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The Wall Street Journal and me

 

The Wall Street Journal, published in New York City, is among our largest and most influential newspapers. With a circulation of 2.4 million subscribers, it is the largest newspaper in the United States. Originally, this was a small trade publication. Under the direction of editors personally known to me and my family, it developed into the influential publication it is today.

my father’s career

My father (William Howard Taft McGaughey, Sr.) was editor of the student newspaper at Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Upon graduation in 1935, he joined the Wall Street Journal as a reporter. An editor at that time was another Depauw graduate, Bernard (“Barney”) Kilgore. When my father received his diploma, Kilgore and some of the other staffers held a mock graduation ceremony for him in the newspaper offices.

Kilgore became the top editor in 1941 and served in that capacity until his death in 1967. The newspaper’s circulation increased from 33,000 to 1.1 million during that time.

I think my father stayed at the Wall Street Journal for three years. He was listed as a banking editor. Then he went to Western Electric to work in a public-relations capacity. That environment did not suit him so he took a public-relations job with the Automobile Manufacturers Association in Detroit. He and my mother married in New York in November 1939, shortly before that move.

After working for more than a decade at the Automobile Manufacturers Association, my father followed his previous boss, George Romney, to Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, which became American Motors (the fourth largest automobile company in the United States). He became vice president in charge of communications in 1956. In later years, he served as senior vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

the Wall Street Journal enclave at Twin Lakes in Pennsylvania

The Durham family - my mother was born and raised Joan Durham - had property both in Milford, Pennsylvania, and at Twin Lakes, which was eight miles to the northwest. To get there, one drove from Milford northwest on route 6 for six miles and then turned onto a smaller road to the right that went to Twin Lakes. The “big lake”, marked by a sign to Camp Sagamore, appeared after a mile. Then, after another mile, one turned left onto a smaller road marked by an overhead sign which was labeled “between the lakes”.

My mother’s sister, Margaret or “Aunt Gret”, lived in a log cabin down the hill from the entrance and off to the right adjacent to “Little Lake”. There were two smaller buildings on that site. My mother, brothers, and sister used to stay in Pennsylvania every summer while my father remained at work in Detroit. Each afternoon we would go swimming. The Durham property had a dock and a float on Little Lake.

Wall Street Journal editors also had property on the road between the lakes. Barney Kilgore and his wife, Mary Lou, owned a summer home on Little Lake another several hundred yards farther down the road. The house next to it was own by Ted Callas, the Wall Street Journal’s advertising manager. The paper’s executive vice president, Buren McCormack, used to spend time at Twin Lakes during the summer, renting a place from my aunt.

As a boy, I would see Kilgore and members of his family at Twin Lakes from time to time. They had a daughter, Katherine, and a younger son, Jimmy. I remember once kicking an inflated rubber ball back and forth with Bernard Kilgore himself on the driveway down to the dock next to my aunt’s place.

The Kilgores lived in Princeton, New Jersey. They owned the Princeton Packet newspaper. Mary Lou remarried after Barney’s death. Katherine, a writer, later married the leftist newspaper columnist, Alexander Cockburn. That childless marriage ended in divorce. Jimmy has managed the Princeton Packet.

my summer job at the Wall Street Journal in 1960

I had just finished my sophomore year at Yale in the summer of 1960. My mother arranged for my brother, Andy, and me to take summer jobs in New York City. Andy worked at a brokerage firm, E.F. Hutton, and I worked at the Wall Street Journal as a copyboy. The address might have been 44 Broad Street.

The job was not too demanding. We copyboys sat on a bench behind a wall at the entrance of the main newspaper office on the third floor of the building on Broad Street which was several doors down from the New York stock exchange. Mr. Horstman was our boss.

Warren Phillips was then the newspaper’s managing editor. He interviewed me for the copyboy job. Sam Lesch, a former newspaper colleague of my mother who came to the Wall Street Journal through her recommendation, ran the office. The reporters all had desks in that large office and in other places on the third floor.

Barney Kilgore and other other top editors had offices several floors up. I saw Kilgore only once as he stood by the third-floor elevator. He did a double take upon seeing me and then walked over to shake my hand. I did not run into Kilgore again and also did not see any of the other editors who had stayed at Twin Lakes.

I worked at the Wall Street Journal for several months. Mainly my job consisted of picking up papers at various places and delivering them to an editor or reporter. In the process, I learned the names of the various staff writers and where their desks were located.

My brother Andy and I visited various people in New York whom my father knew, including the head of NBC (National Broadcasting Company). He had headed ABC when it successfully pitched the Disneyland show to American Motors. Then I stayed on in New York for several weeks after Andy returned to Detroit. It was then that I became acquainted with Gail Worthman, niece of my landlady in the Bronx. We have stayed in touch for much of our respective lives.

With respect to the Wall Street Journal, I have had no direct contact with this newspaper or any of its editors or writers since moving to Minnesota in January 1965. Even though I have not myself been a subscriber, I have had ample opportunity to read this excellent newspaper through subscriptions of various employers or in libraries.

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