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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Letters from Newsmen—Mahurin

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. First to be presented here are those from Maurice Mahurin Frink, who started as a cub reporter right out of high school and several years and a college degree later became the city editor for a short time before service in the World War interrupted his career. His letters reveal a witty, high-spirited young man thoroughly enjoying life.
Elkhart Truth Newsroom, about 1915, with Mahurin at front right
and Bee’s Fox typewriter half showing at her desk.
Photo courtesy of Quentin Robinson.

Maurice Mahurin Frink was born 21 May 1895 in Elkhart, Indiana to Charles W. and Ella Frink. He attended Columbia School of Journalism in New York City from 1915 through the spring of 1916, finishing the course and becoming temporary city editor at the Truth. In July 1917 he was drafted and entered the Army, rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. During the War, he married Edith Raut and they later had four children. After the war, he returned to his job as editor at the Truth. He was still working there when World War II broke out. However, a few years thereafter he became disaffected with policies there, and he left for Colorado. He became a lecturer at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and in 1954 he was appointed Director of the Colorado State Historical Society. He died in March 1972 and is buried in Elkhart, Indiana.

[Postmark Sep. 29, 1915]
Editorial Room,
For 8 months, starting today, I have to wear a green tie, blue cap 6 inches across, no cuffs in my trousers. Some life. Am trying out for the daily & the monthly.
If I sit on these steps, they will throw me in the fountain!

[Postmark Nov 21, 1915]


School of Journalist Grants
Interview On Things
In General.


N’Yawk, Nov. 21, 1915.—Dear Bee: Since you were the backbone of that heterogeneous but none the less interesting and joyfully received ‘missive or missile’ (Bress) we’ll make you the lead.

I admit I am dense, and all that. But there is one thing I must know, and that is, to what did you refer when you added the following postscript to your part of the m. or m.: “I leave it to you whether it was unfair or not. Personally I think you should extract some little entertainment from the outfit.” I undoubtedly should know but I equally undoubtedly don’t know. I hope you haven’t forgotten. In case you have please try to think up some new meaning for it, for it worries me.

I wonder if I will recognize the shop when I get home, WHICH WILL BE IN FOUR WEEKS, what with all your new press and reporters and babies and all this and that it surely will be a changed place. But I guess if some of the old guard are still hanging around I’ll find my way in. Bee, what is that that sticks in my mind about a Christmas party? Oh very well.

Discusses Allen’s Statements.

Dear Brobert: In addition to the yittzes, anarchists, socialists and geniuses which this w.k.s. of j. harbors, there is now at large in our midst a Free Lover. I don’t know which to become, an anarchist or socialist or genius or free lover. What would you advise?

The following is copies from the Columbia Monthly and was written by one of the fellows in my features story class; I submit it as a model for future Wall Poetry in the Truth joint:

I was running a string of empties
When the trestle gave.
I crawled under the hood
And saved my life.
But both my legs were broken,
And my hip was fractured.
The Boss paid—
The Law made him—
And gave me five hundred dollars
To sign a paper.
So I bought an auto. (What kind—3 guesses)
But I had no money for gas
So I rented my machine to the miners
Who took out their girls.
And I got another machine
And then two more.
And people all praised me,
Told me how smart I was.
And how good,
When I brought the eight-hour law to town.
But I wasn’t good,
I was just getting even.
Old Man Sloane hired Lizzie Scott
and kept her in evenings.
And I wanted Lizzie so I wrote a letter
To the Governor,
Who sent an inspector
And had Sloane fined.
Then I took Lizzie out
In one of my machines.
Lizzie was beautiful
And it was a moonlight night.
I took my hands off the wheel.
Next morning they found our bodies
Under the machine.”

Believe it or not.

Bob, I thought the other night of a great opportunity that we lost. When we were at those seances, and old man Bulla asked “How’s conditions tonight?” why on earth didn’t any of us have the inspiration to say, “Medium.” ?? I think we’ll have to do it all over again.

You really ought, Bob, to see me smoke a cigarette, as I have been known to do when the occasion demanded. Jes like a reglar dev’l. The other night at a dormitory smoker, they gave us all corn cob pipes, and I started to smoke mine. First I got the hiccups then I got dizzy and then I got disgusted and quit.

Takes Up Military Matters.

Bress, do you realize that the military reserve of these here m. or l. United States consists of 14 men? that the army is 7,000 men below its authorized strength? that the militia of the country is only twice the size of the New York City police force? that we have no organization to correspond to the British admiralty? that--- oh very well. Anyway it’s so. And I know cause I wrote a story about it. I’ve been colleagueing with T.R. and Maxim et al in an earnest endeavor to compel more efficient preparation for the possible contingency of war, I have, likell. The American Defense Society. (Inc.) has just grown astoundingly since I’ve been writing publicity stuff for it.

Refers To Jacklate Gildea.

Say MacGillucuddy, ain’t you never had no bringin’ up? What do you mean by your inaccuracy, misspelling, illegible copy, misuse of quotes, inconsistency in point of view, and punning? Maybe if you’d work under a good city editor once or go to a good school of joinalism you’d learn. You got the maybe, didn’t you?

Isn’t that a funny joke? Neither do I.

So you think I should have kept on wearing the green cap and tie? Well, when you come here next year you do it for both of us.

Please tell old Dawk Short that it was an awful blow to all New York to hear I was going home in four weeks and that they threatened to tie up the whole road so a wheel wouldn’t turn. Now be sure and tell him just that. In case you can’t remember it copy it off and read it to him.

I was down, in Chinatown, tee dee dee dee, the other night.

Well, Gang, chew your turkey up well and eat slow. Think of me, eating off the arm of a chair in a dairy lunch. ‘Thousand on a plate and two over, draw one, side of dry and have it hot.’

Present indications are that I’ll get home at 9 Saturday morning, December 19 (I think it’s the 19th—anyway, the Saturday before w.k. Christmas). If you get out company E and the Instrumental City Band, with Jim Blaine Walley at its head, and have the mayor make a speech, and wave the flags hung on the trolley wires and have Ethan Arnold get up a parade of automobiles, I think that will be sufficient. Cherbliged.

Tom, contribute your mite to the next m. or m.

I’ll use all you can write on it, Gang, so make it snappy. You’ve had lots of time to get your dope. So, as I said before, i. y. g. a. t. w., w. i.


P.S. Also go to the Lincoln Highway movies for me.

[handwritten in pencil] P.S. again—The joinalists here think if they put a big enough (30) under their last line that that (over) makes it a story, so here goes
After putting that address on I thought I’d take my name off—I only had a nail file to do it with.

1. Bee Boedefeld instigated a “round robin” type letter for Bob Allen and Mahurin, who were away temporarily. The idea was that they were supposed to add to it and send it on and then back to the Truth office.
2. Bress was Bressler, who worked in the office, but whose exact identity is a mystery today.
3. Robert Allen, aka Bob, was the telegrapher for International News Service, and he worked at the Truth office for several years before World War I. He was eight years older than Mahurin.
4. Wall Poetry was the pastime of the reporters. They pasted their efforts on the walls around their desks.
5. Jacklate Gildea, or MacGillucuddy, was really Edward Mac Gildea, a year younger than Mahurin, working as a cub reporter. He went to Columbia the year after Mahurin was there.
6. Jim Blaine Walley worked for the Truth as a reporter around this time. He was seven or eight years older than Mahurin. 

7. Tom was City Editor Tom Keene.

[Postmark Jan 10, 1916]

Saturday Night, Jan. 8.
Dear Gang:

Today I read a pome by Alfred Noyes, after which I queered myself forever with the following:
When that I worked for Tommy,
His wish was my command,
And when he made assignments
The stories I would land.
So when came the time for leaving,
My heart was troubled sore,
And I could not ease the grieving
Because it was all o’er.
When that I worked with Sobbie,
She helped me on my way;
She gave me tips on how to do,
And what to write and say.
And now I miss her muchly,
And eke her golden hair,
And all her virtues suchly,
And wish that I were there.
When that I worked where Bobbie
Did read the ticking wire,
I used to watch the glowing of
The holy, happy fire.
Now he and she do still love on,
And e’en may married be –
But what makes me feel bad is that
I am not there to see.
I wanted to write a verse for each member of the w.k. gang, but the muse flitted when I had gotten three down. This only goes to show what college, corn cob pipes and the cruel woild in a big city will do to a guy.

Today I saw some star fish, sea horses, a porpoise, a tank of grunts, Brooklynn Bridge, the East Side, a four-masted schooner of ante-bellum and then some days, the fire boat New Yorker, the Goddess of Liberty and two ocean liners.

If grunts was on one of the dictionary pages that is torn out let me know and I’ll tell you what a grunt is. But I had to find out for myself. (a grunt, not to grunt.)

Friend Bob well bob and how are you Bob, and I am well and hope you are the same, and I thot of you this afternoon when I was down on Roosevelt street and right along here in front of me now while I was standing on the corner looking at the Monday washings that the poor Devils that live in the tenne ments have to hang out right in front of there front windows over the side walks came a street car Bob you know a regular elecrtric car only it wasent ran by electricity at all it was on a track in the middle of the street all right but it was pulled by horses just like a plough. there was a sign on the back side of the car Bob the sign said South Ferry, and say bob maybe that was partly true but I dont believe there ever was any ferries in that part of town and if there ever was I dont blame them for going South, Well bob right to me sometime and say tell your friends in the hole to too, You know me bob,

Yrs etc, Mahurin.

The Alfred Noyes poem was likely “The Mermaid Tavern” that described great Elizabethan figures, among which were Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and Walter Raleigh. Noyes became a visiting professor of English literature at Princeton in 1914.

[Postmark Feb 9, 1916]
Miss B. Boedefeld,
Truth Editorial,
I have not moved here yet, but spent the day here Today. Tell Thomas Hopman O’Keene that (maybe) I’ll send him about 50,000 words on it. I had the editor of the Star of Hope put you down for an exchange copy. Bob can read up on his future home then. (The ed. is a Columbia man—1883.)
Well then, dont write to me.

[This letter was apparently written upon his receiving the news that there had been an upheaval among the personnel in the office.]

Maurice Mahurin Frink
Elkhart Indiana

Headquarters, District of Columbia,
In Camp on the Hudson,
February 14, 1916.

Major General Frink (M. Mahurin) presents his compliments to Colonel Sobbie and extends condolences for the disastrous defeat of the Old Guard. It is apparent that you have met the enemy and are hisn, all is lost save honor, etc., but remember damn the torpedoes go ahead, we have not yet begun to fight, and there is Jackson standing like a stone wall.
You may paint, you may paper them walls if you will,
The scent of the verses will hang round ’em still.
Would suggest plan for defense: Having rallied round the rag, capture General Ball, Ball him out, then having started things, keep the Ball rolling, and after the Ball is over write a pome about it and paste it on the new wall paper.

If this does not succeed, notify me and I will mobilize as soon as possible and advance westward. Should be able to come to your support early in June.

Up Gang and at ’em. Sic semper tyrannus.

Respectfully submitted,
Maj. Gen. Frink.

(some puns, ’pun my word!)

This next letter has to be seen in its original form to be appreciated. Too bad we do not know what happened to the photograph that was pasted in the middle! 

[Postmark Feb 24, 1916]

[Postmark Apr 7, 1916]
Miss B. Boedefeld,
Truth Office,
I am in the library on the 2nd floor. You can’t see me. It’s just as well, tho’, for I ought to be studying & instead I’m reading Life or Truth or some such Thing. How is Grandmother Review? How is the subway business? How do you like Spring? So do I. Tell Tom to write Mac to make it short Cutshaw please not to let it happen again & remember if he has anything to write to write it. Mahurin.
[Upside down at top] Just as soon as my labors will permit I’ll forward the r. robin to Gen. Veeya Carranga Boballenista.

[The next letter was pasted in Bee’s scrapbook without an envelope.]

April 28/16.
Dear Bob:

Received your card this morning and it reminded me that there are only about five weeks left for our round robin, so I figure I had better get busy. Hope you will find time between battles to send it on to the gang at Elkhart so that I’ll hear from them again before I leave (for) my happy home. By the way, how do you reckon a round robin will work on a triangle? Something like a round peg in a square hole? Oh very well.

First we will discuss the new song hit, clipped from the invaluable Truth. Speaking from experience, I should say that if the word purse were substituted for heart and the word night for light the song would be the truest piece of work ever writ. More truth, in fact, than poetry. That’s one reason why I stay up here in the region of fifteen cent movies, hurdy-gurdies, Huyler ice cream parlors and city parks, rather than frequent the torrid zone down among the lights. I get down there once in a while by my lonesome but I’ve only taken fair damsels into the region twice. The first time I didn’t know any better and the second time I couldn’t help myself. The two times cost enough to buy a loop wire from the Western Union for a whole day, almost.

[newspaper clipping]:
“There’s A Broken Heart For Every Light On Broadway”
Chorus: “There’s a broken heart for ev’ry light on Broadway, 
A million tears for ev’ry gleam, they say, . . 
Those lights, above you, think nothing of you, 
It’s those who love you that have to pay. , ,”
From the Great White Way comes a quaint ballad painting the vicissitudes of New York life and the romance of its glittering lights. The story of the song is a mirror of realistic happenings, fraught with a wholesome moral. A mother’s love is the dominant note, with music of a catchy quality.
There is a true ring to the song’s theme which is making the work one of pronounced popularity. The story deals with the trusting love of womanhood and portrays her ideals with a reflection of human pathos and realism. Throughout many cities the ballad, on account of beauty, is speeding to fame.

Next we will discuss the picture of the Columbia boat crew, also clipped from the indispensable Truth.

[picture from newspaper, titled and captioned but torn at right with words missing]:
New York, April 18.—Working on open water in the Hudson River for a week or more, the Columbia crews look almost fit for the great regatta [] Poughkeepsie in June. Coach Jim Rice has already boated his first varsity and, with slight changes, it is expected that this crew will finish [] season. Some trouble was experience in getting a man for stroke oar, three of the veterans being compelled to resign because of parental [-]tion. Most of the members of the first varsity are last year veterans.

Didn’t know when you stuck that in that you were printing a picture of my brother, did you Thomas? The fourth man from the right end is one of my twenty thousand odd brothers. He is the leader of the sophomores in the fraternity, and the sophomores have control of us freshmen, so it he who wields the barrel staves when we freshmen get in bad. And he is some wielder. His nickname is Dunk but only seniors ever dare call him Drunk.

Now here’s a tip for Bee. This is clipped from the New Yoik Times.

[newspaper clipping, torn off]:
Census Statistics Give Them Three More Years Than Men.
Women, the United States Bureau of the Census will show in a set of tables soon to be issued, are longer lived than men to the extent of more than three years,
Bee, you better bee a show woman.

And speaking of the mistakes that will creep into the inestimable Truth now and then in spite of Dick, the Evening Post, which generally is held up here as the literary standard among the N.Y. papers, recently proclaimed in a large head that a “Break with Germany Appeared Less Inevitable”.

Well, I was glad to hear that an undertaker’s frame now holds my picture. Thanking you one and all for the honor you bestow upon me etc etc etc.

Oh yes I forgot. The Evening Mail the other night said that three convicts had escaped from Sing Sing, named them, and said later that “no trace had been found of he,” or soandso or the other.

And I mustn’t neglect this: In our feature section class of the S. of J. not long ago the week’s editor received a story from one of the others which he knew was not true. So he ran the story in the dummy as it was written but contradicted it in the head.

Tell Mr. Malone I am pleased to meet him and that I met a movie press agent here who was in Mexico as a newspaper correspondent during the Madero campaigns also, but I don’t remember his name. He is very large and has a hook nose and a wife. Does Malone know him?

Bee’s letter, written the day of the Willard-Moran fight, says “Bob will be attending the fight tonight.” I wonder what she meant by that? Were you here for the fight, Bob? Why didn’t you let me know?

Does Cap’n Jack keep up Bob’s work of flirting with all the girls who pass by? If not why not.

Wasn’t it about a year ago that we had that strawberry festival in the office? Some festival say we. Happy days!

Last week was our spring vacation. I spent the time going round the town seeing things. Saw Ellis Island, the Tombs and numerous other sights. They heard we were coming to the Navy Yards so they issued orders to close them to all visitors and they shut them up just ten minutes before we reached the gate, for the first time since the Spanish war.

My wife, who was assistant press agent at the Hippodrome and now is main squeeze at the Strand, the W.G. movie theatre, moved out yesterday, for he is going to get married tomorrow. As a parting gift he gave me six passes to the Strand, so come on over some night and we’ll have a party. I’m going to have a new wife in a day or so, another press agent. This new wife was a newspaper correspondent with the Roosevelt party in the 1912 campaign and is one of Teddy’s side kicks, so I’m going to try to work him to take me down and shake hands with our next president.

Three weeks from next Monday start our final exams. They last till about the first of June and then you had better begin to arrange for the bands, Company E and the rest of the parade. Oh all right.

Well I don’t see anything for it but I’ll have to quit and go to class.

Bob, follow Bee’s instructions in the enclosed and, as has been said before, if you’ve anything to write please get it written; never mind about making it short, though. My regards to the Carranzaistas and Zapatistaites. Also to the Gang.

As ever,

1. The Round Robin went to Bob Allen and back to Bee.
2. They all liked to find the mistakes in the published news.
3. Malone was Pat Malone, who died a year later of tuberculosis.
4. Cap'n Jack was probably John G. McCloskey.
5. When he says “my wife,” he means his roommate, which is pretty obvious from the context.

[The nation had formally entered the World War and was drafting men for the military. He had just received notice that he was going to be called up. Postmarked Jul 23, 1917]
Miss B. Boedefeld,
The Truth,
Hope you have as good a time your vacation as I’m having on mine. Anyhow, you won’t be drafted on yours.
Maurice F.

[Postmarked Jan 4, 1918]
Miss Beatrice Boedefeld,
c/o Truth,
If you have anything to write please write it. Sorry I missed seeing Bob—if he is still there give him my best.

[Postmarked May 9, 1918]
Miss Bee Boedefeld,
Truth Office,
This is how we did look but you should see us now! Bob was over Sunday to say goodbye—left Monday morning. Best to all. Write

c/o Y.M.C.A. 151.

[The following two letters were in envelopes with letters above.]

20th Co., 5th Tr. Btn., 159th Depot Brigade
Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky., 6/27/18.

Dear Bee:

What I mean, it has taken me a good long time to answer your letter. It hasn’t been a lack of desire or thought, however, but simply lack of the opportunity. I started at least twice and each time had to break off after a couple paragraphs. I’m not at all sure that I’ll manage to finish this time, although indications are just at present that there is nothing to do till 9:30 when I close up the office and beat it a quarter of a mile down Hess lane to the car line and take a car in to town and my wife.

I have gotten so that I can say “My wife” without falling all over myself. Nearly four weeks of married life have brought me around to where it seems quite natural. It was quite a shock at first but the old way would be pretty tough now.

We have a classy room on a nice street down town, five minutes from the business district by car and about half an hour from here. We are on the third floor of an old brick house, owned by an old lady and her daughter, who lives in the apartment filling the second floor, and rent the ground floor, and the one bedroom that we have. We use their kitchen and dining room, and have everything remarkably nice. A number of girls with husbands in camp have visited my wife and they tell her that we got a bigger bargain than we realize, saying that by far the majority of the rooms are not nearly so nice as ours, or so cheap. We only pay $18 a month, and the first month leads us to believe that we are going to make it on my pay of $36 a month, with $15 more that our Uncle Sam pays my wife.

When we were married we expected we would get to see each other probably three or four times a week. The order is for married men to have three nights a week in town. However, working in the orderly room has its advantages—I have seen Mrs. F. every single day that she has been here, and have spent almost every night in town. There are three of us who work in the orderly room and we divide the extra time up, so that we each get about all we want. Then the captain lets me go in late, on nights when I am on duty. Altogether, it is all too nice to last, I am afraid.

The Depot Brigade, it appears, is slated to remain here for a time at least as a receiving station for recruits, but every now and then a rumor goes around that it is to be made into a fighting organization and this probably will happen ultimately if the w.k. war stays long enough. This work of breaking in the new men is mighty interesting. We examine them, outfit them, inoculate them, test them in 40 different ways, give them the rudiments of drill, and then ship them all over the country. At present we are struggling with 100 Illinois farmers.

Several of us Elkhart fellows are still together. We never know how long our jobs are good for. A little order may come any time from Camp, Brigade or Battalion headquarters transferring us anywhere under blue sky. Officers and men are jerked away every day. But we should worry. We live day by day and grab fun as it comes and have completely ceased to worry our heads over what may happen to us tomorrow.

I confess I am homesick for a glimpse of the old home town again. Maybe in another month or two or three Friend Wife and I can get home for a few days, maybe. I’d like to drop in and look things over. It seems that I have been away two years instead of two months.

The shop must be quite a different one now from what it used to be. I hope things are going well. The paper gets to me every day now and I read it all and guess about the work and fun behind the stories. I sure would like to sit in at a copy desk again—I wouldn’t care how fast it piled up on the hooks.

Tell Tom I’m going to answer his recent letter some of these days. Give my best to all and write again. I’ll answer sooner next time.

As Ever,

Say, by the way, can you tell me if there’s any truth to that rumor about the Crown Prince being captured??

Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky., 7-23-18.
Dear Bee:

Well, I see a piece in the paper where you want a copy boy and I thought I’d put in for the job. If I am successful in my application I will at once resign here and start back to begin work. Please let me know soon.

What I started out to say, though, was that I thank you for the picture and your letter of fairly recent date. I have misplaced the letter, of course. Living thusly one misplaces everything. That goes with it. One isn’t expected to keep anything except one’s messkit and outfit.

We moved from barracks into tents last week, three regiments of us. We are nearer civilization now, and that is the only advantage. Before we moved I had to walk three-quarters of a mile to reach the street car to Louisville. Now it is only a matter of rods. [1 rod = 5.5 yards]

Gordon Weith and I are in the same tent. He and Carl Mack, a cook, and I are the only Elkhartans left in the company. We won’t be here long, either. The depot brigade is being gradually broken up, officers and non-coms as well as recruits being transferred. A new order prevents anyone being kept in the depot brigade for more than six months, at the end of which time they have to be transferred to an outfit going overseas.

I thought that I would be gone to training camp long before this but I’m not. The dope now is that I will the first of the month or the middle of the month or some time before then or maybe after. The only thing sure is that I will go some time, as I am first on the list to go from this battalion to the infantry school. If or when I go Friend Wife will go to Auburn, Ind., to stay a while with her folks and later will come to where I am.

Bee, do you ever see a stray “Fourth Estate” or “Editor and Publisher” around the shop? I haven’t seen one since I embarked and I long to do so. If you could gather one or two up by hook or crook and ship it to me, I would sure appreciate it. I feel clean out of touch with the business. When I start in a again, it will have to be as a cub, I begin to feel, for I must have forgotten the little I ever did know about the “craft”, as they call it in the School of Journalism. I never even see a newspaper person to talk about it with. I didn’t think I ever would miss it so much as I do. The folks like to think that after the war I won’t go back to it, but and when I first left I thought so myself, but now I am so durned homesick for it that I’d rather have even that copy boy job than anything else I know of.

Maurice Mahurin Frink
So Willardovitch Chesteriviki has gone and gotten himself a job in a uniform. When he comes in this afternoon tell him I sent him my best and wished him luck.

I read about John Parson’s marriage. Is Ralph still on the makeup and didn’t he do his worst with my yarn about the camp? That other one also about the danger from Mr. and Mrs. Clark and the fire chief’s warning was a beaut.

Well, as the boys say in most all their letter, “it is now time for mess and you know I never miss that.” Give my best to all the gang and write when you can.

As ever

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