk the cows
in the evening or helping carrying water to the men who had
[Page 3] Interview 1
a threshing machine, putting up grain, putting into shocks milo and
kaffircorn and things of that sort. Those memories came from both sides of
my family. As I said, they were farmers and it was expected that I would
probably follow in that rut, as I saw it.
LP: Now, this farm that your grandfather owned, you did not live on it?
LP: You lived in town?
RC: Yes, we lived in town.
LP: But you worked out there on the land?
RC: Yes, in the summertime and after school and so on. Because Dad was
paralyzed in one leg, he was not able to work on the farm, to do physical
labor as much as other people. He went to the business college at Winfield,
Kansas. He got a certificate or whatever they gave there. And then he
became, not an accountant, but a little bit more than a bookkeeper. He
eventually ran for county office, for county clerk, and he was, I thought,
pretty well qualified for that. And it was a job he held on and off for
most of his adult life.
LP: You say on and off; is that because he won some elections and lost
RC: No, he won every election he ran in, but he swore if anyone ever ran
against him, he would pull out of the race and withdraw. Well, perhaps
because he became a fixture, the people just accepted him as the county
clerk and elected him year after year after year. He did go over to
Missouri for a time and try a semi-retired life and worked as a bookkeeper
for a newspaper. But generally I grew up around the Chautauqua County
courthouse, which is a fine old three-story building. And when you go in
it, it just echoes. I remember as a little boy, or a young boy, going in
there to see my parents and
[Page 4] Interview 1
singing in the hallways to hear my voice reverberate all around the halls of
the courthouse. My mother worked at a number of clerical jobs, and at one
point she was elected county treasurer. They [my father and mother] had
adjacent offices. But I would say she served in that job probably five or
LP: I take it they continued to work their land, to work the farm?
RC: The grandparents did, but my mom and dad were not involved in that.
LP: Oh, your mother and father were not farmers at all.
RC: No, they were not.
LP: Okay, so your experience out on the land was on your grandfathers' land
on both sides.
RC: Always with grandparents, except for the oil thing, I think my dad
invested in some of these oil wells that they tried to drill on the family
farm, much to my mother's dismay. But generally, my growing-up years were
spent in Sedan, my parents working at the courthouse. And in the
Depression, all the kids in Sedan worked. We worked delivering groceries in
an old Model A Ford for the grocery store, one of the grocery stores. We
worked at the soda fountain at the drugstore, all kinds of odd jobs when we
were growing up.
LP: Now you talk about delivering groceries, that's something that wouldn't
be done today.
RC: No, but I did that and several of my friends did that. The Harmon's
Grocery Store hired kids to work for a quarter an hour, or something like
LP: That's pretty good in the Depression.
[Page 5] Interview 1
RC: It wasn't too bad, but thing that made it attractive is we had access
to this delivery truck. And all my friends, or several of my friends,
worked at Harmon's or other jobs like that. And I remember vividly, we
delivered groceries twice a day.
LP: Did people buy their groceries by calling in?
RC: That's right, they would call in.
LP: You didn't go to the store and pick your own groceries out?
RC: You could, but not to be delivered. You called in and said you wanted
a dozen eggs and quart of milk and so on, and it went out on the next
delivery. We were learning to drive, and I remember, the groceries were put
in metal boxes about two feet long and a foot wide and foot deep, a
galvanized metal basket.
LP: Each customer had a box?
RC: Each customer had a separate basket, and these things would slide on
the bed. It was a wooden floor back there with sides on it, and it was
great fun to go around a corner at a pretty good speed and see all of those
metal baskets slam over onto one side, and the next corner you'd swerve the
other way, and they'd slam over on the other side, eggs not withstanding.
LP: Knowing you over the years, I know you have a big inclination for
RC: Oh, yes.
LP: Is this where this started?
RC: Really, yes; but one reason I was fascinated by automobiles is that
when I was old enough to drive, we had no money, but my dad helped me buy an
old Model A Ford that wouldn't run. He taught me about cars by having me
overhaul that Model A Ford. I would go out every morning, and he'd say,
"Now today, I want you to take the head off
[Page 6] Interview 1
the engine. Here's what you'll do." And then he'd come home in the
evening, and we'd go over what we'd done. And we went gradually step by
step through that, grinding the valves, putting new rings on the cylinders,
putting shims in the bearings, and putting the engine back together. And
miracle of miracles, it started and ran, and this was my first car.
I should mention that my mother was a clerk at this grocery store at
one point. As I said she moved around. She worked for the Federal
government, the ASCS [Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service],
the federal farm help agency. It was a town of about 1,500, 1,600, no I
take it back. They bragged [about] population, and it was on display on the
sign as you went into Sedan; the population was 1,800. So there were
virtually no strangers in town. The boys ran from one end of town to the
other. I remember we played in every place, from the local depot where we
could climb around on the cars, and we'd put pennies on the tracks when the
steam locomotives went through, and it was a thrill to go down and watch the
telegrapher. We would go to places like (to be a little off-color) we would
go down to the sewer, and with our BB guns, we would shoot at condoms that
were floating on the water down there. It was just a growing-up experience.
Everything from the water tower at the north end of town to the railway
station at the south end. We had the run of the town. Most of us had dogs.
I knew Kenneth Webb's dog's name was Tubby. And Billy Moore's dog's name
was Skippy. This sort of thing. It was almost a scene out of the movies of
I was born in 1932, and as you know, the war broke out in 1941. . .
LP: '39, actually, but the U.S. became . . . .
[Page 7] Interview 1
RC: Yes, but Pearl Harbor was '41. I'm one of the few people who does not
remember Pearl Harbor. All my friends can remember. My wife remembers. I
don't remember. But I do remember World War II and the effects of it. We
followed World War II first of all by watching newsreels at the local
LP: May I interrupt you just a second?
LP: Were you paying much attention to foreign affairs before the United
States got involved?
RC: Oh, no, we were completely isolated. When my wife heard that Pearl
Harbor had been bombed, she thought it was near a little town of Peru, seven
miles south of Sedan, east of Sedan. So we had no notion of such things.
LP: Did you have a radio?
RC: Yes, oh, yes, we definitely had one.
LP: Ever listen to the radio news before the war?
RC: Yes, we listened before the war, yes, I remember listening to The Lone
Ranger, to Jack Armstrong, to Terry and the Pirates. These were radio
LP: Probably Little Orphan Annie?
RC: I don't remember Little Orphan Annie. But we would go-these were
after-school shows-we would go home and gather around the radio, and listen
to these serials. There were probably four of them after school. So that I
remember, but I don't remember being aware of world affairs until World War
LP: Until Pearl?
RC: Yes, till Pearl Harbor. Dad was an avid listener to Fulton Lewis, Jr.
[Page 8] Interview 1
listen much to H.V. Kaltenborne, but there were a number of commentators,
and Dad was a very regular listener.
LP: I would point out that Fulton Lewis, Jr. was an extremely conservative,
RC: Exactly right. I don't remember any left-wing broadcaster from that
period, but there probably were some, but not down in southeastern Kansas.
And since we're on the topic of the radio, this was farm country. The
music, the cultural music, that is the music of the culture down there, was
mainly country music, hillbilly music. In fact my Granddad Goode had a
wonderful red barn. I mean it was a really nice barn. It was one of my
favorite play places in all my youth. It had a hay loft, and you could drop
hay down to the horses.
LP: You were farming with horses at this point?
RC: Yes. In fact, I don't remember a tractor out there until after World
War II, so growing up, they farmed with a good team of horses, a very good
team of horses. The barn had bales of hay, and it had hay hooks, and you
can imagine all the adventures that we got into down there. But my Granddad
Goode, who had the red barn, played the harmonica, and my father played the
guitar, probably three or four chords. I had uncles who played violins, and
it was the custom, they would on Saturday night clear off, not every
Saturday night but on occasion, they would clear off a big area in the hay
loft, which had a wood floor. And they would go up there and this pick-up
band would play square dances and schottisches.
LP: Did people come from outside?
RC: Yes, all the neighbors came in.
[Page 9] Interview 1
LP: Sounds a little like Cottonwood Falls on Friday night today.
RC: Yes, exactly, exactly. My grandparents only lived about ten miles
apart, and so they were part of this community out around [Lowe], which is
west of Sedan a little bit. All the families knew each other, and they were
all farming. Nobody had money to speak of, but they had the livestock, and
they raised their own food.
LP: While you're on that subject, let me ask you what was raised on these
farms. Were they mostly animals, were they row crops, or what, on your two
RC: Okay, on Granddad Goode's farm, they raised feed, mainly, kaffircorn it
was called, milo nowadays. They put up corn. I don't remember much wheat
down there; mainly animal feed is what I remember.
LP: [Did they raise] food for animals and raise animals?
RC: They had cattle and hogs and turkeys and chickens and guineas and all
sorts of game.
LP: They raised beef cattle, didn't they?
RC: Yes, they raised beef cattle, but they also had a small herd of milk
cattle, milk cows.
LP: Did they sell milk?
RC: Yes, and I have memories of that. As I said, one of my real thrills
was going down to a pasture about a quarter mile west of the farm house with
my two uncles. They would go down, the cattle would usually be gathered in
there at the gate waiting to be milked. We would bring those cattle back to
the barn, put them in a corral there, and then they would be milked by my
uncles and my granddad.
LP: By hand?
RC: By hand, oh yes, by hand.
[Page 10] Interview 1
LP: Didn't have any milking machines then?
RC: Later in life, during World War II, I spent a couple of summers with an
uncle who had a dairy and had milking machines, but not until after the war.
LP: And where was this milk sold?
RC: The milk was put into what they called cream cans, which are galvanized
metal cans about three feet tall, about eighteen inches in diameter, I would
say. And then they were either taken to town or, in Granddad's case, they
were put on a dairy truck that made the rounds of the farms and picked up
the milk and took it in. By the way, later I worked in the local dairy,
which I'll talk about later. But anyway, they sold milk in order to make
LP: They sold, we might say, meat and milk?
RC: Didn't sell the meat. They sold live cattle, but they butchered their
own hogs for pork. They butchered a steer every fall.
LP: They sold animals?
LP: Did they sell hogs?
RC: Yes, [but] mostly cattle. The Missouri Pacific had a line that ran
really very close to both farms, and I suppose, I don't know when, but I
think it was probably in the fall, they would load cattle. At Lowe, Kansas,
the little town where I was born, they had a loading chute there. They
would take cattle into there, load them into a stock car, and then they
would get into the caboose and ride with them up to Kansas City to market.
I've heard that talked about.
[Page 11] Interview 1
LP: You never rode?
RC: No, I never rode. I spent a lot of time up at Lowe, Kansas, and, as a
matter of fact, early on, after my dad worked in the little general store
there and was the postmaster up there, it was all just one little operation,
I remember when the train went through and not the cattle train, but when
the regular train went through, they threw a bag of mail off, and they
picked up the outgoing mail with a metal contraption and a little arm that
suspended the mail bag out over the track or near the track, and when the
mail car went through, the man on board grabbed it with some contraption, I
don't know what. The train didn't stop. They threw off a bag of mail and
picked up another bag of mail.
LP: Was this a passenger train?
RC: Yes, because one of my teachers [for a time] rode that train out to the
country school where I started. [She rode it] in the morning and rode it
back in the evening.
LP: The train would stop and let him off and pick him up.
RC: Let her off.
LP: Or let her off.
RC: I started school when I was five years old, in the first grade. And
the school I went to was called Rogers, and it was closer to my Granddad
Call's farm than Granddad Goode's.
LP: This was out in the country?
RC: Yes, this was out in the country.
LP: But you said you lived in town?
RC: I did.
[Page 12] Interview 1
LP: You're the only person I've ever [known] that lived in town and went to
a country school.
RC: Well, there's a reason. I started school too early to meet the
requirements in Sedan. In other words, I was born in February, and they
wouldn't let me start in Sedan at five years of age. However, this country
school district would allow me to go to school. So I rode out-at that time,
they had a teacher in Sedan that drove a car-and I rode out and went to
school the first year, one year only, in that country school. And most
people had cars and trucks and so on, but I had one friend who rode a horse
to school during that first year. He's a friend yet today.
LP: Before we go on, one of the things I interrupted you on, but you got
off on this farming business, which is fine, but you were talking about
these Saturday-night affairs in the barn.
LP: I know that you yourself are a musician of some repute. I'll ask
again, is that how you got started?
RC: No, and as we go along, and as we talk about William Allen White, I'd
like to relate a story.
LP: I'll defer the question until then.
RC: But I didn't finish that story. We were talking about radio.
LP: Oh, yes.
RC: And those who have seen the film Coal Miner's Daughter remember the
scene of her family in the cabin listening to the Grand Old Opry, beautiful
scene. That home pictured in the Grand Old Opry was somewhat more primitive
than we had, but the
[Page 13] Interview 1
families in the Depression in that area, every Saturday night listened to
the Grand Old Opry. It was a ritual. And during the day, Dad often walked
home at noon because we were near the courthouse, and another ritual was
listening on the radio to Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. I see you don't
recognize Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, but they ended up in the movies
at one point. And they played Western swing and so on. So these were kind
of my musical backgrounds as I was growing up.
LP: Well, we had started talking about your schooling, maybe how you
RC: All right, World War II has come along, and it started in 1941, and I
was nine years old. So during the war, I was mainly in grade school. I
graduated from high school in 1949, so if you go back to 1945, you can see
that the war was ending probably when I was in what, junior high. But I
remember during the war years, the boys became acutely aware of the war, of
world events. We knew about Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, all the islands of the
Pacific. We knew about troop movements in Europe. Each of us had an army
of miniature soldiers. We had little what we call pot-metal P-38s. I don't
know what alloy it is, but it's a metal used in making toys. We had P-38s,
and we had P-51s and all that. We played at soldiers. We pretended to be
soldiers. Some would be Nazis, some would be American soldiers. We had
helmets we bought at the dime store. We had plastic pistols and rifles and
we shot at each other and pretended to fall into the dirt and all that. So
the war was very much a part of the grade school years. And in fact, I was
in the Boy Scouts, and during that period, they drilled us as soldiers.
They taught us close-order drill. I don't know that this was a policy of
the Boy Scouts, but they thought they should prepare us for war.
[Page 14] Interview 1
LP: What were your thoughts on this? I mean, you say, the boys were very
interested in the war. Did they look forward to taking part in it if it
went that long, or did they look on it with trepidation?
RC: No, there was no trepidation.
LP: Nobody was worried or afraid?
RC: It was very much like wanting to be a high school athlete. The whole
community revolved around the high school football team and basketball team.
And as younger boys, you aspired to be a football player and/or basketball
player. I was neither. I was a terrible athlete. But anyway, it was the
same hero-worship that we had for our uncles; I had, let's see, one, two,
three, four uncles in the war. One of them was in the Battle of the Bulge,
for example. I remember when he came home-his name was Claudie Goode-when
he came home from the war, he trembled, his hands just quivered all the
time. He had just come home on leave from the Battle of the Bulge. I
remember so vividly he brought home to my grandfather a souvenir, a German
Luger. And I must say this was the most desirable piece of metal I've ever
seen in my life. I mean we would have given anything to be able to play
with that German Luger, that marvelous piece of machinery. You pinched
those two little round things on top of it and pulled back on the mechanism
to load it. I can see it to this day. But the older folks didn't talk
about it [the war] to us, to the children. He [Claudie] had been sent home
after the Battle of the Bulge for battle fatigue and then later went back
in. He literally trembled, and I remember it well. The family would gather
around him and listen to his stories. He told us stories that you've heard
many times of the Germans and the Americans throwing hand grenades back and
forth until they exploded at one place or the other. That's a familiar
[Page 15] Interview 1
my Uncle Claudie remembered that. So World War II was very important. We
LP: At the movies?
RC: At the movies. It seemed to me they were on almost every night, but
I'm told they were mainly on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But you saw
everything. I remember they would run filmstrips from the gun cameras on
American airplanes. And you could see them actually shooting down a German
plane. This was a truly exciting thing. I can remember movies of the
German death camps. After the Americans went in, they had newsreels of
those. And they were horrifying, just terrible things, but fascinating to
young boys. At school-and this came mainly late in the war, I think as I
was in junior high, and this was in study hall at the combined junior
high-senior high level-Life magazine was a wonderful source of information
and fascination about World War II, or that is it created fascination.
Again, the liberation of the death camps, the actual battle scenes, the
flame throwers in the South Pacific. Live Japanese soldiers running. . . .
This is tape 1 of the first interview with Ray Call, and this is side B.
LP: When we ended side A, you were talking about the battle scenes in the
Pacific, so if you want to pick up there.
RC: Yes. I was describing the scenes, and we saw them often, flame
throwers that the Americans used in the South Pacific. I remember them not
so much in Europe, but in the South Pacific, in such places as Iwo Jima,
they aimed these flame throwers into caves, and the jellied gasoline coated
these Japanese soldiers. They can running out like flaming torches and fell
to the earth and finally died. And you know, those things make quite an
impression on a twelve-year-old boy or whatever I was. So your question
[Page 16] Interview 1
what was our attitude toward the soldiers and toward the war? We
worshipped them as heroes, and we looked forward, hoping we would have a
chance to fly a P-38 or kill Germans or kill Japanese.
LP: War was the great adventure?
RC: That's exactly right, and we didn't leave Sedan, Kansas. All this
happened in the back lots, or in the vacant lots and in the backyards of our
homes. As the war ended, we went into high school. The war completely
changed Sedan. Before the war, it was a bustling, prosperous farm
community. Saturday night was a bustling market night. People, the
farmers, came into town to buy groceries, and the streets were packed with
cars. After the war, people began to drift away. Many of them had gone
away to work in defense plants in Wichita, several of my uncles and aunts,
and as they say in the song, "How are you going to keep 'em down on the
farm?" So gradually Sedan began to shrink and began to deteriorate, but
even in my high school years, it was still going pretty well. Sedan High
School was a three-story brick building, and it also had the junior high
school in it, as I mentioned. During the Great Depression, some limestone
buildings had been added to the campus. The National Youth Administration
hired local people to come in and build an industrial arts building, a
gymnasium, cafeteria, those kinds of things. So it was mainly this
three-story brick building with some limestone buildings around it. After
fourteen years of age, most of us, somehow, most of the boys got cars. We
had jobs and you could buy Model As, which were then, what, twenty years
old, or twenty-five. [Model As were first manufactured in 1927-ed.] This
was a change from World War II, when there were no new cars, and gasoline
[Page 17] Interview 1
LP: You could afford to buy the used cars at that time which, right after
the war in fact, were selling for practically more than new ones? But
you're talking about buying a car about when?
RC: Well, let's see. Let's look at that. I was born in '32, and by the
time I was fourteen, would '46.
LP: '46. But the war would have been over.
RC: Yes, the war was over.
LP: But cars were still hard to get.
RC: Yes, but these were, these were really considered relics. Model Ts,
LP: I drove a Model A myself.
RC: All right, so they were just a little beyond the pale. They took a lot
of care, and there were a lot of them, so most of us had some kind of an old
car like that, an old Dodge or something. Not all of us.
LP: Cars that were made in the Twenties or early Thirties.
RC: Yes, right. Exactly right. So they were a part of our culture and, by
then, cars had radios. Not the ones we drove, but our parents had cars that
had radios. I remember-getting back to music-as I grew older and grew away
from the music of my childhood, I became a great lover of jazz, of New
Orleans jazz. I can remember we would load a car with boys and drive down
to the Peru beer joint and we would listen, on a Sunday evening, to the New
Orleans Jazz Club, and to musicians like Sydney Bechet and Louis Armstrong
and Kid Ory and all the rest.
The American Legion was still popular in Sedan, and dwelling on the
social side, the Legion held a youth dance every Saturday night. We had a
juke box. The music we
[Page 18] Interview 1
danced to was mainly left-over music from World War II, Glenn Miller and
Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra, and on and on, Artie Shaw. And as we became
aware of girls, we went to places like dances in the Legion. Generally, we
didn't mix. The girls were in groups, the boys were in groups, and we went
around in cars. But on occasions like that, we would get together and dance
and all the old adolescent juices would begin to flow.
As I said, I was not an athlete. I tried football and basketball.
I loved baseball, but I had no talent for it. I was absolutely paralyzed
with stage fright when I was out on the field.
LP: Afraid the ball would come your way?
RC: Afraid people would look at me, that all the attention would be on me,
and I would be out there, and I still have some of that to this day.
LP: Were you playing in the outfield.
RC: I really didn't ever play. I practiced with the team. They urged me
to play with them, but I was too frightened to play with them.
LP: Ah, so you didn't even in play in games at all.
RC: I went out for football. Part of this was the fact that I started
school a year early. I was scrawny, I was a small child. I was bookish. I
remember getting my first book, which was Louisa May Alcott's, not Little
Women, but Little Men. Someone gave me that for Christmas, and I remember
it vividly, but that started me down a more bookish trail. But as we got on
into high school, we dated more and became a little more confident in our
driving, and we played games like ditch 'em. On the academic side, I think
it's important to remember this was a limited high school. The school did
not offer languages. It did not offer chemistry. It did not offer
journalism. It did not offer Latin,
[Page 19] Interview 1
for example. It was a very limited curriculum. I got by pretty well
because I had a pretty good I.Q., but if I had been pushed, and had more
courses available to me, I wonder what course I might have taken. But
that's neither here nor there.
LP: Oh, I think it is here or there.
RC: So, a fairly normal high school, lots of fun, lots of mischief. And I
should mention, I suppose at this point, that I became aware of a girl who
was later to be my wife. Her name was Helen Dalton. She was from a
different walk of life. Her father was an attorney. His name was John
Dalton. I remember him pretty much like Gregory Peck as Addicus in To Kill
a Mockingbird. He was tall, very soft-spoken and thoughtful. He was that
kind of a guy. He was from a good family in Junction City. The family had
a contracting firm and, in fact, built some of the buildings on Fort Riley.
And so he had gone to Michigan law school, had married a girl out of
Junction City, Helen's mother. She not only had a degree, but got a
master's degree. She was teacher in the high school. He was headed into
politics, he had run for congress when he was stricken, probably-we really
don't know-by a form of epilepsy, [as well as heart disease]. He had had
some football injuries, but anyway, he was suddenly unable to practice
[law]. Although the family was able to keep a very nice two-story white
house near the courthouse, one of the nicer houses in town, not the largest,
but a nice, nice home, it fell upon her to bring in the income and keep the
family together. So this was Helen's family.
LP: Now you say it fell on her, you mean on Helen or on her mother?
RC: On her mother.
LP: On Helen's mother.
[Page 20] Interview 1
RC: She had just been a "Housewife," but now she had to teach and renew her
certificate and really had to struggle. Helen has a brother named Jack
Dalton. He's an attorney out in Dodge City. He's six years older than
Helen, something like that. While her mother was working, Helen often had
to do the cooking, the chores, which was really nothing new. We all grew up
having to work. But that was her family. She was a close friend of my
sister. In fact we literally, not quite literally, we were within two doors
of each other in the same neighborhood; [she was] almost the girl next door.
I digress because I lived in probably a dozen houses in Sedan. After mom
and dad were married, and they struggled through the Depression, they had
some fascinating stories. One of the things dad did to make ends meet was
to buy an old run-down house. And then in the evening, he would repair it,
paint it, put it back together-he was pretty handy at that kind of thing-and
then sell it for a profit.
LP: I take it he got around pretty well in spite of his handicap.
RC: As I said, he had no use of his left leg.
LP: How did he walk?
RC: He had crutches. He could mow the lawn, play golf.
LP: On crutches?
RC: On crutches. I remember one time, we had a pretty comfortable home by
this time-I mean by those standards-and the house needed a new roof. And he
decided he would put it on himself, and so he got up the ladder, and it was
my job to carry up shingles while he put a new roof on the house. He had an
iron will, an iron will. The story is told that at one time he had a
toothache-I don't know if this is of interest-he had a toothache, and he
decided to jerk the tooth out himself. So he got some fishing
[Page 21] Interview 1
line, which was braided in those day and pretty tough stuff, 25- or
30-pound test, and wrapped it around the tooth and jerked on it until he
finally broke the line, and [then] he doubled the line and finally got the
tooth out. I think his handicap formed that kind of a will. He was
unbelievable. I was talking about how he repaired houses. We would be in a
house maybe a year and repair it and then sell it and make a little bit of
money and move up to a little bit nicer house and do the same thing. And I
don't think I'm exaggerating when I say we lived in a dozen houses in Sedan
through the years as he did that, starting back in my grade-school days.
So I graduated from high school in 1949, and my parents agreed to
let me go to Coffeyville Junior College, which was twenty miles to the east.
They would give, as I recall, twenty dollars a week, and this was to pay
for my food and my expenses. I would drive to Coffeyville on Monday and
then I would come home to Sedan on the weekend.
LP: Were you making any money on your own during this time?
RC: Yes, doing a couple of things, and one of the things, one of the skills
I picked up in high school was playing in a dance band. This is the one
thing William Allen White and I really have in common. He did the same
thing. He made money playing piano in a dance band in El Dorado and Emporia
just as I did.
LP: But you didn't play the piano.
RC: No, I played the drums. I took lessons from an old jazz drummer there
in Sedan named Bunny Garrett, learned how to hold the sticks and do a press
roll and so on. Well, to be honest, there weren't that many drummers in
that part of the country, so I had no trouble getting jobs playing dances.
Back then, the union scale was fifteen dollars a night, which was pretty
good money, and twenty dollars on a Saturday night or on New
[Page 22] Interview 1
Year's Eve. So, you know, I picked up some money doing that. And during
the summer, I worked, but mainly I lived off my parents. They fed me and
put me up in the summertime. So I went to Coffeyville Junior College for
one year and then got a thirty-hour teacher's certificate, which was the
lowest standard at that time.
LP: To teach at what level school?
RC: To teach in country, rural schools.
LP: Grade schools?
RC: Grade school, first through eighth grade. I taught fourth through
eighth. Then after going to school the first year then, I taught at a
little school called Hillsdale. I think I had probably twenty-five students
and the other teacher another twenty-five. I was just a terrible teacher.
You can imagine. We went through the textbook and passed the tests, but at
the end of the first year then, the state raised the requirement for
teaching certificates. So I had to go back and take more hours during the
summer at Coffeyville Junior College to meet the new requirements. And I
did that for three years, two years at Hillsdale and one year at Cloverdale.
Meanwhile, the Korean War was beginning to breathe down our necks.
I had joined the Reserves, let's see, it must have been about the second
year out of high school. Anyway, I joined the Army Reserve there in Sedan.
Again, that was a source of income. You went to summer camp and made a
little bit of money there, and also you got to wear a uniform. You got to
fire an Army carbine. During the summer I got to drive an Army tank one
time, and so on. So there was some glamour to it. But I went into the
Reserves, and by the end of my third year of teaching, my name had come up
for the Korean draft. So I volunteered to go on active duty. This was in
1953, and the combat, the fighting,
[Page 23] Interview 1
was over in Korea. But we were still in what they called the Korean
Emergency. My basic training was at Fort Riley, and on my first leave home
from Fort Riley, I became engaged to Helen. We'd been going together for a
year and a half. And I gave her a diamond ring and we became engaged, and
then we married in 1954. And then after I finished training, I was sent to
Port Whittier, Alaska. And because I had gone into the Army as a corporal,
because of my Reserve training, I was able take my wife with me to Alaska.
So we were married in April of '54, and she then followed me to Alaska. I
was the personnel sergeant, actually, of the port. The port of Whittier was
an Army post, and its role was to unload ships that brought in Army material
for all of Alaska to this warm-water inlet in Alaska, near the Cook Inlet.
It was on the west side of the mountains, so the Japanese current brought in
a continual flow of moisture, but it really didn't get much colder there
than it did in Kansas. But we had rain all the time in the summer, and in
the winter we had like, thirty feet of snow. It covered the buildings. The
streets became little canyons down through the post. Snow removal was one
of the main occupations.
Needless to say, Helen became pregnant soon after she got up there.
We had an interesting social life. I was playing in a dance band up there,
the military post band that played for officers' club dances and the NCO
club and so on. I remember, one strong memory of Helen when she was
probably eight months pregnant, and she was boarding the camp
transportation, which was climbing up some iron stairs into the back of a
six-by-six Army truck, which was covered with a padded cover to keep it
warm. It was a little difficult for Helen up there. And our son John was
delivered when we were in Alaska. Helen went into Anchorage to the post
hospital up there at Elmendorf Air Force Base, I think. And John was born a
little, let's see, a year after we were married, which
[Page 24] Interview 1
would have been in, just almost exactly a year, in 1955. By coincidence,
our anniversary was on April the 4th, our first anniversary; Helen's father
died on April the 5th, and then John was born on the next day. So we had a
lot of adventures in Alaska. We went through an earthquake. We were almost
killed in a trailer fire, and we were saved by two cats we had. This may be
more than we want, but the earthquake caused the electricity to go off in
the port. Our oil heaters had thermostats, and they operated on
electricity, so when the electricity went off, the oil heaters just
continued to go on and on and on. Our little trailer lean-to, which was a
little building attached, a little living area attached, was separated by a
wall, and the cats raised such a ruckus trying to crawl under this wall that
they woke us up. And when we opened the door, the plastic decoration and
vases and so on in the living room had melted, it was so hot. The air was
almost blue. So we had some adventures in Alaska. We went to the salmon
runs and so on.
So this would take us back to college. After I was discharged from
the Army, I came back to Kansas and decided to get a degree in commerce,
which was teaching typing and shorthand and so on, because I had done those
kinds of things.
LP: You had never thought of being a journalist at this time?
RC: However, before I went into the active duty, I had been, and something
I had forgotten, I had become a photographer. In Sedan, I became interested
in photography. I developed my first film in my bedroom closet and made
contact prints, and then gradually moved to an Argus C-3, and finally saved
enough money to buy a little Speed Graphic. And I opened a little studio in
Sedan that operated in the summer and in the evenings. And we made a little
money with that.
[Page 25] Interview 1
LP: You were actually in the photography business?
LP: I see.
RC: But it was pretty limited.
LP: You weren't making a living at it?
RC: No, not really. I was teaching, and this was a part-time affair.
LP: More than a hobby but not really a job.
RC: Not really, but I did weddings and so on and made some money. One of
my jobs was a stringer for the Coffeyville Journal. Whenever there was a
news event, I would go out and take a picture of it and take it to the
Coffeyville Journal, and I was paid for it.
LP: So you were somewhat involved in journalism.
RC: Yes. When I went in the Army, I became more interested in journalism
and took a USAFI course, which was a military correspondence course in
journalism, basic journalism. That was the only training I had in the Army.
But when I got out of the Army, I determined that I would become a commerce
teacher. And I decided I'd like to come to Emporia State University because
I had been here for the music contests they had every summer here.
LP: This was while you were in high school?
RC: Yes, while we were in high school. They called them music festivals, I
think then, but all the competitors would come from high schools across
Kansas, and I fell in love with the campus. So we decided to come back to
Emporia. Again, we were living on our military. . . .
LP: G.I. Bill?
[Page 26] Interview 1
RC: Yes, the G.I. Bill, that's what I was trying to say, the G.I. Bill
which was pretty limited. We lived on West Street in a second-story
apartment, and we needed more money, so I got a job at the Gazette. No, let
me back up, the first job I had was as Bulletin editor.
LP: Bulletin editor?
RC: Yes, editor of the Emporia State Bulletin.
LP: Editor of the Emporia State University Bulletin.
RC: But not for that long, because I was hired and I was paid, and as I
remember, about halfway through the semester, I had an offer from the
Gazette to become a part-time photographer there, which paid more than the
LP: In other words, the Gazette approached you.
LP: How did they know about you?
RC: [I had applied for a job there earlier.] I was hired as a part-time
LP: How much of a part-time were you?
RC: Oh, evenings and weekends.
LP: Would it be as much as half-time?
RC: Yes, I would think so, twenty hours, yes, easily. And then I also made
a little money by shooting fraternity parties. I would go to a fraternity
party and take pictures of the couples and then sell them a picture for a
dollar apiece, something like that. So I was pretty much into photography.
I had had just this little taste of journalism, and so I got on down at the
Gazette. Eventually, I dropped out of college and became a full-time
photographer there. And I did pretty well at that and had a job offer from
[Page 27] Interview 1
City Kansan, which I took. And we really struggled. We could hardly make a
living at that. But when I was at the Kansas City Kansan. . . .
LP: I take it you moved to Kansas City.
RC: Yes, we moved to Kansas City to a very basic house way out on State
Street. While I was at the Kansan, I was sent out to photograph a story-it
may have been the tornado that hit Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills-but I
was also asked if I could write a story about what I'd seen and what I had
done. Because I had had this USAFI course, I had some basic knowledge of
journalism, and I wrote it, and they decided, maybe I should be a
reporter-photographer. And then I became more of a reporter.
LP: Was this still at the Kansas City Kansan?
RC: Still at the Kansas City Kansan. Then I had a call from Ted McDaniel
of the Emporia Gazette, asking if I would like to come back down to Emporia.
And we were starving, well not starving, but we were really in trouble.
LP: Did you still have only one child at this point?
RC: Yes, although our second child was born in Kansas City. So we decided
to come back to Emporia. And I then began in the newsroom, as a
photographer and then also in the newsroom in a dual role,
reporter/photographer. And I took one detour from that. After a couple of
years, I had a call from my old hometown paper in Sedan, the Sedan
Times-Star. The editor there was getting a divorce, and he was going to put
his wife in the asylum at Osawatomie, and he needed to go Reno, Nevada, so
he could get a quick divorce and marry another woman, and he needed somebody
to run the paper. And he promised that when he got back he would sell me
half interest in it, and I thought, "Oh, that's what I want to do."
[Page 28] Interview 1
This is tape 2 of the first Call interview, and this is side A.
LP: Ray, you were talking about your connection with the Sedan Times-Star.
RC: Yes, I had been hired down there to run the paper while the owner went
to Reno to get a divorce from his wife, and he had promised that when all
this was said and done, I could either buy the paper or buy in with him. Of
course when he got the divorce and everything was finished, he remarried and
he didn't need me anymore. But, fortunately the Emporia Gazette did, so I
went back to the Gazette. By this time. . . .
LP: This is the third time you've worked there.
RC: This is the third time, that's exactly right.
LP: You could always go back and get a job there.
RC: This covered a period of about a year. So I went back to the Gazette.
By then, I was ready to become wire editor, that is, to edit the Associated
Press copy and write headlines and that sort of thing. And from then on it
was just a steady climb. I became city editor; I became managing editor;
and eventually [I became] executive editor. So that is how I evolved into a
LP: This is a kind of peculiar thing we're about to embark on here, because
ordinarily in oral history, we want to talk about things the interviewee
knows about directly. But we want to start with William Allen White, who
was of course dead and gone by the time you arrived there. I don't know
what we would call this. I guess, maybe we would call it a look at
folklore, because in the years you were at the Gazette, I'm sure you heard a
great deal about William Allen White. Maybe we ought to start with this.
When you went to work for the Gazette, obviously the Gazette was a very
famous paper. William
[Page 29] Interview 1
Allen White had been a very famous man. The Emporia Gazette was probably
considered the epitome of the small-town, or the small-city newspaper.
LP: How much did that reputation weigh on your thinking when you started
working with the Gazette?
RC: Not at all. Not at all. I agree that the reputation was important,
and as I became aware of the world and the newspaper business, I realized
what a help it was. And I eventually began to go to some national
conventions and regional conventions, and always, the Emporia Gazette,
William Allen White's paper.
LP: In other words, it assisted you?
RC: Yes, right. That's right. [Helen says her mother told her that
William Allen White once stayed in their house when he was running for
governor, which makes sense because her father was active in the Republican
Party and ran for Congress during the Depression.]
LP: The reputation of the Gazette and of William Allen White assisted you
personally in your career.
RC: I'm sad to say over my career, that faded, and by the time I retired, I
would go to a convention and the young men and women wouldn't have any idea
who William Allen White was. The old-timers still knew, but the young
LP: His reputation has not worn well over the years?
RC: He's faded. I think his reputation has faded through the years.
LP: Did this give you any sense of pride and accomplishment that you worked
for this newspaper?
[Page 30] Interview 1
RC: Absolutely. Again, it was an education, and as I became aware of
things, aware of the Gazette's role in American, even world, history, then I
realized this is quite a privilege. And I really became proud and am proud
of the Emporia Gazette, but when I first started, I was just a struggling
young bridegroom from Sedan, Kansas.
LP: When you came to Emporia after your stint in the Army, did the Emporia
Gazette and William Allen White-were they famous in your mind when you
RC: Not at all. I didn't even remember him, Loren. I'm sure I must have
read the Mary White editorial when I was growing up, but it didn't stick.
LP: Yes, because he was in all the literature books and this sort of thing.
RC: Yes, the Mary White editorial.
LP: The Mary White thing.
RC: Which is one of the great pieces of American writing, I think. . . .
And it was a lot of fun to be around a newspaper office and to develop
pictures of fires and car wrecks and to write about politics. And it was
only gradually that I had been here awhile and as I continued to work, I
really became aware of how lucky I was.
LP: When I told my mother that I was moving to Emporia State University,
the first thing she said was, "You're going where William Allen White was."
I mean, William Allen White meant a good deal to her.
RC: And I was just rereading his autobiography, and he was a marvelous guy.
He did wonderful things. Of course his son-and we'll talk about his son
later-but I was, I really was privileged to work here.
LP: Well, let's talk about William Allen White. Let me start with this
kind of general question, and I don't know exactly how to phrase it. What
was your thought about the
[Page 31] Interview 1
quality of the Gazette coming from William Allen White? What did you think
of this newspaper when you were working there your first, oh, months or
RC: Again, I really wasn't aware of William Allen White early on. I was
aware of the surroundings, of the people I was working with, and certainly
of his son, William Lindsay White.
LP: You're telling me it took you a while to get acquainted with William
RC: Yes, exactly.
LP: Do you think you're pretty well acquainted with him now?
RC: I think so.
LP: I mean, you never knew him personally. But you know of him.
RC: No, but I've read enough and heard enough from the family and from the
community that I'm aware of his role in history. And as I say, it's a
matter of pride.
LP: Do you feel that you know him?
RC: No, but I as I say, there are some things that I can relate to. He was
a small town Kansas boy, and he grew up in a fairly simple town. But he had
quite a family. He was the son of a doctor and so on. So he was a
LP: Can you tell me some of things that come to your mind when you think
"William Allen White" today?
RC: Okay. Before we started this project, you told me to try to pick my
memory and to think back of the legends or the stories I've heard about
William Allen White. Of course one thing that made me aware of him
particularly as I made mistakes as an editor, was well, if William Allen
White were alive, this wouldn't happen. I have heard that many, many times.
[Page 32] Interview 1
LP: You've been compared to William Allen White and not favorably.
RC: Yes; "If he were alive today, the Gazette blah, blah, blah. He's
turning over in his grave." I have heard that. I literally have heard that.
But my image of him as a person-let me back up; I would say my image of him
as an editor, that image has come from what I've read, from his
autobiography, from what I've learned from countless sources.
LP: You mean from countless personal sources, by talking to people.
RC: Whitley Austin, Rolla Clymer. Whitley Austin was editor of the Salina
Journal. Even old Oscar Stauffer of the Stauffer publications, I've talked
to him and heard stories by him. I remember that John McCormally had
memories of him [William Allen White].
LP: Now these are all outstanding editors in Kansas journalism.
RC: Stuart Aubrey was another one. Rolla Clymer.
LP: And you have talked at length with all there people?
RC: Well, not at length, but you know, at conventions, and journalists are
great drinkers, and after the program, you go to a room and gather around
and have a bar open and listen to stories from the old-timers. But my
memories of his personal life have come mainly from things I've heard from
W. L. White, his son, and Kathrine White, from Emporia people, from movies.
The scene, for example, in the movie Mary White of the Ku Klux Klan parade
in Emporia and his fight with the Klan. These personal memories have really
come from different sources, from people I've talked to in the business and
in Emporia. We didn't talk about what kind of stories we wanted to
reminisce about, but I'm going to just mention three or four of them, and
you tell me what you'd like to talk about. The one about William Allen
White and liquor in the Gazette.
[Page 33] Interview 1
LP: Let's talk about William Allen White and liquor, because he had a
reputation for being a big teetotaler.
RC: This is absolutely right, and I just reviewed in his book, I just
reread the piece about the night when he became a teetotaler, when he swore
off, as they say. He was a college student, and he had gone up to Lawrence
for a wedding in a prominent Jewish family, and he described the evening as
it went along, and they were being served an effervescent drink, bubbly
drink, which he thought was ginger ale or soda water or something. And he
describes how his behavior changed at the evening went on. He was with his
close pal Vernon Kellogg, who was the son of Lyman B. Kellogg, the former
president of Emporia State. They were inseparable for years and years and
years, very, very close friends. But anyway, they were both drinking this,
what they thought was sarsaparilla, and their behavior became more
outrageous, and they began singing and they began dancing with the Jewish
mother. And William Allen White decided he wanted to play the piano, and
they had to dissuade him from doing that. Well, as you probably have
guessed, they weren't drinking ginger ale. They were drinking champagne,
and they got just blind drunk and just made utter fools of themselves. Of
course, the morning after, he felt terrible and was horribly embarrassed,
and became a teetotaler. I mean he wasn't mean about it, but he didn't care
to drink and didn't have it easily available around the house. All right,
so we get to the story. This is a story about, and I've been told this, and
I think maybe you've heard it, it was about a linotype operator at the
Gazette who somehow got his hand caught in the mechanism of a linotype
machine, these big, mechanical monsters that set type. And they have great
gears and things. Anyway, the linotype operator got his hand caught in a
linotype machine and was pretty badly injured, bleeding
[Page 34] Interview 1
and in pretty great pain. And they didn't, of course, in those days, have
instantaneous ambulances, so they sent out for-generally ambulances came
from funeral homes; I don't know if that was the case here. But anyway,
they sent out for an ambulance, and meanwhile, this guy was in great pain.
Well, William Allen White would not have liquor around the Gazette. There
was a hard and fast rule about it, but people being people-there was an old
pressman by the name of Sam Gage. I say pressman, I think he worked in the
press room, but an employee named Sam Gage, who always had a pint of whiskey
down in the basement, and everyone assumed that William Allen White was
ignorant of this. But as this man was really writhing in agony and
screaming in pain, the story is told that William Allen White said to Sam,
"Sam, go get your bottle of whiskey and let's see if we can't help ease the
pain for this man." And I've heard that story two or three times, so I
think it's probably true. We can talk about the bond scandal or Cary Grant.
LP: This is the famous Finney Bond Scandal.
RC: The famous Finney Bond Scandal. This is a scandal involving an Emporia
banker and his son, and books have been written about it, so I won't dwell
on it. But the banker and his son were caught stealing money from the State
of Kansas by forging bonds and selling them to the state. And they got
caught. And it was during the Depression, and the state, the attitude in
the state was one of utter fury. People were just-the Finneys lived well,
and they were rich people, and here they were stealing from the poor school
districts of Kansas. And there was just a press frenzy about it, we would
LP: And of course Kansas had a very militant governor at that point by the
name of Alf Landon.
RC: Alf Landon.
[Page 35] Interview 1
LP: Who was a big friend of William Allen White, supposedly.
RC: Yes, so they assumed. One of William Allen White's close friends in
Emporia was W. W. Finney. W.W. Finney, the father. And the son, whose name
escapes me [it was Ronald Finney-ed.] was a friend of W. L. White. The
Finneys were great friends of the Whites. And in fact, [W. W. Finney] was
associated in politics and in town events with William Allen White. They
were allies in a lot of things. And as this fury about the bond scandal
grew, people began to pay some attention to William Allen White. Well, did
he have a role in this? You know, he's a prominent rich man, they thought.
LP: And certainly Emporia's most prominent citizen, and probably before
this, best liked.
RC: Yes. And did have a hand in this? Was he one of them who had stolen?
LP: It was almost like your father had been accused.
RC: Oh, yes. There was just a close association. The guy investigating it
was from Emporia, Clarence Beck. So anyway, when this really peaked, when
things were at their very worst, William Allen White was in Europe on tour.
And the talk I remember was from Kathrine White, William Lindsay White's
wife, the daughter-in-law of William Allen White, and of her husband,
William Lindsay White. And the story they told is that the family of
William Allen White and several close friends in Emporia really began to
worry about William Allen White being arrested and put on trial for this.
And so they came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to urge
William Allen White to stay over in Europe.
LP: He was in Europe when this broke?
RC: He was in Europe. For him to stay in Europe until this died down. And
[Page 36] Interview 1
things really were terrible, he could stay in Switzerland or something, I
don't know. They really talked about this.
LP: They really thought there was a possibility of his arrest?
RC: That's what they said. I've heard this from Mrs. White and from him
[W.L. White]. And you know, they had a group of influential friends here in
Emporia, and they talked about this. And at one point, they, whether it was
by telegram, I don't know how, but they urged, I think by telegram, they
urged William Allen White to stay put over there, and not come back to
Kansas and get involved in this scandal because there was a chance he might
be arrested as a co-conspirator. Well, of course William Allen White would
have none of it, and the first thing he did was pack up and come home and
stand by Finney as best he could. And he was never accused, and it all
turned out well. But there was serious thought of having him become a
fugitive in Switzerland, I think, at one point. So that's the Finney Bond
Scandal story. Another amusing story involves Cary Grant. Do you know the
story I'm talking about?
LP: No, I don't. Are you talking about Cary Grant the movie star?
RC: That's right. And this involved a very famous person of the time. I'm
thinking in the Thirties. But her name was, I believe, was Belle
[Livingston]. The stories I remember, she was an orphan who was taken up by
a preacher and his family in Americus. But she was something of a wild
child. She ran away with a no-good and finally ended up in New York City
where she was an early-day Texas Guinan, that is, a night club personality.
[Page 37] Interview 1
RC: Entertainer and a kept woman of some notoriety. And she even became an
international figure. She went to Europe and attracted a great deal of
attention. She was an international personality.
LP: Are we speaking of Belle or Texas?
LP: You're just comparing her to Texas Guinan.
RC: Texas Guinan.
LP: Who was a well-known saloon keeper.
RC: Saloon keeper. Exactly. In New York City. And that's the way Belle
started out earlier. But anyway, she became an international personality.
Well, at one point, she decided she was going to California, to Hollywood.
And on her way, the press followed her, [as they do with] these girls in our
time, Paris Hilton and so on. She attracted a lot of attention from the
press. But she decided she was going to go to Hollywood. She was going to
take the train out, and on the way, she was going to stop in Emporia to see
her "Old friend," William Allen White. Well, of course, I don't think he
even knew her, but she was doing this to attract attention. So a lot of
attention was focused on Emporia because she was coming this way with a
traveling companion. About that time, William Allen White was entertaining
the governor [he was really entertaining a famous former Emporian] who was
going to give a speech down in Soden's Grove, and [who was going to stay the
night with the Whites]. By this time, William [Lindsay] White was grown and
married, and he and his wife were here too, W. L. White and Kathrine White
[the year was 1931-ed.]. And all of these forces began to come together.
Belle [Livingston] was coming to Emporia to visit with William Allen White
without really his knowledge or
[Page 38] Interview 1
consent; she was trying to attract attention on the same day [a famous
person] was staying at the William Allen White house with his wife and was
speaking at Soden's Grove. And, on that day, Kathrine and W.L. White took
it upon themselves-they knew all about Belle [Livingston], and they knew
she. . . .
LP: Naturally, being New Yorkers.
RC: Yes, they were New Yorkers. They had lived in New York, and in fact
were part of this crowd. But they knew it would be a scandal if she came to
the William Allen White house. So, they were all going to go down to the
speech. And W. L. and Kathrine took the housekeeper, Bertha [Colglazier]
aside and said, "Now, if this middle-aged woman comes here and tries to get
into the house, you must not let her come in under any circumstances. It
would be a terrible scandal." So, they went down to hear the speech.
During the course of the speech, the [speaker's] wife became ill, and she
decided she would go back to the William Allen White house because she
wasn't feeling well. So they took her back up there, and she was met at the
door by the housekeeper, who wouldn't let her in.
LP: Thinking she was Belle [Livingston].
RC: Thinking she was Belle [Livingston], this scandalous woman from New
York City. Well, I guess there was quite a scene, and it all ended well.
And Belle [Livingston] didn't go to the William Allen White house. But she
did stay at the Broadview Hotel. And here we have documentation about her
being there, stories in the Gazette and in history books, of her being there
with her companion, her traveling companion. The traveling companion was
Cary Grant, the actor. And there's a story-I swear to you there's a story
about a Gazette reporter going over to see them. I don't think Cary Grant
[Page 39] Interview 1
was famous then, but Belle [Livingston] was, and Cary Grant came around
modeling some of Belle's underwear and all kinds of outrageous behavior over
at the hotel. And there's a story about this in the Gazette at that time.
And so, I guess what I'm saying is this is how Cary Grant almost met William
Allen White or something, I don't know what. But that's a true story.
[There follows a mistaken discussion as to whether Governor Henry Allen was
the speaker on the above occasion and it was finally decided that he could
not have been. This discussion has been omitted from the manuscript on the
grounds it had nothing to do with the subject-ed.]
RC: And how about the story of Teddy Roosevelt and Estes Park? Have you
had that or heard that?
LP: Let's go on with that because that would just about finish this tape.
RC: All right. As he became more prosperous, William Allen White bought a
cabin in Moraine Park, which is just above Estes Park in the Rocky
Mountains. And I might tell you this was in the days before air
conditioning, and a lot of people with money in Kansas put cabins out in the
mountains so they could get away from the terrible Kansas heat. William
Allen White built a main cabin. Then he had a little cabin as a quiet place
where he could go and write. And then he had a couple of guest cabins. And
they were very primitive. They were not fitted with bathrooms or gas heat
or anything like that. I cannot pinpoint the time, but at the time of this
story, he was a friend of Teddy Roosevelt. I'm wondering if it wasn't when
Teddy was putting together the Bull Moose Movement, or something like that.
Anyway, he and William Allen White were by then good friends. William Allen
White invited him out to use one of his cabins in Estes Park, which was
[Page 40] Interview 1
right up Teddy Roosevelt's alley. As you know, he was an outdoorsman and
loved the mountains. So he agreed to come out and visit William Allen White
with all of his entourage because he was caught up in international affairs,
either as president or as candidate for the Bull Moose. I cannot tell you
the time. Anyway, they did have a telephone at the cabin. And Teddy
Roosevelt came out and sort of set up an office with his staff and
communicated with people back in Washington, D.C. and New York and so on, on
William Allen White's telephone. Well, the thing he didn't know was that
the telephone out there was a party line, and according to the forest
rangers who tell the story out there, people all over Estes Park were
listening in on Teddy Roosevelt's conversations. That's my story about
LP: Well, Ray, we have come just about to the end of this tape, so I think
we will put off further talk until next time, because I don't think we have
the time today to go on. So we'll pick on our next tape with anything more
you have on William Allen White, and then we will go on to talk about
William Lindsay White.
[Tape ends side A, count 401. Total count of side A is 432.]
[Cover page 1] Interview 2
FLINT HILLS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT COVER SHEET
Interviewee: Everett Ray Call, retired Executive Editor, the Emporia Gazette
Date of Birth: February 5,1932
Place of Birth: Lowe, Kansas
Date of Interview: July 10, 2007
Interviewer: Loren E. Pennington, Emporia State University Emeritus
History Interview Editor: Loren E. Pennington
Editor's Note: This is the second of what became three interviews with Mr.
Call. This interview continues the interviewee's comments on William Allen
White and follows with his commentary and analysis of the operation of the
Emporia Gazette under WAW's son William Lindsay White as editor and
publisher. The interview concludes with a description of Gazette, operations
under WLW's widow Kathrine. and finally under his daughter Barbara White
Walker and Barbara's husband David Walker. As is the case with all three of
the Call interviews, the interviewee's remarks are notable for their
analytical and frank nature. In reviewing the interview Mr. Call made only
small changes and additions. The additions, as well as minor corrections by
the editor, are enclosed in square brackets. Taken as a whole, the
manuscript closely follows the material on the tape.
Release Form: Enclosed
Interview Tapes: 2 audio cassette tapes: Tape 1 Side A to count 424 & Side
B; Tape 2, Side A & Side B to count 420 (total count per side of tape is
Manuscript Transcript: 56 pp.
Depositories: Kansas State Historical Society: Manuscript Transcript
Lyon County Historical Archives: Interview Tapes and Manuscript Transcript
Emporia State University Archives: Manuscript Transcript
Manuscript Contents by Pages:
William Allen White and Herbert Hoover, pp. 1-2
WAW's campaign for governor against the Ku Klux Klan, p. 2
WAW as musician, pp. 2-3
Ray Call as musician, p. 3
WAW as Emporia Gazette editor and publisher, pp. 4-8
WAW as editor contrasted with son William Lindsay White, pp. 8-11; 38-39
William Lindsay White's background and early journalism career, pp.
WLW's attitude toward Emporia businessmen and Emporia Chamber of Commerce,
WLW's politics, pp. 11-13 WLW on Kent State riot, pp. 12-13 WLW and Emporia
radio station KVOE, pp. 13,22-23
[Cover page 2] Interview 2
WLW and advocacy journalism, pp. 13-19
Emporia Gazette attack on unequal pay between men and women at Emporia State
University, pp. 15-18
Gazette and Emporia City Manager Virgil Basgall, pp. 18, 41-42, 48 WLWs
World War II journalism career, pp. 19-22, 37-38 Gazette and Robert Dole,
pp. 23-24 Personality of WLW, pp. 25-29 WLW's social parties, pp. 27-29
WLW as member of American Civil Liberties Union, pp. 29-30 Interviewee's
visits to New York home of William Lindsay and wife Kathrine White, pp.
Personality of Kathrine White, pp. 34-36,44-46, 50-WLW prevented from
pursuing post-World War II broadcasting career by WAW, pp.
WLW brings cable television to Emporia, pp. 39-42 WLW's terminal cancer
illness, pp. 43-44 Call and wife make arrangements for WLW's funeral, pp.
44-46 . Kathrine White as editor of Gazette, pp. 46-53 WLW's adopted
daughter Barbara Walker and her husband David Walker groomed to
take over Gazette, pp. 46-47
Kathrine White and City Commissioner Jane Hammer, pp. 48-49 Barbara Walker
as editor and David Walker as publisher of Gazette, p. 52 Commentary on
changes at and in the Gazette over the years, pp. 54-56
[Page 1] Interview 2
This is a second interview with Mr. Everett Ray Call, former executive
editor of the Emporia Gazette. The interviewer is Loren Pennington emeritus
professor of history at Emporia State University. Today's date is July
10th, 2007, and the interview is taking place at the ESU archives in the
Anderson Library on the old College of Emporia campus.
[This is tape 1, side A.]
Loren Pennington: Ray, last time we talked about the reputation and I
suppose we could say the folklore of William Allen White. Your remarks were
based on what you had heard during your years at the Gazette, even though
you were never there when Mr. White was the editor. I understand that today
you would like to add a couple of more remarks about William Allen White
before we go on with our next subject, so I'll let you begin with that.
Ray Call: There are two or three other things I would like to add. They
aren't that monumental, but a couple of them are kind of fun. The William
Allen White family and the Herbert Hoover family were fairly close through
the years. They spent time together and went on camping trips, things like
that. One of the most amusing stories I heard was from W. L. White. And he
said one time they were up in Colorado fly-fishing, and when they got to the
stream, here was former President Herbert Hoover out there in a tuxedo. And
they had a laugh about that and finally asked the former president why he
was doing that. He said, well, the tuxedo was a long way from being worn
out, and he hated to throw it away until he had got all the good out of it
he could get. So that's the reason he was wearing it, and he had done this
many times, apparently. That's the reason he was wearing a tuxedo to fly
fish. And I think that's a story that people might enjoy.
[Page 2] Interview 2
Then, on a more serious note, when William Allen White ran for
governor, W. L. White was his driver. He of course had to drive all over
the state and make speeches in the various counties across Kansas. And W.
L. said that a lot of people believed that his father really wasn't serious
about this campaign. He campaigned against the Ku Klux Klan. He was
adamant against the Klan. And a lot of people thought he was just trying to
put pressure on the other candidates to make them come out against the Klan.
And in the end, as I understand it, they did back away from the Klan. But
the point that W. L. made was this: he said his father honestly thought he
could win that race for governor. And although he was running against the
Klan, he was a deadly serious candidate for governor. So there's a
misconception there in some books, I think.
And finally, I'd like to point out that I was fascinated by W. L.
White's, pardon me, W. A. White, William Allen White's ability to play
music. Like me, he was a country, that is, a regional musician. He played
pop music, but he could play by ear at a very early age, Tin Pan Alley hits,
or whatever they were at that point. And he could play not only pop music,
but he could play by ear the classics, Mozart and things like that. He made
some money on the side by playing these dances. He said in his
autobiography that he made three dollars a night playing piano for the
country dances. And then because he could call a square dance, that is to
tell the dancers where to move around the floor, he got an extra dollar. So
he was making four dollars a night playing in dance bands, which I think was
pretty good money in those days, certainly for a man, and he started when he
was sixteen or so doing this, and continued on up through college. And I
think the clincher for me was when he went up to KU. And he had given local
recitals of classical music and had played some serious stuff in Emporia, so
[Page 3] Interview 2
he would try out for the Kansas University symphony orchestra. And this is
from his autobiography again. And he went in, they gave him some music, and
he put it on the piano. They began to play a serious piano piece that he
was familiar with, and he played his part for awhile, and then the conductor
suddenly stopped the orchestra. And he went over and said, "Young man,
where did you get those chords? Let me hear you play that." And William
Allen White played this piece by Mozart, or whoever it might have been, and
the conductor says, "Just a minute." He says, "You can't read a note of
music, can you?" And William Allen White says, "No, I can't." And that was
the end of his orchestral career at KU. But those two things fascinate me
because I had a lot of fun and made a little money through the years playing
at college dances and high school dances and even country dances. And it
was fun to think back over the years, and to think I had this one thing in
common with William Allen White.
LP: Now, before we leave that, I think we should mention what you played.
RC: Oh, I was a drummer through the years.
LP: So you were not exactly a pianist.
RC: No, no, I can't. I'm not a musician. I'm a drummer.
LP: Ah, there's a difference between a musician and a drummer.
RC: I think in this.
LP: As a drummer [myself], I know what you mean.
RC: In this league, not in an orchestra where they play xylophones and all
those other percussion instruments. But for a country drummer, I have never
claimed to be a musician. But I've had a wonderful time playing with the
band. But anyway, I wanted to add those couple of things about William
[Page 4] Interview 2
LP: I think today, Ray, we were going to talk about-what shall I call it-to
compare William Allen White, or contrast William Allen White with his son,
William Lindsay White. And I think you probably have some information to
impart on that. Is that the route we want to go?
RC: I at least have some very strong opinions, and they're based on things
LP: Okay, let us have your opinions.
LP: And of course we should say that you knew William Lindsay white very
RC: Right, and I've read not only his, William Allen White's autobiography,
but I've read other things about him and talked to people about him.
LP: So on William Allen White, you're based on your reading and on what
you've talked to people about.
LP: But William Lindsay White, you knew personally.
RC: Oh, towards the end of his life. I will talk about the earlier part of
his life. I wasn't there, but I've read his biography by Jay Jernigan, and
then the family, members of the family, have told me stories about him.
LP: So this is part hearsay and part direct evidence.
RC: That's right, and I'll try to make a distinction.
RC: But I think the main point I want to make is about the different
philosophies regarding a newspaper. Now, I don't think either one of them
sat down and said, "This is my philosophy." But we can look back and see
from what they did that they had a
[Page 5] Interview 2
different outlook. William Allen White bought the Gazette in, what was it,
1905, wasn't it?
LP: Oh, William Allen White, in the '90s.
RC: Yes, 1890s.
LP: In the 1890s. I forget just exactly what year.
RC: But anyway, he had no money. He tells the story of getting off the
train and he had 25 cents or half a dollar in his pocket. And he couldn't
decide whether to walk to the Gazette and impress the townspeople because he
was so frugal or to take a carriage to the Gazette and make them think he
was very affluent and successful man. And he decided to take the carriage.
That's a story in his autobiography, and we've all heard it.
LP: You think that's suits the character of William Allen White?
RC: From what I've heard, yes. So here he comes. He has no money. He
bought the Gazette with borrowed money. It was not the major paper in town.
So really his outlook was pretty grim.
LP: This was the Emporia Times [at the time], wasn't it?
RC: No, this was the Gazette.
LP: Oh, it was the Gazette.
RC: Yes. Earlier it had been other things.
RC: But at this time, it was the Emporia Gazette. Okay, so what he had to
do was the same thing that many weekly editors did in Kansas across the last
century. They were newspapermen, but also they were merchants. They were
selling advertisements around town to the storekeepers and to the banks and
to all the other businesses in town. So they
[Page 6] Interview 2
really had to walk a fine line. It was very difficult to run a story that
would offend the leading banker in town because it would really sock it to
LP: You mean some sort of an uncomplimentary story?
RC: You're right. Well, suppose the banker got picked up for DWI.
RC: Of course, they weren't driving too many cars in those days, or for
drunk and disorderly, or whatever. Do we run that story back then? I can't
speak to specific instances, but the point I'm trying to make is, you have
to be very careful, and I've been a weekly editor, you have to be very
careful about how you handle those things because if you lose a leading
merchant or two, you're out of business. And so this is the thing that
William Allen White had to contend with as he started at the Gazette. And
this was the custom I think pretty much across small towns.
LP: He did take that into consideration then?
RC: Yes, that's my feeling.
LP: In fact, he took it very seriously.
RC: Yes, and to emphasize that point, one of the first things he did, and
it was very successful, was to organize a street fair. And he involved all
the merchants. It was a tremendous success. He had, I think, one of the
first automobiles in this street fair, and all kinds of attractions. I
remember he had a group of young boys dressed up as Indians. And some of
them were black, and this caused a racial ruckus at the time. But in
general it was a very successful fair. He made a lot of friends. He made
himself known with the merchants. It brought people in from all around. So
the point, in answer to your question, the point I want to make is that he
was very much aware of his role as a
[Page 7] Interview 2
publisher, as someone who was using the newspaper to give the community a
good name and to make everything look good in Emporia. And I cannot cite to
you an example of him squelching a story about a banker. I don't mean to
imply that I can. What I'm saying is I've been there as weekly editor, and
I've been around the business for sixty years, and I know that this
situation exists. How do you handle it when a prominent person or a
prominent business is involved in bad news? And I don't say William Allen
White squelched it. I'm just saying he had to contend with this, and my
guess is he didn't play it up on the front page with banner headlines. I
mean, [the problem] came into play. That's what I'm trying to say.
LP: To put it in modern parlance, he was concerned with the bottom line of
RC: Now, it seems to mean this is happening again in the United States now.
LP: It happens in relation to the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles
paper, and this sort of thing.
RC: That's exactly right, and I can cite many examples. They've been
written up in the New Yorker, and that is that the bottom line now has an
effect on news coverage.
LP: What you print.
RC: That's exactly right. Whether it be Rupert Murdoch or the Trib papers,
or whatever. And also there's a trend started, I would say twenty years
ago, toward what was called, I can't remember the term, but the gist of it
was community journalism. And that was nothing more that what William Allen
White did when he started. That is, the newspaper gets involved in
promotions. It publicizes its reporters and its columnists as if they were
television personalities. And the purpose is to build up the town and to
[Page 8] Interview 2
activities. I'm not saying newspapers no longer cover scandals and crime.
They certainly do. But I think that there's enough evidence in what I've
read about even the major newspapers that the bottom line is influencing the
content of the news columns more and more.
LP: William Allen White assumes the role of booster, as it were.
RC: Boosterism is exactly the right term. That's exactly the right term.
And I think we're coming. . . .
LP: He's promoting the Emporia community
RC: That's right.
LP: He's a spokesman for them.
RC: That's exactly right. Good old Emporia. And so now, let's switch to
William Lindsay White.
LP: How does this square with William Lindsay White, or not square?
RC: Now I'm giving you my hypothesis here. But let's look back. William
Allen White was the son of a doctor, but really his father died and they
didn't have a lot of money. And so he really had to struggle, as weekly
editors do, did, in the last century, that is the 1980s, and as the weekly
did during my time.
LP: Ray, now you keep speaking of weekly editors. Is the Gazette a weekly
at the time?
RC: No. The reason I mention the weekly editors is [because] I served for
a few years as a weekly editor. And in a small town like Sedan, where I
was, or Osawatomie, whatever, the pressure is much stronger on the editor in
weeklies and small dailies. The pressure's much stronger than in Chicago or
New York. If they lost one advertiser, who gives a damn?
[Page 9] Interview 2
LP: You're saying that even though the Gazette is not a weekly, the same
sort of thing applies here in Emporia?
RC: It applies not only to small dailies, but very much to the weeklies.
That's the reason I'm using that. William Allen White, as I said, his
father died, and he scuffled along. His mother was teacher. And as I said,
he made money one way or another playing in bands and other things. So he
didn't have a lot of money, and I think he really had to make the Gazette a
success, which may have influenced his attitude. I don't know, but that's
my feeling. All right, now William Allen White's son, William L. White,
grew up in much different circumstances. His father was not really rich,
but he was comfortably off, I think we could say. They lived in a nice home
and they traveled a lot. He [William L.] was sent to school to KU and to
Harvard. And so he came from a little bit more independent background, I'd
say. Okay, then he got out of school at a time when American journalism was
dealing with many controversial issues and also World War II. And so he had
a global outlook. He worked for national radio chains. He had a newspaper
column that ran in big-city dailies. And he traveled with the likes of
Edward R. Murrow and people of the Murrow crowd-in fact, he used to tell a
story-let me come back to that. Let's go ahead with this. The point I'm
trying to make: he was a worldly man. He saw journalism, he saw newspaper
coverage, journalism, from a completely different point. It was an
independent watchdog kind of thing. The books he wrote-except for the World
War II books, the Report on the Russians, and so on-these were hard,
investigative journalism. And so he had made his career before his father
died, in an international, national, sophisticated, cosmopolitan setting.
So he comes to Emporia. The newspaper is. . . .
[Page 10] Interview 2
LP: You say he comes to Emporia. You mean he comes back?
RC: Okay, yes, he comes back. That's how he was. . . .
LP: When does he come back?
RC: He comes back when his father dies in '44, reluctantly, but he comes
back. All right, so he comes back a much different journalist than William
Allen White. That's the point I want to make. They had completely
different upbringings in journalism. So he comes to town, first of all with
a watchdog attitude, that a newspaper has to keep an eye on the politicians,
on what the county commissioners are doing, on what's going on in the state.
Is there graft in the Capitol? He comes back with that attitude, with a,
let's not say a chip on his shoulder but. . . .
LP: Certainly not with much humility.
RC: No, none, and we'll get into that in a minute. But not much humility.
So he comes back with that attitude. He always prided himself in saying
that the Gazette had more memberships, more members in the Chamber of
Commerce, than any other business in town, and these were paid for by the
Gazette. But he gave the Chamber of Commerce hell. I mean if the Chamber
of Commerce wanted to build, if the people on Main Street wanted to build a
new courthouse, for example, he resisted. If they wanted urban renewal, he
said urban renewal was for building homes for the poor; we have no business
taking Federal money to do that, this kind of thing. And so, he was, quite
frankly, not popular with a lot of Chamber of Commerce members, and despised
I have-this is a digression, but when I was at the Gazette, I had in
my file a news release that George Pester, our Advertising Manager, had
given to me. And it was a news release from Montgomery Ward, and the gist
of it was Montgomery Ward had
[Page 11] Interview 2
come out with a high-quality tire that was much more efficient than any
other tire ever produced in years past, blah, blah, blah. And George writes
on there, "Montgomery Ward is our biggest advertiser. Shall we run this?"
So I went in and gave it to Mr. White, to W. L. White. And in about ten
minutes, W. L. White comes out and drops it on my desk, and W. L. has
scrawled across this news release with his Scripto Automatic pencil, "Shit
no!" And he underlined both words and put an exclamation point at the end
of it. Now, I don't know what William Allen White would have done, but I
know today, it probably would have gotten some place in the paper, or in
papers like the Gazette. I don't know exactly what the Gazette's attitude
or policy is now. But this, I think, is an example of the different
approaches that the two editors made.
LP: William Lindsay White is not in the business of advertising for
RC: That's right. If you want to advertise, take out an ad. If you want
news coverage, put up a new building or whatever. Make news. I thought it
was a wonderful example of his attitude.
LP: He didn't plan to call Montgomery Ward tires excellent tires is a news
RC: No, and that was what was proposed, to put that, not on the front page,
but, you know, put it in the paper because they were a big advertiser. And
it was still in the file when I last was down there. I don't know if it's
still there. But for starters, Loren, I think this shows the difference
between the two philosophies of the two editors.
LP: Okay. One thing I'd like to ask you about is did their philosophies of
running a newspaper have anything to do with, what shall I say, political
opinions, political proclivities?
RC: Yes. And there you kind of caught me in my own trap here, because. . .
[Page 12] Interview 2
LP: That's the object.
RC: I know. I see what you're doing is what I'm saying. Yes, William
Lindsay White was like the colonel up in Chicago, McCormick. He was a very
strong Republican. And I can give you. . . .
LP: William Lindsay White?
RC: William Lindsay White, a very strong Republican, a Nixon Republican on
back through, and I'll give you an example that really sticks in my mind.
It was at the time of the college protests, the Vietnam Era.
LP: Kent State riot and all of that sort of thing.
RC: That's exactly right, and that's going to be my point. I'll get to
Kent State. But before Kent State, there were sit-ins in colleges and
universities. They burned buildings, a lot of them. There was violence on
some of the campuses, including the University of Kansas. We even had a
march here in Emporia. And the Nixon Republicans, including W. L., were
incensed by this disorder and by the effrontery of these students. And so
one day, I'm sitting on the desk, and we get-back in those days we had an
old teletype machine that would ring a bell, five bells was a bulletin and a
continuous ring of the bell was a newsflash.
LP: It means pay attention.
RC: Yes, when Kennedy was shot. You went over to see what was going on.
Well, we had a bulletin. Either the wire editor brought it over or I went
over to look, and it was about the Kent State massacre, about the shooting
of the students by the National Guard up there. And I thought, "Well, I'd
better tell the boss about this." So I took it in, and I said, "Mr. White."
I put it down, and I said, "The National Guard troopers have shot
[Page 13] Interview 2
rioting, or demonstrating students at Kent State University." And he says,
"Good!" So he felt very strongly. As to his opinions, political opinions,
getting into the news columns, again, I have to admit, sometimes they did.
I remember a letter to the editor, written by a student who spouted the
demonstrators' line and smeared Nixon and really stated the rebels' cause,
let's say. And W. L. White ran it. It was our policy to run letters. But
the headline he put over that letter was "Letter from a Creep." This wasn't
an editor's note. That was the headline. "Letter from a Creep" was what he
put over that.
Then another real uproar we got into was when they began to do tornado
warnings, and the radio station was very much into those because it brought
in a lot of listeners. And one evening, he went to concert at Emporia
State, and they interrupted the concert because of a tornado warning over
KVOE. And the next day, W. L. ran a front page story, right hand column,
top of the front page, about the silly hysteria about tornadoes created by
these radio broadcasts. This was presented as news.
During the-let's say for example, when they wanted to put the city
dump south of town, down toward the airport, and they did, W. L. mounted a
campaign against that. And he ran maps on the front page showing the
prevailing wind in the summertime. And he ran a number of stories really
against that location. Then, when we got into urban renewal, he did number
of stories against urban renewal. Now, if he got a rebuttal from someone,
or if somebody else brought the other information in, he would run it. But
I have to admit on these occasions, he would run these opinions on the front
page. Now, what do we have now on television when we watch Fox News or CNN
or what's the one in the evening, the commentator?
[Page 14] Interview 2
LP: Are you talking about PBS?
RC: No, I'm talking about the cable news network.
RC: No, I think it's on Fox, the fellow who comes on and is very one-sided
LP: Not being a watcher of Fox News, I can't answer that for you. [It is
RC: Rush Limbaugh you've heard of?
LP: Oh, certainly.
RC: This is what we have now. This is the kind of journalism we're
beginning to get now, not only on cable news, but also in some newspapers.
[Tape 1, side A, ends count 424; total count of side A is 436. This is tape
1, side B.]
LP: Ray, are you suggesting here to me that this idea of the editorial
spilling into the news that we have so often, particularly in television
journalism today, that William Lindsay White used the same sort of thing?
RC: Yes-not habitually, but in certain cases he did. Now this eventually
became accepted, in my view, I suppose twenty years ago. And one of the
advocates was Buzz Merritt, the editor of the Wichita Eagle. It was called
something like advocacy journalism. No, I don't think Buzz Merritt was
involved in that. Before Buzz Merritt, advocacy journalism started to
become popular. And it was this sort of thing. It was the kind of thing
that Dan Rather and the fellows on 60 Minutes. . . .
LP: Mike Wallace.
[Page 15] Interview 2
RC: Mike Wallace is a perfect example of it, where they are covering a news
story and they advocate one point. They are persecuting or prosecuting
LP: Well, there's a fine line between that and investigative journalism.
RC: That's right, that's right. And I have struggled-one of our most famous
journalists is David Halberstam, who became famous in the Vietnam War doing
this, doing this very thing. He exposed the lies being told by the military
in Vietnam. How far do we go with that? A lot of old war correspondents
were dismayed by what he was doing there. And yet now it's become the norm.
LP: And now we seem to accept this provided it's an opinion being expressed
that agrees with our own.
RC: Yes. I don't know where we're going. I'm dismayed.
LP: What you're saying is there is a connection between investigative
journalism and advocacy journalism.
RC: That's exactly right, in my view. Now, I'm an old curmudgeon here. I
also want to cite an example that you were involved in that goes back to the
point I was making about W. L. White being independent of the local Chamber
of Commerce and the local establishment. Back when we were neighbors, as I
recall, we were talking about the unequal pay that college professors were
getting at Emporia State University. You explained to me that there were
many people up there doing the same kind of work with the same kind of
education who were getting vastly different amounts of money depending on
how well they got along with John King. Now, you may deny that or you may
care to, to. . . .
LP: No comment.
[Page 16] Interview 2
RC: No comment, all right. But anyway, this is my memory. So I thought,
"That's a news story." And so I called the Board of Regents and asked if we
could get a list of the salaries that are paid at Emporia State University,
and I was told yes. But they sure as hell didn't want to give it to me.
Why would I want that? What am I looking for, on and on and on. And I
think at one point, I got our-I'm not sure of this-but I think I got our
attorney involved. It was Clarence Beck, who had been a past attorney
general, and I think we finally pried out of the State Board of Regents a
complete list of the faculty at Emporia State University and the salaries
they were being paid. Well, needless to say, word of this got back to John
King, who was the President of Emporia State, and I admired him very much.
But this put him in a horrible situation because a) we were accusing him of
being unfair with salaries; and b) we had the figures, we thought, to prove
it. John King called me. Tom Ladwig called me, a number of people at the
university, and some people who really didn't have an axe to grind but
really didn't feel it was fair to have their salaries trotted out before the
community just because they were on a state payroll. Bear in mind that the
county salaries in those days were published every month. There was
suddenly an uprising against this, and as I say, John King called me, and a
number of people up at the university called me. I don't know if anyone, if
you heard anything about it. But anyway, finally we were going to do this
on a Monday. And we ballyhooed it: "Coming in Monday's Gazette, a complete
list of salaries." And finally, John King-and I'll have to come back with
this name-I think it was Don Ek, who was a Chamber [of Commerce] leader, a
real estate agent, they made an appointment with W. L. over at his house, in
LP: This was while W. L. White was still in charge of the Gazette?
[Page 17] Interview 2
RC: Oh, yes, he was still in charge of the Gazette. So they decided to
take it to him. Well, they didn't come to the office. They made an
appointment in the evening, and of course it was the custom at the W. L.
White house to have cocktails in the evening and kick back, and I thought,
well, that's the end of my university salary story because they'll get over
there, and they'll have a few drinks, and it will be good old boys together,
and that'll be the end of my story. But W. L. White backed us up, told us
to go ahead. We published it on the following Monday, we sold-it wasn't our
goal-but one effect of it was it sold a great number of newspapers. That
wasn't our goal. We were trying to point out inequity at the university.
LP: Would you say this kind of fit William Lindsay White's philosophy?
LP: I mean, this is the type of thing that he would do, even though it
wasn't in his best interest.
RC: A lot more than what I mentioned earlier about the Kent State and about
the city dump and so on. This was more W. L. White's kind of stuff. And
I'm proud of him for backing us up on it. But I think, and you would know
better than I do, but I think within the next two or three years, there were
some pretty good salary adjustments made up at the university.
LP: Well, of course eventually it came about that these salaries were
RC: Well, yes.
LP: And that you could get them. And in fact, if you really want to force
it, you still can, but it's a little-try going up and just getting the thing
out cold, and you'll find it
takes. . . .
[Page 18] Interview 2
RC: Well, you probably can get them online now, I don't know.
LP: Maybe. I don't know.
RC: But legally they were public information then.
LP: Public information.
RC: But that doesn't mean one can always just get them that easily. It's
like when we tried to get Virgil Basgall's salary. We got the city budget
and we found he was being paid from a dozen or so, or maybe twenty,
different funds, and we never did figure it all out.
LP: Couldn't add them all up?
RC: No, and I've kidded Virgil about it, and all he said was, "Well, all
you had to do was ask me."
LP: I must say right here, Ray Call, that I once asked Virgil Basgall who
was the most influential person in Emporia, and he told me it was Ray Call.
RC: Oh, really?
LP: And I asked the same question of Ray Call, who told me it was Virgil
Basgall. But anyway, that's an aside.
RC: Well, I'm trying to think of Hammer, the commissioners, Mrs. Hammer.
LP: Oh, Jane Hammer.
RC: Jane Hammer. Virgil once told me Jane Hammer gave him more trouble
than anybody else in the county. But anyway, we digress. So where are we
LP: Well, we're talking about William Allen White and his use of advocacy
[Page 19] Interview 2
LP: And this is something, I take it, you thought probably William Allen
White would not have done.
RC: No, I think William Allen White would have done it.
LP: Certainly some of the things he was involved in, like the Ku Klux Klan,
and some of the other things he was involved in, certainly were a type of
RC: And the point is nobody objects to it on the editorial page. Or nobody
should, because that's the page of opinion. The question is, when it got
into the news columns, was it justified, and that's a subjective call. I
have my opinion, and others have their opinions. I can say that I feel very
strongly that we're moving into advocacy journalism, particularly on
television, and to a certain extent in newspapers.
LP: And I take it, you do not approve of this?
RC: Oh, it isn't for me to approve or disapprove. It's not the thing we
did. And what's best for humanity, I don't know. I always felt that a news
story should be like a criminal trial. The prosecution presents its side,
and the defense presents its side, and the jury, or the readers, make the
judgment. But if somebody is arrested for child molestation, for example,
did we go out and try to find out a defense for this person who was
arrested? No, we didn't. So it's hard to know where to draw the line.
But, that was our goal; you didn't say John Doe was arrested for speeding,
you said John Doe was arrested and charged with speeding. Police said John
Doe said this. We did work very hard at that.
LP: Let me back up to a couple of things which you suggested here. One of
them you were suggesting [was] the hard-line Republicanism of William
Lindsay White. But I am of the impression that that was not William Lindsay
White's background from his days in New York.
[Page 20] Interview 2
RC: Oh, certainly not.
LP: And before, and in England during the war and this sort of thing.
RC: His Report on the Russians, which got him into trouble with Harrison
Salisbury, the famous writer, New York Times writer. I was trying to think
of his name earlier. W. L. told the story. By the way, don't let me end
without telling about when W. L. got arrested. But anyway. . . .
LP: I had the impression, and you can stop me if I'm wrong about this, that
William Allen White himself started out as a pretty conservative Republican
and gradually under the influence of Theodore Roosevelt. . . .
LP: Especially moved progressively toward the center of American politics.
RC: I agree with that.
LP And that William Lindsay White in his younger days consorted with
radicals, had radical friends, this sort of thing, whereas his father had
from right to left, he moved from left to right.
RC: That's the point I wanted to make, and that is exactly right.
LP: Well, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upstage you here.
RC: Now the Harrison Salisbury story.
LP: So you are talking of William Lindsay White in his latter days.
RC: Latter days. He was born in 1900. I came along in 1955, so he was 55
years of age when I first knew him. And we'll talk about his younger days.
I want to tell about Harrison Salisbury. W. L. White wrote a book called
Report on the Russians. And as a prelude to that, I will say W. L. White,
Harrison Salisbury, and other journalists went into
[Page 21] Interview 2
Russia. Now bear in mind that Russia was an ally of the United States
during World War II, but very soon after World War II, things began to
change. And these reporters were over there, and W. L. White tells a story
about Harrison Salisbury having an affair with a young Russian woman over
there, and that his wife heard about it, and he was in trouble. And so he
asked W. L. White to say he was at a certain event that W. L. White was
writing about in this book so he would have an alibi with his wife. It
wasn't true, but he asked W. L. to put it in his book so that he could prove
to his wife that he wasn't having an affair with this woman on that
occasion. And so the book came out, and it was a very strong criticism of
Russia. And W. L. immediately became an enemy of his old friends who were
leftists, as was he. And so when Harrison Salisbury criticized the book, he
pointed out that it was full of errors because W. L. White claimed he
[Salisbury] was at this event, and he really wasn't there at all. He had
since divorced his wife.
LP: But he had put that in at Salisbury's request.
RC: At Salisbury's request.
LP: Now Salisbury says he told a lie.
RC: Yes, told a lie to criticize the book. W. L. White told me that. A
couple of times I've heard him talk about it. So I think it's probably
true. I haven't read Report on the Russians, so I may get it and look in
the index. But anyway, he was, up until World War II, in with a kind of a
leftist crowd, I think, in Washington D. C. His wife, of course, was a
LP: You're speaking of Kathrine White?
RC: Kathrine White. She was a fact checker for Life magazine, worked for
Time magazine, was at the home of Bernard Baruch at social occasions. John
[Page 22] Interview 2
wrote she was the most beautiful woman in New York, this kind of thing. So
they were in a very sophisticated liberal crowd, the China Lobby sort of
people. Is that a good example?
RC: I think so.
LP: Do we have anything more we want to say about this?
RC: No. Go ahead.
LP: Okay. One of the other things that you suggested here previously today
is a sort of a ruckus over the tornado alerts [between the Gazette and]
KVOE. What was the relationship under William Lindsay White of the Gazette
to the radio station KVOE?
RC: Old Ed McKernan, I think he's Ed.
LP: Well, there's Ed McKernan, Jr., and Ed McKernan III. There are three
RC: And Ed III is still with us.
LP: And the one that's Jr. is the one I always thought of as the old man.
RC: The old man. And I'm the same anyway. Ed Jr. and W. L. White hated
LP: Ed McKernan, Jr.?
RC: And if the Gazette took one side, the radio station invariably took the
other side. I remember one time I wrote an editorial about the misbehavior
of C of E students at an R-rated movie, and the radio station immediately
took the other side. I mean it was almost a knee-jerk reaction that we were
going to fight over virtually every issue. Ed McKernan [and W.L. White]. .
[Page 23] Interview 2
LP: But they were both Republicans.
RC: I think Ed was.
LP: I mean William Lindsay White and Ed McKernan, Jr.
RC: Well, you had to be in Kansas.
LP: I certainly never thought of Ed McKernan, Jr. as a big liberal.
RC: No, Frank Lill, maybe, who ran the Emporia Times, he was our Democrat.
I liked the McKernans, but we were battling over the issues. But W. L., he
didn't handle that very well. He's kind of like Bob Dole. You're either
with him or against him, and it became a personal thing.
LP: What do you mean like Robert Dole?
RC: Well, Bob Dole is like that, in my experience.
LP: Oh, okay, I thought you meant something with William Lindsay White.
RC: No, Bob Dole was that way. We supported Bob Dole from day one.
LP: You're talking about "we," the Gazette?
RC: That's right. When he first was a congressman, when he first decided
to run for the Senate, W. L. White gave a big banquet in his honor at the
old Broadview Hotel ballroom and invited all the political operatives from
all over eastern Kansas, all the editors. And he had a lot of chits to call
in. And we had a big banquet for him at the Broadview Hotel, and in my
view, sort of launched him in this end of the state. He's from the Big
First, out west. And we supported Bob Dole through the years. And up until
the time of the Iran-Contra Affair, when he embraced Colonel-the one who's a
LP: You're talking about the one who was the Marine colonel, whose name I
[Page 24] Interview 2
RC: It'll come to me in a little bit. [The person is Oliver North-ed.]
But we criticized Dole for supporting him, and he cut us off in an instant.
LP: This was after William Lindsay White?
RC: Yes. I wrote the piece, and from then on, he really wouldn't have
anything to do with us.
LP: That's interesting. In other words, your editorial caused a rift
between the Gazette and Robert Dole.
RC: And, you know, even when we would go back for conventions and see him,
he was very cool. What were we talking about?
LP: We were talking about this the whole question of advocacy journalism.
RC: But, summing it up over all on that issue, that was a small part. If
he [W.L. White] felt very strongly about some of these local issues, he
would use them in his columns, I felt, to his advantage. But he was really
pretty careful about having a balanced news report, he really was, except
for a few times, I think.
LP: I had one experience with him personally which involved you, as a
matter of fact. And that is when I was interviewing him at Newman Hospital.
RC: When he was dying?
LP: When he was dying. And the phone rang, and it was Ray Call. And you
called to ask-and he was somewhat lethargic in the interview, and he was
really laboring to talk to me. And you called him and said, "Well, we have
a situation here where we have a news item that the family has asked us to
withhold, and should we do it?" And I noticed that he immediately perked up
and became his old self and told you in no uncertain terms that you would
publish the story.
[Page 25] Interview 2
LP: That you would not withhold just because it was going to embarrass
RC: And it was probably one of his friends, I would imagine.
LP: Yes; that's why you had called him about it.
RC: He had a number of friends.
LP: I was surprised how quickly there was a whole change in his personality
and attitude, that he was back running a newspaper at that moment.
RC: And that's more his role than the other examples I've given. They were
exceptions. But that's more his role. He was a pretty straight editor. He
I want to go back because I want to get on the record something
about W. L.'s youth. He grew up the son of a famous and wealthy man. And
as I understand it, he went away to college. There was a lot of drinking;
he drank all of his life. And he became a little bit of a wild child, as I
understand it. That is, I remember one story about him buying a raccoon
coat, which was what they all wore in the Twenties. But before he could, he
had to get permission from his father, and there was a family fight about
that. But the point is, he was in the Roaring Twenties. He was caught up
in all this. Tess DeLong has told me some stories. She was our former
society editor. But the story I didn't know and was really shocked to find
out about was told to me by Ted McDaniel, the managing editor. And he said,
"You know, W. L. White almost went to jail one time." I said, "No, I hadn't
heard about it, Ted." And he said, "Well, he was back home from college on
vacation, and he had made a date with one of the sorority girls here." And
they went out to a party and had a lot to drink and then went out in a car,
and he became very, very aggressive, romantically aggressive, let's say.
And the girl resisted
[Page 26] Interview 2
him, although I gather it took all of her strength, and finally he took her
home. Whereupon she went to the house mother and told her what had
happened, and she called the police. And so the police came out, and the
police took him down to headquarters. They didn't arrest him. They took
him down to headquarters. So here they have William Allen White's son in
the Emporia police station accused [of] assault, I suppose, or attempted
assault or whatever. And somebody called William Allen White, and they got
the city attorney in. And by the time the smoke had cleared, a formal
apology was written to the girl and to the sorority, and no charges were
ever filed. And I asked Jay Jernigan, who wrote the very fine biography of
William Lindsay White, if he had come across any of this in his research,
and he said, "Yes, I did." But he didn't elaborate.
LP: And he didn't publish it?
RC: No it's not in the book.
LP: It's not in the book.
RC: It's not in his book, but he, you know, kind of hushed it. Of course,
Barbara Walker, William Lindsay White's daughter, was involved in putting
his book together, and I feel sure he didn't want to offend her by putting
that in. But he says, "Yes, I did," saying it was true.
LP: Where do we go from here?
RC: Well, that's all I have.
LP: You have nothing further on William Lindsay White?
RC: No, I don't think so. I mean, I could talk.
LP: How was he as a person?
[Page 27] Interview 2
RC: Well, let me, yes, there were a couple of things. I'll talk, at the
end, I'll talk about when he died. I will tell about his wonderful parties.
LP: I had the occasion to witness a couple of those at the Emporia Country
Club. I was not at the party, but I was in the Country Club when the
parties took place, and they were something to see.
RC: I will tell you about one party, because it was probably the most
memorable, and it was at the Country Club. As we arrived, a storm arrived,
first sleet and then snow and all of that, and freezing rain, all of this.
But when we arrived, it was just starting. So as we came in the front door,
and this was when the Country Club was arranged a little differently, and
the bar was over there, and the first thing you were given was a glass of
Imperial Peg. An Imperial Peg is a mixture of champagne and brandy, and it
goes down like strawberry soda, I suppose. It's just the most wonderful
drink you've ever had.
LP: Was this a William Lindsay White specialty?
RC: No, I don't think so.
LP: He always liked to bring up specialty things.
RC: Different things, for example, he once served me the fin of stingray in
New York City. I might tell about that. But anyway, we started out with
Imperial Peg, and then we went into dinner, and each department head was in
charge of keeping the wine glasses filled. We had wine with every course.
Of course, we had about an hour social hour where people were drinking these
Imperial Pegs. And then we had wine. And the job of the department heads
was to be sure no wine glass ever got low. We were to keep the wine glasses
full. This particular Christmas party, we were served roast suckling pig.
And you wonder where we got that. We got that from Gene Steffes down at the
[Page 28] Interview 2
Food Bank. And then the rest of the dinner was out of Charles Dickens. And
the dessert was plum pudding with flaming brandy over it. And the
department heads got lessons on how to heat brandy in a spoon so it would
flame and then pour it over the plum pudding so that the plum pudding had
this wonderful blue light.
LP: What do you mean they got lessons?
LP: You said they got lessons?
RC: Yes, he took us in to show us how to put. . . .
LP: Was this before the party?
RC: Yes, before the party, when the people were gathering. We were told to
fill the wine glasses. And he says, "Now, here's how you do the plum
pudding. You take a tablespoon. Put the brandy in there. You hold it over
a candle until it's very warm, and then you move it down and the brandy will
catch fire. And then you pour that over the plum pudding." And it made a
beautiful blue light, you know, just covered that like a ball. And so after
we'd had Imperial Peg and after we'd had wine, we had brandy over plum
pudding. And for entertainment, we had Christmas carols by the College of
Emporia Chorale. And then they introduced the retired people. And then we
went into the bar, which was a large room, and the bar was open for anything
anybody wanted. Well, our photographer passed out in the men's room. He
went in there to throw up into the commode, and he couldn't get up and
passed out in the men's room. So we just left him in the stall. Wanda
Gibbs's husband, Dick Gibbs, when the party finally ended and people started
to go, Dick started out the front door. And by that time we had a glaze all
over everywhere. And he took about three steps and fell down. Took about
[Page 29] Interview 2
and fell down again. And so he then crawled on his hands and knees to get
out to his car. And this was typical of the state we were all in. And W.
L. was just delighted with all this. So they loved to have a party.
This is tape 2 of the second Call interview, side [A].
LP: Ray, we were talking about, what shall I say, the fact that William
Lindsay White was given to rather flamboyant entertainments, and this type
of thing. You were describing a Christmas party. Any other incidents along
that line that you care to describe?
RC: Well, I think, before World War II, they lived a very active life,
social life in New York City. And I would like to credit him, actually both
Whites, with giving me an education. And one part of that was to have me
come back to New York City and stay in their house and go to a play or go to
a museum, whatever.
LP: What was your position at the Gazette at this time?
RC: At this time, I had probably reached managing editor. I ended up as
executive editor, and I think I had got to be managing editor at this point.
And I didn't become executive editor until W. L. died.
LP: I see. You were kind of running the everyday operations of the paper?
RC: Right. Running the news department, not the advertising department,
only the news department. So, anyway I think as part of my education, they
had me back-I think the first time I went back, they had me as their guest
at a meeting of the national convention of the American Civil Liberties
Union. I'm pretty sure it was at the Waldorf. I'm certain that LBJ was the
speaker, Lyndon Johnson.
LP: Now, was William Lindsay White a member of the ACLU?
[Page 30] Interview 2
LP: A big proponent of that?
RC: Yes, which is quite a contrast with his Republican ties.
LP: Yes. The ACLU is noted for its liberal tendencies.
RC: And this goes back to his liberal days. He was an early member. He
may have been a charter [member], I don't know. But he was an early, active
member in ACLU, and so he was invited.
LP: A little more background, if you feel comfortable with it. You say-do
you think they brought you back with the purpose of educating you?
RC: I think so.
LP: In other words, what shall I say, as a Kansas boy who needs a little
education in the world?
RC: Exactly right, needs to see the world. And what other reason would
LP: Well, I don't know. I mean, it could be that it was just altruistic on
their part. But you think they had more than just altruism in mind?
RC: Yes, I think they wanted their editor to have a broader view of the
world, I really do.
Now as a sideline of this ACLU dinner (they didn't like the word banquet),
we heard LBJ speak. And at the end of the dinner, people were leaving, and
the head table was up on the stage. And there was an elderly lady up there,
and she seemed to be all by herself and sort of lost. And Kathrine White
said to me, "Oh, Ray," she said, "Alice is having trouble. Go up there and
help her, will you?" And I looked around and I didn't see any stairs, so I
just bolted up on the stage, being a country boy, and helped this little old
[Page 31] Interview 2
get down off the stage and on her way. And it was Alice Longworth
Roosevelt. I had no clue that that's who it was.
LP: Is that the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt?
RC: Of Teddy Roosevelt, the rascally daughter of Teddy Roosevelt. The one
who said, "If you can't say anything nice about anybody, sit by me," if you
remember. But I didn't know it at the time. And then when we went home,
she told me who it was. And since, I have read a great deal about her
family in Teddy Roosevelt books. So anyway, that was the main event. But
they also put me up at their house. Now it was a brownstone at 160 E. 66th
Street. It was just a block away from the Russian embassy. It was in a
very nice upper-class neighborhood.
LP: They owned this place?
RC: They owned this place. They bought it for a song before the war, and
then when their health failed, they sold it for quite a nice profit. I
don't know how much. But when they became sick in later years, they sold
it. But they bought it for a song before the war. You entered from the
street into a little hallway, and dead ahead was a formal dining room. To
the left as you went in was the kitchen, to the right was a place for coats
and galoshes and such. Then out the back of the dining room was a garden,
and it was a common garden for all the houses on the block. And one of the
neighbors was the cartoonist Bill Mauldin, for example. It was a nice
neighborhood. They had a butler named Clarence. I can't think of his last
name. And after you. . . .
LP: You mean the Whites had a butler?
RC: Yes, not Bill Mauldin. The common garden served all the houses in the
block. Okay; after you entered, you went up a staircase on the right into a
very large living room
[Page 32] Interview 2
with windows all across the back that opened out onto the garden. Then on
the front of the house was an office, Mrs. White's office, mainly. It was I
think five stories, with bedrooms on the next two, and W. L. White had his
own study upstairs. And Clarence [the butler] lived in the little penthouse
on top. So it was a pretty large, nice. They had separate bedrooms with
walk-in closets between them. They put me up in Barbara's old room. And
they had yet another spare bedroom across from mine, up on the, let's see,
third floor. As I say, W. L. had an office up there where he did his
writing. So it was quite a nice place. And after we settled in, I remember
one of the first things we did, W. L. had gone upstairs, and Mrs. White
said, "Ray, would you mix the martinis?" And I said, "Mrs. White, I have
never mixed a martini in my life." She said, "I'll tell you how." She
said, "Go over to the cabinet and get out the bottle of gin." And I did
that. And she said, "Now pour the bottle of gin into the pitcher." And I
LP: Was this the whole bottle?
RC: Yes. It probably wasn't full. It was probably half a bottle of gin or
so. And I poured it in. She said, "Now, there are ice cubes there. Put
about five or six ice cubes into that." And I did. And she said, "Now,
stir that." And I stirred it. And she said, "Now, pour it into the
glasses." That was the way they made martinis.
LP: Their martini was truly a hooker of gin.
RC: Yes. There was no vermouth even in the proximity that I could see.
And as an aside, at the Emporia Country Club, they had their own martini
pitcher with a Harvard crest on it because he was very proud of being from
LP: I have seen that.
[Page 33] Interview 2
RC: But anyway, then they sent me to my first New York play, which was Half
a Sixpence with Tommy Tune, as I recall. They asked me where I wanted to
go. Of course, I wanted to go the Metropolitan Museum. I didn't go to the
Empire State Building. I think I wanted to see the Museum of Modern Art.
And then we went home. There was a party after the ACLU meeting, now that I
think of it. We walked over there from the Waldorf. And these were old
sophisticated, very sophisticated friends of the Whites. And I remember one
of the young women looked at me and said, "Oh, you look just like an owl,"
she said of my appearance. And they all thought that was very funny. "You
have a very owlish appearance," she said. Anyway, at this nice home we went
to for a party afterward, which was mainly a cocktail party, I began to look
around the walls. And I saw Picasso and Dufy, however you pronounce Dufy
the artist, and you know, a number of very fine . . . Matisse, you know.
They had a marvelous collection of art. So I was in the home of some very
wealthy person. I have no idea who it was. But he [the owner] took me
around and showed me the paintings and pointed them out to me and was very
gracious. And their next door neighbor, I remember Mrs. White, maybe at a
later visit, but I remember a next door neighbor, she said, "I want you to
see a painting that my neighbor bought." And I believe the artist's name
was Botero. Are you familiar? He draws very fat people, very fat figures.
We could look it up. But they lived in pretty nice digs up there in a
pretty nice neighborhood.
LP: It wasn't Emporia.
RC: No. You know, I just reviewed this story about Belle Livingston coming
to Emporia, and Jay Jernigan said in [his book] that Mrs. White just hated
to come to
[Page 34] Interview 2
Emporia because, first of all, they couldn't have a bar in the William Allen
White house. And they were so provincial back here that she just was never
LP: Now this is Kathrine?
RC: Kathrine White. Mrs. Kathrine White. And, you know it's true, she
just withered people here in Emporia with sarcasm.
LP: However, I must say I always got along very well with her.
RC: Well, what does this tell us, Loren?
LP: I don't know what it tells us, Ray.
RC: It tells us that you're pretty sophisticated, well-educated.
LP: No, I hardly think so.
RC: A very worldly fellow compared with the rest of us Emporians. Let's
put it that way, if you want to be so modest. But she was a snob. Mrs.
White was a snob. But as I say, she had lived an exciting-I keep using the
word sophisticated, but it fits-life in New York. While he was a war
correspondent, she was a, she had a, almost a salon. Is that the term I
want to use?
LP: That's the term.
RC: At the William Allen White, or William Lindsay White house there. She
would entertain people who were coming to New York City. Whitley Austin,
who later became the editor out in Salina, stayed with them. He was a young
reporter who also was the one who wrote the story, one of the stories, about
Belle Livingston. And I could tell an off-color story, but I think probably
we'd better not, about Whitley.
LP: Well, it's your interview.
[Page 35] Interview 2
RC: Oh, I'll put it in and spice it up a little. Mrs. White tells, I
swear, told me this story, that Whitley Austen, the young reporter from
Emporia was back visiting. They had taken him back there.
LP: He was from Emporia?
RC: Yes. Yes. He has a story all of his own. His family, do you remember
Col. Whitley, who had a mistress?
LP: Oh, the Whitley Opera House and all of that?
RC: And had a mistress, and he is from that union. And that's why his name
is Whitley. But he was an excellent editor. Anyway, he was back there
visiting, and Mrs. White tells of the story of him, them going down one of
the major streets in New York City and him reaching, sitting beside her and
wrapping his arm around her and putting his hand down the front of her
dress. And I thought that was a really brazen thing to do with W. L.
driving the car. But this is the kind of patter that Mrs. White would
rattle off. I remember one time I was leaving the house, and she said
something to me, and I didn't get it. I don't know if I should be telling
this. So I went back two or three steps and I said, "Sorry, I didn't hear
you." So she repeated it, and I still didn't hear it, so I went up to the
steps. And she says, "I said, I was looking at you, and I said, 'What a
nice behind'" [laughter]. I mean, I'm not implying any sexual
aggressiveness. What's the term? She would say, you know, anything
outrageous. She was very sophisticated.
LP: She was referring to your behind?
LP: I see.
[Page 36] Interview 2
RC: But she wasn't making a pass at me. She was just saying something
outrageous. She did that. And of course, in the Twenties, in New York
City, from what I've read, whether it be. . . .
LP: She was a part of the Flapper Age.
RC: The Great Gatsby or whatever; this was considered very chic to do
things like this. And she continued to do that all of her life. To hell
with what the people of Emporia thought. But I'm trying to think of
anything else in New York City. As I said, she held a salon in the house
while he was over in Europe covering World War II. She also edited his
stories in his books, and that has all been told before. But they lived, to
sum it up, a very different life before World War II in New York City than
they came back to when they came to Emporia. And Mrs. White didn't like it.
LP: That's a very good point you make. In my own interviews with William
Lindsay White, for instance, I got the same impression; how he goes over to
Europe as a young boy with William Allen White, and to show the kind of a
circle the Whites circulated in internationally, they go down to the
MacMillan's estate. . . .
RC: Yes; the book [publisher].
LP: And he [W.L. White] plays with this young boy down there who is Harold
MacMillan, who is the later prime minister of England. But when he comes
back to Emporia, it's a different life. It really contrasts this.
RC: Yes, and the people here, the people in Emporia have no notion of his
broad background. They knew he wrote some books, but they had no notion of
his stature, his international stature. His books have been made into
movies, for God sakes. His books have been best sellers, but they saw the
provincial view, I think.
[Page 37] Interview 2
LP: I am now connected with the World War II Roundtable, and for this fall
we wanted to get a World War II movie, and we were talking about the Pacific
theater. And we finally thought this was an appropriate time to run They
Were Expendable, which is from [W.L.'s] book.
RC: Right. And when I was a boy, this was one of the great movies I saw
because it was an action movie. It had, as I recall, John Wayne and two or
three top-notch actors.
LP: In They Were Expendable?
LP: I don't remember John Wayne.
RC: I'm pretty sure.
LP: You may be right, Ray.
RC: We'll double check before we finish this, but I'm virtually certain,
John Wayne, and there were two or three top actors in that film. I'm pretty
sure. I'll double check, but I'm pretty sure. [Wayne did star in the
LP: Also, it's a very long film.
RC: Oh, is it? I didn't realize.
LP: It's over two hours.
RC: Is it really? For back then, that was a pretty long film. When W. L.
went away to war, he started as a print correspondent, but became involved
in radio. And he worked with-for example, when Eric Severeid's child was
born in Europe, in England, Severeid had to take off to be with his wife,
and they got W. L. to take Severeid's broadcasts. And he also did several
broadcasts that won the National, International Foreign
[Page 38] Interview 2
Correspondents' Award for the, I think it was "The Last Christmas Tree"
broadcast from Norway. He did a marvelous broadcast about the Blitz in
London and so on.
LP: Was "The Last Christmas Tree" from Finland?
LP: You said Norway.
RC: From what?
LP: You said from Norway.
RC: Oh, okay. Yes. I'm sorry.
LP: Was it Finland?
RC: I don't know. We'll have to check. I don't know. Scandinavia, let's
LP: Well, of course, he was in Finland with the Finnish army during the
RC: Yes, right. And that's where it was. And anyway, he was successful in
this and considered going into radio and television after the war, according
to Kathrine White. And Kathrine White said that William Allen White called
friends in high places, and this is hard to accept, but she told me this.
She said she feels he called friends and pulled strings and prevented
William L. White from going into broadcasting after the war. Hard to
believe, but that's what she said.
LP: Because he wanted him to be in the press business, newspaper business?
RC: Well, William Allen White really had no respect for radio journalism.
And of course, television didn't come along for a while. But he didn't want
his son to get involved with broadcast journalism, which would have led to
television, because it was considered cheap journalism, he thought,
according to Mrs. White. This is, again,
[Page 39] Interview 2
hearsay, but she did tell me that. And also I'm sure he put pressure on W.
L. "You don't want to get into that. You want to stay in. . . ."
LP: He wanted to bring him back to Emporia?
RC: I suppose. [W.L.] didn't want to come because he had worked with the
Herald-Tribune, and he worked for some larger newspapers. And the Reader's
Digest; he was a roving editor for Reader's Digest for a long time and wrote
for Reader's Digest. So he did have a choice of careers, and he liked
radio, but the influence of his father, perhaps a personal influence and
maybe among the good old boys-I don't know.
LP: Did that have anything to do with his attempt to bring cable television
to Emporia, do you think? I know that's another subject.
RC: You know, it could be.
RC: We might just go there. What they said was, they wanted to leave
something to Emporia. They didn't want to leave a park. They didn't want
to leave a statue. They wanted to leave something that Emporians could have
after they were gone.
LP: You're talking about William Lindsay and Kathrine White?
RC: That's right. And so at that point, cable television was fairly new.
They were pretty early into it in Kansas. And so they got the franchise,
and I might mention something here that tells us a lot about W. L. White.
When they were putting in the system, they had a choice of poles they could
use; Southwestern Bell Telephone Company poles, or they could put in their
own individual poles. And of course it would be cheaper to use Southwestern
Bell poles. And that was the way they were going to go, but W. L. then
learned that if they went with Southwestern Bell, Southwestern Bell had
control of the
[Page 40] Interview 2
content that went over it, along its poles. And he wouldn't have that. And
so they went all over Emporia and drilled holes and put in, I don't know how
many thousands of dollars worth of poles, and put in their own separate
system. But I was told that their original goal was to leave something to
Emporia. And this is kind of their monument, to have a cable television
LP: It wasn't just to bring in-as I recall, you also had a locally
RC: Terrible as it was, that's true.
LP: And you were in it.
RC: Yes, and I almost got fired over it because we jumped the gun. Once
they had the poles up and they had a camera here, we decided, and the Whites
were back in New York, and the manager and I decided it would be great fun
to put the city election returns on cable. They had reserved a channel.
And so we were out in a little building at the foot of the tower out here in
northeast Emporia. There's just a little building for their equipment. And
we went in there and put a floodlight up. And I read the returns, and he
ran the camera, and we sent it out over the cable. Well, it was just
absolutely terrible, and several of Mrs. White's friends called her and told
her how terrible it was. And they [the Whites] called me, I think it was
the next day because that's when they got the calls, and kept me on the
phone for over an hour literally blistering me. And I thought at the end of
this, they're going to say, "You're fired." But they didn't. I think
they'd probably had a drink or two, but she, she had a little quip when she
was running the Gazette for a brief time; if somebody made a mistake, she
liked to say, "Rub their nose in it." She liked to say that. And I think
that's what they were doing to me. They were rubbing my nose in this rather
than firing me. But yes, and then. . . .
[Page 41] Interview 2
LP: But did they themselves have any idea of running a local television
RC: Yes, in fact, after it was all finished, then they equipped a room in
the Gazette with a television studio, with a little television control room.
We had a daily newscast. We had kids come in on Halloween in their
costumes. W. L. interviewed candidates for the city commission. And one
time, when the famous author John dos Pasos, what did he write, America?
RC: He's an old friend of W. L. White, and when he was in town.
LP: An old left-wing friend?
RC: Yes, an old left-wing friend.
LP: And then a shifter to the right.
RC: Exactly. So when he was here, they set up and announced in the
newspaper there would be an interview that evening. The problem was, they
had a cocktail hour before they got down here. And by the time they were
there, they were pretty frivolous, and it didn't really amount to very much.
But it was fun.
LP: I wondered when you said they wanted to leave something. Is this what
they wanted to leave, local origination? Was that part of their plan?
RC: Yes, it was. This is what they envisioned. And when they sold, this
operation was intact. And it continued for a while. I don't know what the
status of it is now. But I want to make another point. They were having a
lot of fun with this cable operation, and I think would have gone on with it
and really made something of it, but they had a charter with the city.
Enter [City Manager] Virgil Basgall. And we were involved with a bitter
political fight with the city commission. I think it was probably urban
renewal, or it may
[Page 42] Interview 2
have been-no, I bet it was industrial revenue bonds. The city wanted to
issue industrial revenue bonds to attract industry, and W. L. was absolutely
opposed to them because of the tax break. And at one point, Virgil Basgall
and the city attorney, George Allred, appeared at the Catfish office, which
was adjacent to the Gazette and said, "We're here to audit your books." And
they [the Whites] hadn't realized that the contract that they signed with
the city gave the city the right to look and be sure they were getting their
franchise fee, so many dollars per customer. And so they came in and W. L.
White realized or assumed that they were there in a political vendetta in
order to control him. And he would have nothing to do with it, and he sold
the Cablevision, Catfish immediately. That's the reason they sold it.
LP: Sold it to what, Warner? It eventually became connected with
RC: Yes; I cannot remember.
LP: Went through various sales.
RC: I've got a book here, we can look it up. But that is the reason he
sold it. That's the only reason. He wanted to be independent. He wanted
to be able, again, he wanted to be a watchdog. And he thought he was in
watching against, watching out for the perils of industrial revenue bonds,
or the perils of urban renewal. And so this was a threat to that watchdog
role, and that's why he sold Cablevision. Catfish, we called it.
LP: What else can we talk about?
RC: Well, why don't we stop for a while? Does anything else come to your
LP: There is one other thing I would like to bring up. Of course, William
Lindsay White dies when? 1973.
[Page 43] Interview 2
LP: And who then becomes, in effect, what shall I call it, the boss?
RC: Yes. All right, let's talk about when he died because both of us
remember when he had cancer and was at the hospital. Early on, he was
diagnosed back in New York City. Of course they went to the very best
clinics and surgeons back there and finally admitted that he had terminal
cancer. And so he decided to come back to Emporia. And I remember he
called me and Kenneth Williams, who was then the business manager, into his
This is tape 2 of the second Call interview, side B.
LP: And Ray, we were talking about 1973 and William Lindsay White's
diagnosis with cancer.
RC: Yes, he came back to Emporia then and called me and Kenneth Williams.
LP: Had he been gone for a considerable period?
RC: Yes, but this was not unusual. I mean, he was gone.
LP: He came back. He operated back and forth.
RC: We might talk about his going to the Far East. You never knew where he
was going to go. But anyway, he'd been back in New York, and he came back
and called us in and said, "Boys." I think he used the term "boys." "I
have terminal cancer." Then he sort of broke down and wept for a little
bit; then he composed himself. And that was the only time I ever saw him
show any emotion. And he underwent some unusual treatments. He was
involved with some New York and other out-of-town doctors, and they tried
various chemotherapy drugs on him. And as we both know, they weakened him a
great deal, and he struggled with them. He was very strong. And I think
the only thing that sustained him was that the hospital allowed him to keep
gin and bourbon over in his little chest
[Page 44] Interview 2
in his hospital room, so that if I went up there after work, we would have
drinks and talk about what had happened during the day.
LP: Did he continue to take a pretty active role in the Gazette even while
he was in the hospital?
RC: Yes, he did indeed. I mean, not day-to-day things.
LP: Policy matters?
RC: Yes, or a political issue, a state political issue or a local political
issue. And by the way, Dr. Garcia, Gould Garcia, was his doctor and was
aware of all this that was going on and enjoyed it immensely, I think-that
is having cocktails and so on. But when he died, Barbara and David, his
daughter, Barbara, and her husband were back east with their children.
LP: Did he die rather unexpectedly?
RC: No, he was wasting away.
LP: Yes, I knew that. But you said they were not there when he died.
RC: I think they sent her home, because they usually do. They'll send the
family home when someone's actually going through the throes of dying. And
then they called her [Barbara] and called me, Gould did. And Helen and I
went over to the hospital. And she [Kathrine] assigned us the job of taking
care of the funeral to the point of even
picking. . . .
LP: You and Helen?
RC: Helen and I.
LP: Your wife.
[Page 45] Interview 2
RC: Yes. And even to the point of picking out a casket. And her
instructions to us were, "I want a plain pine box. Go down and get a plain
pine box." Roberts-Blue-Barnett, I can't remember who, Turnbull might have
been there by then.
LP: Mike Turnbull.
RC: Mike Turnbull, I think, might have been there by then. Well, they
didn't have a plain pine box, nor could they get one. And so we reported
that back to Mrs. White, and she wanted a simple wooden coffin. What we
finally got was a nice mahogany coffin. And another sort of amusing
sidelight, if a death can be amusing, is that Mrs. White absolutely hated
flower arrangements from florists. She just hated them. I think it was
Dick Gibbs who told me that one time-no it wasn't Dick Gibbs, it was the
fellow at 12th and West Street, the florist there, Eubank. Otto Eubank told
of taking flowers out to her house on another occasion, and she had told him
that she didn't want flowers delivered to the house. And they had the order
so they took it out there, and she literally chased the deliveryman out the
front door and threw the flowers at him on the front sidewalk. That's how
strongly she felt about this. So at the funeral then, or before the
funeral, flowers began to arrive at the house. So she allowed them in the
house, but she asked my wife Helen to rearrange every one of the flower
arrangements that came in and put them into a more casual, natural
arrangement. Every floral piece that came in had to be rearranged. I
thought that was an interesting sidelight.
And I think it was, as I remember, it was at his funeral where she wanted
all the people at the funeral to be able to throw down a handful of dirt as
they do, did in the olden days. And of course, the problem was that they
now have to have vaults, and so you couldn't. So we were all out there,
gathered around the site of the White family
[Page 46] Interview 2
graves. They're all out there together. And we had to wait until a
front-loader, a tractor, came out and lifted the lid off of the vault, put
the casket in, and then we threw in our handfuls of dirt, clods. And then
they put the lid back on and buried him. For a tombstone, Mrs. White had
them take a printer's stone out of the Gazette. A printer's stone is a
[tabletop-size piece] of granite or sandstone. It's about three inches
[thick] and about four by six feet, I suppose. And she had them put the
date of birth and date of death and epitaph on the printer's stone and then
put that down there beside William Allen White's grave, flat down on the
ground, which I thought was unusual, too.
LP: And appropriate.
RC: Yes, very appropriate. And at that time, we were getting rid of the
stones because we were shifting to a new style of printing, from hot type to
offset printing. So we had the stones, and that's what she used as a
marker. And it's still out there.
LP: Now, of course, then we can say Kathrine herself was the boss?
RC: Yes, she was very much the boss.
LP: And she went on until when?
RC: When W. L. became, really was deadly sick, he knew it was terminal, he
talked David and Barbara [Walker] into coming back to run the Gazette. And
he started David down in the press room. He worked in the press room and so
on. And David was to become publisher, and did.
LP: David's background was in what?
RC: David's background is. . . .
LP: I think he was a college administrator?
RC: Yes, but let me just say he had a bachelor's from Stanford, he had a
[Page 47] Interview 2
Harvard, and he had a Ph.D. from Columbia. I doubt that anyone has better
credentials than that at Emporia State. Maybe you know of someone who does.
RC: Okay, but those are about as high as I could imagine. But in college
administration, he was at Colby College in Watertown.
LP: Watertown, Maine.
RC: Right, and so they came back here, and he had begun his training. And
when W. L. died, then Mrs. White became the editor and David became the
publisher. But she was, of course, the boss. And she didn't ever write
anything. Bear in mind that she, as I said, had been a fact checker and had
worked for Time magazine and for Life magazine. She was very good at that
sort of thing, at picking things apart and finding errors. She was very
good at that. I don't know if she could write or not. I never did see an
example of her writing. And I regret terribly that no one sat down with her
like this and taped, you know, her life, because it was absolutely
fascinating. But anyway, she ran the Gazette. She pretty much let us have
our reign in the news department, except that I remember an example or two.
For example, at one point, the First Congregational Church there on 12th
Avenue at about Neosho was going to build an addition on the building. The
building had been designed by J. Stanley Hagan, a close friend of the
Whites. Mrs. Hagan thought it was a sacrilege to do anything with his
design. And Mrs. White then decided to involve the Gazette in an effort to
block this addition, which [in her view] would ruin the looks of the church.
Bear in mind Keith Greiner, the local attorney was, I think, leader of the
building project out there. And we had a series of editorials, and we had
[Page 48] Interview 2
stories about the purity of architecture, I don't know what. But we had a
drive to try to block the addition to the First Congregational Church, if
you can believe it.
LP: I can believe it. Did you write any of the editorials?
RC: I think I did, yes, because she didn't, and she would say, "I would
like to have this." And of course, I'm hired help, and so I do that.
LP: In other words, you wrote editorials to order?
LP: Did you necessarily agree with them?
RC: Not always, not always. For example, I thought we should back Bill
Avery for governor, and W. L. and his family had been life-long friends of
the Docking family. So you can guess who prevailed there.
LP: And, of course, Docking was a Democrat.
RC: Docking was a Democrat. Now another example of what Mrs. White did as
editor came when City Commissioner Reuben Hammer died sort of unexpectedly,
and they had to fill the vacancy. Mrs. White lived next door to Jane
Hammer, his widow, who was a simple woman at the very best, in my judgment.
LP: Sometimes reminded me of Governor Joan Finney.
RC: Yes. I don't want to libel anybody, but that's a pretty good
comparison, although I think when she was sober, Joan wasn't too bad. Jane
didn't drink, but she was a radical born-again Christian and was a terrible
enemy of, what is it, secular humanism. She saw this as a terrible threat
to the world and the state and to Emporia in particular. And she was just a
terrible city commissioner. As I said, Virgil Basgall told me that she
literally gave him ulcers when she was on the city commission because of her
strange and simple
[Page 49] Interview 2
requests. She made him-she became friends of a guy who was selling radios,
and so she made the city buy his brand of radios, this kind of thing. But
anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself because Mrs. White decided that Jane
Hammer would be the ideal person to replace her husband.
LP: But yet, they don't seem to have very much in common.
RC: No. And so, the Gazette then launches a drive "Appoint Jane Hammer."
Well, the poor widow who could-and they thought, "Well, he only has a year
left, or something like that. She could serve out his term." Well, she got
a taste of power, and I don't know how long she was on the city commission.
But as I said, she was just dreadful and drove poor Virgil. . . .
LP: Did she get elected?
LP: I didn't remember.
RC: Well, she was appointed. I'd better check, but I'm virtually sure she
was elected then at the next election because she had a following. She was
involved, I believe, with the minister out at Victory Fellowship, and they
had a pretty good voting block. So I think, as I recall, she was later
elected after being appointed. I'd have to double-check that. But the
point I'm trying to make is that Mrs. White had her, what's the word, sacred
cows, and once in a while, she would pop in with that into the newsroom.
But generally, she let us take the bit and go with it as we pleased.
LP: You didn't find her an every day operator, then?
RC: No, except. . . .
LP: You had to deal with her occasionally, rather than every day?
[Page 50] Interview 2
RC: More likely, she would be nitpicking copy. For example, I remember one
time, we misspelled Champs Élyées, the French boulevard. And I remember she
blistered both me and the reporter for that terrible error. One time, I
did-I don't know if I can bring names to mind-I did an editorial about the
U. S. Senate, and she wanted me to add a comment about the famous woman
senator of that time, the 70s and 80s.
LP: Not from Kansas?
RC: No, not from Kansas. A national figure. [Margaret Chase Smith] And I
misspelled her name or something, and she came down on me very hard. She
would nitpick copy and spelling.
LP: This may have been from her Time-Life experiences.
RC: Sure, that was her nature. And she did that in life, you know; she
would pick on trivial things. She didn't like a dress, or she was horrible
to hired help, to waiters and people like that. She was very, very mean to
people like that.
LP: On the other hand, I do remember on one occasion I was playing Alf
Landon, and I referred to William Allen White as Will White, which was very
upsetting to Barbara, but on the other hand, Kathrine said, "Oh, what does
that amount to?" Maybe that's because her opinion of William Allen White
wasn't all that great. I don't know.
RC: Well, right, she objected because you said Will?
LP: Because I said Will.
RC: Which was what he was known by.
LP: William Allen White?
RC: William Allen White was known as Will, Willy.
LP: Okay, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to back up. I referred to him as
[Page 51] Interview 2
RC: Oh, okay.
LP: That's where I made the mistake, and Barbara jumped me for calling him
Bill, and she said, "Oh, well. That's nothing." She actually defended me
for making this mistake, which I thought was out of character because she
usually, as you say, was very quick on mistakes.
RC: And there are two or three books, What People Said, and a William
Lindsay White biography that give examples of why she was miserable here
when the Whites were here. You know, she just hated it here. There are
several references in What People Said, which is a book about the great
Kansas bond scandal, about how she made fun of Emporia women for wearing
machine-made lace instead of hand-made lace, that kind of thing.
LP: There's one story that's told about her that somebody showed up wearing
an all-white dress at her house, and she said, "Well, I see your laundry
came back this week."
RC: I remember I had a newsroom party out at my little old house on
Frontier when [you and I] were neighbors, and this one girl, it was in the
Seventies, I think, and this one girl came wearing a see-through dress. It
was a gauzy kind of blouse you could see through with no underwear, and Mrs.
White met her at the door. She said, "My dear, you're practically naked."
I remember that vividly. But she did that for effect, I think. She loved
to be a sophisticate. I keep coming back to that word.
LP: Did you find her hard to get along with?
RC: Well, no. I just did as I was told. She drove me crazy. You know,
she made me angry. But no, I was hired help. I did as I was told. I
didn't argue with her very much, unless I really had a valid point. I
remember we were discussing salaries in the
[Page 52] Interview 2
newsroom, and they had told me to survey salaries among the papers our size
in the state. And I took the report in, and we were talking. And she said,
"Well, that can't be right. They don't pay those kind of wages." And I
said, "Just a minute, Mrs. White. I can go call them and ask them if I have
the right figure." "Well, never mind," she said. "That's not important."
But I would go that far with her. She was, she could be like a tyrant.
LP: She died when?
RC: I don't know. I'd have to look it up.
LP: Then it was David Walker and Barbara Walker.
RC: Right. And that's when I became the executive editor. They made her
editor. They gave her the title of editor.
LP: Who's her?
RC: Barbara Walker became the editor, and David the publisher, and they
made me executive editor.
LP: What did that entail?
RC: Well, same job. I was running the newsroom and writing the editorials
and, you know, doing what an editor does. But they wanted to keep the title
in the family.
LP: What changes came about in the Gazette? Was there any significant
change between William Allen White, William Lindsay White, Kathrine White,
and the Walkers? Can you trace any kind of a change?
RC: Oh, yes.
LP: Over those administrations, so to speak.
RC: I'll give a quick anecdotal thing first. When I first began to go to
conventions, and when I went back to New York and all that, W. L. set me
down, and he said, "Now Ray, I
[Page 53] Interview 2
have been on expense account for Reader's Digest and everything, and I have
found that you're more apt to leave something off than you are to put too
much on. So I want you to be careful to write down for everything, every
penny you spend. If it's a tip, be sure and put that down." He was a very
generous guy, wonderful guy, and I did that. And we got along fine for
years. Well, he died, so the first event I went to after he died was the
Republican National Convention in Miami, Miami Beach. And so we went down
there, and I sent back dispatches, pictures, I don't know what it was. I
think I was delegate that time. I don't know. But then I turned in my
expense account as I had always done, and she [Mrs. White] cut it about in
half. For example, I would put down "baggage tip, a dollar and a half," and
she wrote over to the side, "You can carry your own bags," and scratched it
off. That's literally true. You could carry your own bags. And as I
recall, Jerry Trowbridge was advertising manager, and he went with me. And
I said, "Now, Jerry, just spend whatever you want." Well, she made us pay
back half of what we put down as expenses. So yes, there were changes.
Another one that I really disagreed with, and this happened after W. L.
died. In William Allen White's time and in W. L.'s time, the Gazette sent,
gave complimentary subscriptions to widows of Gazette employees who had
died. For example, Isabel Lowther, the widow of Gene Lowther, who had been
publisher, or business manager. And one of the first things Mrs. White-and
David was then the publisher-one of the first things they did was to cut
that off, which I felt was a dreadful thing to do. So there were. . . .
LP: There was a tightening of the reins, of the financial reins.
RC: Exactly right.
[Page 54] Interview 2
LP: This is though the Gazette continued to be, I guess, a pretty
RC: Yes. Of course we now have yet another generation, and the Gazette, all
newspapers, I think, in general, and the Gazette is one of them, are losing
circulation. They're making money, but they're losing circulation. And
some day, there's going to be a real problem. So papers are making
adjustments, all of them. They have to cut the news staff. When I was
there. . . .
LP: Now, we're beginning to talk about what we were talking about at the
beginning of this particular interview, the philosophy behind the operation
of a newspaper. As I look at the Gazette, what changes do I see, as a
reader, so to speak?
RC: Yes, and the technology. Now, I say we went from hot type to cold
type. But then came the computer, and when I was there, the rule of thumb
among small newspapers was to have one newsperson for each thousand
circulation. So we had twelve people, thirteen in the newsroom. Okay,
circulation is going down. And another thing is that, when I was there, the
news people did nothing but gather and write the news, put the headlines on
it and so on. Now, if you go to a newsroom, you'll see the editors and the
reporters sitting behind computer terminals, and they're writing their
stories, yes, but they're also making up the pages, putting headlines,
placing pictures in there, putting captions. They are literally making up
the pages. In other words, the job of the compositor, the make-up man, is
gone. That has been assumed by the same people who gather and write the
news. In other words, the editors spend-I think one editor told me he spent
about 80% of his time on this. You know, they're not doing research on
stories, or they're not working with reporters. They're actually making
pages and composing the pages and all of this sort of thing. So, something
has to give, and it's news coverage.
[Page 55] Interview 2
LP: So what do I see, how has the Gazette changed? If I were to pick up
the Gazette today compared to fifty years ago, what's the difference?
RC: First of all, it's better looking.
LP: Better looking today?
RC: You've got pretty pictures, and you've got. . . .
LP: I don't know if it's better looking to me or not.
RC: Well, to most. Obviously it's better looking to average people because
they're doing it to attract average people. They have watched graphics on
television. They expect them in their newspaper. They expect to see color.
We didn't have any color when I was there fifty years ago.
LP: You're not disturbed by this change in the appearance, then?
RC: Well, I didn't say that. And the point is, what does it matter what I
LP: Oh, I don't know.
RC: That has nothing to do with it. We, way back when, I think in about
1970, we won the national award for having the best looking newspaper in the
country. It was called the Ayer Cup. And I can document it here. But we
won mainly on a design that W. L. worked out himself. He got books of
typefaces. He worked with different sizes of body type. He worked with
what he called the X-line, that is, if you look at the letter d in newspaper
type, the X-line is the round part, what would be covered by the X. The
point is, he researched typography a great deal. We still have the books
down there in the office. And he came up with a very, I thought, beautiful
design, reminiscent of the Wall Street Journal, very reminiscent, Oxford
rules. The type was Eusebius, and Cloister and
[Page 56] Interview 2
Gowdy, those kinds of thing. And we used lots of white space. It was kind
of a delicate design, really.
LP: How far do you think [that] design would get you today?
RC: Nowhere. The Christian Science Monitor used to be a little bit like
that. The Wall Street Journal, I haven't seen it for probably six months,
but I think it still is in this same vein. Now, I don't discount pictures.
We use photographs, and our theory
is. . . .
LP: You yourself are a photographer.
RC: That's right, and our theory was, if a photograph is worth using, it
should be used large enough-like a work of art, it should be large enough so
it can be seen and tell the story. And that's contrary. Now they use
smaller pictures, color pictures. So what's better? Better is what works
with this culture, not with my culture fifty years ago, but with the present
culture. They have to compete, and it's an uphill battle because of the
LP: Well, Ray, we are about out of time, and we'll quit for today, and I
thank you very much.
RC: Thank you.
[Interview ends tape 2, side B, count 420. Total count of side B is 434.]
[Cover sheet 1] Interview 3
FLINT HILLS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT COVER SHEET
Interviewee: Everett Ray Call, retired Executive Editor, the Emporia Gazette
Date of Birth: February 5,1932 Place of Birth: Lowe, Kansas
Date of Interview: July 31,2007
Interviewer: Loren E. Pennington, Emeritus Professor of History, Emporia
University Interview Editor: Loren E, Pennington
Editor's Note: In this third interview Mr. Call covers events of his own
career with the Gazette, including famous murder cases, local, state, and
national politics, and the newspaper's relations with Emporia State
University and its presidents and with the Emporia Chamber of Commerce. As
is the case with the first two interviews, Mr. Call's comments are frank and
analytical. In reviewing the interview manuscript, Mr. Call made only small
changes and additions. The additions, as well as minor corrections by the
editor, are enclosed in square brackets. Taken as a whole, the manuscript
closely follows the material on the tape.
Release Form: Enclosed
Interview Tapes: 2 audio cassette tapes: Tape 1, Side A to count 424 & Side
B; Tape 2, Side A & Side B to count 209 (total count per side of tape is
Manuscript Transcript: 50 pp.
Depositories: Kansas State Historical Society: Manuscript Transcript
Lyon County Historical Archives: Interview Tapes and Manuscript Transcript
Emporia State University Archives: Manuscript Transcript
Manuscript Contents by Pages:
Recent changes in personnel organization of Emporia Gazette, pp. 1-2
Recent budgetary changes in American newspaper business, pp. 2-3
Patrick Kelley as editorial editor of Gazette, pp. 3-4
Effect of television competition on newspaper circulation, pp. 5-6
Importance to newspapers of advertising, pp. 6-8
Pressures of advertisers on newspapers, pp. 6-7
Interviewee's career with Gazette, pp. 8-12, 13-14, 14-50
As Gazette photographer, pp. 9-12
At Kansas City Kansan, p. 12-13
Returns to Gazette, p. 13-14
At Sedan Times-Star, p. 14
Again returns to Gazette, pp. 14-15
Moves into editing work at the Gazette, pp. 15-16
Sent by William Lindsay White to journalism meetings meetings, pp. 16-17,
[Cover sheet 2] Interview 3
As Gazette editorial writer, pp. 17-19,20-21,23-24
Contacts with Kansas political leaders, pp. 19-20
Attends national political conventions, pp. 20-21
Importance of wife Helen in interviewee's Gazette career, pp. 22-23
Turnover in Gazette staff, pp. 24-25
Low salaries at Gazette, pp. 25-26
Gazette and Anderson Murder Cases, pp. 26-31
Gazette and Jimmy Essex (New Orleans Sniper) Case, pp. 31-32
Gazette and John King, President of Emporia State University, pp. 32, 34-35
Local politics in Emporia, pp. 32-33
Scandal in Emporia, pp. 33-34
Armour Packing, Iowa Beef, and Tyson in Emporia, pp. 34-35,46-48
Influx of Somaiians into Emporia, pp. 34-35
Attempt to turn College of Emporia campus into a federal prison, p. 35
Gazette and Emporia State University presidents, pp. 35-44,48
Gazette and John Visser, President of Emporia State University, pp. 36-39,
Gazette and Robert Glennen, President of Emporia State University, pp. 39-44
Interviewee writes unpublished history of Emporia State University, pp.
Gazette relations with Emporia Businessmen and Chamber of Commerce, pp.
Comments on possible future of Emporia Gazette, pp. 48-50
[Page 1] Interview 3
This is a third interview with Everett Ray Call, former Editor of the
Emporia Gazette. The interviewer is Loren Pennington, Emeritus Professor of
History at Emporia State University. Today's date is July 31, 2007, and the
interview is taking place at the Emporia State University Archives on the
old College of Emporia campus.
[This tape 1, side A.]
Loren Pennington: Ray, in our first interview we talked about the Gazette
and William Allen White, and in the second one, we talked mostly about the
Gazette and William Lindsay White, and to some extent about the Gazette
since the death of William Lindsay White. Before we go on today, is there
anything further you want to add about the Gazette, so to speak?
Ray Call: Yes. When we talked last time, we talked about the change in the
appearance of the Gazette, and there is another great impact, and we talked
about it earlier. But I had a concrete example, a personal experience just
last week that brings home another point. And it involves a journalist we
both know. His name is Pat Kelley. I don't mean to embarrass him, but I
think it would be useful to have this on the tape.
LP: What is his position now at the Gazette?
RC: He's now editor of the editorial page, and that is the crux of the
problem. I was told last week that Pat has been told that they are trying
to trim the newsroom budget, and that they might ask him to do just some
straight news reporting on the street or the courthouse, or whatever, in
addition to what he's doing as editorial page editor. Now bear in mind, he
has been doing other things, but this would be an official and marked
change. It's very troubling to Pat, and I'm told he wouldn't care to go
along with that; he would rather leave than have to do that. But here is a
very personal and somewhat
[Page 2] Interview 3
painful example of another change that's happening in journalism. Newsroom
budgets-and as I say, we touched on this earlier-for all newspapers are
suffering. There have been articles in The New Yorker and in Vanity Fair, a
number of publications, that tell how virtually all newspapers, including
the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, other very large and successful
newspapers, are cutting back on the newsroom budget. One of the problems,
then, is the example here at the Emporia Gazette. The Gazette is a small
newspaper. I don't know the circulation, and we talked about that earlier.
But it's come down. And the question is, can a paper the size of the
Gazette afford to have a editorial page editor? Can a paper this size even
afford to have an editorial page? Many of them the size of the Gazette have
eliminated the editorial page or use borrowed material from other
publications or, if they're a chain, they might have an editorial that
circulated to all the newspapers in the chain, or several that they can
LP: The Kansas City Star's an example of that. If we look at their
editorial page today, they have all kinds of stuff from their columnists and
other people who are with that chain, and also they print from other
newspapers. And then they have a huge letters to the editor page.
RC: It used to be Knight-Ridder. Now it's McClatchey. And these
newspapers in these chains are cutting their editorial page budgets by
sharing this material. Another example is the movie critic down at Wichita,
another McClatchey paper. His name was Bob Cartwright. And his job was
eliminated about six months ago. They no longer have a full-time movie
critic. So what is happening is that news coverage suffers. You simply
cannot reduce the number of reporters or the number of editorial writers and
maintain quality. That added to what we discussed earlier about make-up,
the fact that you have
[Page 3] Interview 3
editors spending a lot of time putting the pages together, rather than
editing or assigning stories or doing research, that, combined with the
other, is causing a lot of problems. So I don't know where it will end. I
do know that a lot of newspapers, and we mentioned this earlier, have
switched over or are switching over to internet and websites and these kinds
of things. They're making money by selling advertising on their sites. But
I don't know where it will end. And it seems to me that newspapers are
really going to suffer in the next, oh, twenty or thirty years.
LP: You talk about Pat Kelley. One thing that I have noticed is that Pat
is certainly a left-of-center liberal, and his editorial work reflects that,
and yet the management of the Gazette is still Republican. And as I read
his editorials, which are very anti-Bush-if he's ever had a good word to say
about the President lately it's escaped my attention. And what I wonder is,
is part of this problem that we're speaking of here because of management
dissatisfaction with Kelley as editorial page editor?
RC: I think you're right, and I'm not involved in the operation of the
Gazette. I'm just like you or anyone else; I'm an observer. But I have
observed these things. First of all, a lot of people, knowing I used to
work there, complain that the [editorial] tone is absolutely and
LP: [Because] of Pat Kelley's influence.
RC: Generally the whole page. Generally the whole page. They do some
opposing articles on what we used to call the op-ed page. And also the
editorial page cartoons are consistently liberal.
LP: Does Pat select the cartoons?
[Page 4] Interview 3
RC: I assume so. I did, and as editor of the editorial page, he normally
would have that duty. So I certainly assume so. Now I have had complaints
from a number of my friends. Some are furious with him. They say why
doesn't the Gazette have-this harkens back to the time of William Allen
White and W. L. White when they expressed their opinions on the editorial
page and the hell with anybody who disagreed with them. But those days are
long gone. And also, probably the bottom line here is that there is a
fierce struggle to maintain circulation. And conservatives, particularly in
towns like Emporia or states like Kansas, are in the majority. And they
finally sometimes get so angry that they just drop the Gazette. I can think
of one: George Crocker as an example, a friend of ours, who dropped the
Gazette for this very reason. So the publishers are trying to soften the
controversial part of their newspaper because they want to hold on. They've
moved on to other fields. They do specialized features. They do health
things. They do family things. And they try to get away from. . . .
LP: The controversial.
RC: Controversial things. Now I'm thinking, isn't it interesting that this
is contrary to what cable television does. They're in the bundle with Bill
O'Reilly and with these, particularly on Fox, with these very conservative.
. . .
LP: But they are doing this from the conservative side.
RC: From the conservative side.
LP: Is it that the conservatives are able to make a lot of noise?
RC: Well, I think the latter. I don't think the decline in circulation is
caused mainly by the editorial page.
[Page 5] Interview 3
LP: In other words, there would be, there is a decline; after all, the Wall
Street Journal is losing [circulation].
RC: Which is not liberal. The point is younger readers, younger Americans,
are turning to different sources of information. And newspapers are-first
of all, you have pay for them, you have to have some place where you can sit
down and spread them out, and then they're not as easy to look at as the
internet. And also the younger readers are on the internet doing things
anyway. For example, we had a presidential debate on CNN a couple of weeks
ago, and the questions came from people at their personal computers. They
got on one of the services where they can talk into a microphone and send
their question directly with their television camera, or their computer
microphone and their computer camera, and they could send their question
directly to the debate. And so the questions-and you could see them asking
these questions-were televised along with the responses form the candidate.
That is an immediate interaction that you can't get from newspapers. And
it's that kind of thing, I believe, that's hurting newspapers.
LP: Let me ask another thing. You're talking about, for instance, people
becoming incensed here in Emporia at the liberal opinions on the editorial
page, dropping the thing. What effect do you think this is having on, say,
the Gazette's advertising revenue? Of course you don't. . . .
RC: I really don't know. I mean, the papers look healthy. They're fat.
You know, they have lots of pages in them. And I think the advertising,
advertisers rather, are getting results from the Gazette still, or they
wouldn't do it. There is no local television station.
LP: That's one of the advantages the Gazette has. That's a very definite
RC: And so that. . . .
[Page 6] Interview 3
LP: If I want to find out what's on in the movie theaters or what
Bluestem's selling, or what have you, the only way I can find out is to read
the Gazette. Or I can listen to the radio.
RC: Or you have to find a new television set. You can look through the
Gazette ads and see what's being offered.
LP: I get my grocery ads that way, and that's a good thing.
RC: And as I say, there's no local ad for a Reeble's store on television.
The only one you can see is in the paper. So I think, at this point right
now, I think that's what keeping newspapers, smaller newspapers especially,
LP: Is advertising revenue.
LP: Okay. The reason I ask that question is, I think you indicated earlier
that in William Allen White's day, he was very cognizant of the fact that it
didn't pay to make the advertisers mad.
RC: And I think that has come back. I think that's one reason they want to
soft-pedal that editorial page. I think you'll find a great deal. . . .
LP: You think it is, it does have an effect, then, even today?
RC: Oh yes, I think it has an effect.
LP: But if you're a businessman, you have to think pretty hard about
dropping the Gazette because you don't have many other ways to get your
message across in this town.
RC: That's exactly right. I remember the story about Whitley Austin. He
once worked at the Gazette and then ran the Salina Journal and all of the
car dealers in town were angry about some news story that appeared in the
paper-maybe it was Ralph Nader, the
[Page 7] Interview 3
danger of American automobiles or something. But anyway, they all got
together and walked into Whitley's office and said, "If you don't stop this,
we'll pull all of our advertising." And he said, "You do whatever you need
to, and you come back if you need me. But I cannot change the news content
for you." Well, they pulled out, and then over a period of months, they
gradually came back one by one because they were getting results from
newspaper advertising, and they couldn't afford to do without it.
LP: They couldn't afford it. And as soon as one gives in, then he starts
to pick up business.
RC: And there's always a maverick. Maybe Whitley had a friend, I don't
know. But that's a true story. He says the hell with you. And that was
the prevailing attitude back then. And I don't know if it would be now. It
would take some real courage on the part of a publisher to do something like
LP: On the other hand, a publisher does have one thing going for him. If
it gets out that some businessman is trying to more or less blackmail the
LP: That doesn't speak well for the businessman.
LP: So the newspaper does have some [clout]. Public opinion is probably
going to be on the newspaper's side.
RC: Although there was a time when, and this wasn't in Emporia, but I'm
aware of it, when a prominent department executive was arrested for
something embarrassing, molesting a girl, whatever. And he said, "If that
gets into the paper, you'll never get another dime's worth of advertising
from Ajax Department Store." Back then,
[Page 8] Interview 3
newspapers were still strong enough, and it said, "I'm sorry. You'll just
have to pull your advertising." Well, with the same result. Now today, as
I said, we don't have a television station here in Emporia, but we do have
cable television. And if you watch enough television, you'll see
advertisements for many Emporia stores.
LP: Of course, we have radio too.
RC: Yes, radio. And it was a pretty good competitor for the Gazette
LP: Before television.
RC: Before television.
LP: But now television is a competitor for KVOE and the other radio
RC: That's exactly right.
LP: People turn on their television on all day instead of their radio.
RC: But even so, from what I can tell, the local merchants are still
getting the best results from their newspaper advertising, or else they
wouldn't be doing it. And the papers are-I don't have any figures, [but]
the papers seem pretty healthy, pretty fat.
LP: Is there any other comment you want to make about the operation of the
RC: I think I've made more than I should have right now, so the answer is
LP: I would like to go on to something else then because we have talked
about the Gazette, the Gazette policies, William Allen White, William
Lindsay White, the operation of the Gazette since William Lindsay White's
death, but we really haven't gotten much into your own career. So I would
like to turn to that next. Now you came here in 1955, married, shortly out
of the Army. Pick us up there in that 1955 and tell us what happened.
RC: Okay, not only was I married, but I had a son at that point. We took
a. . . .
[Page 9] Interview 3
LP: What was the occasion of your coming to Emporia?
RC: All right, before I went into the Army, I was a teacher. And I wanted
to come back here and get a degree in education. And I liked Emporia State.
I'd been here to a band-they had annual music festivals, and I really liked
the campus. But anyway. . . .
LP: So you came primarily to be a student?
RC: And we took an apartment on West Street from a Mrs. Smith. We had the
G. I. Bill, but that wasn't enough to live on. And as I said earlier, I had
experience as a photographer and had worked for the Coffeyville Journal as a
stringer, and I got on part-time at the Gazette. At that point, there were
three photographers, and I was the bottom of the totem pole. My first job
every afternoon was to come in and mop the floor and clean up the mess that
had been left by the other two photographers.
LP: What was your percentage of time down there? Half-timer or what?
RC: I would say half-time.
LP: Okay; you're just a part-timer and you're mopping the floor.
RC: And as I say, my first job was to mop the floor because of the mess
left by the other two photographers who had another job of chronicling the
construction of the Kansas Turnpike.
LP: Which was going forward at that time.
RC: Which was in full swing at that point, and the contractors had to have
photographs every week of every bridge, every section they were working on,
to document what they were doing and prove it.
[Page 10] Interview 3
LP: The Gazette reporters were working for the contractor, is that what
LP: The Gazette wasn't doing this.
RC: No, no.
LP: But these two guys were working at that.
RC: Were working at that. They had to take these pictures, process them,
and put them onto a cloth background, and they did it at night, apparently
making pretty good money. So when I came in, either in the morning, more
often in the afternoon, my first job was to mop the darkroom floor and get
it all cleaned up.
LP: They were using the Gazette's darkroom to process this?
RC: That's right. That's right.
LP: Did William Lindsay White know about this?
LP: And approve?
RC: I don't know what the arrangement was, but they could not have avoided
knowledge of what was going on.
LP: So it wasn't that they were putting something over on him.
RC: No, no, no. I'm sure it was legitimate because it was so obvious, and
it took every evening or at least at a regular point every week.
LP: Now, they must have been out during the day taking pictures.
LP: But you're talking about the processing of it.
[Page 11] Interview 3
RC: The processing, right. This is back in the day of speed graphics and
four by five negatives. So I was really the low man on the totem pole. I
was probably the lowest of the low in the news department, I would say.
LP: Were you doing any writing at all?
RC: No. I mentioned earlier that when I was teaching school down in Sedan,
or around Sedan, I had summers off, and I got involved in photography. And
then I became a stringer, a part-time photographer for the Coffeyville
Journal. This is before I went into the Army. So when I went into the
Army, I took a USAFI course-I think I mentioned that-in journalism. And
after I got out of the Army, we came to Emporia, so I had experience at the
Coffeyville Journal. And at one point, I resigned from the Gazette and took
a job at the Kansas City Kansan in Kansas City, Kansas.
LP: But when you first took this job with the Gazette, what did you do, go
down and apply, or did you see an opening?
RC: I think I applied. I went around and I applied. I also went around-I
mentioned this earlier-and took pictures of fraternity parties and made
prints of the couples and that sort.
LP: You had a little business on the side?
RC: I was trying to make ends meet.
LP: Did you have your own dark room and this kind of thing?
RC: No, and I can't remember. I was working with somebody. I cannot
remember whose dark room, but I did have to process my own film and print
LP: You had access to it.
[Page 12] Interview 3
RC: Yes. And maybe, I might have worked for someone doing that. I can't
quite recall that.
LP: Well how long did you work for the Gazette before you temporarily quit?
RC: Let's see, 1955 I came here, [and] I was here for three or four years.
LP: You were here three or four years working with the Gazette.
RC: Yes, as a photographer.
LP: And then you?
RC: Then I had a friend in Kansas City, at the Kansas City Kansan, another
Sedan fellow, Bob Snare, who called and said they needed a photographer, and
would I like to come up and apply? And I did. But the Kansas City Kansan
was a small newspaper in Kansas City, Kansas.
RC: Yes, it was a daily, and it was a healthy paper because there wasn't
too much competition, yet. And it was operated by the Stauffer chain, [by]
Oscar Stauffer, who had worked for William Allen White. And I was hired up
there, moved my family way out on State Street. By the way, Helen and I by
then had a daughter, Beth. She was born in Kansas City. I was a part-time
photographer, or no, a full-time photographer in Kansas City. And they sent
me out. . . .
LP: And I take it you'd left school.
RC: Yes, I'd left school. As a matter of fact, I left school before I went
up there. I remember I was going to college, and I got a job as a Bulletin
LP: That's at the Emporia State Bulletin.
RC: Emporia State University. I got a job as the Bulletin editor, as a
[Page 13] Interview 3
LP: I see.
RC: To pick up some more money. Then the Gazette offered me a full-time
job as a photographer, so I took that and dropped out of college.
LP: Then after that you went up to Kansas City.
RC: I was a full-time photographer at the Gazette for two or three years.
And then I had the call from Kansas City. And I got on full-time up there,
and we were getting by, just barely, on a very small wage. And I went out
on a major story, and it might have been when the tornado hit Ruskin Heights
and Hickman Mills in Kansas City. And I went out and did photographs of
LP: That was about the biggest tornado of all time.
RC: Yes, in Kansas City. And again, I can't tell you the year without
looking it up. I mainly went out and took photographs of that, and I came
in and we did a nice spread of photographs and the editor said, "Could you
do-can you write a news story." And I said, "Well, I've had this USAFI
course. I can give it a shot." Well, they liked what I did, and from that
stroke on, I became a reporter-photographer, doing both. And then after
about a year, I had a call from the Gazette saying they had a newsroom job.
Would I like to come back for that? Again, I don't know the year, but I did
and started as a reporter. And then from that point, I would become a wire
editor, a city editor, a managing editor, and eventually an executive
LP: So the Gazette wanted you to come back?
LP: Why do you think they wanted you to come back?
RC: I don't know. I honestly don't.
[Page 14] Interview 3
LP: Who do you think was responsible for saying, "Let's get Ray Call back."
RC: I think it was probably Ted McDaniel because Ted and I got along pretty
well, at least at that time. I also left another time, [in 1959]. But I
was told that my old hometown paper, the Sedan Times-Star needed an editor
because the man who owned the paper was going to Las Vegas, or at least to
Nevada, to get a divorce from his wife. He had married a widow who owned
the paper, and he had her put into an insane asylum and divorced her and
married another woman. And I didn't know at the time what he was up to.
But he said he needed somebody to come and run the paper while he went to
Nevada to get this divorce. But then, when he came back, he would sell half
of the paper, and I would get a start, and when he retired, I could have the
Sedan Times-Star. Well, of course, being a Sedan native, I thought that
would really be it; I would really show the hometown folk what a wonderful
journalist I was. Well, after he got the divorce, he came back to town and
told me he didn't need me. But the Gazette again offered me a job.
LP: Why do you think they got you back this time?
RC: I have no idea.
LP: Did William Lindsay White have anything to do with this, do you think?
RC: You know, I don't think so. I don't know.
LP: In other words, it wasn't William Allen White so much as the people he
RC: [You mean] William Lindsay White.
LP: Yes. William Lindsay White.
RC: Well, I dealt through Ted McDaniel. I must say that Ted didn't make
any moves like that without approval from W. L.
[Page 15] Interview 3
LP: But he may have been your talking person, your stalking horse, so to
RC: Right, that's a good term, stalking horse. And it was when I came back
from Sedan, I think, that I became mainly an editor.
LP: Why did you go to editing? What do you think was behind that?
RC: You know, I've never thought about that, Loren. Why did I?
LP: I mean, was this your idea to do editing, or was it a Gazette idea?
RC: No, it was not my idea. It was the job of wire editor, that is, the
Associated Press editor, the person who chose Associated Press stories for
the paper and edited them and put the headlines on. That job was open, and
they asked me would I like to try that, which isn't all that unusual.
That's the way newspapers work. You started, and as jobs opened, you were
given a chance to see if you could do them. And then I think the next one
was maybe just a local copy editor, and then they needed a city editor and
so on up the line over the years.
LP: We'll stop here because we're almost at the end of this tape.
[Tape 1, side A, ends count 424. Total count of side A is 432.]
This is the third interview with Everett Ray Call, tape 1, side B.
LP: Ray, you were talking about going down to Sedan to take on this weekly
newspaper, and how it didn't come out, and you ended up back at the Gazette.
RC: Right; and this is when I really began to do more editing. And you
asked earlier why this happened. And I think back, and one thing I remember
is I had a real knack for headline writing, working with words, and I was
very proud of each line of my headline making sense. And I also had a
pretty good knack for correcting, for copy reading, for correcting
reporters' stories. So I think I was pretty successful at that, and that's
[Page 16] Interview 3
reason they moved me over. I also, now that I look back, realize that W. L.
began to take a hand in what I was doing. The first, I think the first sign
of this is he began to send me places.
LP: Now this was after you came back from Sedan.
LP: About when was this?
RC: Well, I'll have to look. I can't remember.
LP: Up in the Sixties? You started in '55.
RC: Let's see, Julie was born in '55; yes it had to be in the Sixties.
RC: But anyway, he began to send me first, for example, to the Inland Press
Association meeting up in Chicago. And I also began to go to the state
meetings up in Kansas City or in Topeka. And so I was getting away. . . .
LP: Were you the one representative going, or did he send several people?
RC: No; he would send, for example to the Inland Press in Chicago, which
was a broad organization that covered business and news, Kenneth Williams,
the business manager, to learn things and to have experience with other
business managers. And I had the same thing.
LP: Did he at all send you or Williams or any of these people up there,
shall we say, to showcase the Gazette?
LP: In other words, he didn't expect you to do anything like that.
[Page 17] Interview 3
RC: No, because I couldn't. I had, you know, too much stage fright. I was
there as an observer.
LP: That's what I want to get at. You strictly went for the education.
RC: That's right. He was starting to educate me and broaden. . . .
LP: Something he was doing later on at a more sophisticated level.
RC: Right. And I began to write editorials, and the reason for that was,
the editorials had been written by E. T. Lowther, Eugene T. Lowther, by the
way, the father of Jim Lowther, and the son of the Lowther for whom Lowther
Middle School was named. Anyway, he died. And there was nobody to write
editorials when W. L. White was away, and he was away a good half the time,
maybe three-quarters of the time. And when he wasn't here, he wanted local
editorials. So he conceived of the idea of letting anybody in the newsroom
write an editorial for three dollars apiece. If you wrote an editorial that
got published, you got three dollars.
LP: That was in addition to your regular pay.
RC: Yes, in addition to your regular pay, and then he picked the best
editorial of the week, and the writer of that got five dollars. Now bear in
mind, I am a struggling father of two, I think, by that time, John and
Beth-well Julie came along too. I had three children. So I jumped at the
LP: Was your wife working at this time?
RC: No, she didn't start until-well-yes she was. That's a lie. She worked
part-time at Hallmark Cards, which had a little assembly. . . .
LP: She wasn't teaching then at this time?
[Page 18] Interview 3
RC: No, no, no. She didn't have a teaching degree, and, you know, hadn't
finished college. But she did some part-time work, I think, at Hallmark.
So anyway, I wrote as many as I could, and I must say that I won most of the
weekly, many of the weekly awards. I don't know how many, but it seemed to
me I won the majority. And also the other writers, the other reporters,
began to drop away because, you know, it was quite a lot of work just for
three bucks. You had to do some research, or at least put some thought into
it and then write it, and by then, three dollars wasn't that much. And so
the competition dropped away. And I gradually squeezed everybody out.
Well, this opened another door because it was the custom back then for the
editorial-page writers of Kansas to communicate with each other, back and
forth. I see Whitley Austin over at Salina is angry about the Federal
budget. Well, he doesn't have to worry about [that]. You know, you would
communicate back and forth.
LP: What do you mean communicate? You mean by editorials?
LP: Whitley Austin writes an editorial, and you kind of write an answer?
RC: And I write an answer-to Rolla Clymer at El Dorado, Clyde Reed down at
Salina, or Fred Brinkerhoff at Pittsburg. Editors across the state
commented back and forth. And I began to attract some statewide attention.
LP: People started answering you?
RC: Yes, and quoting, you know, if they agreed. Or if you say, "I think
Clyde Reed is right when he says," or "Clyde Reed made the. . . ." So there
was this network. So I began to get my share of attention from this network
and also criticism. I remember Fred Brinkerhoff down at Pittsburg just
blistered me one time for an editorial I wrote. And I
[Page 19] Interview 3
remember John McCormally, an Emporia student who went on to become a
Pulitzer Prize-winning editor out at Hutchinson, led off an editorial in
answer to something I wrote with this phrase: "Of all the unadulterated
bullshit I have ever read, Ray Call's comments about subsidies for farmers,
blah, blah, blah." All this was going on, and so I got some attention that
way. Also we would pick up. . . .
LP: If that's the kind of attention you wanted.
RC: You know, I didn't care if you spelled my name. . . .
LP: Bad attention is better than no attention.
RC: Spell my name right. And then we would often pick up a whole
editorial. If W. L. liked something that Clyde Reed had said, we would
reprint that editorial. And they would do the same for us, and so I began
to have some editorials reprinted. I wrote a lot about politics because I'd
grown up with it. My parents were both county office holders, so I knew
politics. And I began to attract some attention with the comments I made
about politicians. And then eventually, politicians began to court the
Gazette. Of course, all politicians courted all newspapers. That was
nothing new. But through the years, I was able to meet all the U. S.
senators from Kansas.
LP: You are not talking about just local politicians.
RC: No, no. Senator Pearson, remember him? And of course Kassebaum, and
all the governors. These politicians, when they went through town, when
they had an appearance in Emporia, would make a stop at the newspaper,
particularly if they were Republicans, and the town paper was a Republican
newspaper. They were building support.
LP: I presume they especially liked to talk to the editorial writers.
[Page 20] Interview 3
RC: Exactly right. When W. L. was in town, he would preside. But if he
wasn't here, and he was gone half the time, I got to talk to senators,
congressmen. Joe Skubitz was frequent visitor. And then this grew on
itself because you became more knowledgeable. These were, by the way,
off-the-record private meetings where people told what was going on and what
they believed without fear of being quoted, deep background maybe. This
helped me build a knowledge of politics, and that continued to grow through
the years. At one point, and this was unethical as hell, but at one point I
became a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
LP: Do you remember the year?
LP: Do you remember the year?
RC: Yes, it was 1972 because I was one of the delegates who nominated
Richard Milhous Nixon for his second term, and my wife is going to put it on
my tombstone. I had been there in '68 when Nixon was nominated, in Miami,
Florida, Miami Beach. And that was the year of the teargas and Spiro Agnew
and all of that. No, I'd better back up. I don't know if Spiro was his
first vice-presidential candidate.
LP: Spiro was his first vice-president.
RC: Okay, Spiro, "Tippecanoe and Spiro, too" was the motto down there among
the delegates. But I became part of the political establishment and loved
it. And this seemed to please W. L. White mainly because I was writing from
a fairly conservative, Republican point of view. So then I began to go. . .
LP: In other words, you were writing from a conservative point of view.
RC: Which was my point of view.
[Page 21] Interview 3
LP: Which was your point of view. It wasn't one imposed upon you.
RC: That's right, back then.
LP: But it agreed with William Lindsay White.
RC: Yes, he liked what I wrote. And of course, he was a Nixon Republican.
When I was a delegate, he went down to Miami Beach. By then he had cancer,
and [he] stayed on William F. Buckley's yacht to watch the convention
because he was too sick to go the floor of the convention. And I believe
that was the year of the infamous William F. Buckley-Gore Vidal fiasco on
television. That's an aside, but anyway. . . .
LP: What was that?
RC: Well, one of the networks hired those two commentators to offer
comments about the convention, and it disintegrated into a verbal brawl.
And Buckley began to make horrible remarks about Gore Vidal's homosexuality,
and then he came back with very insulting remarks; I'll never forget the
coverage from that. But anyway, this was, I think, W. L.'s last convention.
Meanwhile, he had enrolled me in the National Conference of Editorial
Writers, which was the national organization of people who wrote editorials.
And that group had a national convention every year, Boston or New York or
some place. I remember one time we went to Hilton Head Island down in the
LP: So you were in this group for several years.
RC: And it attracted national figures who wanted to get editorial writers
on their side. They were the main speakers. So I was looking at national
figures. And they had all the editorial cartoonists there, for example, at
one convention. The point I'm trying to make with all the blabbering is
that W. L. was educating me, and I apparently was doing whatever he wanted
because he continued to do it. And it, I suppose, trained me to
[Page 22] Interview 3
become executive editor when that happened. And again he was very, very
good to me and to Helen. Now, I mentioned earlier that when W. L. died,
Kathrine White asked us to come out, to make funeral arrangements, and she
asked Helen to come out and arrange the flowers. She didn't like floral
arrangements. They were very fond of Helen. She was a lawyer's daughter.
She had been kept at home with three children until the kids got into school
Then she went back to college, got a bachelor's degree, and then later got
a master's degree, became a teacher and a counselor, meanwhile being mother
to John, Beth, and Julie, our three children. And so they had a lot of
respect for her and sometimes would invite us over at the spur of the moment
to have drinks and discuss things, and Mrs. White was pretty gracious with
Helen. I never did see her as insulting as she could be with some people.
LP: Even ones who were supposed friends.
RC: Helen really had a role in this. I don't think they would have done
this had I not had Helen with me.
LP: You think your wife was part of the White entourage family, whatever we
want to call it?
RC: I think so, which was of course more common then. I mean, back then,
you didn't hire a preacher, you hired a preacher and his wife, and they
worked as a team. That's not true anymore. But I think they were looking
at-they gave me some breaks because I had a wife who they could be proud of,
or could respect, I think.
LP: You indicated when we were just talking casually that Helen probably
didn't have much to do with your early career, but she became very important
as your career wore on at the Gazette. Is this a correct assessment?
[Page 23] Interview 3
RC: That's right. And I think that may have been the result of a cultural
change. I think when I was a boy and a young man, it was a father knows
best kind of world. But as the Sixties came along and the Fifties and women
became liberated, my wife among them, women were allowed to blossom and to
do things and to show their talents. And I think that was true of Helen.
LP: She fit into the White scheme of things?
RC: Yes, and she was very gracious, and she was brought up in a lawyer's
house. I think the manners she acquired there had something to do with it.
So absolutely I think she was very much a part of my career.
LP: I don't know exactly where to go at this time. At what point do you
become-I sort of picture you as, and stop me if I'm wrong on this, as
reaching the point where you were kind of second in command to William
Lindsay White, at least in the newsroom.
RC: Yes, in the newsroom, yes.
LP: I see the Gazette as kind of departmentalized. You don't have any
control over the advertising, anything like that.
RC: Absolutely not.
LP: When it comes to the newsroom and the editorials, you get considerable
leeway from William Lindsay White.
RC: Again, this is because he was gone most of the time. He was a roving
editor for the Reader's Digest, and he might be working on. . . .
LP: He had to do this. He had to have. . . .
RC: And he had to have somebody who sort of fit his philosophy. He was
writing The Little Toy Dog or he was doing Report on the Russians, and he
would be gone for long,
[Page 24] Interview 3
long periods of time. He kept in touch, now. He often called long-distance
or sent notes back. But he was gone a lot.
LP: I can't imagine what he would have done had there been e-mail in those
RC: Exactly. It would have been a nightmare if there had been e-mail. And
remember that he started out as a liberal, and I think we mentioned this,
LP: [He] moved increasingly to the conservative side, just the opposite of
RC: Yes. He took me to the American Civil Liberties Union banquet. You
know, he had me back there for that. So, it seems obvious he was pleased
with what I was doing, or couldn't find anybody better. I don't know.
LP: Was there at that time in the Gazette a fairly consistent, steady
staff, or was there a lot of turnover?
RC: I was there starting in 1955, and I was there about forty years, and
then did some part-time work. And about half of that time, I was in charge
of the newsroom. And when I was cleaning out my desk when I retired, I
noticed that I was leaving behind one hundred folders, almost exactly one
hundred folders, of news people who had worked there during that twenty,
twenty-five year period, maybe thirty years. I would say I was in charge
for probably twenty-five years, so that's a four a year average.
LP: How many people were in the newsroom at any given time?
RC: Oh, it would range, twelve, maybe eleven or maybe thirteen, but twelve
was about it.
LP: That would be about a turnover every three years.
[Page 25] Interview 3
LP: I guess what I'm asking you is, did you move up partly because you were
one of the survivors?
LP: That's not a putdown. That's just a. . . .
RC: No, it is.
LP: You said earlier the competition died away.
RC: But there's another thing: I had a wife and three children. And these
kids who were coming in mainly from KU, did not, so they could hop and skip
and go wherever they had an opening without much. . . .
LP: The Emporia Gazette was a good place to be from.
RC: Yes. Back in William Allen White's time, the Gazette. . . .
LP: Especially around here.
RC: Was known as the White School of Journalism because Whitley Austin,
Rolla Clymer, Stu Aubrey, John McCormally, on and on and on, some very
skillful journalists, successful editors came out of the Gazette. So that
was still going on. We were hiring, and we couldn't pay much, so we got
people just out of college [for a] kind of a finishing school, internship.
When they were skillful enough to get better jobs, they moved on.
LP: You say couldn't pay very much, or wouldn't pay very much.
RC: I honestly don't know the answer. That reminds me of a funny story.
LP: Or, not that you wouldn't pay very much, but management wouldn't pay.
RC: A funny story that Ted McDaniel told me, he had been my boss for a
while, but he said back in, I guess before the war, E. T. Lowther was the
assistant publisher, that is he ran the business side of things, and Ted was
trying to hire a reporter, and E. T. Lowther
[Page 26] Interview 3
said, "Well, how much do we have to pay him?" And Ted said, "Well, we've
got to give him a living wage." And E. T. Lowther said, "Not if we can get
him for less!" So they were pretty frugal because reporters and editors
didn't directly bring any income in. It was the advertising salesmen. As
some people say, they sold papers. I don't know about that.
LP: Did you yourself do any of the hiring?
RC: Yes, I chose the people, but I had to get final approval from W. L.
You know, we would interview, and then when we'd chosen someone, he would
have the right of refusal. I don't think he ever turned us down, but he
looked at everybody before we hired them. And sometimes he would find
people he liked and bring them in. Pete Earley is a good example of that.
He went on to the New York Times and is now a successful author.
LP: During the time that you were at the Gazette, you must have worked on
or been connected with some very interesting or important stories. Call you
recall any of these?
RC: Yes. The first thing that comes to mind is the weather, for example,
the tornado of 1974, a major, major story for a number of reasons. First of
all because of the death toll. As I recall, it was eight. [And then]
because of the damage it did, because many homes and many families were
involved. It also changed the economy because after the tornado had gone
through, there was a great deal of rebuilding. They had to rebuild the
shopping center, so there was an economic impact from that. That was
probably-what's the biggest story? How do we judge news stories? Do we
judge? As a newspaperman, I have to say, spot news is the thing, the
Anderson-Bird Murder Cases.
LP: Okay, the tornado. The Anderson Murder Cases were of course an
extremely famous one because it ended up national news.
[Page 27] Interview 3
RC: It got more notice than the tornado.
LP: Yes, of course.
RC: I wasn't here, but the flood of 1951 was a major, major story in the
history of Emporia. I wasn't here yet. The weather, the tornado and those
kinds of things were memorable.
LP: Well, let's take the Anderson Murder Case. What do you have to say
RC: Well, my greatest regret is this. . . .
LP: I mean, this was written up in the New Yorker magazine and all of this
sort of thing.
RC: By Calvin Trillin.
LP: Of Kansas City extraction.
RC: But my greatest regret is this: in my view: this murder was solved by
Nancy Horst and Bobbie Birk-she's now Bobbie Mylnar. They became suspicious
of this. Of course Trooper John Ruhl was given credit for solving it in the
movie, and they worked with him. But I think those two [Gazette] reporters
should have had the Pulitzer Prize. And we nominated them for a Pulitzer
Prize. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize that year was a newspaper that
reported violations in the athletic department of a college in Carolina or
some place, I can't remember. But I thought the work they did and the
result they got should have won the Pulitzer Prize. And I still believe
that. And my role, then, was just to encourage them and get whatever they
needed. I remember one time they were trying to get some information from
the KBI [Kansas Bureau of Investigation] and get some help from the KBI. So
when Attorney General Bob Stephans came to Emporia one time for a speech, I
asked for private meeting with him up at the American Legion. I don't think
I've mentioned this. But we gathered, the four of us, Bobbie Birk and Nancy
[Page 28] Interview 3
and I and the Attorney General, [and] met upstairs in the American Legion.
And they showed him the evidence they'd uncovered and asked him if he didn't
think the KBI could help with this and maybe get this prosecuted.
LP: Now, I'm having trouble recalling the name of the alleged. . . .
RC: Thomas Bird. The Rev. Thomas Bird.
LP: The Rev. Thomas Bird was the accused person here.
RC: And his wife's name was Sandy Bird, and the woman was Lorna Anderson.
And what was his [her husband's] name? I'll think of it. I can't say it
LP: He was a health worker here in town.
RC: Yes, and I can look it up, but I won't do it right now [his name was
LP: And the accusation eventually was that Bird killed his wife and may
have killed Anderson's husband.
RC: Yes, certainly.
LP: I guess he was never actually convicted of [murdering Martin Anderson].
RC: Right, but there was strong evidence to that effect.
LP: And this of course was-well, go ahead. You were going to talk about
this meeting you had with Robert Stephans.
[This is the end of tape 1, side B.]
This is the third interview with Everett Ray Call and this is tape 2, side
LP: Ray, when we let things run out, we were talking about this meeting
that you had with the Attorney General Robert Stephans at the American
Legion. What was the gist of that meeting?
[Page 29] Interview 3
RC: Well, as I said, the reporters, Nancy Horst and Bobbie Birk Mylnar, had
gathered a pretty convincing case, and they wanted to get some outside help
because there wasn't too much from local law enforcement officers except for
John Ruhl. So we had this meeting, presented this evidence, and as a result
of it, the KBI then became involved. I think that finally got this moving
and eventually led to a conviction.
LP: This case, of course, from my memory of it, was certainly one of the
most vivid to appear in the Gazette, and it was a trial which very much
divided the town. Tom Bird's congregation had many defenders who thought
this was absolutely a miscarriage of justice, and he was not the type of man
who could have done this sort of thing. Others in the community, like
myself I must say, said it almost looked like an open and shut case, that
there wasn't much doubt about it. How did the Gazette handle all of this
RC: Well. To this day, there are people who do not believe Tom Bird did it.
And books have been written. He had a support group. One of the books, I
think, was Justice Denied, or some such title in which they presented
evidence to prove Tom Bird didn't do it. We thought we were trying to
present a balanced case, and reports of the trial were fairly
straight-forward, you just say who said what and who did what. And we
LP: There were letters to the editor ad infinitum.
RC: The supporters sent letters, and we published all of those letters, and
now and then we had an editorial comment about it. You have to be pretty
careful when there's a trial going on because no one had been convicted.
You had suspects, but you didn't have murderers yet.
[Page 30] Interview 3
LP: And of course it went on to appear in the New Yorker magazine, all of
this sort of thing. And it was certainly the most sensational trial
probably in all the time that I have been in Emporia.
RC: I would concur. Calvin Trillin was the writer for The New Yorker, and
he is from Kansas City although he's lived in New York for years and years.
But he came here to research on that story, and we took him out to dinner
down at the Bistro Café, which was a pretty nifty little restaurant down on
Commercial Street across the street west of the courthouse. And of course,
he is a food connoisseur, and we tried to give him the best, most
interesting meal we could in Emporia. And he's a very gracious fellow. And
as I say he eventually wrote that article. It was in several parts, I
think, two or three parts. And then a year or two later, he wrote a
follow-up about what had happened to all the people who were involved.
LP: My personal conclusion was he didn't know a damned thing about it.
RC: How do we say it?
LP: [Almost] anyone in Emporia who knew more about it than he did.
RC: Yes. It was pretty superficial piece, I felt really.
LP: Well, what other trials, oh, not trials, but what other cases come to
your mind? The Anderson case was probably one that led to a lot of
criticism of the Gazette, particularly from the defenders of Tom Bird.
LP: But you were trying to keep-the case seemed to be so open and shut that
most people certainly thought Bird was the criminal.
[Page 31] Interview 3
RC: Yes. In fact, as we said earlier, there were lots of jokes about the
case. There was a story that Lorna Anderson had a little black book with
the names of her lovers and this included some people in the courthouse and
some people at city hall. Those rumors still go around. And one of the
college professors at Emporia State, who was it?
LP: Tom Isern.
RC: Collected a book full of Lorna Anderson jokes. They were off-color, so
we won't get into them here. I don't know if that still survives.
LP: I don't know. Tom's no longer [at ESU].
RC: But you know, one of the cases I almost forgot, and yet it was almost
an explosion at the time, and the impact on Emporia, from a news point of
view, was explosive, and it was the case, I believe it was Jimmy Essex, the
New Orleans sniper. He was a young man who grew up in Emporia, and he was a
black boy, came from a very fine family. His mother still is alive. After
he left Emporia, I guess he became so angry about racial matters that he
went into a building in New Orleans and began shooting people and killed a
number of people. Suddenly, this became a major national story for three or
four days or such a matter. And suddenly, the Gazette's newsroom was full
of correspondents from television stations and from national newspapers and
the wire services. They just descended upon us. I'd never seen anything
like it. I didn't know how to cope with it. I didn't expect it, and we'd
try to help everybody we could. They wanted to use wires, they wanted any
pictures we could get. And, of course, the Associated Press was there. We
finally reached the point where we had to set up a news conference for all
the out-of-town reporters over at the St. James Baptist Church, and we had a
news conference over there with Jimmy Essex's parents and other people. And
this went on for two or three
[Page 32] Interview 3
days, and then suddenly something else came along, and they were all gone.
It was what they call the feeding frenzy. But that was the biggest impact
I'd ever seen.
LP: At the Gazette, the biggest impact.
RC: Yes, because we were on the front pages of all the newspapers. We were
the lead story on national televisions, broadcasts. And all the wire
services, international people, you know, people from other countries were
in here getting information about this case. And then suddenly it just went
away. But for two or three days, it was just frenetic. I've never seen
anything like it. And from the point of view of a frenzy that was the
biggest story I was ever involved in. Just amazing.
LP: Somehow, Emporia seems to get nation-wide attention on big stories.
RC: Yes, and yet, I've been pondering this, and I think, to me the most
fascinating part has been to watch the evolution of the town and the culture
of the university, for example. You think back-I came here about the same
time John King did. John King was an ex-Navy man, and he came here as the
president of the university in 1953, as you know. And when he arrived, the
enrollment here was 959. He left fourteen years later in 1967 and the
enrollment had gone up six-fold to 6,425. This is a pretty major story, the
things that he did and the things he accomplished.
It's been fascinating to watch the political infighting in Emporia.
It goes on yet today. For example, down at the city commission they have
decided to grant revenue bonds for retail establishments. Always in the
past they were reserved for industry, Iowa Beef, Didde, and so on. I see
this happening just as land is being developed out at the turnpike entrance
for a very large retail strip mall sort of thing. And I think, "Isn't that
coincidence?" And it reminds me that through the years I watched the
interplay of the
[Page 33] Interview 3
Chamber of Commerce, the fights over urban renewal or over industrial
revenue bonds, and the turmoil, the friends who become enemies. Sometimes,
I think that's really more intriguing than the very explosive, exciting news
stories that come through. Of course I'm a political sort of guy.
LP: The Anderson and Essex cases.
RC: Yes, but of course, the hard news things are more fun. You know,
there's a lot of excitement and the adrenalin flows, and often you get some
national attention, and you're quoted and so on. But the fun of it-you
know, as I sit back, I'm most intrigued. This afternoon we were driving up
through Country Club Heights, and as I was going along, I noticed that on
either side, I would see a house, and I could tell you who had been there
and what the story was. We went by the house that Kenny Calhoun lived in
there, I think on Morningside Drive. And his house was hit by the tornado.
I come by another house, and I recall that an attorney lived there, and his
wife had died under very mysterious circumstances in a car wreck. And you
drive by the Country Club, and you think of some of the things that have
happened there and some of the people who've been [there]. You become such
a part of the town that you really know too much about everybody. But it's
LP: You know where all the skeletons are.
RC: Yes. It's kind of like [Thornton Wilder's] Our Town. And I suppose
people know stories about me. But I know anything I do or anybody I see who
has been here very long has somehow popped up in the Gazette, either for
something great they did, like Sam Mellinger getting us the turnpike and
interstate bypass. We've had about five or six lawyers who've been
disbarred for all sorts of things, ranging from money to sex. You
[Page 34] Interview 3
know, I can recite those. There's no point to it here. I can recall a case
where we had evidence that the county attorney was dismissing cases for a
fee. There was no conviction, so I can't say names, or we'd be into libel.
But just when we were about ready to publish the story, somebody stole the
file from the Gazette and put it into the hands of one of the people
involved. And those people are still around, some of them. So that's the
intriguing thing as I'm about ready to shuffle off and become disengaged,
shall we say.
LP: What you're telling me is, what we don't know is more interesting that
what we do know.
RC: Well, and some other stuff.
LP: By we, I mean, us outside the Gazette.
RC: Some of us gossip, too. I've heard of very.
LP: You and I might be accused of doing that today.
RC: Yes, when we turn this off, I'll tell you the story about a local
attorney I heard this week which is very juicy, but it's very libelous. But
not only that, the growth, I mean, the change. Look at Emporia's cultural
changes. I have talked to people in recent months who rue the day that the
Armour Packing Company came to Emporia, which was later sold to IBP and is
now Tyson. They wish this had never happened because they object to the
infusion of minority races, particularly the Somalians [Somalis]. They [the
Somalis] are different, and they are angry about it, and they wish they had
never come to town.
LP: Of course, the Somalis have come very recently.
[Page 35] Interview 3
RC: That's right, that's right. And so they're the ones most talked about
now. Remember, we are standing on the College of Emporia campus. There was
a great battle to turn this into a federal prison. And there was a lot of
resistance to that, and the federal government said, "If there's any
resistance, we won't come in here." But some very prominent citizens were
in favor of that. But that's where we're sitting now. And as I say, you
can go anywhere in town, and over a period of fifty years, and you know it
as well, you see news, and you see events, and you see people all over the
whole area who are interesting and who have been in the news.
LP: Let's look at some things, one that you mentioned. You mentioned John
King, and this brings up Emporia State University. What do you think has
been the relationship over the years that you've been here between the
university and the community and the Gazette? Let's put it in term of the
community and the Gazette, or Emporia State and the Gazette, I should say.
RC: The town and gown, to use the old cliché.
LP: I don't know that it's really town and gown, but if I had been sitting
in the Gazette office over the years as you were, how did Emporia State fare
at the Gazette office?
RC: Of course, Loren, you have to go back to William Allen White in order
to do that because he was a friend of [President Lyman] Kellogg's son.
Remember I told you the story about them going to KU and getting drunk and
all this sort of thing. So William Allen White really grew up with the
university as it grew, I guess we could say. College of Emporia, William
Allen White went here.
LP: How about William Lindsay White? Under William Lindsay, how did the
Gazette and what is now Emporia State University get along?
[Page 36] Interview 3
RC: Well, starting with John King, he was the first one I was around, he
and W. L. White got along very well with the one exception that I mentioned
earlier about publishing the salaries. I remember when the Whites first put
in the cable television system and we had some live programs. I remember a
number of Cuban refugees came to town-some are still around-and W. L. White
did a little seminar about that and had some of the Cuban refugees [on TV],
and some town leaders such as John King. And John King, I think, cultivated
a friendship with W. L. White. And W. L. White liked him. Okay, who was
next? After King was Visser.
LP: John Visser.
RC: John Visser. And I think by then W.L.-when did Visser come?
LP: Well, when [John King] left, which would have been 1967.
RC: '67, and Visser came then, so, very soon.
LP: After a short term with Larry Boylan as [interim] president.
RC: Let's see, it'll be three or four years, seven years, but I was not
aware of too much involvement between the two, and particularly as W. L.
became sick the last couple of years. I don't remember very much
involvement [between] W. L. White and John Visser. LP: Were there any
times or periods of friction?
RC: Yes. I'm going to tell about one of those. I'm choosing my words
carefully because I was personally involved. One of John Visser's good
friends was Oliver Hughes, the president of Citizens National Bank. And
Oliver sort of looked after John Visser's interests in the community. They
had adjacent homes up at one of the lakes up by Topeka. I've forgotten
which lake, but one of the lake resorts.
LP: Melvern, I believe.
[Page 37] Interview 3
RC: They had homes [there] side by side, so they were close. Okay,
meanwhile, and this was after W. L. either was sick or dead. I think
probably he had died. But enrollment began to drop pretty sharply. And
there was a lot of unrest in the community about that. And John Visser
became the scapegoat.
LP: The enrollment dropped from 7,000, a little over 7,000 to just over
RC: Yes, over a fairly short period of time. It was when they quit giving
draft deferments for college attendance. I don't know. It doesn't matter
why. But the enrollment was dropping, the Chamber of Commerce was restless,
but Oliver was still pretty protective of Visser because they were close
friends. And the Gazette, we decided, and I say we. It would be David
Walker and I. And I must say I was the ringleader. I decided it was
time-Visser had been here a long time. He was a long-serving president. In
fact he had promised John Peterson he was going to leave before he did, but
that's another story. So rather than just launch into an editorial campaign
against Visser, David and I asked Oliver if he couldn't have a meeting with
us about this matter. And we went over to the Citizens National Bank (they
have a conference room up on the second or third floor), and sat in there
and began to talk about the matter, and said if Visser continued to serve,
we were going to launch an editorial campaign to get rid of him. And Oliver
said, "Well, now just wait a minute." And we talked for some time. And
Oliver said, "Well, I'll tell you what. Let him serve out the rest of this
year, this term, and I will talk to him. And we'll get him to turn in his
resignation effective, I think, at the end of the term or semester or
whatever it was. And then he can go out with grace, and you will get your
way. He'll be gone, and yet we won't have to embarrass him." And we agreed
to that, and that's what happened.
[Page 38] Interview 3
LP: That's a very interesting story.
RC: That's a true story. The only one who could substantiate. . . .
LP: Did he actually carry out the resignation at that time?
RC: Well, within a reasonable length of time. And the only one who could
substantiate that is David Walker because Oliver's dead now. I think David
will recall a meeting. And he may remember it a different way. And it may
be that I let him, no I don't think so, he did a lot of the talking, but
David hadn't been too much involved. He kept a low profile. But he was
there and he had the clout. And I think Oliver and I had, we were-I really
LP: You mean you admired Oliver?
LP: You mean you admired Oliver Hughes?
RC: Oliver Hughes, yes. And I've written about it. And yet, we would get
into scuffles over how the Jones Fund money was being spent or whatever it
might be, and he'd have me over there for a heart-to-heart talk. So I felt
fairly free in talking to Oliver Hughes about the matter. All right, who's
LP: And you say you were the ringleader in this?
RC: Yes, I guess I was, for good or evil.
LP: Which says something about your position at the Gazette.
RC: Yes, I didn't realize it at the time. I was getting ready to write the
editorials, and I thought, "Well. . . ."
LP: Had you cleared these editorials with David Walker?
[Page 39] Interview 3
RC: I don't think he knew about it until I said, "Look, I'm going to go do
some pieces about the need for a new president. Do you want, [etc.]?" Of
course, he came from an academic background and shared the view.
LP: He didn't take much convincing then?
RC: No. And I think there was a mood on campus that it was time for Visser
LP: I had a bet on that Visser was going to resign with another faculty
member who [bet that he wasn't, and] when he paid me off, said it was the
best money he'd ever spent.
RC: Exactly. Well, he was a very pleasant man, but I didn't think the
strongest leader. Now who was next, Glennen?
LP: Bob Glennen.
RC: Maucker. I had often thought Maucker would have been the best
president we could have had.
LP: John Maucker was up there in years and had already retired.
RC: Right, and his health wasn't good, but I wish we could have had him for
a president for a time. But he was an interim president. And I think, was
LP: Yes, Robert Glennen.
RC: Bob Glennen. We got along with him mainly because he got along with
us. That is, if there was a controversy or a major change, he would sit
down, have me come in and sit down and visit a little bit, or maybe David
and Barbara. He would often go to them, and then they would pass things
down to me. He was pretty careful not to surprise the Gazette. And I think
Glennen accomplished a lot of good things for the university. Then came
[Page 40] Interview 3
LP: Now, let's just back up a minute. I feel I have to bring this up in my
somewhat adversarial roll here, in that Bob Glennen actually hired you to
write a history of Emporia State University.
RC: Which has never been published.
LP: Which I must say I had something of a hand in because he asked me to do
it, and I'm the one who suggested you. Are there any remarks you care to
make about the unpublished history of Emporia State?
LP: Which is in the archives at Emporia State.
RC: Yes, it's in the archives here, and I have a copy, and I hope someday
somebody will get one published. There have been three or four efforts [at
a history], and none of them has ever been published for some reason. I
really think Glennen's motive for that history was to get on the record the
story of how he was treated by the Kansas Board of Regents, and how he was
brought in and told he had to change these things and do these things to
these departments and so on, and not to tell anybody that the Regents had
told him to do it.
LP: This was to bring Emporia State out of these enrollment drops?
RC: And they were telling him some unpleasant things he had to do here. He
had to cut so many departments and all of this sort of thing. This was
coming from Stanley Koplick. Stanley Koplick was, I would say, the tsar of
the Board of Regents.
LP: He was the executive secretary.
[Page 41] Interview 3
RC: Yes, but he was a Darth Vader influence, if you want my opinion.
Anyway, they were giving [Glennen] these instructions in these private
meetings, and he had to do these things on campus and not tell anybody why.
And there's. . . .
LP: He had to take the blame, the responsibility.
RC: For all these things that he didn't decide, Koplick decided.
LP: Which is probably more correct to say Koplick decided than that the
Board of Regents decided.
RC: I think so.
LP: Koplick bulldozed the Board of Regents.
RC: Yes, he had an agenda.
LP: He had an agenda which they agreed with.
RC: Yes. But anyway, he [Glennen] wanted that on the record, I think.
LP: He wanted a record of his administration on the record.
RC: Of how he had been treated by the Regents early on. Now this, by the
way, we found out, and I'm not talking now about the history of the
university. I'm talking about the incidents that were happening. We found
out that the Board of Regents was meeting secretly with Glennen.
LP: In violation of state laws.
RC: And we. . . .
This is the third Call interview, tape 2, side B.
LP: Ray, you were mentioning that the Regents were meeting secretly with
RC: Right, and this, again this was before the history.
[Page 42] Interview 3
LP: This is before you were writing the history.
RC: And my memory is that Glennen tipped me off about that. He said, "I
can't say much about it but. . . ."
LP: This is before you're writing the history?
RC: Yes, this is before then.
LP: But he knew at the time you wrote the history, you knew all this stuff.
RC: But I didn't know the subject.
LP: I see.
RC: I knew they were having a secret meeting, but I didn't know what it was
about. That came out in the history, and that's what he wanted on the
LP: Ah, okay.
RC: But anyway, I'm pretty sure [Glennen] just said, "Well, I'm having to
meet with the Regents." And something that caught my attention at that,
that was not a publicized meeting because they're supposed to announce their
meetings and have an agenda and all this under the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
So anyway, I went down to see Buzz Merritt at the Wichita Eagle and told
LP: He was the editor there?
RC: Yes, he was the editor there. And of course, they had a Regents school
in Wichita, and I went down there and told him what I had found out and
asked him if he would join us in going to the attorney general to seek a
charge against the Board of Regents. And the Board of Regents was accused
of holding illegal meetings, and they were convicted of it.
[Page 43] Interview 3
LP: How do you convict the Board of Regents?
RC: Well, they were fined. The members of the Board of Regents were
convicted of holding. . . .
LP: And fined as individuals?
RC: Yes. Illegal meetings. I don't think there was much of a penalty. It
mainly. . . .
LP: Mainly a slap in the face.
RC: A dollar or something. Yes, but it was a public censure. I don't
remember the penalty, but I remember they were found guilty of it in the
LP: If I may interject something here, which is maybe not proper to do,
but, you'll remember that during the Eisenhower Centennial I played Dwight
LP: And I played Dwight David Eisenhower at President Glennen's house, and
Stanley Koplick was among those present. And in the times that I played
Dwight Eisenhower, nobody asked me about the alleged affair between
Eisenhower and his driver during World War II, except on this occasion. As
Eisenhower I was asked a question about that by Stanley Koplick, who said to
me, "President Eisenhower, is it true you spent the war sleeping with your
secretary?" To which I took on an irate tone and berated Stanley Koplick up
one hill and down the other, and after [my presentation] President Glennen
patted me on the back. I wonder if that had anything to do with this.
RC: Yes, you see what's going on here.
LP: I didn't know that at the time.
[Page 44] Interview 3
RC: So the Regents were found guilty of holding an illegal meeting,
violating the Open Meetings Act. And as a matter of fact, one of them, one
of those regents still doesn't like me very much because of that. He's an
LP: So obviously, when Glennen asked me to write to write this history, and
I declined and suggested you, I suspect his eyes probably lit up and thought
that was an excellent suggestion because you already had some knowledge of
what went on here.
RC: That was part of it.
LP: And he knew you were probably a sympathetic listener.
RC: Exactly. And if you look at that history, which is, as you say, in the
Archives, that's a very big part; I mean, that's the lead of Glennen's
section. And it's laid out in detail; what departments he was supposed to
close down and cut back on another and really make some drastic changes.
And he eventually refused to make them, I think. But anyway, that was
Glennen, and I think he was a pretty successful president. I'm looking at
my notes here. He raised the endowment fund twenty-five million, the
Trusler Sports Complex, Sauder Alumni Center, addition to Cramer Hall,
renovation of Plumb Hall, Welch Stadium was renovated, Student Union
renovated, National Teachers Hall of Fame was launched, Kansas Business Hall
of Fame. I mean, he was an active president, as opposed, in my view, to
President Visser. Okay, by then, he was the last one I dealt with because I
retired while he was still president.
LP: How was the Gazette's-let's ask some general questions along this line.
We talked about the relationship with the college and with the various
presidents. How about with the Chamber of Commerce?
RC: If I were to sum it up, and we've talked about this earlier.
[Page 45] Interview 3
LP: We talked about it earlier, yes.
RC: If I were to sum it up, I would say there was an adversarial
LP: The Chamber of Commerce is obviously interested in growth. This is why
we see, I think, this move toward revenue bonds for retail establishments,
because the retail establishments of Emporia have, in recent years, faced
the WalMart competition and therefore feel that they need help and support
and this sort of thing. And of course the idea also is to try to make
Emporia-if you can't grow jobs in industry, maybe you can grow them by
LP: And the idea is that more people, more retail means more potential
customers for the things that the Chamber of Commerce is engaged in.
RC: And to go on, to turn a corner, the chamber attitude is what's good for
GM is good for America. What's good for the merchants is good for Emporia.
It was and I think still is a custom for the economic development people-it
used to be the Chamber of Commerce, but now we have a separate organization
that does that. But they would be very secretive. Let's say when Armour
Packing Company was going to come to Emporia, somebody would leak a rumor.
We would ask about it, ask the chamber or ask the city commission, the city
manager. "Well, we can't comment on that, because if we say anything, they
have told us they will pull out and completely disregard Emporia."
LP: We have what are called open meeting laws, and potentially the open
meeting law doesn't meet the requirements of the people who are thinking of
moving into Emporia.
RC: Let's say we don't know if Tyson was good for Emporia or bad for
Emporia, but there was never a debate before.
[Page 46] Interview 3
LP: You mean the Armour, IBP, Tyson that it eventually became.
RC: It was Armour, IBP, and then Tyson. But there was no open discussion
of whether we wanted to do this. By the time Armour announced plans, yes,
plans for a plant in Emporia, 5,000 new jobs, all this, you know, folderol.
And I'm not saying it's wrong. But by the time it was announced, it had so
much momentum, there was really not much people could do. They hadn't had
time to discuss the pros and cons; and what about the odor? How much more
water will it require? What about the sewage system? Can it handle [the
increase]? All of this was kind of just brushed aside in the excitement of
the new industry.
LP: We'll work out the details later.
RC: Yes, and never mind. And see the chamber was able to keep this secret.
LP: Unlike when there was talk of changing the College of Emporia into a
prison. When that got out, then there was a huge public controversy over
RC: But I think that was because the federal government would not deal in
secret; it had to be open.
LP: Which is kind of surprising, of course, that the federal government is
open and above board, but private industry is not.
RC: And see, I don't think the Open Meeting Law would cover this, at least
not at the Chamber of Commerce level. Now at some point, somebody had to
talk to the city manager.
LP: And the City Commission had to meet and make decisions and things of
[Page 47] Interview 3
RC: And the City Commission or something, so that's a gray area. But your
original question was how did the Gazette get along with the Chamber of
Commerce, and I would say, if not adversarial, I would say at least we took
a watchdog role.
LP: Would you say the Gazette was anti-growth?
RC: No, I would not say that, particularly not since W. L. died.
LP: After all, the Gazette depends on the growth of the community for the
future prosperity of the Gazette.
RC: But, now let's draw a line here. The prosperity, the profits of the
Gazette depend on growth, but that should be none of the newsroom's
LP: It shouldn't be, but we've already seen that it is.
RC: Well, not necessarily. As I say, W. L. took an adversarial role. He
wasn't part of Armour coming to town, he wasn't told about it. Even though,
yes, if the town grows, the paper grows-I told the story about the
Montgomery Ward thing; [W.L.] had dealt with big-time journalism, and he was
different from his father. And we covered that earlier, and this is another
LP: In other words, it is the same thing that is going on right now with
Robert Murdoch and the Wall Street Journal.
LP: The Wall Street Journal should be independent, but will it be with
RC: But, will it be? Yes, will it be? What will happen? And that's what
happening to newspapers in general. Not what I'm used to, as they say.
[Page 48] Interview 3
LP: Are there any other instances that you think we would be well to make
some mention of here?
RC: Really, Loren, not at this time. I think we've covered it.
LP: Well, we have covered the university and Chamber of Commerce.
RC: Well, as I was saying, these, you know, the tornado, the Essex, New
Orleans sniper, those are exciting things, but as I look back, I'm more
intrigued by the things we've been talking about, the interplay at the
university, the Chamber of Commerce. Those things are the things that I
kind of sit back and reflect on now and then, more than the hard news, the
fires, the Haynes Hardware Store fire, all of those.
LP: This is the burning of one of the principle institutions of the town.
RC: Right, and then before I got here, the Masonic Temple. The First
Methodist Church burned during my time here.
LP: I don't know how to put this exactly; what do you think if the future
of the Emporia Gazette, if you can look into your crystal ball.
RC: Well, my first answer is I'm not the person to ask. But as we
discussed earlier, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are moving
quickly and profitably into internet services and international wire
informational networks, financial things, all of this. They're moving away
from the printed page for their profit. It seems to me it's going to be
hard for a small-town paper to do that. But, on the other hand, a
small-town paper has a monopoly. They really don't have the television
competition, except for cable television ads.
LP: That's one thing about cable television. It has made television more
[Page 49] Interview 3
RC: The Whites owned that system for a time. And I told you, I remember we
discussed that he sold it because Basgall and Allred wanted to audit his
books. But if they had kept that, what would we have now in Emporia? I
think we would have a stronger, a local television operation.
LP: Which would have been greater competition for the Gazette.
RC: Yes, but profits for the Whites. And as we say, they would have been
doing cable ads and so on. But I think, for the near future, the Gazette,
you know, I think probably Chris Walker will be able to get it paid off and
get it free and clear.
LP: What do you mean, get it paid off and free and clear?
RC: Well, he's buying it, isn't he?
LP: Ah! I don't know.
RC: Well, I wasn't a party, but I think he's buying it. I'm not giving you
any inside information. This is just what I've been told, that Chris is
buying the paper, has borrowed the money or somehow is paying it off. But I
think he'll probably be able. . . .
LP: From his mother and her husband?
RC: And I don't [think] that they can get into the profits of the internet
and the electronic operations enough to offset the shrinkage. I don't know.
I just am too ignorant to know.
LP: For the present time, newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and so
forth are running at a pretty good profit.
LP: One of the things that really hurts the newspaper business right now is
they're making a ten percent profit, and the argument is that capital could
make a bigger profit somewhere else. So you sell them off.
[Page 50] Interview 3
RC: Yes. And a lot more than ten percent. I've heard as high as thirty
percent. But the thing, though, to notice is that the profits are down.
LP: Yes, [newspaper] profits are declining.
RC: The profits are declining.
LP: But they're still pretty good.
RC: Yes, they're still good.
LP: You're not losing money. You're not like General Motors and Ford that
are losing money hand over fist.
RC: And the Gazette has lots of advertising. The problem is circulation.
That's the problem. And they're all fighting it and they're all losing it.
LP: Anything else.
RC: No, that's enough, I think.
LP: I think at this point we're going to close this series down, and I
thank you very much for the three interviews. However, when you and I go
over the interviews, we may decide that there's something further we want to
do, in which case we'll go ahead with a fourth interview. Okay?
RC: I thank you very much for the attention. I don't believe I deserve it,
but maybe there's something there.
LP: There's more than you know.
RC: Well, you know, I'd forgotten about getting Visser out. I'd forgotten
about that. And you know there were some things that went on.
LP: Well, thanks again, Ray, and we'll shut it off at this point.
[Interview ends tape 2, side B, count 209. Total count of side B is 432.]