24 April 2010

The One with the Large, Heavy-Set Man in a Big Straw Hat and Linen Duster

This is part three of the 1919 interview of then 71-year-old Bridges Smith (1848-1930) entitled "BRIDGES SMITH, AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF NEWSPAPER WORK, INTERVIEWED FOR FIRST TIME BY GIRL REPORTER." Upon his death, Mr. Smith was laid to rest in Rose Hill Cemetery...

Can't Recall a Single Rebuff
President McKinley, according to Mr. Smith, was "just as nice as he could be." He treated him cordially and answered all the questions asked him. For one to be so cordial though, was not odd, as everybody treated Bridges Smith respectfully during his entire newspaper career.

"I can't recall a single rebuff I ever received," he declared. "Now, I might have got some, but if I did they were so slight I have forgotten them."

Of all the interviews Bridges Smith ever got he remembers with the greatest pleasure the one with the late Ben Tillman, Senator from South Carolina, who was not conscious of the fact that he had been interviewed until he read the story in the Telegraph the "morning after."

"I saw Tillman at the old station and talked to him for quite a while, but he did not know I was a reporter," Judge Smith said with a smile. "The way it happened was like this: Every morning I left home at 9 o'clock and always went to the station the first jump out of the box. I knew all the trainmasters and officials and they gave me some good stories. One morning I saw in the waiting room a large, heavy-set man in a big straw hat and linen duster. He looked like a big countryman, but I could feel that there was something about him different from other men. Though I did not recognize him as being Tillman, I knew he was a man of some importance. He asked me a question and we talked on the big topics of the day. In the course of the conversation I found out who he was. I have often imagined his amazement when he saw the next morning's paper and read his side of the conversation. I bet he spent some time trying to figure out when he had talked to a reporter."

...Next -- Bridges Smith Never Wrote a Better Story.

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