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Archives On The Air 53: Wartime Cartoons—James Thomas Berryman Papers

Political cartoons have played a key role in people’s understanding of current and historical events.

They are a digestible, but exaggerated, media that conveys the opinion of the cartoonist.

Or, to put it as the Washington Star did in 1948, “cartoonists are clowns tickling the world with the point of their pens.”

UW’s American Heritage Center has a wide breadth of political cartoons within its collections.

One example is the James Berryman Papers.

Berryman and his father were world-renowned cartoon artists that illustrated their animated ideologies for newspapers in Washington, D.C.

Full Story: Berryman Papers

Like father, like son: Channel 4’s Mark Segraves keeps the beat for local music

Mark Segraves has co-founded an organization called
the After Dark Fund to promote concerts
to raise money for D.C.-area
musicians in need. (Gerald Martineau)
It was the 1960s, and the Washington Evening Star’s nightlife columnist John Segraves happened to be working at the precise instant that the typical newspaper music critic was morphing from someone like him — short hair, white shirt, jacket and tie — to someone more like Animal from the Muppets.

Of one musician’s psychedelic D.C. performance in 1968, he wrote: “I do hope if he comes by our town again he lowers the decibels a few hundred degrees so one can appraise his voice. His guitar emits so much blatant noise that it too becomes indistinguishable.”

The artist was Jimi Hendrix.

“Dad hated rock-and-roll, and he never came around to liking it,” said John’s son, Mark Segraves. “But, that said, I remember for my 13th or 14th birthday, he bought me the Beatles’s ‘White Album’ and a radio and tuned it to WHFS.”
John Segraves, Mark's late father, in the 1960s and
1970s wrote a music and nightlife column
in the Washington Evening Star
called “After Dark.” (Family Photo)

And so the younger Segraves became steeped in both music and journalism. His mother, Frances, worked at newspapers in Frederick, Md., and Baltimore, and his father was a veteran scribe who went from Senators beat writer at the Star to assistant national editor, while also penning a twice-weekly music column called “After Dark.”

Mark is a reporter at Channel 4-WRC and an enthusiastic music lover. It’s something he learned at his father’s knee.

“He would take me to shows: Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., Roberta Flack at Mr. Henry’s,” Mark said. “I remember all of that vividly. After the show he’d have to go to the Washington Star in Southeast and write his column. I would run around the Star building at midnight or 1 a.m. while he was banging out copy on a typewriter. It was just great memories for me.”

The elder Segraves loved jazz and the Great American Songbook. If he missed the boat in some ways — did anyone else want Hendrix to turn it down so they could hear his singing? — he was prescient in others. Of a 1969 performance by Janis Joplin at Merriweather Post Pavilion, he wrote: “Can the voice within this cute little girl from Port Arthur, Tex., continue to take the strain and still work by the time she’s 30? We’ll know in four more years.”

Sadly, we knew sooner than that.

John died after a heart attack in 1978. He was 48. Mark was 17.

“One of my great regrets is that he never got to see me as a journalist,” said Mark, 57, who has also worked at WJLA and WTOP.

Attribution: John Kelly -
Full Story: Seagraves

Three-day workshop on clear writing offered in Tamworth

TAMWORTH — The Yeoman’s Fund for the Arts is sponsoring a series of gatherings and workshops this August in honor of one of their founding members, Shirley Elder Lyons.

Becky Sinkler will lead three days of workshops at the Samuel Wentworth Library in Center Sandwich, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Aug. 20, 22, and 24, from 3 to 6 p.m. She plans two days of instruction and conversation, with the last day devoted to editing of the participants' works, giving about 20 minutes to each one.

Sinkler had dropped out of college in the 1950s, married, and had children. Then she went back to school at the University of Pennsylvania and worked for a small daily newspaper before getting a job at the Philadelphia Inquirer, as a secretary in the Sunday magazine section. After a stint as copy editor of the Sunday magazine, then editor of the Inquirer Book Review, she was recruited by the New York Times, where she eventually became editor of the Sunday Book Review. After 10 years in that role, she retired and came to Sandwich.

“Structure of a story, article, book or even letter is foremost," she said. "You can impose it before you write, or after you have written. Clear writing is impossible without clear thinking, and clear thinking is not possible for some of us without clear writing. Motto: How do I know what I think till I see what I write?”

The series is dedicated to Lyons, a journalist who believed in and lived by clear writing. When she received the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Print Media Award for the second consecutive year in 1993, she told the Globe, “My philosophy is we have a responsibility to educate people and to tell people in simple terms about complex legal issues.”

She had already spent four decades in a career that took her from California to covering Congress, before “retiring” to the Granite State. While covering Capitol Hill, she wrote for the Post, the Washington Daily News, and the Washington Star. With Paul Clancy, she wrote "Tip: A Biography of Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., Speaker of the House."


Full Story: Workshop

'Him Doing Well Was Through His Children': Sharecropper's Son Makes Dad Proud

Percy White Jr. holds his son Percy White III, circa 1963.
Courtesy of Percy Ell White III
In 1962, White Jr. moved to Washington, D.C., and got a job as a custodian with The Washington Star newspaper, and eventually worked his way up to a supervisor. The rest of the family joined him a few months later.

Years later, White Jr. was ready to return to Mr. Marek's land.

"My father, he was getting older, and he asked me to drive him and my family down to Dinwiddie County to see Mr. Marks," White says. "Mr. Marks had long since died, but Mrs. Marks was there."

His father had a message to deliver to the wife of his former employer.

"My father got a great deal of joy out of telling Ms. Marks, 'Ms. Marks, you remember Angela? She's a manager for Metro. You remember Susan, my youngest daughter. She works for NASDAQ. You remember P.L. [Percy White III] — you know, the little, chubby, fat boy, he was born down here? Yeah. This is P.L. He went to college. He went overseas and played basketball. He's currently a probation officer.' "

White had witnessed one of his father's proudest moments.
Full Story: Storycorps

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til newspapers are gone

Richard Cohen, the veteran Washington Post columnist, once wrote, “Every journalist’s life is a walk through newspaper graveyards. The big dailies are the dinosaurs of our era. They thrived once. Their publishers smoked big cigars and their editors got the best tables in restaurants and the papers hit the front porch hard and heavy with ads.

Kids delivered them and adults worked for them and old men drew their pensions from them. They were a way of life, monuments in newsprint, but the way of life changed and the papers got weak and then sick and then died.”

Cohen wrote this as a lament when Washington’s Star newspaper died. Take note that he wrote it in 1981. America’s newspapers have been twitching and convulsing and dying for a long time.

Full Story: Gone