BY-PRODUCTS OF AN INTERVIEWER'S LIFE
By ARTHUR JAMES PEGLER
Illustrations by CAMILLUS KESSLER
?jtiy dear chap, how can I dine with you when i don't
ET me do the interviews?I don't
care who doe. the obituaries," re?
marked Lord Northcliffe in a
press Club speech, referring to the American
jnstom of !r;t'n iewing for publication all
gorts ar.d conditions of travelers.
His lordship, it appears, had made a prac?
tice of interviewing his interviewers. By this
process, he said, he ! eut abreast of local issues
erervwhere ' ?lT".d obtained a compre?
hensive grasp of
ly out of his range.
many famous men
and women. With?
in a decade most
celebrities come at
least once within
his range. As time
passes he remem?
bers most vividly
odd incidents con?
nected with these
interviews. He may
forget what was
said concerning a
topic of the mo?
ment, but will re?
of behavior, speech
or attire that char?
acterized his particular string of notables.
Consider the Hon. Winston Churchill, for in?
stance, fresh and pink from South African ad?
ventures, refusing to dine with a group of
Western millionaires who wished tc lionize him
at their club. Mr. Churchill said to the as?
tonished sponsor of the affair: "My dear chap,
how can I dintj with you when 1 don't know
To-day, the distinguished Englishman would
no doubt waive formalities. Timc3 and cus?
toms have changed, and men with them.
Li Hung Chang, replying to a question as to
the probable effect on civilization of Orville
Wright's then embryonic efforts to fly, said
that the history of China held reference to
human flight during the T'sang dynasty in
B60, but scientists o? that day had wisely de
tided against developing it. Could the inter?
viewer by any chance enlighten him as to the
nomber of petals evolved by the Dianthus
Chinensis in American greenhouses? The earl
was vastly interested In horticulture.
Rudyard Kipling, traveling in the private
car of a railroad magnate from Seattle across
the American continent, refused to grant an
Interview because it hurt him to "draw a long
breath." Mr. Kipling said he had been hold?
ing his breath for four days while his Ameri?
can host rushed him over canyons and skirted
precipices on cobwebby trestles at the rate of
sixty miles an hour. Kipling wa3 reminded,
aeaaid, f Phineas Fogg's adventure with the
?ngfceer wh< of letting his passenger?
?aU over a dangerous bridge, backed up half
? mile and took it Hying,
^HEN Kitchener of Khartoum returned from
india to England by way of Janan and the
United .state- in 1910, efforts to interview him
?ja? as soon a.; he set foot on these shores,
his lordship abhorred publicity and detested
^Porters. Their enterprise resulted in noth
?J more excli K 0f K's reitei uted aa
M?non that he thought the united States an
amazing country ? was
fascinated by its people,
charmed with its scenery
and bewildered by its vast
When Kitchener's train
reached the old Wells
Street station at Chicago,
fifty South African war M
veterans waited to wel- a
come their former com- |
mander. Wearing a gray 1
tweed suit of becoming I
shapelessness and a floppy
golf cap, Kitchener de?
scended the Pullman steps
and was surrounded.
My effort to interview
the Sphinx was a fore?
gone failure. The main
thing, then, was to get a
good picture. For this
Nate Meissler, newspaper
"Sorry, can't talk,"
snapped Kitchener?"Against orders, y'know
?soldier?on duty?that sort of thing?Photo?
graph? Lord, no! Can't, really?Sorry, y'know
I expected that, but Nate was horrified.
"Something must be done," he whispered.
"Couldn't I think of anything?" Kitchener was
already starting for the gate with his escort..
Nate waddled after him.
"Lord!" shrieked the fat little camera man,
Lord! Oh, my lord! Oh, dear lord! Just a
minute, lord!" He chanted it like a prayer.
Kitchener stared coldly at his pursuer. Sud?
denly the hard Kitchener lips quivered, and?
epochal event!?Kitchener laughed. He liter?
"Curious chap, what?" remarked his lord?
ship to the escort as he strode away, still
"That's no way to address a lord," I said.
"You should have called him your lordship."
"Lord Ship or What the Hell," grinned
Nate. "I didn't get his name but I got four
That is how a Chicago newspaper happens
to possess the only laughing pictures of Earl
Kitchener in the world.
ui~<UFFY" Dunn, city editor, shooting his
cuffs with the characteristic nervous
gesture that had won him the soubriquet, an?
nounced one afternoon that a reporter sent to
Sarah Bernhardt's private car to interview her
on the stabbing scene in her then new dramatic
sensation "La Tosca" had been pursued by the
divine one with a dirk.
"For Heaven's sake," said "Cuffy," "let Kip?
ling slide. Find Abbey and straighten this
Henry E. Abbey, king of impresarios, mana?
ger of Bernhardt's first American tour in "La
Tosca," was at the Merchant Hotel in Third
Street, a few blocks from the St. Paul Union
station, where madame'3 car was parked.
Abbey was perturbed. If his star had tried
to knife our reporter she must be angry, he
said, and might refuse to go on that night.
With the house sold out and the town billed
as for a circus this possibility appalled him.
No time was lost between hotel and .ar. We
ascended the brass-bound steps together.
The reception compartment of the car was
hung in pale green. There were warm-tinted
rugs on the floor and
green shades with red
fringe on the windows.
The porti?re drapes
that divided this sec?
tion from the dining
room were green silk
on one side and red in
reverse. When they
parted there was a
flash of scarlet, afford?
ing vivid contrast. A
small white enameled
table in the center of
the compartment held
a copy of De Mauspas
sant's "Bel-Ami" and
^>er the heads of the dignitaries, Mr. Roosevelt pitched a suitcase
Madame Bernhardt, for the edification of her interviewer, presents the stab scene from "La Tosca"
> s,r'jLe^M< ? fc? * ^J-fc?^r*
?vlfL Uic^cr/ ft*/ ??* ^fc-Ai-?t^A
LWX La. y 4i? L^/ajv?m.
k?l?lcx tt^i.. S (Wim) ?un*. %. i?<nrc? t^O^
filfa 6-j it. *L*M*
Qjtl La- VAji-f ?tUAt-Lt-b l/hn-tr1n?ua L?Le. -u^mjuS.
The lines on Chicago which Alfred Noyes obligingly dashed off
a curve-bladed paper knife shaped like a Malay
kris. In one corner was a small cushiened
Abbey shouted something in French and
Mme. Bernhardt advanced through the por?
ti?res, chattering volubly, between gusts of
laughter as she gave her version of the inter?
view, re?nacting it for us.
"Zees man," she laughed?'e ees so drole.
He veesh to write of ze stab scene. I present
for heem ze stab scene. Ovare zare he seet.
So! I seize ze papiere knife. I am La Tosca.
"Let me do the interviews; I dor't care who does the obitu?
aries" remarked Northcliffe
He is Scarpia. I make
to heem my speech. I
roosh at heem. He ees
tout agile. He go like
zees?so afraid for me."
Clutching the skirts
of her black peignoir
with one long white
hand, Madame made a
dive at the settee where
she sat crouched as
though in terror, to il?
lustrate. Up in an in?
stant, she continued:
"I walk zees way and
I walk zat way?I ron
roun' ze table ; I am ver'
angree. Soon I moos
stab heem, so I become
more?vat you say?en?
rag?e. Now I ron at
heem vees ze knife. I veesh to stab heem, but
he ees no longer present. He seize hees cha?
peau. He ron to zee door. He leap from zee
steps and exclaim 'Zo long, Meeses Bernhardt.
C'est fini?Il est disparu."
"You've got a story," laughed Abbey?"every
star her own press agent. I'm darned glad
it's no worse," he grinned.
"Give us ten lines on it," said "Cuffy" Dunn,
city editor. "These temperamental troupers
make me sick."
^LFRED Noyes is a most obliging poet. He
makes notes on all sorts of paper scraps
and has his pockets full of them nearly always.
When a newspaper man calls to interview him
he fishes round for these scraps and elaborates.
Mr. and Mrs. Noyes made their initial visit
to Chicago a few years ago. Mrs. Noyes was
intent on exploring the shops and Mr. Noyes
on doing the stock yards. They had established
themselves high up in the Auditorium Hotel
overlooking Grand Park and Lake Michigan.
Interviewing Mr. Noyes was like interview?
ing Wu Ting-fang. He asked more questions
than he answered. Never, I believe, was a poet
so strong for statistics. Fortunately, stock yard
statistics are all printed in handy little books?
that is, all statistics considered by the stock
yard companies to be good for public con?
sumption. But Mr. Noyes was blandly willing
to meet an interviewer half way?always will?
ing to help.
Had Mr. Noyes formed any definite im?
pressions of Chicago? Oh yes, a few. Were
these impressions sufficiently definite to form
the nucleus of a poem about Chicago? The
poet hardly knew?he thought it not possible.
Wouldn't Mr. Noyes just dash off a few lines
of poetry about Chicago while the interviewer
waited? Oh, certainly?with a fountain pen.
Printed on this page In facsimile is the poem
Mr. Noyes dashed off on a sheet of Auditorium
Hotel note paper. It has never before been
"I may be able to elaborate the idea later on,"
said Mr. Noyes, as he handed me the manu?
script, after waving it to dry the ink?"but I
think this roughly expresses it."
Mrs. Noyes, pretty and petite, entered, at?
tired for the street.
"Ready Alfred?" she inquired.
"Too-ra-loo," grinned the poet, rising to join
her. "Shopping?must do," and away they
COME time before the assassination of Presi?
dent McKinley called Theodore Roosevelt
to the Presidential chair, the Vice-President
visited Minneapolis to address a gathering of
civic societies. Elaborate plans were made for
his reception by Thomas A. Shevlin, then chair?
man of the Republican State Central Commit?
tee, whose residence In Mount Curve Avenue
was to be the Vice-President's headquarters
during his stay.
Chairman Shevlin, determined that nothing
should go wrong with the arrangements, had
every contingency provided for. When the
private car in which Mr. Roosevelt traveled
had come to a stop it was boarded by a silk
hatted delegation headed by Knute Kelson, at
that time Governor of Minnesota, and leading
Republicans of the district.
The Roosevelt of that day presented a slight?
er figure than that which he later developed.
The Vice-President wore a somewhat rumpled
black frock suit and a black billycock hat.
There was the usual handshaking, members of
the committee maneuvering for an -individual
word with the distinguished guest. The Roose?
velt smile was on display and all seemed to be
having a good time except Mr. Shevlin, who
eyed the door anxiously. His plan called for
a brief reception followed by a drive to the
Minneapolis club behind the famous Shevlin
bays. Young Tom Shevlin, later famed as the
greatest of Yale ends, had been instructed to
locate the Vice-Presidential baggage and see
that it was dispatched to the Shevlin mansion
so that the Shevlin valet could properly lay
out the Vice-Presidential dress togs in time .'or
a ceremonial Shevlin dinner arranged to take
place later. Something appeared to have de?
layed Shevlin jr.
There was a stir at the car entrance. Young
Tom, somewhat flustered, appeared in the
doorway. Gesticulating to attract the elder
Shevlin's attention, he hissed in a stage whis?
per audible above the small talk:
"Dad, I can't find Mr. Roosevelt's trunks."
Roosevelt overheard the word trunks.
"Oh!" he boomed. "My trunks?here they
Over the heads of the surprised dignitaries
Mr. Roosevelt pitched a diminutive suitcase?
about the size of suitcase that a high school
boy uses to pack his books in. Young Tom
caught it and ran.
"I always travel light," grinned the Vice
T^HINKING of camera-shy celebrities re?
minds me that the late Charles Frohman's
prejudice against being photographed was over?
come during a visit he made to Chicago in 1911.
Being assigned to interview Mr, Frohman, who
'was at the Congress Hotel, in Michigan Boule?
vard, I was taking along my fdus Achates,
Nate Meisslcr. The managing editor, who had
long known Frohman, remarked that it might
? be well to take a photographer, but added:
"Frohman won't pose?he has never had his
"Why?" I asked.
"That," grinned the M. E., is a good story If
you can get it."
Mr. Frohman was affable. A stont, amiable,
smiling little man, he understood just what to
say and how to say it most acceptably. The
material was precisely what we required. I
forget the subject of the interview, but what
followed is fixed in my memory.
"And now, Mr. Frohman," I said as he
stopped talking, "our photographer is below. I
want a posed picture."
"Don't ask me to pose," he begged. "I never
The producer turned with a smile to Charles
H. Dillingham, his associate.
"Charlie," he chuckled, I've a mind to tell
him. My boy." pursued the New Yorker, pac?
ing the floor, hands rammed in the pockets of
his purple dressing gown, "I want to hold my
(Continued on page twelve)
"Mr. Hill, quick! What are the elements essential to success?"
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