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Barry Bingham

Barry Bingham: A Man of His Word

Samuel W. Thomas Editor
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Barry Bingham
    Book Description:

    Barry Bingham, Sr., was one of this country's most influential journalists. Under his half-century of leadership, the LouisvilleCourier-Journalbecame one of America's leading newspapers, as attested by six Pulitzer Prizes. In this illuminating oral history, Samuel Thomas weaves together excerpts from more than a dozen interviews with Bingham, along with selections from his writings and comments by his wife, Mary Caperton Bingham.

    Barry Bingham's influence was voiced principally through newspaper journalism, but, besides owning theCourier-Journaland its evening companion, theLouisville Times, the family enterprises included WHAS radio and television and Standard Gravure Corporation, which also produced Sunday supplements for dozens of newspapers. Bingham's enterprises laid on the doorsteps of Kentuckians, and brought to them over the airwaves, insightful reporting and examination of state and local matters as well as in-depth coverage of national and world events.

    Bingham espoused many causes, including mental health, military preparedness, press freedom, and liberal politics. He championed civil rights, the performing arts, better education, historic preservation, and land conservation.

    By training and predilection, Bingham was first and foremost a writer, but he was equally articulate as a conversationalist and public speaker. His recorded interviews, excerpted here, are clear and concise, expressive and informative. From these selections emerges a portrait of a man of extraordinary vision who used his wealth and power for the good of his community, his state, and his nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5878-5
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. General Editors’ Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Samuel W. Thomas
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    At a glittering occasion marking the reopening of the Brown Hotel in January 1985, Barry Bingham made a few remarks. He recalled some words his father, Robert Worth Bingham, had spoken when the hotel first opened sixty-two years before. “When my father was speaking at the earlier occasion, he said: ‘Success is never an accident. It is a result of courage, character, judgment, and hard work.’ I add one more word to what he said: it’s also a result of vision.” Perhaps vision, or long-term direction, is also what most clearly delineated the son from his father.

    Barry Bingham was...

  6. Chapter 1 Childhood
    (pp. 20-31)

    I was born right here in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 10, 1906. It was early on one frosty morning, a very inconvenient time, I expect, for a baby to be born, and I was, I think, a little bit earlier than expected, which meant a lot of rush. Arrangements had to be made at my grandmother’s house, where I was born. In those days, most ladies had their babies at home, instead of going to the hospital. So I was born in my grandmother’s house, and I think they had to make some pretty fast preparations, and I’m afraid I’ve...

  7. Chapter 2 Education
    (pp. 32-51)

    I started school at what they called the Patterson-Davenport School out on Douglass Boulevard.¹ My good friend John Davenport’s father was the headmaster there. I went to the first and second grade there.

    Then after that I went to what was called the Richmond School on Third Street. This was run by a man called James H. Richmond, who was a fine educator.² It was a small private school, coeducational, and I was there for quite a number of years. I enjoyed that very much. The old house was the Farnsley house to begin with and was taken over by...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. Chapter 3 The Family Business
    (pp. 52-69)

    My first contact with the papers was even before my father became owner ofThe Courier-JournalandTimes.When I was about ten years old I got active in a children’s organization called the Aloha Club, which had a special section inThe Courier-Journalevery Sunday. I liked to write in those days, and I liked to do both prose and poetry, and I was very much interested in getting some of my things included in the Aloha Club section. Also, they used to have weekly meetings. The Aloha Club was run by a really remarkable lady, Miss Anna Hopper,...

  10. Chapter 4 Transition
    (pp. 70-80)

    My father had talked to me very fully about whether or not he should accept President Roosevelt’s appointment to the Court of St. James’s.¹ He realized that he was throwing me into the water—pretty deep water—pretty suddenly. I had not had very much experience at that time, as you can realize, and my experience had been pretty specialized. I realized perfectly well in talking to him that he felt he wanted to take that job. He was well qualified for it, goodness knows. He had been in Great Britain a great deal, had friends there. He also had...

  11. Chapter 5 Taking Charge
    (pp. 81-102)

    The 1937 flood—it took a disaster, really, to give us the biggest boost we ever got, I suppose, in national publicity. It happened to be the only time when I came back to play, at all, an active part in WHAS.

    I was on the air quite a lot during those days, which I had never done before. They were terribly short on personnel. You see, we were trying to stay on the air twenty-four hours a day. We were the only outlet, really, for Louisville, at the time when the whole downtown area was completely flooded, and all...

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. Chapter 6 World War II
    (pp. 103-134)

    Well, you’re taking me back a long time, but to an era that was pretty important in my life, I think, going back to 1941. I had felt for quite a while that America was going to get into World War II, and I had felt also that America ought to get into World War II, as I began to learn more and more about what had been happening in Europe.¹ We began to get these disclosures about what the Germans were doing—what the Nazis were doing—and the stories of the concentration camps and things of that kind...

  14. Chapter 7 Chief of Mission
    (pp. 135-141)

    By 1949 another opportunity arose that I really thought I should take advantage of. The Marshall Plan by that time had gotten started. It had been announced, as you may remember, at a Harvard commencement exercise. I wasn’t there, but I had read about that and wasfascinatedwith the purpose and efficient organization of the Marshall Plan, and I wantedvery muchto be a part of it. I thought this, next to the war itself, was the most dramatic and interesting thing that the United States would be involved in during my lifetime. And indeed, it did prove...

  15. Chapter 8 With Adlai Stevenson
    (pp. 142-154)

    I first got to know [Adlai Stevenson] in Washington at a time when I was on duty as a reserve naval officer and he was in the navy department at that time.¹ I was there in late ’41 and early ’42, having gone in the navy in the spring of ’41. I was first stationed at Great Lakes and then transferred to Washington. While I was there I ran into Adlai, and we began a sort of personal friendship, which continued then for the rest of his life, I’m glad to say. Our families were friends. I had sons very...

  16. Chapter 9 Reflection
    (pp. 155-200)

    It was four decades ago that I first began working on the Louisville newspapers. That is a long time in anybody’s book. Tonight I want to share with you a few of the thoughts that rise to the top of my mind as I reflect on the experiences of those many years.

    We thought we had troubled times back in early 1930, when my newspapering began. Those of us who were fresh out of college found ourselves in a world that seemed suddenly to have lost all its certainties. The stock market crash had carried down with it the spirit...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 201-228)
  18. Index
    (pp. 229-236)