The Old Republic

Memories: Glimpses of Notables

In my senior year I was editor of the high-school newspaper.  (We even won a prize from the Columbia University School of Journalism.)  What I remember most is the literary progeny on my staff.  It included the daughter of Burke Davis, a well-known writer of the time; the daughter of the historian Richard N. Current; and the stepdaughter of the poet Randall Jarrell.  Once we had a small gathering at Jarrell’s house near the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was on the faculty.  Jarrell came through the room, cast a distracted but unfriendly gaze on the adolescents, and wandered on out.  Not long after this he was killed under strange circumstances, struck by a car as he inexplicably walked along the side of a highway.

Howard Smith is unknown these days.  From Virginia, in the 1950’s and 60’s he was chairman of the Rules Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a notorious bête noir of the liberal press for keeping “progressive” legislation bottled up.  As a young reporter, I covered a state convention of the Democratic Party of Virginia.  An old man, leaning back in a chair in a distant corner of the room, was pointed out to me as the legendary Smith.  I asked him a few questions, which he answered laconically...

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