Resolutions and Sunrises

Terri - Roy Murdoch NYE illustration1966-12-31 11This illustration I did for The Southeast Missourian in 1966 shows how Wife Lila and I usually welcome in the New Year.

Follow this link to see more photos of Terri and Roy Murdoch, children of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Murdoch, and to read about their dad.

I’m not sure I ever heard Chuck Murdoch called “Charles.” He was just “Chuck,” one of my favorite sports editors. He didn’t take himself or his job too seriously, but he loved covering kid sports and did everything he could to get as many names in the paper as he could.

When did you quit smoking?

TV screen Athens 02-09-1069I recall the year that Dad quit smoking cold turkey on New Year’s Eve. We all noticed that he had gotten crankier than usual, but he didn’t tell us for a couple of weeks that he had tossed all his cigarettes in the fireplace at the stroke of midnight. He didn’t want to say anything until he was sure he could do it.

I’ve been binge-watching the TV series Mad Men, which is about an advertising agency in New York in the 1960s. I thought I was going to choke to death during the first few episodes because there wasn’t a scene that didn’t have people filling the air with smoke. When I thought back on it, that’s just the way it was in those days, particularly in the newsroom.

(The photo department became non-smoking as soon as I became director of photography. I claimed it was for technical and safety reasons, but the truth was that I hated smelling the smoke.)

Plenty of readers shared their smoking experiences.

Sunrise on the beach

New Year's Day sunrise on Lake Worth FL beach 1-1-2011In a moment of insanity on the first day of 2011, I consented to go to the Lake Worth beach to watch the sun come up. Now, don’t get me wrong. I HAVE seen the sun come up before, but it’s almost always been because I stayed up all night the night before.

Anyway, it was a beautiful dawn and I don’t regret going.


Click on the link so you can see how nice it was (and keep from having to go yourself).

Start the year off right

While you are making your New Year’s resolutions, make a note that you will click on the big red Click Here button at the top of the Buy From to Support Ken Steinhoffpage (or right here) whenever you order something from Amazon.

I get a tiny percentage of the price, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.

How about that? Here’s a resolution that doesn’t cause you to sweat, doesn’t cost you any money and doesn’t change your eating or drinking habits. You can’t beat that with a stick.


Chuck Murdoch’s Kids

Southeast Missourian sports editor Chuck Murdoch c 1966I’ve run a picture of Missourian Sports Editor Chuck Murdoch a couple of times: here and here. The first time I did, some of his relatives ran across it and left the following comments

  • Judy Weiss: “Chuck was husband’s uncle. I had not seen that picture before. Thanks!”
  • Norman Weiss: “Unfortunately cancer took my Uncle Chuck’s life but many great memories remain. Trivia about my Uncle Chuck before he became a sports writer, he was a St. Louis Cop.”
  • L. Louton: “Oh wow, just stumbled across this article – Chuck Murdoch was my grandpa. It puts a smile on my face to see such a great pic of him!”
  • Cara Murdoch: Would you be able to send those photos of Dad(Chuck)? I would love to get copies! And, of course, my little sister, Terri and little brother, Roy. Any of Mike(big brother)?

Chuck’s kids

Terri - Roy Murdoch NYE illustration1966-12-31I KNEW I had some pictures I had taken of Chuck’s kids for a New Year’s Eve illustration.

Let’s set the record straight: I was lousy at shooting illustrations and setting up photos in general. These hokey photos prove it. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

The microfilm copy of the December 31, 1966, newspaper was missing part of the caption, but the part you could read said “Terri, 5, and Roy, 4, children of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Murdoch, 106 Edgewood, thought it would be great fun to practice for the arrival of a new year. At 8 o’clock Terri and Roy were going strong.

Midnight was a different story

Terri - Roy Murdoch NYE illustration1966-12-31 11But as the clock ticked off the minutes and hours, eyes got heavier and by midnight the sandman had called. Well, maybe next year will be different and sleep won’t be so overwhelming.”

A favorite sports editor

Missourian Sports Editor Chuck Murdoch c 1966Chuck was one of my favorite sports editors. To be frank, most sports editors fit into one of two categories: former high school athletes wanting to relive their glory days or ones who were dumber than a packet of possums.

The latter would drive us crazy. One of them would send you out on the most hackneyed situation with an assignment sheet that would invariably read, “Avoid cliche shot.”

Another one couldn’t read a sport schedule. The photographer would show up at where an event was supposed to be held and find out that it wasn’t at THAT field or on that date. We couldn’t dope out how a couple of thousand spectators could manage to figure out where the game was being played, but the sports editor couldn’t.

Chuck was easy to work with, tried to get me as many $5 assignments as he could sneak by jBlue, and didn’t take himself or his job too seriously.

Gentlemanly politically incorrect

Missourian Sports Editor Chuck Murdoch c 1966Much of what Chuck’s persona wouldn’t pass today’s politically correctness, but he was careful about his language around “the ladies” in the office. He COULD fog up the place with his cigar, though.

His watch says 11:20. If it’s AM, that means he has wrapped up his section for today’s deadline and he’s wandering around kibitzing; if it’s PM, then we’ve both made it back to the office after covering a game. I doubt that’s the case. I would have had to go home to process the film before going back to the office to drop off the prints so Chuck would have them when he came in around 4:30 in the morning. With those kind of hours, I doubt he was hanging around in the evening. He’d been banging out sports stories for so long he wouldn’t have been staying up late agonizing over every word.

A technical side note: the pictures of Chuck were taken with the half-frame camera I carried for “goofing around.” It shot two photos in a normal 35mm frame, so I could get 72 shots out of a 36-exposure roll. The trade-off was that the quality was only half as good. On top of that, this roll had some uneven development streaks. I guess it would be the equivalent of taking photos with a cellphone camera instead of a real camera these days: you sacrifice some quality for convenience.

Cubs’ Pitchers Had Problem

Scorekeeper comment 07-12-1965The day after I graduated Central High School in 1965, I showed up bright and early to start my Missourian summer internship. To my dismay, my first assignment was to fill in for the sports editor, who was going on vacation.

Southeast Missourian sports editor Chuck Murdoch c 1966I confessed to Chuck Murdoch that I knew virtually nothing about sports and was in deep trouble. He took a couple of sucks on his ever-present pipe and a look of relief passed over his face as he realized his job was safe: this was ONE high school kid who wouldn’t show him up. He gave me the crash course in sports journalism (something that I always thought was somewhat of a contradiction in terms).

He explained that the first thing I had to do when I showed up three hours before the rest of the staff was to go to a dropbox on the Broadway door to retrieve an armload of youth league score books the coaches had dropped overnight. I was to take those score books and interpret scratches and scrawls that showed every batter and every play and write a play-by-play of the high spots of the games. I prayed for a tight paper so I could get by with just a game summary.

I got the job done, but I felt like a monk translating ancient scrolls from one language into another. So far as I know, nobody ever complained about my accounts.

Last night I found this comment written by a coach who either had a great sense of humor or a flair for understatement: “Cub’s pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone and walked 22 batters.”

First AP story

AP Sports clipI thought it amusing enough I phoned it in to the Associated Press, which put in on the wire. I’m pretty sure that was the first time anything of mine moved on a news wire. It was a real thrill when I heard the clatter of the teletype and discovered that it was my brief that was going out to the world (well, maybe the nation or the region or the state. I don’t remember the codes well enough to know how far it was broadcast. It didn’t win the Pulitzer, I know that.).

I didn’t do too badly covering government and cops, but the society and agriculture beats were a bit of a stretch. I loved it.