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In his new memoir, “Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom” (Henry Holt & Co.), investigative journalist Carl Bernstein recounts his early days as a younger reporter, and the “glorious chaos” he found in a Washington newsroom.

Read an excerpt from “Chasing History” beneath, and do not miss correspondent David Martin’s interview with Carl Bernstein on “CBS Sunday Morning” January 9!

Henry Holt and Co.

My turning into a copyboy was actually my father’s doing. He rightly feared for my future—a priority that was based mostly on exhausting information, most of them having to do with the pool corridor, my faculty report playing cards, and the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. It was the opinion of consultants in any respect three establishments that the chances had been in opposition to my ever amounting to a lot. Selling shoddy merchandise on layaway to poor folks from Swampoodle was another excuse my father wished to steer me towards extra respectable work.

There had been no father-and-son dialogue about my difficulties, except you counted the time he advised me how he had struggled and saved to get by way of school throughout the Depression. My father’s eyes had stuffed with tears as he advised the story. It was the one time I ever noticed that occur at house, although it was not unusual for his eyes to glisten when he marched on a picket line. My father was, till lately, the principal organizer of the United Federal Workers/United Public Workers of America and was considered a saint by the folks to whom he devoted his life. These weren’t the circles favored by the Washington Evening Star, the city’s “conservative” newspaper.

But my father’s choice for the Star—over the much more liberal Washington Post—went deep. In an organization city wherein the federal authorities was the corporate, being the federal government columnist was a place of significance, and the Star‘s Joseph Young had lined a strike by my father’s union with equity and faithfulness to the information. Whereas the Post‘s Jerry Klutz (his precise title) had been extra intent on uncovering if the union’s leaders included members of the American Communist Party and, by inference, what position Moscow had performed in figuring out whether or not U.S. authorities cafeteria employees ought to get their pay raised to a greenback an hour.

My father turned a supply for Joe Young. And it was Joe Young who stated a phrase to Rudy Kauffmann and acquired me a job interview on the Star.

Rudolph Max Kauffmann II was the grandson of the primary president of the Evening Star and cousin of the present one. Though his title was manufacturing editor, he was typically known as the Clown Prince, which, afterward, I got here to suppose was unfair and greater than a little bit merciless. As a youth, he had wished to grow to be a geologist, however after 4 years of Princeton his father had put an finish to that dream and ordered him to affix the household enterprise. Rudy complied, however his profession on the paper was not a wonderful one. Basically, he employed the copyboys and, from a good distance, was chargeable for their supervision. His portfolio included the Star‘s beneficiant civic and charitable packages that served the town’s youngsters and the poor.

“That’s quite a suit you got yourself, boy.”

Rudy Kauffmann wore half spectacles, and he appeared down his nostril to see me. He had a pleasant face.

I assumed I used to be fairly properly turned out, in my cream-colored go well with and the pickle-colored tie Louie had chosen for me. But Rudy Kauffmann appeared to have his doubts.

“Boy, I thought your dad told Joe Young you were almost finished high school?”

“Sir, I’ll be in twelfth grade this coming year,” I replied. I advised him that I’d turned sixteen in February, however he nonetheless appeared skeptical.

Before taking the elevator to his workplace on the third ground, I’d lingered within the foyer and studied a mural testifying to the Star‘s lengthy witness to historical past. There had been front- web page headlines—lincoln assassinated, senators win pennant, united nations born, give up: japs stripped of conquests— and footage of General MacArthur and Charles Lindbergh and presidents, kings, and queens posing with members of the three households who had owned and run the paper nearly since its founding in 1852: the Noyeses, the Adamses, and the Kauffmanns. In among the pictures, the house owners had been standing subsequent to the presses and had been sporting humorous little hats made out of folded newspaper pages. On an workplace listing posted within the foyer, the names of the households had been all blended up with each other by the point of Rudy Kauffmann’s era; there have been Noyeses and Kauffmanns listed in nearly each division, together with some executives with each names.

To meet up with the second half of the 20 th century and get the paper out to the suburbs quicker, the Star had moved from downtown to its brand- new constructing at 225 Virginia Avenue on the sting of Capitol Hill, a state-of-the-art information manufacturing facility, all cinder block and concrete besides for 2 flooring of image home windows within the entrance.

“I thought Joe Young said you were in high school,” Rudy Kauffmann stated once more.

The instant drawback, I gathered, was that I used to be too quick to be a copyboy. Or too younger, or too young-looking. Not solely was I 5 foot three (and nonetheless rising), I used to be freckled from head to toe. One summer time I’d smeared an entire bar of butter over my face as a result of the person who pumped fuel on the Tenleytown Amoco station advised me—whereas I crammed up my bicycle tires—that the butter would make my freckles go away.

The bookcase behind Rudy Kauffmann contained what appeared like a century’s value of leather-bound volumes of the Proceedings of the Geological Society of America, and the highest of his desk was lined with crystals and different geological specimens. Some had been lower open down the center like cantaloupes, and as he spoke, he ran his fingers alongside the veins the place it appeared just like the fruit had been scooped out.

“When you’re ready to graduate, come back and we’ll see if there isn’t a part- time job for you here,” he stated.

This was a disappointment. I had been assured by Louie that the go well with would make me look older. I had additionally calculated the chances of my graduating from highschool, which didn’t appear good. Even if I used to be on my finest habits, and assuming I took up learning, commencement was nearly a 12 months off. And that presumed I may go chemistry.

Abruptly, Rudy Kauffmann put down the cantaloupe and began to stand up; I turned conscious of a wizened man who had entered the room, advancing with the help of a strolling stick. His gnarled left hand gripped the knob—an ivory animal, a bobcat, it appeared like. The man was bent like a parenthesis, with a bald head that shined just like the rock that was cut up open on Rudy Kauffmann’s desk, onto which the traditional fellow now tossed a sheaf of papers.

“Guest list and program—for the Press Club event,” he stated.

Rudy Kauffmann appeared confused.

“What am I supposed to do with them?”

“Read them! Your cousin Sam told me you should look them over.”


“He expects you to preside at the dinner, Rudolph.”

The previous man’s exasperation was palpable. He checked out me for the primary time—extra at my go well with than at me, I assumed.

“Joe Young sent him here—knows his father. He wants to be a copyboy. Carl Bernstein.”

Rudy Kauffmann had no less than remembered my title.

“Meet Mr. Gould Lincoln, the senior editorial writer of the Star.”

Gould Lincoln undoubtedly belonged to the nineteenth-century aspect of the newspaper. He nodded at me and stated, “I started here as a copyboy, but in those days we called them office boys. I was fifteen.” He paused. “In 1895.”

I took the chance to tell the senior editorial author that I used to be a 12 months older than he’d been firstly of his newspaper profession—including that I’d taken a journalism class in tenth grade and had introduced some clippings from the college newspaper for Mr. Kauffmann to learn. In truth, there have been simply three tales, the overall output of what I’d written; I didn’t point out that I’d been demoted on the paper’s masthead to circulation and alternate supervisor due to my meager manufacturing.

Rudy Kauffmann defined that he and Mr. Lincoln had enterprise to take care of, however he promised to learn my clippings and led me to a door behind his workplace.

The door by which I had entered was on the finish of a dim, quiet hall of the kind you’ll discover in any extraordinary office. The door by way of which Rudy Kauffmann now led me opened into one other universe. People had been shouting. Typewriters clattered and chinged. Beneath my toes, I may really feel the rumble of the presses.

In my entire life I had by no means heard such wonderful chaos or seen such purposeful commotion as I now beheld in that newsroom. By the time I had walked from one finish to the opposite, I knew that I wished to be a newspaperman.

I walked as slowly as I may to absorb the entire scene, whereas Rudy Kauffmann (like a person tugging on a leash in opposition to a really decided pet) led me down the center aisle of the reporters’ desks operating from the massive home windows on the Virginia Avenue finish of the newsroom to an enormous crescent- formed desk in the course of the room, which appeared a couple of soccer area away.

People ran right here and there—copyboys, I guessed they had been, although they had been all absolutely grown and seemed to be of their twenties—and males shouted “Copy!” and all people gave the impression to be on probably the most pressing errands within the nation. Except (I observed) that after one in all them had yelled “Copy!” and any individual got here to select up a chunk of paper, just a few of the lads across the crescent would return to enjoying a playing recreation with greenback payments folded lengthwise in half, staring on the serial numbers on the invoice of the other participant.

What the copyboys did, Rudy Kauffmann stated, was something the reporters or editors requested. They just about made it doable for the entire place to perform. At that second a copyboy got here racing by way of with a cart loaded stuffed with newspapers—that day’s late-afternoon version, with a crimson streak down the fitting aspect, the identical version I delivered in my neighborhood in Silver Spring. They’d simply come off the presses. Rudy Kauffmann reached into the cart and handed me one. The pages had been nonetheless heat.

After that, I telephoned each two or three days to remind Rudy Kauffmann that I used to be accessible. One day I took the trolley to the Capitol, walked over to the Star constructing, and sat exterior his workplace with a typewritten autobiography of half a dozen pages that I’d written for an English class task. I used to be apprehensive what he would possibly make of my story, however he was amiable sufficient after I handed him the pages. He requested whether or not I may sort, which I may, and he despatched me to an workplace on the bottom ground for a typing check and an examination by the Star nurse. And he advised me he could be in contact quickly.

When I phoned him two days later, he stated I used to be employed—and to report back to work the next Monday. My pay could be twenty-nine {dollars} every week.

Excerpted from “Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom” by Carl Bernstein. Copyright © 2022 by Carl Bernstein. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Co. All Rights Reserved.

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