“Colorful Journalism in Fort Wayne,” was presented by Herbert Bredemeier before the Fort Wayne Quest Club, 22 January 1966: Mr. Carl Detzer, now Roving Editor for Reader’s Digest, who worked under Journal Gazette Editor Andy Moynihan 1907-1908, told of this brief incident. “A representative of the People’s Store came in one evening to complain about a proof error in “his” advertisement. The vulgar-minded in our town had enjoyed the error fully all day, but somehow Andy had missed it. The full page ad was for shirts, and inadvertently the letter “r” was dropped from the word “shirt.” When the mistake was shown to Andy, the later in his shrill, high pitched voice said, “Come with me my friend, I do not take this sort of thing lightly!” So he fired Avery Groves, the proofreader; then fired little Miss Martha Cox, assistant proofreader; then tore upstairs to the composing room, ignoring the International Typographical Union’s warning and fired all the printers who had anything to do with the ad. Breathing fire, he returned to his desk.
Three o’clock came and the final edition’s front page was ready to go to the stereotyper. A printer’s devil was pushing the page of type when an obstruction on the floor caused the turtle that held the form to balk; the page of type crashed, scattered and pied (colors blotched together). Andy saw it happen. Strong men had to step forward to save the young man’s life. Andy threatened to kill people for crimes less horrible than spilled type. Andy looked at the mess, then at the clock. We would miss all trains with out first edition. Andy turned to the boy, ‘You should be more careful;’ he said mildly.”
Even though Andy was subject to epilepsy at times and placed on the mailing room table, there were other times when he tried to show his appreciation. At Christmastime he would hand out five, ten and twenty-dollar gold pieces. A person didn’t get fired for every mistake. Arnold Scherer, at the time an office boy, was sent to pick up an ad from White’s Fruit House to be run the next day. The ad did not appear in the next day’s issue and resulted in a protest from White’s. Andy called in his office boy with the shrill command, “Boy, feel around in your pockets.” Among the many reporters who worked under Andy was Ford Frick who later came into prominence as Commissioner of Baseball.
There was another reporter about this same time by the name of Baron Long who later on became quite wealthy in the hotel business out West. It seems that Baron would get terribly drunk quite frequently. Andy stormed and ordered the staff to find him. He had a quaint way of firing people. He fired Carl Detzer three times in three months and each time punctuated the dismissal by throwing his long, heavy editorial shears at Detzer. Sometimes Andy used his paste pot as his weapon of choice. Without any advance notice, he would frequently scream, “You’re fired. Get your money up to three o’clock.”
At another time Cliff Lipkey and Frank Holloway found Baron Long at Fischer’s Turkish Bathhouse, or perhaps took him there to boil him out. As soon as possible he put on fresh clothes and then Baron strolled in to the office, opened his desk and started to work. Everyone who was in on the situation was very tense. This would be Andy’s most dramatic firing. Andy looked up. “Hello Baron,” he said mildly, “Where are you working now?” Sometimes when Andy came in the morning he would find empty beer bottles all over the office, probably from George Biemer’s saloon. Andy would rant and rave, not about drinking on the job or the empty bottles, but because somebody had been drinking Buckeye Beer instead of Old Crown his favorite local advertiser.
To be continued.
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