Crawford Saga, page 2


KGC Saga part 2


Presently we moved into our own first apartment, small but classy, situated on the city side of the so-called million-dollar bridge, now headquarters of the Chinese trade mission. It was adequately furnished with wedding and shower presents, even to pictures and kitchen ware. The rent was $75 a month. My salary by then was $55 a week. I had started with no savings whatever. How we managed to make payments on a car, buy groceries, make payments on the Harmon Foundation loans and still have something left over for an occasional keg of “Maryland rye,” a water-clear corn whiskey delivered in a charred keg that gradually gave it some color, I have never figured out. We survived, always in debt up to our ears.

Came fall and I was assigned to cover the vice-presidential campaign of Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s running mate. Hoover’s opponent was Al Smith, Catholic, brown-derbied and colorful. Curtis was equipped with a private car, which was attached to regularly scheduled trains as he made his way across the country and back. Fixtures in the car were a drunken publicity man, one San Geral, a limp-wristed secretary, an Indian princess (Curtis was part Kaw Indian), an AP man called Little Stevie and I for the UP. San occupied himself almost exclusively finding bootleg liquor at every stop. The Indian maiden beat a tom-tom on the back platform as prelude to Charley’s speech, which was word-for-word the same at every stop. He had a longer version for full-dress performances, also unchanging. There was radio by this time but most of it was local in reach, not national. So one speech sufficed.

However, the lack of variety posed a problem for Stevie and me. We solved it by numbering the passages in Curtis’s oration and featuring in each day’s stories the passage we had agreed upon. We dropped off our dispatches at the various stops for telegraph transmission to our nearest bureaus, where they were relayed to the national wires. It was a scenic tour; I saw more of the country than I have ever seen since. There was only one legitimate news story in the whole trip. In North Dakota at a state fair, Charley was heckled by some farmers. Departing from his text he shouted: “You farmers are too damned dumb to understand.” Hoover carried North Dakota anyway. One passage in Charley’s set speech became famous. In his peroration to a section on the importation of dried and frozen eggs from China, making the point that they should be subjected to a high tariff, he declaimed: “Let us give the American hen a chance.” This passage was celebrated in a book by Bob Allen and Drew Pearson called “Washington Merry-go-round.” The chapter was titled “Egg Charley.” I had given Bob a complete account of the Curtis campaign. That information turned out to be bread cast on the water but that will be dealt with later. At the end of the campaign I got a few days covering Al Smith and spent election night in New York.

The first child

Betty, who had been left sitting in a partially settled apartment in Washington, was invited to join the Curtis train on one of its last swings to Hartford Connecticut. It was not long after that that she was discovered to be pregnant. We were delighted with the discovery, at least I was. I remembered one of Maggie’s comments to me at the time of the wedding. Reporting to her about my family, I told her how few offspring there had been on both the paternal and maternal sides. I ventured the suggestion that perhaps sterility ran in our genes. She said: “With my daughters all you have to do is hang a pair of men’s pants on the bed post.”

Bill was born in Lansing, where Betty had gone for the event. He was bright-eyed and assertive. He had druthers from the start. I got the message one morning and was on my way to Lansing within the hour. Neil Kelly, who worked for the N.Y. Herald Tribune in Washington, had moved in with me when Betty left. We lived mostly on silver fizzes and golden fizzes. One was made of bathtub gin smoothed by the whites of eggs, the other with bathtub gin smoothed with the yolks of eggs. I pushed the A-model over those dirt roads for the best it would do and as long as I could stand it. Late at night my bottom was too sore to go on and I checked into a hotel near Columbus, Ohio. I had wired Betty to tell the boy nothing about life until I got there. I did get there the next afternoon. The birth had been an ordeal, partly accomplished before the doctor arrived. Maggie had tried to hush Betty’s moaning only to be ordered out of the room.

Back in Washington, we moved to another apartment in the same building—one with a balcony for sunning the baby. I resumed the Senate beat and finally was shifted, during the height of the prohibition battle, to the House, where I was alone, the only UP reporter. Hearings on a repeal resolution supplied the big story. I covered the hearings trying to do what Mallon did—write a running story in long hand for transmission by a telegraph operator who sat at my side and cull out the highlights for new leads. I could do it, but not as well as Mallon. In those days newspapers had many editions and the competition between the AP and the UP to get their leads used by papers that took both services was intense. Radio and television ultimately supplanted newspapers as the bearers of spot news. There is no such thing any more as a newspaper extra. There was then.

Sally by now had moved to Washington to work in the office of Roland Smith, whose family summered at Harbor Beach. He was a member of the Shipping Board, which regulated ocean-going ships, granted subsidies to American-flag vessels and devised rules for their operation. We circulated in the newspaper set, especially the Scripps-Howard people working for the UP and the Washington News. There was much alcoholic revel, prohibition being in effect and requiring all good citizens to break the law as often and extensively as possible. Politics at this point was prohibition. A conservative was one who favored the law, a liberal one who opposed it. Drinking became a sort of civic virtue. It was the ruination of many and almost all of us.

At one point, and I don’t quite remember when, I was sent to Maine to cover a so-called barometer election. Maine was, as it still is, the first state to hold its primaries in presidential and congressional election years. I received written instructions from New York to cover the Maine primary and in no circumstance to borrow returns from the AP, which had a network of client papers doing a thorough job of it. In two days, without any help or any money, I was to compete with the AP? I realized what was expected. I had a friend on the Portland paper that belonged to the AP network. On election night he called me periodically with the latest AP returns. I added a little to the totals and sent them on to the UP. The next day I received a message from New York. “Congratulations,” it said, “You were ahead of the AP all night.” That was the UP for you. I’d had enough but saw no way of escape.


The worst came one fall day when Congress adjourned. With Congress out of session and the depression started, the Washington staff would have to be cut. The rule was last in, first out. I was last in. I was to be sent to Buffalo as UP bureau manager. Buffalo? The end of the journalistic earth. I was more crushed than I have ever been before and have been since. We moved to Buffalo dutifully but I quit the UP at the first opportunity. The opportunity was offered by the editor of the Buffalo Times, a Scripps-Howard paper. He got clearance for the move from the Scripps bosses. My first job on the Times was telegraph editor. It was entirely new to me. I worked on the copy desk writing headlines for and editing telegraph stories. What saved me was Lee Miller in the slot.

Lee had been the genius boy editor of the Washington News. He had gone to Harvard in short pants and into the newspaper business almost before he was grown up. He possessed a remarkable brain—a sponge that retained everything he had ever heard or read. But the Scripps powers had decided to get him out of the Washington high life for his own salvation. Drink had intensified a claustrophobia that was almost disabling. he had come to Buffalo with his recent bride, Dorothy Higgins, called Bill, a beautiful, vibrant red head. We and the Millers took apartments in the same building in Hamburg, a village near Buffalo, and became inseparable. Lee and I commuted together.

I consider Buffalo, next to Indianapolis, the country’s worst. The Times did what would have been a good job in any other city but not in Buffalo. The big Polish population never took to us and that eventually was fatal to the paper. I went from telegraph editor to political editor and wrote a political column. In the election of 1930 we conducted (more accurately manipulated) a street-corner poll that predicted the election to one percentage point of accuracy. We also elected our candidate for mayor—an “honest” German businessman named Zimmerman and the whole local Democratic ticket. (Zimmerman later landed in jail for misappropriation of city funds.) Running with Franklin Roosevelt, who was trying to be governor, of course helped, but ours was a journalistic triumph none the less. I got my first look at Roosevelt covering part of his campaign and didn’t think much of him. I rather agreed with Walter Lippmann two years later that Roosevelt’s principal qualification for the presidency that that he wanted it.

My column attracted enough attention so that the News, the city’s leading newspaper, offered me a job. But I knew that we didn’t want to stay in Buffalo any longer than necessary. At the Times we did a lot of campaigning on local issues. With the help of a disgruntled contractor, I wrote a piece alleging graft in the construction of a county prison and hospital called The Wendy Home and Infirmary. What had happened was that the specifications had been padded with unnecessary items—more copper edging in the terrazzo flooring and two kinds of lath in the walls, etc. The mathematics got too complicated for me. I lay awake nights over the computations and asked Betty never to let me get into such a hassle again. To make it worse a nutty former inmate of the institution came to the Times office with the object of murdering me. We turned him over to the police who discovered that he was an escapee from a California penitentiary. He was returned to California to finish out a sentence for mutilating a man who displeased him. By now the Great Depression was creating bread lines and disrupting lives. We had two pay cuts but were lucky to have a job.

The second child

The nicest thing about Buffalo—Hamburg rather—was that Gale was born there. She was born on a night so snowy and slippery that we couldn’t get to a hospital. The doctor, who lived nearby, and a nurse arrived in time. I was so pleased to have a girl that I couldn’t keep my eyes dry. She was a funny looking infant with a mop of coarse black hair and only the slightest hint of a nose. But as a little girl she was enchanting with pigtails and tiny bifocal glasses. Several operations later in Washington fixed her squint. By the time Gale arrived Bill was in nursery school, chipper and happy until his mastoids made trouble. One of the nightmare memories is of taking him to a hospital in Buffalo with his ears standing out so far that his head seemed twice its normal size. He was equipped with a little suitcase, which he insisted upon carrying himself, and all set for what he expected to be a happy experience. I had to turn him over to a tough nurse who was impatient with his resistance and wish to this day that I had belted her. He, too, had further operations before his mastoids were cleared up.

Back to Washington

Then one glorious day I got a telephone call from Bob Allen in Washington. Ruth Finney, his wife, a Scripps reporter, had reminded him of me because she liked a piece I had written for the Scripps syndicate about the end of prohibition in Buffalo. David Stern, publisher of the Philadelphia Record, for whom Bob was the Washington correspondent, had purchased the New York Evening Post. Would I like to be the Post’s Washington correspondent? Would I? The next day came a call saying, hold it. Maybe Tommy Stern, Dave’s son, wanted the job. But he didn’t, it developed, and so we were off to Washington. We rented a house in Georgetown at 28th and N Streets. This was 1933 and the New Deal was in full swing. Washington was the most exciting place imaginable. The more so for me because Stern was a dedicated New Dealer but even more advanced than F.D.R. in fiscal and monetary matters. In fact, his editorial policy anticipated Keynes. He wanted the government to go in hock to whatever extent necessary to restore the economy to full prosperity. To conventional economists this was nutty. I had to learn something about the intricacies of government finance.

Presently Lee and Bill Miller also returned to Washington, Lee to work for the Scripps-Howard syndicate, which produced editorials and other material for the Scripps chain. They were offered the house in Alexandria previously lived in and still owned by Bill’s father, who had been president of the Alexandria electric utility company. Lee felt that he couldn’t swing it alone—the mortgage payments and other expenses—so they asked us to move in with them and share the cost. We hired Roger and Lola Deniel to keep house and garden, drive when necessary and otherwise take care of things. We lived the high life. Saturday night parties and chicken breakfasts on Sunday morning were routine. By now prohibition had been fulled rolled back and liquor flowed freely. We drank too much, far too much.

Betty worked part time in the laboratory at the Alexandria hospital. My job with the Post was never very accurately defined. For the most part, I covered whatever major story was breaking and filed in the evening for the next afternoon’s newspaper and tried to update it if there were major developments the day it was printed. I didn’t have to file running stories except on rare occasions. I shared an office with Bob, which made for turmoil. He was so preoccupied with the Merry-go-round column and its constant tussles that he paid me to write his daily piece for The Record. I’ve forgotten how much; I think $30 a week. I did a lot of moonlighting—radio forums, non-radio forums and magazine pieces. I wrote for The Progressive in Wisconsin and The New Leader in New York more or less regularly.

However, The Nation was my best outlet. When I got back to Washington, Paul Y. Anderson of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was The Nation’s regular Washington correspondent. He was an alcoholic. His office being across the hall from ours on the 12th floor of the National Press Building, I made a habit of checking up on him. I often found him too plastered to work. So, on occasion, I wrote his piece for The Nation for him. I was becoming a sort of professional ghost writer. When Anderson committed suicide with sleeping pills I identified his body and inherited his job. For some years I wrote a weekly signed page for The Nation. It paid $25 a week. Later The New Republic offered me $50 a week to write the TRB column, which I did until the Second World War broke out. I parted company with Bruce Bliven, The New Republic editor, in a dispute over U.S. policy in North Africa. He edited one of my pieces to say the opposite of what I intended. I then quit. Dick Strout has written the column ever since.

We liberal-radical journalists had a field day for a while. Most Washington correspondents worked for conservative anti-Roosevelt papers. While personally more liberal than their bosses, they had to toe a fairly conventional line. We who enjoyed the luxury of working for publications we agreed with were a small circle with a sort of monopoly on leftish writing. We became a conspicuously privileged minority, much in demand for radio forum shows and non-radio debates. It was a long time before the big papers, like The New York Times and Washington Post, joined the liberal parade, where they now march. Why I became a convinced political rebel I don’t quite know. It was, I suppose, an evolutionary process. Maybe it was because, having started with a minimum of self-confidence, I subconsciously classified myself as one of the underdogs with whom I sympathized.

Lee was so claustrophobic when he got back to Washington that he had to cram a handkerchief into his mouth to keep from screaming at Roosevelt press conferences. He also had to be a little drunk. Bill’s health went from bad to worse. Her rheumatic heart finally gave out. Shortly after her death we moved to a house on Walnut Street in Alexandria. Betty went to work as a bacteriologist in the laboratory at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. She also held jobs at various times with the D.C. government and the Army.

In 1938–39 I wrote The Pressure Boys [see note 43 in David B. Truman, The Governmental Process, Chapter 3]. It was a best seller on the non-fiction list for several weeks and made a considerable splash. It was a success in all but a financial way—more successful than it deserved to be, I now think. It professed to be a study of the effect of special-interest lobbies on legislation and government policy. Most of the material was in the public domain but it had never been pulled together before. It was necessarily a superficial job. I lacked the time and resources to do more. Whatever money I made on it was used to settle out of court a libel suit brought against me by a Montana congressman named Thorkelson. He was a Danish freighter captain who had jumped ship in Baltimore and attended the Baltimore College of Physicians and Surgeons. This school had been put out of business by the so-called Flexner Report, which classified it as a diploma mill. I had called Thorkelson a “diploma mill doctor.” He was but so were a lot of other practicing doctors. They would have defended Thorkelson to the death in the trial of a libel suit, I was told, so I had no option but to settle.

As a direct consequence of The Pressure Boys, I became president of The American Newspaper Guild and Washington Bureau chief of PM, an experimental non-advertising New York newspaper. The death of Heywood Broun opened up the Guild presidency. Ralph Ingersoll’s initiative and Marshall Field III’s money created PM. Ralph offered me a lot more money than the Post was paying and his prospectus for PM was enticing. That the paper never lived up to the prospectus was unfortunate. Ingersoll, formerly an assistant to Henry Luce at Time, wanted to create a “united front” political journal to speak for the forces of the whole leftist spectrum.


Between PM and The Guild I got a crash course in the left-wing politics. It bore no resemblance to the politics I knew anything about. We of the Washington press, I soon found, were babes in the wood when it came to dealing with disciplined Communists. That the Guild had been run by a Communist cell with Broun’s knowledge and consent became obvious at once. It had been Broun’s idea that the comrades were zealots who would work harder than anybody else and that their energy could be utilized to the union’s advantage. But the Communists didn’t have the same objectives as the rest of us. We thought of the Guild as a union devoted to improvement of the wages and working conditions of newspaper employees. They thought of it as a political tool to be used for the promotion of causes beneficial to mother Russia. They didn’t give a damn about wage and hour contracts. They were interested in supporting such things as the loyalist cause in the Spanish civil war. I would have been lost without the advice of Jack Herling, who had been Norman Thomas’s secretary and therefore wise to the ways of the lefties of various stripes. Nobody hated Communists more than the Socialists. Jack understood that the Communists would lie, cheat and blackmail to get their way and he knew how to counter them.

The original PM staff was about half Communist and half liberal. Whether Ralph Ingersoll deliberately set out to get this mix or whether he was jobbed by his party friends I have never known. In any case, the two factions mixed like oil and water. In Washington we had a good staff of liberals except for one party woman, who didn’t last very long. We conducted constant guerrilla warfare with the New York office, which was Communist-dominated. Jimmie Wechsler, who had been a member of the Young Communist League while at Columbia, had been cured of devotion to mother Russia by a trip there. He was our best strategist. When New York mutilated our copy we quit filing—in effect went on strike. The paper was so dependent on what we produced that this usually got results. We produced a lot of exclusives. A campaign against a newspaper published by Father Coughlin, a radio priest who fought the New Deal, finally got his publication barred from the mails. One day I received in an unmarked envelope a text of a Coughlin speech along with the text of a speech by Goebels, the Nazi propagandist. Through several paragraphs the two speeches were word-for-word identical. I learned later that the package had been sent to me by Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. The Communists were, of course, supporting Russia against Hitler, as indeed we all were. But then, when the Nazi-Soviet pact brought the Germans and Russians into alliance, the U.S. party line conformed. It was too much for some of the less dedicated and they dropped off the locomotive of history. A surprising number of the faithful, however, remained faithful. When later the Nazis turned on Stalin, the American Communists became more patriotic than the American Legion. Open a second front at once, they shouted, to take the pressure off the Soviets. That at a time when we had almost nothing to fight with.

To depart for a moment from the continuity of this story, let me pause to observe that Joe McCarthy was the best thing that ever happened to conspiratorial Communism. He was so careless a character assassin, so obviously using anti-Communism for self-promotion that he fuzzed the pre-war and war record of the Communist Party, U.S.A., probably for all time. Anybody denounced by McCarthy is now ipso facto a martyr. Some were. Some weren’t. At last in a just-published book the record has been straightened out in one case—that of Alger Hiss. Through certain friends who had knowledge of the Communist cell in the Agriculture Department, I had known about Hiss while he was still an official in good standing the the State Department. His trial proved him guilty of perjury beyond reasonable doubt. Yet many an innocent still believes him a victim of gross injustice. Many another treasonous wartime lefty escaped all blame.


To get back to the story, I was beaten for re-election as Guild president at the national convention in Memphis in 1940. It was a relief. I also jumped at the chance to escape the Washington bureau of PM at least temporarily to take an assignment in North Africa shortly after our troops landed there. I had somehow always felt cheated about missing the First World War. I had been 17 when it ended. But I had belonged to the Home Guard, which was organized to take the place of the National Guard when the National Guard was pressed into combat duty. In Jefferson we raised a company. My father was its first lieutenant. We drilled evenings for a time and twice went to training sessions at Camp Douglas, a National Guard installation. This war against Hitler I was ambitious to see first hand.

Ingersoll probably was glad to get rid of me for a while. He himself was eventually drafted. At first I was denied a passport by Mrs. Shipley, who probably thought me a card-carrying Communist. If so, she was not alone. In any case, Secretary of Navy Forrestal, a New Yorker with intimate knowledge of the PM factions, got me cleared with the passport division and secured passage for me on the old First World War battleship, New York. My brief from PM was to report on the politics of the North African invasion.

The situation was highly controversial. To what extent should we collaborate with the French colonial forces established in North Africa to get ashore and organize the beachhead? We needed their help. Yet they were aligned with Vichy, which collaborated with the Nazis occupying France. What to do? The allies managed to arrange the escape of French General Giraud from a German internment camp and brought him to Algiers with the idea of placing him in command of the French colonials. He was a First World War hero with no taint of collaboration. But the French generals and admirals would have nothing to do with him. So the command went to Admiral Darlan, a Vichyite. Presently he was assassinated. But by now most of the colonial military had accepted the American invaders and things were going fairly smoothly. Robert Murphy, with a team of diplomatic personnel, had gone to North Africa ahead of the invasion and prepared the ground well. He was making things run for General Eisenhower.

But the liberals back home, including PM, were jumping up and down decrying the “Darlan Deal.” Up to now I had agreed with the liberals in international affairs—isolationist after the First World War, interventionist through the Great Debate that preceded Pearl Harbor. Now it seemed to me that the success of the North African invasion and its small cost justified the policy Murphy, Ike and Roosevelt had instituted. Why not DeGaulle? the liberals asked. He had taken refuge in England and was available for the command. The answer was that he was poison to the French colonials and to American commanders in the field. They had found DeGaulle indifferent to the primary business of winning the war. He was content to let the Americans and British do that. His objective was exclusively political—to take command of France when the war was won. He was willing to join forces with the French Communists, who had done all they could to sabotage the French war effort until Germany attacked Russia, to further his ambition.

All this I tried to get into my dispatches to PM. As a result, I was regarded as a traitor to liberalism and my stuff was garbled in the paper and answered in editorials. However, I didn’t know that until I got home. Copies of PM never made it to North Africa. When I at last saw them I quit PM and The New Republic. The New Republic had doctored one of my pieces to say the opposite of what I intended.

My two-month stay in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, apart from the politics, was fun and educational. Our convoy put in at Casablanca and I proceeded at once to Marrakesh along with Demaree Bess, an old-time writer for The Saturday Evening Post, who had been my shipmate on the New York. It turned out that he had liked the TRB column and wondered who wrote it. Speaking fluent French, he got me into places and to people I couldn’t have seen on my own. Moreover, he insisted that when I got back home I should write pieces for The Post, which paid in high numbers and was no more exacting than the publications I had been working for. I did, eventually, to the benefit of the Crawford family finances.

In Marrakesh I was placed under house arrest by the Army Counter Intelligence Corps, whose officers said I lacked a certain document required of correspondents. I was put up in the best hotel and left free to wander the market place, full of story-tellers, fakirs, and camel caravans out of the desert. Eventually I contrived to get into telephonic communication with Col. Joe Phillips, a former Newsweek editor, who was now Ike’s publicity director in Algiers. He satisfied the CIC that I was all right, so I flew on to Algiers, where the U.S. Army was headquartered. I interviewed all the important people involved in the political maneuvers and travelled to the fronts. Also into the desert to a French prison camp at an oasis called Colob Bechar Colomb-Béchar, stopping enroute to look at French Foreign Legion headquarters at Sidi Bel Abes.

It was possible to go almost anywhere in North Africa by thumbing rides on military planes. It was a hair-raising mode of travel but it got me around. There were no navigation aids beyond wind socks at the time. Once I was on a plane lost in a storm over the Atlas Mountains. The co-pilot, who looked about 18, staggered back from the cockpit of the DC-3 and handed me an Esso road map. “The pilot would like to know where you think we are,” said the co-pilot. “Why me?” I asked. “You’re an older man,” he explained. On another flight we broke out of the clouds over Oran and saw the guns of warships in the harbor following us. Our pilot, it developed, had been slow to break out his identification signal. On that trip we were forced down at Fez, an ancient walled city right out of biblical times. I spent two days there at a picturesque hotel built into the city wall before going on to Casablanca to start the voyage home.

For the west-bound crossing I was put aboard a destroyer, again in convoy. It was a rough trip. The destroyer’s job was to herd the slower ships like a sheep dog tending his flock. It pitched on one tack, rolled on another and corkscrewed in between. The captain gave me his bunk and showed me how to tie myself in with blankets. Fortunately, I have always had good immunity from seasickness. The captain of this destroyer was in his 20’s and members of the crew, except for a couple chief petty officers, were kids. They had pillow fights at night and a happy hour in the afternoon. But the ship was efficient. We had only one submarine scare and it turned out to be a false alarm. The second day home I told PM by telegram what to do with its job. For the first time since college, I was unemployed. And with my reputation as a radical I was not very employable. To keep the pot boiling I contracted to write a book for Farrar % Rinehart, to be the called Report on North Africa. We went to Bear Trap Farm to do the writing. I had kept a diary in North Africa and that, plus some books on the background of the area, supplied the material. Most of the book was dictated to Betty. It didn’t sell. By the time it came out, the war had moved on to Italy. But the advance had been substantial.

Back in Washington, I was offered a job as a war correspondent by Newsweek through the good offices of Ernest K. Lindley, the Washington Bureau manager. My first assignment was to cover the summit meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt in Quebec. There wasn’t much news in it but I discovered how pleasant it was to write once a week rather than daily. I had one advantage: I had known Bill Donovan, the U.S. spy master, when he ran against Roosevelt for governor of New York. I could talk with him in Quebec, getting some idea of what was going on. Moreover he offered to take me back to Europe in his plane if he could arrange it. It turned out that he couldn’t. Anyway, it was a nice thought. I went back to New York to await assignment to a convoy.

Meanwhile we had found out that our Walnut Street house was to be sold and we’d have to vacate. Betty and the children would go to Harbor Beach to wait out the war. The Walnut Street house was nothing fancy but we had good times there. Badminton behind the house in the summer. The Dodd campaign against our neighbor, Congressman Howard Smith. The electric trains at Christmas time. And the Walnut Street Journal, printed on a Christmas toy press. Bill’s expeditions with the Boy Scouts, clanking out of the house festooned in canteens, knapsack and other accoutrements for camping. Gale’s devotion to dancing classes and to Sunday School and Bill’s comment that church was all a lot of advertising. The cowboy shows on radio with Bill riding an imaginary horse as he listened. Gale’s determination to master her two-wheel bike if it killed her, which I thought it might. She was indomitable.

I was loaded aboard a liberty ship which had been disabled in Algiers Harbor by a torpedo hit. Two days out it was discovered that this ship wasn’t capable of keeping up with an 8-knot convoy. It took us more than a month to steam into port at Greenock in the Firth of Clyde. As I debarked loaded down with gear on a wharf where pipers were welcoming us ashore, my name was called by a woman presiding over a tea and coffee cart. She said she guessed my name because “all Crawford men look alike.” Greenock, or thereabouts, is probably where Harlan Crawford, my grandfather, came from. Nobody in the Bell family knew anything about his background. He first turned up at the Bell farm driving a carriage hired in Burlington to transport party guests and eventually made off with Sarah, to the family’s distress. He and his bride went to Iowa, where my father was born.

I spent the night in Glasgow and the next day took a train to London along with a Red Cross team and some Office of War Information types, for whom accommodations had been arranged. It was evening when we got to London. I took a taxi to the Savoy, which was about the only hotel name I knew. I was at the check-in desk being told that nothing was available when Bob Casey of The Chicago Daily News tapped me on the shoulder. He had a double room and I was welcome to share it. Casey was a celebrated correspondent who had often put in time in London and knew a lot of people. He was just back and already had invited a few pals to his room for a reunion. I didn’t get much sleep that night. The next day I checked in with the Newsweek Bureau, which had already rented an apartment in Wilton Crescent for coming and going Newsweek personnel. That was fortunate because the next day Casey and I were declared persona non grata by the Savoy management.


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