What would Mr. Harris do?

Edward H. Harris, Sr. (click to enlarge)

This coming Saturday, I will be portraying my great grandfather, Edward H. Harris, Sr., at Tales from the Departed–a walking tour of Earlham Cemetery in Richmond, Indiana in which actors bring to life people buried there.

My great grandfather had an interesting and exciting life, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s when Richmond was booming, the nation was adapting to the new technology of radio, the KKK was on the march in Indiana, and Hitler was coming to power in Germany.  You can read about my great grandfather and how all these events had an impact on his life in a previous blog post by me called Fighting for Freedom.  You can also learn more about his character and who he was as a person by reading the following bulletin that was put out to the employees of the newspaper he was working at when he died.  Or you can show up on Saturday.

Pal-Item Bulletin

For Employees and Their Families

October 30, 1937

Our Tribute

Persons high in the business and professional world have honored Edward H. Harris, our deceased publisher, with glowing tributes.

The journalistic fraternity has been especially kind in its generous expressions of regard, both for the intrinsic worth of Mr. Harris as a man, as well as for his integrity and ability in local and national affairs.

We may well be pardoned for feeling proud of the fact that he was “our boss.”  A new appreciation of the place he held in the hearts of those who knew him outside the narrow limits of his own home town has come to all of us.

His honesty of convictions, his fair-play and sense of justice, have been demonstrated many times in his dealing with those who shared the task of publishing a good newspaper.

Few of us would have had the temerity of approaching him as “E.H.” but he was “E.H.” to us in the fine sense that bespoke both respect and affection.  In this establishment of approximately a hundred employees there are virtually dozens of us who have walked into his presence with personal problems.  There are others whom Mr. Harris was concerned about even before they themselves were aware of their need for counsel or personal direction.

The Palladium and Item reflect the character and personality of the one who gave so much to mold them into instruments for the public welfare.  His vision in matters of service was almost unbelievable.  His capacity for friendship was so great that all who worked for him felt its warmth.

For years to come, those who have been associated with “E.H.” will determine their policies in newspaper publishing and community building by the measuring rule:  “What would Mr. Harris do?”


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5 Responses to What would Mr. Harris do?

  1. Priya says:

    It takes years, and a lot of goodness, to generate amongst people, especially “employees”, the kind of emotion this bulletin so obviously carries. Mr. Harris must have been a man of right convictions, Kevin.

  2. bronxboy55 says:

    That’s quite a tribute, Kevin — both the bulletin and your post. How did the walking tour go? I wonder what that felt like, to portray your ancestor in such a setting.

    • Charles, thanks for asking about how the performance went. It was cold and more than a bit windy. Nevertheless over one hundred people came by my spot on the walking tour. I gave my presentation sixteen times. I’m not really into “drama” or “acting,” so portraying another person and staying in character always seem a little weird to me.

      It was a very interesting feeling to portray my great grandfather. I definitely have a sense of pride in his accomplishments. Unfortunately, the newspaper he led and the community he helped shape have both declined over the past several decades. Several people expressed their frustration that this newspaper that was so influential in the 1920s and had such an impact on the Richmond community is now no longer locally owned and not even locally printed.

      Every time I interact with my ancestors, I feel I know them a little better. Touching a piece of paper they touched, speaking ideas they spoke, portraying them, even just rolling the details of their lives and times in my mind–each of these things give me a deeper understanding of who they were and where I came from.

      Thanks for reading my blog. And congratulations on your continued success in your own.

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