The Newsroom At 55 Park Place – Chapter 3 – Local Journalism

The Newsroom At 55 Park Place

By Don Storch

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Books By Don Storch

The Newsroom At 55 Park Place
Snakes in the Swamp
If a Passive-Progressive Leads from behind he is a Double Oxymoron

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Dedication

            This book is dedicated to my Mom and Dad, mentors of an only child, with daily memories of loving gratefulness, Viola Pauline (Helmstatt) Storch (1910 – 1969) and George John Storch (1903-1969)

                                                                       And To:

Norman B. Tomlinson Jr

(1927-2017)

 Chapter 3 

Local Journalism

            Local journalism can be boring, covering borough council meetings, township committees, board of education, zoning board of adjustments and planning boards.  Out of all these meetings news most often comes out of the zoning board of adjustments.

            Most residents of these suburban communities have little concept about the form of government under which they live.

            But this is the grass roots of good and bad government and it is where corruption begins to reach the Swamp of DC.  But few residents pay much attention to it.

            I have had my share of mundane stories, but I would like to bring to you some of the highlights of my journalism career and reflect upon this period of time as compared to journalism in the twenty first century.

            I covered six communities in Morris County with stories ranging from the mundane, which I have just described, to murders, fatal car, plane and train crashes, charges of un-Americanism, plans for a third jetport in the New York metropolitan area and the presidential election of John F. Kennedy.

            The culture of journalism in the newsroom of the Morristown Daily Record was out of the century before the twentieth.

            Beating the State’s newspaper of the time, the Newark Evening News within our confines was primary, and if you could accomplish that outside of our area of coverage you could be a hero.

            Eleven AM was heartburn hour in our newsroom, that was when the Newark News arrived on Norman’s desk as he scoured the paper for reporters’ missed stories, even corporate releases that weren’t sent to us.

            It was a pleasure at times to go to lunch with News Editor Herb Thorpe knowing that you weren’t scooped for the day.

            But the day finally came along that took me away from the journalism of the mundane and projected my story into national prominence.

            As I was preparing to go out on a date in June of 1958 I received a call from the news desk that something was going on at Hanover Park Regional, but the information wasn’t any more specific, other than it was taking place on my beat.

            I cancelled the date and headed for Whippany.  Hanover Park Regional High School, especially for the time, was a modern college campus like atmosphere.  At the time Reader’s Digest did a feature on the school with the headline ‘What Happened to the Little Red School House?’

            It was dusk by the time I arrived at the school and I went directly to the administration building and looked for an open door.  I finally found one, the hallways were dark, but I noticed a light shining from a conference room in the distance.  It was then that I literally bumped into another person and it was Lee Crowell of the Newark Evening News and he said, “What are you doing here?”  I said, “I guess the same thing you are.”  But neither of us knew why.

            We proceeded to where the light was coming from, peered into the conference room with Leslie V. Rear, Superintendent of Schools, sitting at the head of the table surrounded by a cadre of Legionnaires.

            Neither one of us had a photographer with us.  It would have made a dramatic picture through the window of the door most wearing VFW or Legion hats.

            Rear saw us peeking through the window.  He briefly recessed the meeting and came out to talk to us.  He said the meeting was nearly over and that afterward he would come out and give us a briefing.

            He later explained that Miss LeMoyne Goodman, an American literature teacher and faculty advisor to the school newspaper, The Triad, was being accused of un-Americanism because she selected three essays to be published in the paper critical of the United States for dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima during World War II.

            The students came to these conclusions after reading John Hersey’s book ‘Hiroshima.’

            They said in their conclusions in the school newspaper, “I feel ashamed to call myself an American when I think this country of mine could purposely do such damage to such a humble people as the Japanese.”

            The next essay said, in part, “Hiroshima has awakened me and shaken the American propaganda dust from my eyes I now see clearly.”

            The third essay said, “Could there have been any other way, and what have we started?”

            Remember this was still the McCarthy era where he was unearthing ‘commies’ from the streets of Hollywood to Broadway.

            I drove back with my information to the newsroom with my head spinning, wishing there was someone in the newsroom that I could bounce my facts off of before I wrote my story.

            I knew it would be the lead story the next day, un-Americanism was big news – who am I to deliver that story I thought?

            When I arrived Jack Sands was just leaving, it was 1 AM.  “I said Jack I have a story I must bounce off of you that concerns me, it deals with un-Americanism charges of a school teacher at Hanover Park Regional High School. 

            We discussed the facts and how it could be presented without interpretations of bias from either side, it was a serious issue at the time and I believe it was to be a lead story the next day that hopefully was unbiased with my byline, one of which that I am still proud of this day.

            The story had legs, as they say, and was reported around the world.

            The left-wing media of the times, which the New York Post was, reported it with a headline that said, “The Teacher Who Wanted Her Students to Think.”

            No, Ms. Goodman said to me, who was 26 when all of this occurred, “I used bad judgment in the selection in selecting the essays.”    

            From the outset there were 12 days of investigation by the Board of Education with tons of media coverage while Ms. Goodman went into seclusion in Pennsylvania, which we uncovered.

            When all was said and done, Ms. Goodman resigned from her position, her resignation was not accepted by the Board and she was cleared of all charges of un-Americanism.

            Nevertheless, this is in part the story I wrote at the time:

            The Headline on June of 1958:

            Essay Teacher Quits; Board Won’t Take It

            By Don Storch

            Hanover, June 12, 1958 — “You know what the people around town would say, they still have that commie teacher in Hanover Park” . . .

            Ms. LeMonye Goodman declared here yesterday at a press conference following a faculty meeting at the Regional High School.

            But, “the people around town” will never get the opportunity to make such a statement. The 26-year-old school teacher has handed in her resignation, although the board last night voted 4-3 not to accept it.

            And if many the many irate citizens have their way, Ms. Goodman will never hold another teaching position . . .

            But this proved to not be true.

To Be Continued . . . 

 

           

 

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