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A Special Editorial

A Special Editorial

Today’s column is about an editorial, a true story about a special event in my “Musical, Political and Cultural Memoirs”.

I’ve always had opinions about events of the day and was never afraid to express them on radio, newspapers or publically. Some of them came back to bite me.

I’ll devote next week’s column entirely to that, both humorous and caustic.

Now here’s how one of my “Letters to the Editor” became an editorial. My records indicate that I wrote to various papers 25 such letters from 1955 to 1995 and only one was not printed.

In the 1960’s, Daily Comet co-owner Joe Silverberg bylined a weekly editorial page called “From Our Point Of View”. Joe and I were friends and my radio show was on his co-owned radio station K.T.I.B. (I don’t think he remembered firing me from my two previous attempts as a columnist.)

One day he stopped by the Assessor’s office and said, “Leroy, I read your letter to the editor and will use it as an editorial this week.”

I answered, “Great Mr. Silverberg,” thinking he was kidding. He wasn’t.

The letter was written in my satirical style of humor about the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago in which Vietnam war protesters turned into street riots helping elect Richard Nixon over their candidate Hubert Humphrey, which was counterproductive to their purpose.

My letter was so amazingly and coincidentally similar to what is happening today that I thought the story might be interesting.

It ran on Friday, September 6, 1968, and Joe opened with: “I shortstopped a letter friend Leroy Martin wrote which carries his fine sense of humor but expresses the sentiments of many hundreds of people in this part of the country.”

The letter was addressed to Walter (Cronkite), David (Brinkley), Chet (Huntley), and Sander (Vanocur), the top anchors on the only three TV networks available at the time, New Orleans’ WWL-CBS, WDSU-NBC, and WGNO-ABC. You needed an antenna to catch them. Cable and satellite TV were still many years in the future.

I’ll quote condensed portions for the essence of the story. I’ll send a complete copy by email or in a self-addressed stamped envelope if requested.

Joe Silverberg’s editorial of my letter continued: “An Open Letter to Walter, Chet, David, Sander, et als: I watched your coverage of the Chicago Democratic Convention and realized there was something wrong with me because I cheered for the cops and you fellows, who are much smarter than I and always report the truth, unanimously agreed that the protestors, mostly hippies with dirty long hair, shabby clothes and vicious attitudes, were ‘just children protesting the war’. Those ‘children’ used baseball bats, bricks and rocks to express their opinions. Their only purpose was to get on TV and you granted their wish, didn’t you? Peaceful protestors couldn’t get on TV even if they had danced on top of a flag pole coached by Fred Astaire.”

It continued: “I lived my life quite the opposite, favoring cops over robbers, Custer over Indians, John Wayne over Japs, (note: it was not yet politically incorrect to call them that), Robert Stack (Elliot Ness) against Frank Nitti, Ike and J. Edgar against Hitler and Bonnie and Clyde, and I felt sympathy for that poor woman being chased over the ice by Simon Legree, and more chilling, Christ over Satan. Where did I go wrong? Is it too late to change? Should my mother and teachers have shown me better?

“You liberals think being from the South automatically makes me a racist, and the moon is made of green cheese, all Irishmen are named Pat, all Chinese have pigtails and all male Latinos wear mustaches. But my ancestors were oppressed Acadians banished forcefully from Canada so I know how it feels to be a minority. The only black I saw was the dirt on their faces.

“Unbelievably, I still cheer for my personal heroes against obvious villains. Some people will never learn, right Walter, Chet, David, Sandy, et ALS?”

The letter was over 2000 words but you get the message, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and, “He who forgets history is doomed to relive it.”

Bye now!

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