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Monday, November 23, 2015

Letters from Newsmen—Mac Gildea, Pat Malone, Jack McCloskey, and Louie Bressler

Bee Boedefeld worked for the Elkhart Truth from 1910 through most of 1919. You can read more about that in her series, “Ten Years in the Newspaper Game.” During that time many reporters came and went, but a few formed friendships that Bee treasured. She kept the letters and postcards sent by some of these colleagues in her scrapbook. Here are letters from several of those reporters.

This first letter is from Mac Gildea who had followed Maurice Mahurin Frink in going to Columbia University’s School of Journalism in the fall of 1916. Edward Mac Gildea was born 24 Feb 1896 in Elkhart, Indiana, to Augustus Gildea and Mary McCurry. He was a cub reporter before he went to New York City. His passport shows that he joined the American Ambulance Field Service and went to France July 14, 1917. After his return, he went back into newspaper work but not as a reporter. After the war he married a woman named Mary, but in 1930 he was living in New York City with a 20-year-old woman named Alice while Mary was living at home in Elkhart, still claiming to be his wife. He died November 5, 1945 in Chicago.

In-fernald hall; shortly be-
fore the w.k. Witching Hour
on the 15th evening of No-
vember; 19and16 A.D.
To the Darlingest Gang:

It is a fact, well known to me, that France acquired Alsace, Metz, Toul, and Verdun in 1648. Well known, I say, for I have spent the evening in mapping for a waiting world the history of these places. Now I will endeavor to place Elkhart on the map.

In the very firstest place let me say that after a long and aduous day such as I spend every twenty-four hours, it is mentally impossible to be clever; even Jim Blaine Wallalley couldn’t be so. So prepare to wade, for wade it’ll be. Frankly I admit it; I have delayed writing you because of the High Water mark Mahurin set on journalistic cleverness last year, of which I am afraid. I hate to be beaten without a struggle. Then of course he told you everything there is to tell. Remember, he told you about the street cars pulled by hosses and labeled “South Ferry” when they weren’t any ferry at all; and he told you about the “fellow-craftsmen”-ship that exists in the School of Jerusalem (excuse me, I meant Journalism); an’ he told you about it and about; so what is there in N’Yawk left to tell.

Today the fellow-craftsmen, vintage of 1920, elected officers. Some brave lad voted for me, but—hist—I’m not radical enough. I must, if I am to be successful, outdo Free Love, communistic socialism, cosmetic intellectualists, anarchistic aristocrats, and a few more mild things like that. As yet I am a Democrat, and I ask you, what chance has a Democrat with a cosmetic intellectualist. I pause for a reply. This evening Charles Bayard Swope, city editor of The New York World, circulation over 400,000, lectured the fellow-craftsmen of all vintages on his trip to Europe. Tomorrow Frank Harris, editor of Pearsons’, talks on “Socialism”; later on I will make a speech myself.

The Truth gang—being good Democrats—are of course overjoyed at the country being so heroically saved on November 7th, last. Which reminds me! In an endeavor to collect fine specimens of address reporting for my note book I came across the The TRUTH’s account of Wilson’s visit in Elkhart, and I am going to turn that in. Who wrote it? Mahurin, I warrant, altho’ I might suspect Jim. It is safe to say that as a result of my action your sales in New York will increase by the same amount they did when Frinkum wrote that pretty piece for BLT. (Whose colyum I look up whenever I get lonesome).

Do you want a good, expert dramatic critic? T’other evening a redheaded chap named Sauer (Frink, do you remember him?), a Beta Phi Sigma from Muncie, rapped on my door and asked me to go to “Under Sentence” with him. He writes reviews of the shows for the Muncie papers and consequently gets free seats. I went. The show was rotten, thank you, so I got my money’s worth.

Then, too, I have run into about a million or six people from San Antonio, all of whom know everybody connected with the “Express,” and one of whom—a petite Barnardite—plans to become a sob sister therefor. They are all going to look Bob up; by the way, is he still look-up-able?

When it comes to comedy I am outre, absolutely outre. All life contains is deep, dark tragedy. The dorm maids are on a strike. The unreasonable things want more than 67¢ a day, and don’t feel like working Sunday morning. Did you ever hear of such nerve. The darkness about the tragedy is the fact that Negroes now make the beds; which is a bum joke I will admit.

Monday evening next.

If you are curious Maurice can tell you what mid-terms mean at Columbia; he will, at least, understand the cause of the delay.

By the way, Maurice, I don’t want to turn this into a memory contest, but of course you will want to know this. You remember Prof. Barry, Journalism 1, don’t you? Well, he hasn’t been to school for a week; we learned he had diphtheria. Well, yesterday the Sun and the World both contained these humorous articles—you know ’em—about the marriage of a diphtheria patient. None other than old F.B., marrying a recent divorcee. Much to my surprise I learned from the papers that he was a star prof in chemistry at Harvard before coming here. But the old scoundrel, played a dirty trick on the fellow-craftsmen of 1920—he ’phoned Miss McGill and gave out an extra theme and about 10 chapters of reading to make up for the lectures.

The dorm smoker is a thing of the past; it wasn’t much of an affair here in Furnald. The grad students who make up the population are past that sort of stuff. I’m invited to attend the Hartley affair, where vaudeville artists are to perform. If I don’t watch my step I’ll become real rough.

T’other day, me and muh pal went footing. We took Alma, and Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, and the great god Pan, and So Forth. I’ve got a camera spoken for and I’m going to take some pictures at night, and some of the Phi Delt house and some of muhself.

Tomorrow morn at the bright and early hour of 7 and ½ the First Year man and Fourth Year man of the aforesaid S of J meet in the deadly game of soccer and sock’im. I am a whiz at the sport and expect to carry away laurels.

And Mr. Mac! In my wanderings around the downtown precincts the well known and bulky forms of MacDonald and other famous Irish-American Olympian champs who spend their spare time patrolling Fifth Avenue have been pointed out to me . . . The Jews may possess N’Yawk, but the Irish own the town.

For the first time I heard the Elkhart returns today. I am much chagrined. I have lost my faith in humanity. Tomorrow I may go down-town to the Night Court, where all sorts of scandalous doings come to light. Vur’ wicked and fascinating place, wherever it is. And I think I’ll eat my Thanksgiving dinner in Greenwich. Either there or at the Ritz, I haven’t yet decided.

Edward Mac Gildea
I have begun to make fine distinctions. I now claim that I am not a “college boy” but a “university man,” and when anybody asks my class, I answer indifferently “Journalism.” I refuse to be a verdant frosh. I am a full blown rose.

This is pretty raw I’ll admit, but between it and my first painful effort I ought to draw a reply. At least I hope so. If I don’t begin to get mail pretty soon I’m going to rent Box 90 out as a bird house.

Save me from that awful fate. And until I hear from you, at least, I will remain,
Yours in the Gang

Miss B: Extend my affections to the absent member, your sister. Also remember I always did like your Round Robin idea. I know who’s boss, so I look to you. Mac.
Box 90—Furnald Hall
Columbia University
New York City

Here is the pathetic last letter from H.H. Pat Malone, the reporter who contracted tuberculosis and had gone to the sanitoriums of Colorado to cure it without effect. He returned to his home near Indianapolis where he died.

Sunday – 4 – 22 – 17 
Dear Miss B. :—

I can’t write but a few lines as I’m too weak. I’m slipping pretty fast now. Remember me to all the folks and write me a long letter about what’s been doing in Elkhart. What has become of Bressler. Is McCloskey still there. I see Sykes is Mayor. Hurrah for Walter. I would like to see you all again but that’s impossible. So write me a long letter and you bet it will be appreciated.

 H.H. Pat Malone

John G. McCloskey worked a few years for the Elkhart Truth; his nickname was “Jack” or “Cap’n Jack.” He was born in Pennsylvania about 1863. He married Julia G., and they lived in New York City when they weren’t separated. Jack was apparently an alcoholic; eventually Julia divorced him. Their children were Walter P, born Sept. 1892, a policeman; Mary, born Jan. 1894, and Abigail, born Jan. 1897. Walter married Millie Sassano or Cesano, nee Struen, who had a daughter Mabel born in 1910. Walter and Millie had two daughters and later divorced. What do you think? Is J.G. McCloskey the real identity of the tramp reporter Bee wrote about with exasperation and affection in her newspaper game series?

New Haven, Conn., Jan. 11— 18.—

My Dear BB: 73 S. (If you don’t know what that means, ask “Jerry”).

It never is too late to do good or to wish good. Hence, my wish is that yourself and yours had a very merry and happy Xmas, and another wish for yourself and yours that you all may have a very, very happy, healthy, lucky and prosperous year and many more of them to come only that each new one will be more so than the last previous one.

My sincerest regards to the staff.

For quite some time I’ve been prompted to write you, but (I’ll confess) I’ve been too lazy.

I was so put out, when yourself and Miss Perla visited me in Pgh, because you would not stay and allow me to take you to lunch and a good chat.

I made many of the best friends of my career in Elkhart, and, in a way, I didn’t like to leave there. Elkhart is a good town!

Pgh is one rotten dirty robbing spot! I’m glad to get out of it. Ask Jerry. He knows.

Jack Gallagher, who was in I.N.S. Bureau in New Haven, wanted to get away because his wife had poor health. Pgh won’t improve her condition.

I had my bid in with Sup’t Thomas since last June, for a change “somewhere closer to N.Y.” Thomas managed the swap for Gallagher and myself.

I like it here. The work is much the same as Elkhart, only bureau offices pay $3 a week more. Also, there is a Saturday night job at $6.41. Makes it $39.41 a week. Not so rotten!

Again, the Publicity Agent of the N.Y., N.H. & Hartford RR donated me a 500 miles pass book, good in Connecticut. I use it to Stamford, then pay carfare 32 miles to N.Y. Fine! Was down to “that dear ole N.Y.” last Sunday. One lovely day—made to order. Hope to go down again next Sunday, the 13th.

Ma is not quite so well [his wife]. Has had all kinds of hard luck—going to dentist for $.75 worth; all run down and her heart swollen, and in St. Mary’s Hospital three weeks; now a very tough cold settled on her chest and bronchial tubes. Poor dear, I’m doing all I can for her with hopes she will pull up well soon again.

I believe she worried too much over Walter’s marriage [their son]. She won’t admit it, however, as she’s afraid I’ll kid her. She took herself “an only son.” My mother didn’t like it. My wife (young then) used to say “it’s foolishness for a woman to act so.” I then would say: “Oh, well! We shall see some day!” “Never!” she’d retort. She’s keeping mum on it. Walter comes to see her very often, and those visits brace Ma up.

Walter married a widow with an 8-years-old girl. Mrs. McC was 24, 5 feet, 95 lbs. Walter is 6 feet, 190, and 26 years. His sisters and girl friends jollied the life almost out of him, telling him “you played safety first.” He replied: “There’s much dynamite comes in small packages.”

Then the girls would say: “Oh, Walter, to think you’d go marry a widow and so many nice single young girls trying to grab you off.”

They rigged him so that he stopped visiting the house, and I think this helped to make his Mother down sick.

His wife is a very, very nice little girl, neat as a pin, a good cook and housekeeper. Mr and Mrs McC. are keeping house. The daughter goes as Miss McCloskey. I was made a grandpa in a couple of questions and answers. Hi! Hi!

I got a card from Bob for Xmas. I’ll write him next week. On the card he wrote, “There’s many a slip.”

What was the trouble, BB?

For Bob’s sake, I’m pleased.

How are you? How is Ruth? My sincerest respects to her and your Ma.

For a while before I left Pgh I was on with “Ha” (the wire signal for Elkhart) but never had a chance to say “Hello,” as wire always was busy.

“Jerry” (Jerslaman) is a rich card! He won’t let trouble trouble him. He was engaged to a girl (32) in Kokomo, but she canned him last August on info to her “he drinks.” I used to say to Jerry, “Never mind, Jerry. You didn’t want that old maid, anyhow.” That would make him laugh. Jerry won’t worry over anything.

I’d like to hear from you, if you ever get time. I know how busy you are and don’t wish to burden you.

“God be with you till we meet again.”

Very truly yours,
J.G. McCloskey.

P.O. Box 436
New Haven, Conn.

New Haven, Conn., March 20, 1918.-
Beatrice Boedefeld,
The Elkhart TRUTH,
Elkhart, Ind.

My dear Miss Boedefeld: Received your very welcome letter of February 4 and was much pleased to hear from you, and through you, from all there.

Also read “with wonder and delight” your story of “Full up on sleigh-rides.” Glory, that certainly was an experience!

Well, so long as you didn’t get your “tootsies” frozen, you are OK.

March 15 a year ago, James Blaine Walley took hold. I suppose there is a young J.B.W. now? Or, have I another guess? Jimmy always looked pretty swift to me, and I don’t think he’s lost his pace.

Anyone hear from Mac Gildea? Is he “over there”?

Also, where is M.M. Frink?

I hope they got Raatz in the cooler—him and his. I’d like to see he and his’n working on Lincoln Highway.

“Jere” is a card. I am going to write him. Whatever, will he do on April 2nd has me puzzled.

[Note: In Indiana, a statewide prohibition bill was passed with an effective date of April 2, 1918, making Indiana the twenty-fifth state to vote completely “dry.” At the national level, the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) passed Congress on December 18, 1917 and thus passed to the next step of needing ¾ of all state legislatures to ratify it. Indiana voted to ratify it on January 14, 1919. Two days later the amendment was ratified by enough states to go into effect in 1920.]

Also, there are others there, too. Oh, I’m in a glorious State. Conn wants no prohibition. Albany Legislature buried it in N.Y. It’s about time people got wise to those hypocrites who, because liquor don’t agree with them, they want to prevent others from a bit of pleasure.

This office positively is the rottenest office I ever worked in. It is always cold. This Winter was the toughest on me I ever put in. I will go to California for next Winter unless I can do better than what I had this Winter.

I positively do not see how this paper gets by. They don’t care if a scoop is put over on them. They will print the story the next day, clipped from the AM’s [copied from the morning papers]. They should worry.

I have to work Saturday nights. It’s a shame to take the money—$6.41. Editor told me: “Mac, take only what you think we will use. We want no long stories. I lay it all on your judgment.” Fine! You bet Johnnie don’t work too hard, yet he lets nothing get by.

I suppose you are already moved in new office? I don’t doubt the rats were numerous there. I used to look at them cavorting around the yard in the far rear. However, they are getting rather too familiar with you when they invade the office and cart off your pastepots. And you used to be so careful of those pastepots!

Jee-ru-sa-lem! Some changes! So the little editor has been made the big editor! He always did the work of the Big Editor anyhow, so his change is nothing new—unless there’s more money attached to it, which I hope there is, for Tom is one damned hard worker and conscientious. He takes pride in his work. I am losing my ambition here, as never is a sign of pep displayed. You go along and do as you please and let it go at that. I’m not used to that. Excitement keeps us a-moving and our blood quickens with it—and I am getting on in years where I may need such things to happen. Although I am not getting older, I know I am not getting younger.

I don’t know Sibbett, do I? Bert Meyers! Well, well, well. Fred Palmer now has a chance to smile. He “liked” Bert, NIT!

I guess by now City Editor Frink has gone? If not, give him my best.

Poor Cutshaw! Well, he can make more money in a munitions factory and MAY learn something he DON’T ALREADY KNOW, if that’s possible.

I am glad Foster was elected. They have a real man as mayor and no Mollycoddle like Smith. I am glad Foster got in. He is better than those who declined to advance him money when he needed it. Now he’s worth more than they, I shouldn’t wonder.

Prudes, those Indianapolis folk! Kick against Cleo! She was a baby, all right. Someone told me all redhaired women of note made big marks in history, but Cleo put a big dent in her history. Well, she at last found the man she REALLY LOVED when she met Mark, but it was, alas, too late!

If they show that picture around here, you bet Cap’n Jack will “eat it up,” as he is very familiar with the story, as related by Billy S.
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
her infinite variety; other women cloy the appetites
they feed; while she causes hunger where most
she satisfies, etc. etc.
Poor Antony! My sympathy to the pair of them.

Was it Iago who said: “Oh, to think that I should put the vile serpent in my mouth to steal away my brain”? Well, I’ve done that lots of times. So has my old comrade, Jere. However, Jere can’t do it much after April 2nd C A M I N G!!!

Yes, I know Boal well. He shook hands with me and bade good-bye as he was leaving for Spartansburg. Oh, me, oh my! He’s one very excellent young man, and I certainly am sorry to hear of his affliction. My, but I know he is disappointed, because he often expressed his desire to go “over there”.

I didn’t get much of a look at Perla, as I was so glad to meet up with you that I really believed (pardon me) I may have seemingly slighted her. I did not intend any such thing. I cannot say as to your looks and her looks, but YOU looked all right to me. It was so good to meet an old friend! I was sincerely sorry you didn’t wait and I might have got a sub and treated you girls right.

However, next time, and MAY THAT BE SOON. I WILL NOT stick around here another Winter, I’m thinking. On my way West I’ll surely drop in on you all. And I’ll have “some goods” for Jere and other pals when I do that.

New Haven may be all right “in the Summer time,” as Vesta Tilley, I think it was, used to sing about her husband—portrait painter posing her in the many seasons. I will see very soon, I’m thinking. However, I DO NOT like the East. Me for the West. I thought I’d like it here, but I am disappointed. People here are not like in the West. Can you give me Bob Allen’s address, please? I want to write him. Perhaps Velda will wait for him to come back decorated all over with medals. I hope Bob returns safely and sound.

My wife is not in good shape. She is extremely nervous and doctor says she will have to stop worrying. I want her to come up here and rest with me a week or two. I have a very quiet room, and it is as still as a graveyard at times, so that might help Mrs McC out. The kids want her to come, but she is a bull, and MUST have her own way. I can’t do a thing with her.

Well, BB, I will cut this off here. I am always glad to hear from you and every friend there, and I made many of them in my short stay. Sincerest respects to Ruth and your Mother, with best wishes for your own welfare, and regards to ALL the GANG, from
Your sincere friend,
Jack McCloskey
P.O. BOX 436, New Haven, Conn.

This next pair of letters might (or might not) reveal the identity of the hitherto elusive Bressler, whose first name is never mentioned in connection with his last, and since Louie B. never writes out his last name, all is conjecture. But it is certainly very possible, considering how chummy this Louie sounds about all the gang at the Truth office in Elkhart.

Camp Gordon.
Oct. 25. ‘18
Friend Beatrice:

Excuse my failure to answer your “telephonic” communication of recent date sooner, but have had my name in the sick columns for about a month with the “flu” which threatened to turn into pneumonia. For four days my temperature hovered about the 104º mark, the highest I have ever known it to notwithstanding the fact that my temper has risen to high degrees on various occasions at the Democrat. The “flu” is certainly a puzzling disease, I being stricken in about 10 minutes enroute back from the drill field and in less than 45 minutes being in the hospital.

I have attended some farce shows at the Orpheum and other “famous” northern Indiana points where the singing was heart rendering, but the yelling of a number of the patients hit high “C” and surpassed all the chorus’ in harmony, especially the show at the Buckler when Beane paid $3.30 last spring.

This will no doubt be the last letter you will receive from me here as I am awaiting to be sent to Hoboken, N.J., from where I will embark for England, having secured a good position with a lieutenant colonel, which will get me a salary equivalent that of a second “lieut” and a chance to get “over there” and also see “Old Broadway” as I am afraid the war is going to blow up very soon if the present conditions continue to exist.

Encounter Frink and Stiver, of Goshen, who formerly was employed in the law offices of E.B. Ziegler, almost daily, but Lehman has departed from our midst, being at Anniston, Ala.

Through “certain” methods of which Frink is fully aware of, I “escaped” camp for an excursion to Atlanta following my discharge from the hospital for the purpose of recuperating. I may have recuperated, but financially it was very disastrous, two S.O.S. calls being sent home for funds before the affair came to an end.

After glancing over the numerous paragraphs I am of the opinion that very little of Camp Gordon happenings of interest have been omitted so will come to a grand finale.

Trusting that you will not collapse on your new undertakings, I am,
Louie B.

ON ACTIVE SERVICE                                                     AMERICAN RED CROSS
                        WITH THE
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE                                                                    +
March 10 1919
Paris, France.
Friend “B”—

Not to be “outdone” by the ex-soldier, Lieutenant-to-be Frink, I have again entered the newspaper field after an “enforced vacation” of several months during which period I “visited” at Atlanta, New York, Liverpool, Southhampton, Le Havre, Rouen, and other points, including the well named French city of Bar-le-duc, having secured my transfer from my former misfit aggregation as I would term it to be frank, to the Stars & Stripes, the official newspaper publication of the A.E.F. and which is located in the building occupied by the American Chamber of Commerce at 32 Rue Taitbout in the “village” of Paris.

Believe me I certainly was lucky in getting away from my former organization.

As a result of this change I am quite positive that I’ll not receive any calls from 31 before 1920 if ever gain as confidentially I have something else in view in another foreign country with a British major who I met at Rouen some time ago and recently at other points. However, don’t let this news get into the hands of The Democrat as it might play havoc providing things would change.

Paris is certainly full of visitors from all sections of the globe due to the Peace Conference and things of “lesser” importance and a person could put on “The All Nations” Show with ease by garnering in the various pedestrians at almost any point to make up the caste.

I am living at the Helicoe Hotel at the present time, but don’t know how long I’ll be there.

As a result of this change I have been unable to keep in touch with home news, so will rely on your official “dispatches” as they surely were appreciated in the past.


P.S. How is the farce comedy “Why Marry” with Krau & Greene featuring? Any metropolitan bookings?

If you would like to read other letters from newsmen, here they are:

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