JOURNALIST JOSEPH HOWARD JR. -- FAMOUS FOR A GRAND HOAX DURING THE CIVIL WAR -- DIES AT 75:
How utterly appropriate that the obituary for Joseph Howard surfaces on APRIL FOOL'S DAY. The veteran journalist was known as the brains behind the so-called Gold Hoax
of 1864. Somehow he survived that and went on to a remarkable career as a journalist. He covered, for example, the Lizzie Borden trial for the Boston Globe
, which published his obituary and photograph today on Page 3 (above)
Howard was also the one who was loose with the facts in his reporting of the trip that President-elect Abraham Lincoln made to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration in 1861. Howard, who was first with the story for the New York Times that Lincoln was secretly conveyed to the capital to ensure his safety from assassination, added some details that became "history." He wrote that Lincoln's disguise included a military cloak and a Scottish cap.
The Globe obituary includes quite a few humorous tales of Howard's life. At one point, as the story goes, Howard got into a fist fight with Joseph Pulitzer
, owner of the New York World. Evidently, or so the story goes,"neither was injured because, both having lost their spectacles in the melee, neither could see the other."
Nothing like the sight of a couple of near-sighted journalists slugging it out!
The tale of how Howard came to become a reporter for the Times is equally interesting. As the story goes,Young Howard, who had been in California without finding there a congenial business opening for a start on a career, was in Lynn, Mass., visiting relatives in February 1860 when a great strike of the shoe workers (right) took place there.
Joe, then 27 years old, had never written a line for a newspaper in his life, even if he had ever dreamed of doing so. But having nothing on his hands at the time, and doubtless not being over-burdened with funds, while watching the comings and goings of newspaper men employed in observing the strike, he became fired with the ambition to enter the lists with them.
He read upon the hotel register a list of the names of visiting newspaper men from New York. Mr. So-and-so, New York Herald; Mr. So-and-so, New York Sun etc., and he noticed that one of the leading New York papers was apparently not represented, namely the New York Times. So he boldly wrote on the register, "Joe Howard Jr. New York Times."
He then hung out with the other reporters, who happened to be pretty morose because the strikers weren't talking with them.
Howard then arose and walked to the locked doors behind which the strike leaders were gathered. He knocked on the door; someone opened it; he walked right in and interrupted the speaker with an "Excuse me, please." He then said he was a special emissary from the Times and said he had been sent to Lynn to present their side of the dispute. As today's Globe summarizes it, "He exalted the rights of labor, the power of the press and the duty of American citizens in general." Also, he "threw in a few good stories" and soon had control of the meeting. He then listened to the strikers. After the meeting, he wrote up a report, signed it "Howard" and sent it to the Times. At the Times, nobody knew who Howard was. Some suspected the paper's founder and owner, Henry J. Raymond
, had hired him without telling the editors. Besides that, the story was "good stuff." The story was printed. Raymond read it and liked it. He asked the editors who "Howard" was. Nobody knew. They tracked down the writer and Howard "was at once offered a place on the staff of the Times" (or so the story goes).LOOKING FOR CULPRITS WHO STOLE HIS ICE CREAM, MAN TIES CAMERAS TO A KITE AND SENDS IT ALOFT:
William A. Eddy, who is assistant city collector of Bayonne, N.J., who's known as a "sky camera expert," went to great lengths yesterday to discover who stole several quarts of ice cream from the rear porch of his house. He attached THREE CAMERAS to a LARGE KITE and sent it several hundred feet into the air. By pulling on strings, he could open and close the shutter of the cameras.
He brought the kite down quickly and "hastily" developed the pictures. He found an image of "two men seated beneath a tree a few hundered yards from the Eddy home and eating the stolen cream, but alas! the features are too small to furnish a clue to the thieves."
Eddy rushed to the site, but the men were gone. All was not lost: "He recovered the empty ice cream boxes, however."
Unless, of course, this happened to be an April Fool's Day tale.
Eddy suspects the culprits were boys who weren't invited to his daughter's party.TWO YEARS AGO TODAY:
The first item for this blog was two years ago, for the news of April 1, 1906
Labels: crime, hoaxes, journalism