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Chapter Nine


Hughes telegraph (1866-1914), first telegraph printing text on a paper tape. Manufactured by Siemens & Halske, Germany; range: 300-400 km (WIKIPEDIA)

“What is coming through the wire?” asks Judith Eastman. “It looks
unusually long.”

She is speaking to Harv Pearson, in a rare moment when they are
in their Rochester office simultaneously. One or the other or both are
on the road most of the time.

“Might be a test run. It’s a bit early for news and there hasn’t
been anything worthwhile for weeks.”

Certainly not of the human interest variety, the kind that makes
good pictures and good press. They are at the mercy of the news and
news makers. Beginning with their first issue of the Pearson-Eastman
Journal, the blockbuster interview and pictorial of Teddy Roosevelt
in the American West, they had set the standard for finding great
stories, combining the two mediums into a must read for millions of
readers, i.e. subscribers.

Harv is the nearer to the information ticker, so he picks up the
end of the two foot and adding paper ribbon, reading his way back
to the busy machine. He keeps adjusting his reading spectacles like
they must be distorting the words.

“Does the cat have your tongue?” asks Judith playfully; curious as
to why his mouth is hanging open without so much as a peep.

“We’re headed for California,” he says simply.

“Another gold rush?”

“That is if the U.S. Mint isn’t earthquake proof.”

“You don’t say.”

____The Life and Times of a Black Southern Doctor 173

“Read for yourself,” he hands her the start of a frightening account.
“It’s on fire, Judith, my God, it’s only after five in the morning there.
Most people were sleeping when it hit, I would think that casualties
are high.”

“We wouldn’t get there for three days.” She recounts the train
ride back from Yosemite, in the Journal’s inaugural days.

“There is nothing else going on.” He laments the fluffy content of
their magazine of late, though no one in their right mind would wish
disaster on anyone for the sake of news. “If I know Jackson (his editor
at the Quincy Reporter) we’ll be lucky if we beat him there.”

“You mean your newspaper has room in the budget for that?”

“He watched me chase stories for years, not standard procedure for a small town rag, but I own it. He does not take that into account.
If I told him he couldn’t, I would lose my credibility. The Reporter
has the reputation of getting a big story first hand.”

“So, why don’t you sell him the Reporter?” This is not the first
time she has suggested that move, for mostly selfish reasons that
include taking away the one threat to his continued and permanent
presence in her life. She has passed that point where she has enough
emotional fuel for a return trip to her once lonely world. If only he
would take that final step concerning their relationship; a proposal
of betrothal instead of status quosal. “I mean, he has been running
it without much help from you for five years now, something he
pointed out when you were too busy to buy those new printing
presses. The poor guy is working himself to death while you are
doing a scant imitation of William Randolph Hearst.”

Harv Pearson is not as dense as Judith thinks. He knows that he
can never be a publishing giant, not with his love for the field and his
passion for their Journal. Selling out to Jackson is the right thing to
do . . . . but so too is marrying the woman he loves. That makes two
important items he hasn’t made time for. Should either or both grow
tired of his procrastination, it would literally be a crying shame.

“Judith?” He stops his preparation for a transcontinental commute
to a burning San Francisco, to prevent a fire at home. “What would
you say; no . . . . I was wondering if, I mean . . . . we haven’t really
discussed this, but . . . .”

“Yes!” she says with assurance.

“Yes? But I didn’t ask you a yes or no question.”


“Before the Internet and before that the computer, news was spread by a “ticker”. Science Fiction had not gotten past Jules Verne.”


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