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Me and My Big Mouth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Lackmeyer   
Friday, 29 August 2008 04:03
By Walter Mumford Harrison, Britton Printing Co., 1954, not in print, available at www.amazon.com.


Review: Walter Harrison was an outspoken writer and editor during the early years of the Daily Oklahoman, then a broadcaster and then a city councilman. Harrison tells all - enough said?

- Steve Lackmeyer


Reader Jerry Frawley shared the following about this book:

"This memoir was written by The Daily Oklahoman's between-the-world-wars editor Walter Harrison. This wonderful collection of stories chronicles nearly every significant event in OKC during those years. Though he regularly wrote and was one of the few to actually own stock in the paper, if you search for him in the Oklahoman's archives you'll find few entries. Apparently, editors and reporters weren't given a by-line during most of his reign.


He was a nationally known speaker and emcee who was the confidant of nearly every governor since 1920. He shared a hotel suite in NYC with Wiley Post after his world record round-the-world flight and was solicited for advice by Herbert Hoover. He was home at 423 NW 19th street in 1923, when two houses to the east, Judge Jean Day shot one of the most famous aviators in the world, Paul Beck, to death.  Day alleged Beck was putting the moves on Mrs. Day while he was dropping off some other guests. Though he shot Beck in the back of his head Day wasn't even indicted (a coroner's jury found in his favor), much to the chagrin of the Army and Beck's family. 


In 1933, when he lived at 317 NW 17th, Charles Urschel was kidnapped from his house a block away at 18th and Hudson.  Harrison was in New York busy helping Post field invitations from Perle Mesta and her sister to stay with them in Newport when he received E.K.'s curt directive to come home to take charge of the coverage of the kidnapping.  He didn't know then that his son, Dub, was spending time with his schoolmate, Urschel's daughter, at their mansion.  He was able to pass along Dub's inside information to the paper.


Even more fun are his stories about newsmen who plagiarized, regularly woke up on the mortuary slab after a drunk (same guy - he explained it helped sober him up), covered massive fire deaths and a religion writer who held wild parties at teetotaler E.K.'s home while house-sitting (before he got in trouble for showing up drunk at the opening of a new church). For years he operated WKY (from the Oklahoman) after he finally convinced E.K. to buy it in 1928 for $5,000.00.


His story is nearly as much a history of the Oklahoman as it is of his own life. His view is particularly interesting because, though he and E.K. Gaylord knew each other for over 40 years and even vacationed together, after he was more or less fired, he turned on him so regularly and so viciously that E.K. had an editorial written in 1955 that all but denounced him as a lunatic.


He fills this book with beguiling stories about events we don't recall, people we never heard of and a time in which we think we'd liked to have lived. It's impossible to believe that what we do now will be nearly as interesting to those who read about it in 80 years."

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Last Updated on Sunday, 22 November 2009 03:46