Cleveland: Confused City on a Seesaw
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Mr. Cleveland
Louis B. Seltzer was editor of the Cleveland Press for thirty-eight years. In his last fifteen years he was the single most powerful political force in Cleveland, the man most responsible for diluting the power of both the Democratic and Republican bosses. He became an unofficial, unchosen but actual, boss himself.
He became a kingmaker, a mayor-maker, by combining native shrewdness, cunning, prodigious energy, and a large ego with a phenomenal sense of timing. He did it almost entirely himself, with the constant encouragement of his quiet, charming wife, Marion, who was as serene as Louie was bouncy, flip, and ubiquitous. At the peak of his power, he attracted enough national attention to induce Life Magazine to do an extensive profile on him, in which they dubbed him “Mr. Cleveland,” an appellation he cherished and did nothing to tone down or repudiate. In his final years as editor, there were signs that he had come to believe in his own legend. He was, as the cracker-barrel philosopher would say, “really somethin’,” and in unwilling and restless retirement, still radiates an aura of importance in Cleveland, which comforts his admirers, mystifies politicians, and annoys some of his former associates. Though retired, he is a presence and apparently happy to continue as one.
Louis had fertile ground to plow in as he demolished the party machines. Cleveland has a long history of political independence dating back to Mayor Tom L. Johnson, who defeated the Establishment of his day, then built a strong political machine himself and added a bit of civic idealism to it. The Press was always antiboss and often anti-Establishment, as it struggled to get a foothold in the city. The Plain Dealer was antiboss, too, but very much pro-Johnson, and neither the Press nor Plain Dealer belabored Johnson as a boss, which he surely was. He was a good boss. And that is what Seltzer aimed to be, when he got to the top of the heap. Whether he was good for the city is still debatable, but he certainly was bad for the political parties, which degenerated into hollow shells with no real clout. Partly it was because federal welfarism had taken away the main tools of the politicians, the small jobs, the Christmas baskets, the personal favors. Partly it was because civil service grew and diminished political patronage.
When Seltzer became editor as a comparative kid of thirty-one, the Press had been through a rough time under a succession of unsuccessful editors. Roy W. Howard, the head man of Scripps-Howard, personally chose Seltzer. From then on the Press had continuity of policy and Seltzer had the personal ear of Howard, whom he admired tremendously (and who was much like Seltzer physically and temperamentally, both of them small, wiry, combative, nervous). He even affected some of Howard’s idiosyncrasies of dress, such as the bow tie and large handkerchief flowing out of his breast pocket. Howard gave Seltzer much more freedom than the other chain editors and dealt him in on closely held stock, which made him wealthy. He appointed Louie editor-in-chief of all the Scripps papers in Ohio and was rewarded by seeing the Press grow from a struggling number three to the eminence of being number one in Cleveland for a while. Seltzer retained this enviable special position of favorite until Howard died in 1965. Not long after that, Jack Howard, Roy’s son, and his associates in the hierarchy, decided it
was time for Louie to retire. Since then, in many ways, the Press has become more readable under its present editor, Thomas L. Boardman, a one-time protege who succeeded Seltzer. But it does not have the momentum and clout that Seltzer gave it.
Seltzer was a prime example of how a street-smart youngster, with overwhelming ambition, can get ahead on a newspaper despite a lack of formal education. He was fond of telling how he had to go to work when he was barely out of the eighth grade. His father, Charles Alden Seltzer, wrote “western” novels that later became popular, but at that time his income was low, and Louie quit school to become an office boy for the Leader. Later, while still in his teens, he worked a year as reporter for the News. At eighteen he married Marion, and began his long career on the Press at twenty. In an amazingly short time, he became city editor.
In the time most young hopefuls were going to high school and college Louie was making friends with politicians and businessmen who later rose to great heights. His small size and the necessity to earn his own living undoubtedly contributed to his brash, porky attitude toward news sources, and he developed a bravado that manifested itself in frequent profanity and assumed toughness. Officials at all levels considered it an amusing term of endearment when Louie, with a smile, called them bastards and sons of bitches to their faces. There is one classic true story about this.
When Louie was on the Press city desk, a secretary or assistant answered incoming phone calls, the usual custom on big city papers. On a particularly hectic day, the phone-answerer yelled to Louie that a Mr. Silbert wanted to talk to him. At least that is what Louie understood; he took it to mean that the caller was Municipal Judge Samuel H. Silbert, who had been police prosecutor during Seltzer’s days as a police reporter and was, like Louie, a bantamweight physically (Silbert later became senior judge of common pleas court, an authority on divorce law, and unbeatable in any election.)
With his usual insulting but friendly toughness, Seltzer
picked up the phone and said, “Hello, you little Jewish son of a bitch.” There was a long pause, and silence on the other end, and then a deep, resonant, melodious voice said testily, “I beg your pardon!” There was reason for the haughtiness. The caller was the city’s leading rabbi, Abba Hillel Silver, famed for his fervent oratory and later to become one of the great Zionist leaders. Seltzer had an unhappy time explaining to the rabbi that he thought he was talking to Sam Silbert. The rabbi was not amused.
That didn’t set Louie back on his heels for long. He continued to address friends and enemies in this raffish, belligerent manner, and most of them understood and enjoyed it. By the time he had left the city desk and gone back to reporting he was on close, confidential terms with O. P. and M. J. Van Sweringen; also with Maschke and Gongwer, both of whom liked him personally, though the Press was regularly giving both of them hell. By the late twenties, he had become chief editorial writer, and in 1928, Roy Howard told him, at the Democratic national convention in Houston, that he would shortly be promoted to editor.
As editor, Seltzer came on slowly but surely. He surrounded himself with able subordinates who stayed with him for years. Richard L. Maher succeeded him as political writer and was still at it forty-five years later, until he died. He got Carlton K. Matson, who had been editor of the Toledo News-Bee before it folded, to become his chief editorial writer. Norman Shaw, Tom Boardman, Richard D. Peters, Richard Campbell, Harding Christ, all first-rate journalists, joined him later. He built up a fine staff of investigative reporters, and vas vigorous in backing Mayor Burton and Safety Director Ness in ridding the city of racketeers and corrupt policemen. He bemoaned the protected gambling clubs in the suburbs.
Louie was not only the editor; he didn’t hesitate to call on big advertisers, to make sure they stayed with the Press during and after the Big Depression. Nathan L. Dauby, head man of the May Company, was constantly wooed by Seltzer, and some of the pieces the Press carried about Dauby were
pretty obvious and a little drippy. At that time Dauby and all the other department store managers were paying plenty to publish the Shopping News, to undercut all the newspapers.
During the depression Louie gave his editorial employees the impression that he encouraged the formation of the Newspaper Guild. Cleveland newsmen did form Local Number One, and Heywood Broun, then a Scripps columnist, helped organize it and became its first national president. Louie regularly maintained a close contact with his staff, spent a lot of time in the news room listening to gripes, and set up a routine of daily early-morning staff meetings, at which everyone participated in discussion of policy and decided which villains to attack next. This kept staff morale high.
Meanwhile Seltzer was involving himself in the community in a big way. With the same air of making himself available to the readers as to the staff, he appeared before every little group, no matter how small or inconspicuous, that wanted a speaker. At first he was not a good speaker, for his voice was high pitched and weak, but he managed, through practice, to expand his vocabulary and improve his elocution until he sounded fairly impressive. He was the Press’s best missionary to all the numerous ethnic groups, the PTAs, the luncheon clubs, the lodges, and the churches. He seldom passed up an opportunity to appear before as few as ten people, though it often meant an eighteen-to-twenty-hour day. He was an early riser, usually at work before the rest of the staff at 7 A.M.; yet the previous night he might have been out late, talking to a handful of people twenty miles from home until 11 P.M. This was a murderous schedule, which might have floored a man with less energy and ruined his home life, but Louie took care of that by having wife Marion go to all meetings with him, and her presence added a lot of class to the visit. She could help drive, too, while he napped, if necessary. So Marion also got involved in community projects and eventually became president of the Federation of Women’s Clubs. They were a missionary team hard to beat.
Louie watched his health carefully, didn’t drink or smoke, ate lightly, and never seemed to gain a pound or look weary.
Adding to his attractiveness as a speaker was the fact that Louie, after he was established as editor, began to write personal editorials, signed simply “L.B.S.” in which he added his own touches to the paper’s formal editorial positions, commenting on incidents and people he knew, which fairly often oozed with banality. Although they were not literary gems, they were written in plain, simple language, which he used instinctively. A stylist he wasn’t, but an effective journalist he was. The L.B.S. editorials often appeared on the front page.
The program of getting around everywhere, often doing two or three meetings a night, and perhaps one or two at lunch, caused Louie by necessity to develop an escape technique, by which he would quickly fade out after he had made his talk, pleading that he had to rush to another engagement. At lunch, he would refuse to eat the blue-plate special and would either eat nothing at all or a special salad that waiters habitually brought him without asking. It gave the lunchers the impression that here indeed was one of the busiest guys in the world and they should be honored to have him even show up.
Louie did not confine himself to making little speeches all over town. He got deeply involved in civic groups. He became president of the Welfare Federation and president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was director and vice-president of the City Club, and served several years as a board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. (But he did not take an active part in the inner workings of either.)
All the time Louie was thus building himself up as an ever-present personage, his rival, Bellamy of the Plain Dealer, was avoiding the tedious chore of speaking to little groups. By the time the depression ended, Seltzer’s ubiquitous performance and political savvy began to pay off, and for the first time he emerged as a kingmaker, a major political force,
something that gathered steam as it went along, like a Caribbean hurricane.
He first showed his shrewdness by persuading Frank Lausche to run for mayor in 1941. Lausche boasted of his independence of bosses. (But he checked everything important with Seltzer, who appeared to the public to be an editor, not a boss.) Seltzer had been showing political clout even before this. At a time in the thirties when the sheriff’s office was extremely permissive about gambling, and the city was honeycombed with bookie joints, Seltzer had the Press start a write-in campaign for Police Inspector William H. McMaster, known as a clean, determined, honest law enforcer. It seemed like an exercise in futility, for both Republicans and Democrats had nominated candidates and McMaster’s name wasn’t even on the ballot. Yet the campaign was surprisingly effective. McMaster didn’t win, but he did finish a close second to one of the best vote-getters in the county’s history, former Councilman John M. Sulzmann.
During the war, Louie devised a massive publicity campaign to raise funds for a war memorial and fountain on the Mall. Plenty of funds were raised, but a hassle later developed over the architect, the design, the delays, and so forth. It was eventually erected and stands there today, in dark green marble. It was considered far-out when finally put up, but not so avant-garde now. It’s usually referred to as the Jolly Green Giant.
The power of the Press in promoting a write-in was demonstrated again, years later, when a vacancy occurred in common pleas court shortly before election. The usual batch of hopefuls was being discussed when the Press came out suddenly with a plea for voters to write in the name of Thomas J. Parrino, one of the most vigorous, best respected, assistant county prosecutors. It was a bold gamble, but it worked. The Democratic party organization had not yet made a choice, but it could hardly oppose Parrino, who was tops as a trial lawyer and had won notable convictions in newsworthy trials. It was hard to believe a write-in campaign would produce
enough votes to win, but it did. Day after day page one editorials urged Parrino. There were also editorials inside about Parrino, and news coverage about Parrino, and signed editorials by L.B.S. about Parrino. When Seltzer plugged a favorite candidate, he pulled out all the stops. There was none of the cool aloofness, the careful separation of editorial comment from news, that the Plain Dealer habitually practiced. The Press was partisan all the way. It’s easy to understand that in later years, why Parrino, though an honorable man and able judge, was not going out of his way to antagonize the Press by giving news breaks to the opposition. He knew he owed his job to Seltzer, not the Democratic party.
While Louie was building up his position as the most active editor, he was his own best reporter. He got around town so much and was in conference with so many important people, that invariably he learned of important about-to-break news before his staff did. He’d attend a luncheon with some bigwigs and take part in decisions. It would be agreed at the meeting that all the decisions were to be considered confidential and the news would be released later in a proper, orderly way. But in the late edition of the Press that same day, the news of the decision would appear. The other members of the committee or board would be understandably furious. The top editors of the Plain Dealer and News, who also knew of the decision and had promised to keep it confidential, would also be irate, and Seltzer would be accused of breaking release dates — something unpardonable in the eyes of the other editors.
Seltzer had a regular technique for handling such situations. He simply disappeared from the office, or other telephone contact, until after the story had been printed. When charged with having tipped off his reporters, he invariably said, “I was out of the office and didn’t know anything was in the paper, until I saw the final edition. Then I raised hell about the premature publication. Somebody must have tipped off the city desk, and it got in the paper before I could stop it.” The other board members and editors had well-founded suspicions about who
tipped off the city desk, but they never could prove it. This sort of suspected double cross went on year after year, and the Press got the reputation of breaking any kind of release it chose, if it suited the purpose of its editor. It didn’t seem to bother Louie, but the ruthlessness of the operation generated a fear and dislike of the little man in many prominent Clevelanders. Important news sources began to fear not to give their stories to the Press, and Louie’s power was obviously growing. So was the Press circulation.
In 1953, Seltzer sprang his biggest mayor-making coup, the election of State Senator Celebrezze over Boss Miller’s candidate, County Engineer Porter. The new mayor was clearly Seltzer’s creation, and he soon began to take advantage of it in the promotion of that civic monstrosity, Erieview, next door to the new Press building. (All of which has been described in detail in previous chapters.)
By now it was perfectly clear which newspaper was dominating the political scene. The Plain Dealer had also endorsed Celebrezze in the November election, but the Press had him in its pocket. The new mayor was popular, though not brilliant, and the Republicans simply couldn’t get off the ground with candidates to oppose him. The regular Democrats tried to beat Celebrezze in 1955 with State Senator Joe Bartunek, but failed. The Republicans failed miserably in later years with Willard Brown, Tom Ireland, and Albina Cermak. There just wasn’t any organized Republican party in the city of Cleveland. The Republicans showed no signs of life in the county and state until Ralph Perk was elected county auditor in 1962, and James A. Rhodes was elected governor. (This was the first year Tom Vail called the shots politically on the Plain Dealer. He endorsed both Rhodes and Perk.)
By the mid-fifties, Seltzer’s power had become so great in Cleveland that when the Sheppard murder case broke, the most sensational in years, the Press practically demanded on the first page that Dr. Sam Sheppard be brought to trial for the murder of his young wife, though Sheppard at that time hadn’t even been taken into custody. It was a positive, un-
questioned example of a newspaper taking over after government officials had failed to act. Suspicion pointed to young Dr. Sam, but no specific evidence had been gathered against him. Practically everyone at the Plain Dealer and News, as well as the Press, believed that the finger pointed at Sheppard and that his family and Bay Village officials had been shielding him from questioning, that Cleveland detectives should have been called in at once, but had not been. Seltzer solved the dilemma by urging Dr. Samuel Gerber, the coroner, to hold a public inquest, at which Assistant Prosecutor Saul Danaceau and Gerber questioned Sheppard for the first time. It gave the newspapers the opportunity to print, libel-free, all the various suspicions about Sheppard’s dubious story about how he had found his wife bludgeoned to death. It also brought out sensational and sordid details of Sheppard’s career as a playboy and lush, and established a motive for murder.
The Sheppard case became big news all over the country and split Cleveland right down the middle, between those who were positive Sheppard was the murderer and those who believed he was an upright handsome young man who was being persecuted. After the coroner’s inquest, Sheppard was indicted for murder, and his trial became a cause celebre. The case was tried every day in all the local papers, as well as the courtroom, and columnists and trained seals from New York and Chicago gave out opinions daily, as if they were covering a world series. The Press continued to maintain an aggressive stance against Dr. Sheppard, but so did the other papers. Sheppard was convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment, began a series of appeals, which were denied, but served only ten years in prison.
Years later, a surprise legal action, in the form of a habeas corpus petition in federal court, claiming Sheppard had been denied his constitutional rights through adverse newspaper stories before and during the trial, was filed by a new lawyer, F. Lee Bailey, who had not appeared in previous appeals. At first little notice was taken of it, but a real bombshell exploded when Federal Judge Carl Weinman of Columbus held
a hearing, and to everyone’s astonishment, ordered Sheppard released and a new trial held. He was let out of prison and fled by motor car to Chicago, with a convoy of panting reporters in chase. There he married a German woman, Mrs. Ariane Tebbenjohanns, who had interested herself in the case before she left Germany, and had been visiting him at the Penitentiary. She was an attractive, but somewhat gaudy, blonde, which pleased the photographers.
The release of Sheppard revived at once the dormant public interest in the sensational case. Sheppard and his new wife, though his lawyer had won his temporary freedom on the ground that newspapers had done him in, tried constantly to get attention from the newspapers and from TV stations. This went on for months. The Cuyahoga county prosecutor appealed Judge Weinman’s decision, and won a two-to-one decision from the federal circuit court of appeals. Bailey took
it to the United States Supreme Court, and there won the final
go round. Sheppard was granted a new trial.
The sudden emergence of Sheppard from prison revived an old threat by Sheppard to sue the Scripps-Howard newspapers, Editor Seltzer personally, and Coroner Gerber for several million dollars charging libel and slander. Nothing eventually came of the suit, which was thrown out, but a lot came out of the Supreme Court’s decision that Sheppard had been unfairly treated by the papers. Courts all over the country, urged on by bar associations, began to clamp down on pretrial publicity, refused to allow cameras in courtrooms or witnesses to be interviewed during a trial, and set up a long series of negotiations between bar and press as to what was fair balance between free press and fair trial. It’s still far from settled, though newspapers are beginning to be more circumspect about publishing ex parte statements by attorneys, and have realized that cameras in courtrooms may influence juries’ decisions. One thing is certain — it is unlikely that any big city newspaper today would again go as far as the Press did in its first-page editorial, with screaming headlines, pointing the finger at Sam Sheppard, saying “Who Speaks for Marilyn?”
Seltzer performed a public service in trying to get the case aired. But the interviewing of witnesses before and after their testimony, the publishing of out-of-court statements by lawyers for both sides went much too far, and despite the efforts of the trial judge, Edward Blythin, to be fair, the trial was turned by the newspapers and the lawyers into too much of a hippodrome.
Sheppard was acquitted in his second trial in 1966. He was readmitted to the practice of osteopathic medicine, was sued for malpractice, quit as a doctor, and became a professional wrestler. His German wife divorced him after some public quarreling, and he married a third wife, the young daughter of his wrestling partner. His news value rapidly diminished, except as a freak, and in the end he became a pitiful figure. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1970.
The sensational Sheppard case was in the headlines at the same time that Celebrezze was being elected, and Seltzer was flying extremely high in power. The Press was aggressively going after readers in the far suburbs, particularly Parma and Euclid, which had lured many second-generation ethnic families away from the central city, people who had long been Press subscribers.
Within the next year or two, however, some important changes took place in Cleveland. Mayor Celebrezze left Cleveland, tapped by President Kennedy to go to Washington as HEW secretary. (JFK needed an Italian name in his cabinet to help him in the congressional elections in 1962.) Ralph Locher, Tony’s law director, became mayor. The construction at Erieview Tower was unusually pokey. The University-Euclid urban renewal was going absolutely nowhere, and Hough and Wade Park were fast degenerating into high-crime slums. Mayor Locher, a well-intentioned man, seemed confused and unable to act. A changing of the guard was taking place at the Plain Dealer, too. Tom Vail, young and ambitious, had become publisher and had tapped me as executive editor. In November 1962, the teamsters and the Guild struck both the Cleveland papers, and it lasted till almost Easter 1963. This combination of circumstances
knocked the Press off its pinnacle, and led to Seltzer’s retirement two years later.
The marathon strike came about because of an internal struggle within the Guild at the Press. The Plain Dealer should not have been involved, but was dragged in. The Guild had organized the Press business office, as well as the editorial staff, but had signed up only slightly more than 50 percent of the business staff as dues-paying members. It desperately wanted the union shop, which would have required laggers to become members within thirty days after hiring. But the PD business office was not Guild-organized. Vail objected strongly to the union shop, and most of the PD editorial force was not enthusiastic about it, and couldn’t have cared less about the Press’s internal difficulties. Nevertheless, since the Guild was a city-wide union, the PD became stuck with the strike, too.
In all the thirty years of negotiations with the Guild, Seltzer had given the Press representatives the idea that he was somehow trying to help them (though he was on the other side, in management). He was very friendly to Forrest Allen, the long-time aggressive Guild leader, and several times had come up with last-minute concessions that had satisfied Allen, even though Graham of the Plain Dealer was reluctant to give them. He had been personally friendly to William M. Davy, the veteran Guild secretary, who was planning to retire soon. This time Davy had determined to make one last big pitch for the union shop. He had been asking for it for years but was regularly turned down. This time, he was confident the papers would not turn him down, if he could engineer a strike just before Christmas, the biggest advertising season of the year. There is reason to believe Davy was convinced that, in the final crunch, Seltzer would again pull a rabbit out of the hat for the Guild. But Davy reckoned without Tom Vail’s stubbornness. Though he was new on the job, and young, and with the Press leading in circulation, Vail simply said no and stuck to it. So the strike dragged on far beyond Christmas.
Seltzer did try, through his labor negotiator, Dan Ruthen-
berg, to sign up business-office members for the Guild, so they’d have at least 55 percent of the employees. This was a clear violation of the spirit (and probably the letter) of the Taft-Hartley law, which forbids employers to sign up members for unions. But Ruthenberg’s effort failed. Despite telephone solicitation of nonmembers and the suggestion it would be all right with the boss, Dan signed up only a handful of new members. (The suspicion that Davy felt he had private assurance from Seltzer that he would achieve a last minute miracle, arose from the fact that the Guild leaders, in TV appearances after the publishers had made their announced final offer, kept on insisting confidently that it was not really a “final offer” and they expected more.)
They didn’t get any more. A revolt, led by Joe Saunders, started within the Plain Dealer unit, which at first had seemed stunned by the strike, but gradually began to resent being suckered into the Press’s troubles. In late January, the PD unit voted to tell the negotiators to accept the publishers’ offer. This cracked the log jam, and shortly afterward, after a bitter fight and by only a few votes, the Press unit took the same position.
While all the hassling was going on, Vail had wisely refused to argue the publishers’ case on TV or radio. He took the position he had to negotiate his way out, not seek sympathy from the public. But Seltzer, after the strike had become an endurance contest, apparently felt a compulsion to defend his position publicly, and made the fatal mistake of debating on TV, with Noel Wical, the Press Guild leader, before the City Club. Seltzer was not convincing; Wical, in a quiet way, was. In the end, Seltzer demolished himself by giving the impression that Wical would be in the doghouse at the Press after the strike ended. The net effect was disastrous for Seltzer, but he didn’t find that out until later.
When the strike at last ended, both the Press and PD had lost circulation from having been out of print for 129 days, but the Press lost the most. Seltzer discovered that a lot of people, who had bought the Press because they feared his
power rather than because they enjoyed reading it, didn’t want it any longer, and disliked Seltzer personally because of his TV performance. It took about three years before the PD finally passed the Press in circulation, but it was obvious that this would eventually happen. The PD was now an aggressive paper, fighting the Press, rather than trying to ignore it. Vail had determined that the only way to overtake the Press was to beat Seltzer at his own game, to criticize the Press openly, to oppose the Press’s favorite candidates, to bring up the Plain Dealer’s own candidates, to pull no punches, either in promotion or in editorials. For the first time, the PD became aggressive in investigative reporting. Wright Bryan, who had been ineffective as a competitor of Seltzer, had resigned as editor, and Vail took over complete charge as editor as well as publisher. He surprisingly got the backing of the Holden estate trustees to battle the Press thus, something unheard of previously. The whole PD staff suddenly became gung-ho in a way not seen in forty years. For the first time, the Plain Dealer was now fighting Seltzer head on, and loving it. The staff thought it was high time someone knocked him off his self-constructed pedestal.
The combination of continuing editorial improvement, circulation and advertising gain at the Plain Dealer, the unexpected revival of the Sheppard case, and the death of Roy Howard finally unhorsed Seltzer as editor. He had continued three years beyond the usual cutoff age of sixty-five, and in late 1965, was told it was time for him to retire. It was apparently a surprise to Louie, as well as a shock. His world had really fallen apart suddenly, for at this same time, his beloved wife, Marion, after a long battle, had succumbed to cancer. Louie was offered a round-the-world trip to cushion the shock, but he refused to take it, and determined to stay in Cleveland. He moved into specially built quarters next to his daughter, Shirley (Mrs. Arthur Cooper), who had many of Marion’s endearing qualities. He is still a presence here, but without power. He and his former compatriots at the Press continued a chilly fraternalism, and though a plaque was put up in the
outer hall attesting to his valiant long service as editor, he was seldom seen at the office and obviously not called on much, if at all, for advice. Boardman began to edit the Press in his own way, which was different from Seltzer’s, more like that of other editors in the chain, and attentive to smoke signals from headquarters in New York.
Norman Shaw, who, as associate editor, had ably run the paper during Seltzer’s absences, retired to Sarasota, Florida, obviously unhappy. It was no secret that Shaw for years had taken a dim view of many of Louie’s decisions and promises. Shaw had the ability to be top editor of any of the Scripps papers, but he stayed in Cleveland, possibly because his roots were in northern Ohio (he had attended Oberlin College, and his father had been chief editorial writer for the Plain Dealer till he retired). After settling in Sarasota, Shaw got knee-deep in civic activities there, and was seldom seen again in Cleveland.
Seltzer, too, could have gone elsewhere to big jobs in the Scripps chain. He had been asked to take a big part in the build-up of the New York World Telegram after Howard bought it, and Howard made him other offers that would have taken him elsewhere. He declined, probably wisely, for he knew Cleveland thoroughly, knew his assets and limitations. He decided to stay here and mine the journalistic ore in his own town, which he knew so well.
His impact on Cleveland will be felt for many a year.