Dick Cady's story

Dateline: Sat 13 Nov 2010

In January, 1962, A young, fresh-faced and idealistic Richard Cady from Ypsilanti, Mich., walked into the Indianapolis Star building at 307 N. Penn to start a new job.

"It looked like an insurance office, not a newspaper" (except for the bottle of gin hidden in the men's bathroom in the paper towel dispenser), recalls Cady. His salary as a starting reporter was $97.50 a week; he wrote obits before moving over to cops. The big boss was Robert "The Ripper" Early, so known because of his fiery temper, profane tirades, red face and a habit of ripping up the paper throughout the night to make over stories and headlines.

If the paper lacked character, it had characters -- a cast of them.

Thirty-eight years later, after winning a 1975 Pulitzer Prize with colleagues Bill Anderson and Harley Bierce for exposing police corruption, working long and sometimes harrowing years as an investigative reporter, laboring as city editor, having a bit of fun as arts and entertainment editor, theater critic, and finally metro/state columnist, Cady walked out the newsroom door. One defiant finger was up in the air.

"Freedom of the press didn't always gurarantee freedom of expression," writes Cady in his newspaperman's memoir, "Deadline: Indianapolis The Story Beind the Stories At the Pulliam Press."($19.95, Riverview Books, 392 pages, available through Amazon).

At the time of his departure, Cady was sour and disgusted. "I no longer trusted Myrta," he writes of 1999, his last full year, referring to Myrta Pulliam, once his lightweight colleague on the investigative team and the daughter of the publisher Gene Pulliam. In late 1999, Mr. Pulliam was on his deathbed, Cady, once in the loop as a confidante of Myrta and the paper's golden boy for four decades, was on the outs. "...we barely talked except to say hello in the hallway. That's the way it had been for the last five years, and the way I wanted it."

What finished off Cady was a column he wrote following Gene Pulliam's death. In it, Cady chronicled an historic evolution within the Pulliam Press empire. He described the bombastic decades when the paper smeared its politics and intolerance all over Page 1 and beyond -- that was how Gene's father, Eugene C. Pulliam, ran the show. But under "Young Gene's" gentler leadership, the paper had become less strident; the old political agenda ramrodded by the father was a thing of the past. The younger Pulliam, wrote Cady, had devoted himself to quietly "removing the layers of old wallpaper without readers necessarily noticing."

It was a good, solid, insightful tribute -- but it never ran. Then exec editor Frank Caperton wanted "some context," and he wanted the length shortened. "Context" meant he wanted Cady to include that young Gene was also benevolent towards staff and treated people who worked for him as family, as did his father.

Cady wasn't having any of it. The deadline had passed by one week -- the column had lost its relevance, he believed. He was fed up. And so, within a short time, he walked.

Now, relying on his indefatiguable memory and the satisfaction that his career was, overall, a great run, he's put together his recollection of four decades in newspapers.

Investigative reporters, one quickly learns, are a different breed of cat. Most of us look at the world and perceive what we call reality. Investigative reporters go beyond the surface, deeper, always deeper. They dig. They interview, they observe, they take notes, they follow up on tips and, when it all comes together, they use words to connect the dots, showing us how power is really brokered and who is behind the curtain, pulling the strings.

Hence Cady's book provides insight into:

Decades of police corruption in the city in the 1960s and 1970s, which amounted to cops taking bribes, sleeping with prostitutes, working for fences and numbers' racketeers and stealing money from their cop brothers, among other crimes. What is perhaps most revealing is how deeply entrenched the Republican Party of Marion County was into covering up for bad cops, or rewarding bad cops ("pay for your promotion" was one system). Then-party chairman Keith Bulen, an attorney by trade, and one of the biggest power brokers ever in the county, is linked by Cady to the numbers rackets and so much other shady business it's hard to see the daylight. By virtue of proximity, then Mayor Richard Lugar was not completely the Boy Scout either, although Cady aptly describes him as having an athlete's build and a Howdy Doody face.

How hard it is to win a Pulitzer. Cady and the late Bill Anderson, "a rag doll of a man," and the late Harley Bierce, formed the spine of the newspaper's team that poured over mountains of paper, met with hundreds of cops and tipsters and others, and eventually produced a series that, in some regards, busted Indy wide open. The reward? Sure, the golden ticket of journalism. But also threats on their lives by mob types, endless testimony before grand juries, some time in jail, and, upon winning the prize, a $1,000 bonus from Gene Pulliam -- plus a raise of a lousy $7.50 a week for each. Yep, they could go buy that suit at Robert Hall....

Morty Dock. Here was a pawnbroker and thief who, it turns out, had intimate criminal connections not only with the police but even with FBI agents. If you were a cop and your wife wanted a fur coat (or your prostitute girlfriend), Morty would take care of you.

Joe Miller, who recently passed away by his own hand, but who climbed high in life with contributions to AIDS causes and close ties to Dem politicians. Miller, at one time a young baliff for the grand jury, ..."was known in the homosexual community as a chicken hawk, or someone who preferred boys and younger men, and he sold marijuana and a chemical known as poppers."

Interesting stuff about the homosexual community in Indianapolis of that day. One gets a sense of how disenfranchised gays were -- murders went unsolved, etc.

The selling off of liquor licenses in Indianapolis, in the wake of UniGov. The spoils went, of course, to the Republicans, who controlled the city; hence Jimmy James, who formerly owned restaurants, became a rich man after receiving enough licenses to open up 21st Amendment package-liquor stores that targeted the city's suburbs.

There's more -- so much more, on these issues and others, right down to the recollection that Myrta Pulliam wasn't too hot of an investigative reporter, although Cady says she had energy.

But if an interview was going to be tough, she pleaded a headache (on at least one occasion).

Of course, she only had the job because of her last name -- a point Cady is too generous to make, but I'm too callow not to.

Cady has done a service to Indianapolis history -- he's written a vivid chapter that before was buried in stories in old newspaper "morgues" and in his own head, or told only over beers or shots of bourbon. As other critics have observed, I dearly wish he had included an index; the names really pile up, and sometimes it's hard to follow the thread of action, mainly because Cady has so much crammed into his cranium. And yes, he could have used a strong editor for some sections.

But all in all, he's a great read. If you want to see for yourself, as any good investigator would, you can meet Cady at a signing Dec. 4 at the Holiday Authors Fair at the Indiana Historical Society, 450 W. Ohio St. The time is noon to 4 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

There's no question Dick Cady is, ummmm, annoyed at Myrta -- that's evident throughout his book. However, the reasons remain murky.

"She had a headache" reeks too much of a man scorned.

It'd be great to hear Myrta's side of the "partnership"!

2010-11-14 15:38:13

hendy [Member] said:

Myrta's now a philanthropist. I don't think she'd comment. Huzzah to Dick Cady, tho. My wish is that the current crew would rise above the muck and bring investigative journalism back to the Star. The chances aren't very good, however.

Cady was also someone to praise the various unsung heroes, as well. He didn't do that much, but when he did, I heard echoes of Keating.... Ed Shaunessy, and his Dan Carpenterness. I just ordered the book.

2010-11-14 17:00:41

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I've dealt with Myrta. Cady's right. In Texas, if she were a man, they'd say:

All hat and no cattle.

I'll go Dec.4 Thanks for the heads-up, Ruthie.

2010-11-14 18:42:04

ruthholl [Member] said:

Ms. Cynical, I personally think Cady had been given a free hand during the Pulliam Press era; that changed when the Star and News papers merged, and Caperton had a mandate to up the ante. Dick got caught in that vise. By a free hand, I mean the Star had to come in line with graphics changes that were taking place in the industry, and there was probably more editing of Dick and other reporters than ever in the past.
On the other hand, Joe Hallinan was not spared indignities, either -- he was filing mail in the newsroom just days after winning the Pulitzer (for nursing homes)(!!!) Maybe the Star just never treated its best people very well? Or its mediocre people, either? One of Dick's points is how rich the Pulliam Press was, but the underlings never saw that wealth, or rarely --- even those who won Pulitzers.
As for Myrta, she was smart enough to move on. She kept pace with the changes in the newsroom, some of which Dick, more or less, in my view, resisted.
I suspect that is at the heart of the rift, but then, my view is merely speculation.
I do think Dick nails Myrta when he says she was mostly disliked by the staff and she was regarded as a dilettante -- she moved thru a series of jobs rapidly. Not much in the attention span department.
Dick also believes Myrta wanted to be publisher, and when she knew that would not happen, he speculates, she was willing to break up the trust and take the money and run.
Anyhoo, interesting times and people...thanks for all your comments.
Now, I have a headache...

2010-11-14 19:14:18

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Too much was expected of Myrta. She was funny, energetic, attractive, and attempted to be a plebe in spite of her royal genes. Casting her as the 3rd generation Pulliam media mogul simply wasn't fair.

2010-11-14 19:44:34

ruthholl [Member] said:

Well said.

2010-11-14 22:01:01

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

It was different times, Tom. It was easier to be a media mogul-asshat for her father and grandfather, when fewer probing eyes asked questions of the moguls.

In the 80s and 90s, when Myrta was in her prime, career-wise, the Pulliam-Loeb style was no logner in vogue.

Ditto the Poytner/Bingham side of the coin, but they seemed to ease out of that limelighit with a lot more class.

Ms. Bingham moved to DC and doled out money to politicians/causes in much the same way Ruth Lilly did to poetry and health causes. On a smaller scale, but...media money of the Bingham/Loeb/Pulliam/Poynter model, is so damned much more than I'll ever see. In short:

Myrta wasn't required to break a sweat. So she didn't. She had a, well, snotty side that was more-evident because she changed jobs like I change socks. While others in the same workplace, you included Ruthie, labored and watched others work hard, too. That is, by human nature, difficult to observe unless you're one of the privileged.

Her fate was her attitude. And her fate includes a trust fund.

Something my kids will never be able to say, so, I taught hard work, period. If money follows hard work, so be it. If it doesn't, work ethic cna never be re-earned once lost.

2010-11-15 09:19:20

ruthholl [Member] said:

From Lynn Hopper:

If Tom Greenacres thinks Myrta truly attempted to "be a plebe", he was never around her much. She was only pleasant on her own terms, and of course, that language! It might not cause much stir now, but when even the men reporters found it offensive....well.
I think a printer story sums her up. One of them with a sense of humor came staggering up to a group and said, "Guys, guys, Myrta SPOKE to me!"
One asked, "No kidding! What did she say?" And he replied, "She said, 'Get the fuck out of my way'!"
I never actually had any problems or run-ins and at times she was actually almost pleasant to me in the ladies room. But other times it was as if I wasn't there. Most of the times.

2010-11-15 15:50:17

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

<I>Dick also believes Myrta wanted to be publisher, and when she knew that would not happen, he speculates, she was willing to break up the trust and take the money and run.</I>

Well, yeah. ECP wrote a letter to RD when Myrta came back to the paper after her separation from her husband saying she was the only grandchild with the balls to succeed him.

No secret there.

What she didn't count on was the obdurate opposition of her step-grandmother, Nina (who always resented the favored granddaughter named for the woman she succeeded).

IMHO, she was right to take the money and run. Those of us with stock in Central Newspapers also made out like bandits...just before the whole newspaper game collapsed. The timing of the sale to Gannett couldn't have been better.

2010-11-15 17:03:08

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"If Tom Greenacres thinks Myrta truly attempted to "be a plebe", he was
never around her much."

My wife was assigned the job of breaking her in, in the the Star women's dept. Myrta was young, and recently divorced, the last a circumstance she didn't talk about because it appeared her ex thought he'd hit the jackpot when he married her. She became part of our social group, which focused on cards and drinking and motorsports-- we raced sportscars, and rallyed-- and we had a great deal of fun on weekend trips. She lived in a rented double on north Penn where we had pitchins because we all were so broke, and seriously dated a richly skilled auto mechanic (who later worked for an F1 team). Myrta never had any money, even when she played poker with us: she would play until she lost the $5 she came with, and then quit. All in all, she was amusing, good company, a friend.

We were pals from about 1969-1974, when wife and I moved to NY.

I never worked with her, and didn't try to resume our friendship when we moved back to Indianapolis in the 1980s. But I stand by what I said above: she had high expectations thrust upon her, and that must have become tiresome.

2010-11-15 17:30:51

hendy [Member] said:

I saw only her philanthropy, and only annual visit to board meetings of an org where I was vice chair. Quick, curt, outta there. No matter. Deed done.

2010-11-15 21:08:00

ruthholl [Member] said:

From Lynn Hopper, to Tom:
Now that I know who you are, I do ealize that we moved in very different circles, and that you do/did know Myrta on a different level. I only worked at the Star in my own little sphere, one she was not interested in, so our contact was limited. And of course, there was an age and "station" difference. She could be pleasant at times, but--in my view,
anyway--never hesitated to be rude...maybe the worst rudeness of all, not even realizing it!

2010-11-16 09:48:21

Jason [unverified] said:

It's great to put personalities to names. Thanks for all the fascinating comments.

2010-11-16 11:32:07

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Myrta does have a well-honed talent of looking through people she doesn't want to see.

2010-11-16 17:44:16

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Myrta is a fascinating, frustrating individual. I generally had good relations with her. I think we got off to a good start because I honestly didn't know who she was my first week at The Star so I was just talking unguarded and freely with her -- even bitching about about The Star's editorial policy! At lunch, the group I generally ate with would joke about the paper and all the personalities. Our running gag was this: When Myrta was little, she told Gene that she wanted a Mickey Mouse outfit, so he gave her The Star. Tough as she was, I did see her cry when she read a story by Gail Sheehy in Vanity Fair about her cousin Dan Quayle. Apparently Gail had taken her into her own weird confidence to get quotes and such and then wrote a very flawed article called something like: Just Being Danny. As events turned out, I later became fairly well-acquainted with Sheehy. At a dinner at the Press Club in DC, she told me that she hated having to burn Myrta as she did. I still told Sheehy that her piece broke no new ground and only reinforced the Republican power-brokers (James Baker, Cheney, et al) who were Quayle's true enemies. But I digress. One other DC-related story about Myrta. She came to DC and I was a part of a group that met up with her, including Susan Headdon and Mike McNamee and a couple of other folks I can't remember but who had ties to The Star. We went out to a decent (read expensive) restaurant and I think everyone at the table had expectations that Myrta, being a millionaire and all, might pick up the tab. Well, that didn't happen, causing an awkward moment, when we were digging around in our pockets. Despite all that, I always liked Myrta for her profane sense of humor and her absolute lack of self-awareness as she crashed and whacked her way around the newsroom like a Baby Huey with a sub-machine gun. For her faults and inabilitiess, she did bring The Star out of the graphical Stone Age. The unforgiveable thing she did, however, was her role, whatever it was, in the sell of The Star to Gannett. That act was the ruination of many careers and lives of a lot of good people who had sacrificed plenty for The Star. Maybe it is well that she has so little self-awareness, and no acts of philanthropy now can ever atone for what happened in the early 2000's. Just my thoughts....and this, too: I am grateful to Dick Cady for the rest of my life for giving me a job that allowed me to reach my dream of being a newspaperman. I never knew Cady all that well and mostly feared and revered him.

2010-11-17 09:50:39

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Ruthie, this blog and its posters are a true gem. I learn a lot every time I read a new post.

Thanks, George. Great stuff.

2010-11-17 12:44:54

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

As a point of humanizing Myrta, whom I liked: 40 yrs ago my wife and I double dated with her and Andy Jacobs.

Talk about giving grandpa a terminal fit. (I think he'd gone to his reward by then....)

2010-11-17 14:16:18

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"We went out to a decent (read expensive) restaurant and I think everyone at the table had expectations that Myrta, being a millionaire and all, might pick up the tab. Well, that didn't happen, causing an awkward moment, when we were digging around in our pockets."

See, I think what people took for brusqueness by Myrta was her defence against this kind of expectation. Why should she be expected to pick up tabs, rich or not? I think she got a lot of this early on, especially from her husband, and her understandable reaction was "well screw you, I'm travelling steerage from now on." It was a running joke in our bunch that she was always pockets-out, but it didn't matter, she was fun and drove a beater Volvo and rented a little double and wasn't pretentious- quite the opposite. We were always glad to have her arrive, and thought the world of her when she bought a Victorian dump on Alabama- it had been a carved up rental-- long before the area became gentryfied, and got her hands very dirty rehabbing it; she turned it into a showplace.

2010-11-17 14:24:59

You Know It [unverified] said:

It always seemed like Myrta and Russ were little children playing newspaper.

2010-11-18 12:21:39

ruthholl [Member] said:

I love George's comments. Thanks for some fresh insight, and the Baby Huey image is priceless. Also very interesting about the Sheehy article etc.
I also agree with Tom's analysis on Myrta's early commitment to downtown living. Both Myrta and Russ moved downtown before it was fashionable, and they invested in neighborhoods that a lot of people with their status and income would never have considered.
Also, Myrta was generous to a mutual friend who went thru hard times, and she was kind to me on occasion.
Everyone is complex; mercifully we are not, most of us, just "one way" but we all have redemptive qualities and I do think in many regards, it is tougher to be rich. More is expected, etc.
So let's not "eat the rich" tonight but try to understand and at the same time, our little entitlement is to chuckle at their eccentricities!

2010-11-18 17:04:38

russ [unverified] said:

Perhaps all the Myrta comments that are appropos have been made. Missing is that when young Gene found out about her shall we say dalliance with a Star staffer (quite talented as a reporter, photographer, artist and musician), he became an ex-staffer and actually left the state. Some think he was bought off.

2010-11-18 21:48:19

William [unverified] said:

I avoid Amazon.com...So,outside of Amazon,where can I find the book for purchase?

2010-11-23 19:41:41

RUSS [unverified] said:

WILLIAM--- Try the publisher, Riverviewbooks.com or get autographed copy from author Dec. 4 at Historical Society's Author Fair.

2010-11-24 23:38:42

William [unverified] said:

Thank you,Russ.

2010-11-26 04:50:58

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Re: Myrta + Russ --

It should be noted that Russ (generally considered a cipher) is mentioned nowhere in Cady's book.

2010-11-26 12:50:14

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