Baltimore Evening Sun (27 August 1912): 6.
Every Baltimore newspaper man whose service goes back to the nineties heard with sorrow last week of the death of Joe Callahan, who died on Wednesday night. He was the sort of man who does credit to any profession, a square and straightforward fellow, a believer in his work, an upholder of high and honest professional standards. I knew him best during the last years of the old Herald, of which paper he was City Editor. With the ship sinking under his feet, he stuck to it manfully, resisting the easy temptations of his post, heartening and holding up his men, alert to the end for good work and good intent. He had a sharp eye for that peculiar combination of qualities which makes reporters, and he discovered, as the saying is, some of the best of the current generation—such men, for example, as Lester Rawls, of the American, and Robert R. Lane, late of the Star. If he had any vanity, it revolved around this fact. Nothing tickled him more than to hear that one of his old hands was going up the ladder.
Joe became a City Editor in Baltimore at a time of great changes in the newspaper business. The old-time, underpaid, good-fellow, boorze-fighting reporter was going out, and a new generation of cleanly and self-respecting man was coming in. I believe that no newspaper man in the city was more enthusiastic for that change, or did more, within his opportunities, to bring it about. The young men that he found for the Herald, almost without exception, were young men of education and high aims. A college man himself, he had a natural preference for members of that clan, but he was anything but a pundit, and no man could have been more hospitable to the beginner struggling from below.
Say that he was an Irishman and you say that he was a wit. A famous story-teller, with an enormous repertoire, all about fellow-Celts. But, being an Irishman, he also had his vein of melancholy, his concern.with the sorrows of the world. Always he had a plan on foot, in those old days, for some one or other of the wrecks of journalism, reporters overcome by age, or drink, or simple bad luck. And always he was ready for a profound and back-breaking disputation. I remember arguing with him, one hot summer night, from 8 o’clock to midnight, on the subject of free will, a field in which my own Egyptian ignorance was only equaled by his amazing readiness. The details fade, but I remember how he stood like a rock, disposing of my authorities, even the bogus ones, one by one.
Joe faced his long illness like a man, in the face of constantly falling hope. So long ago as 1904 he was in bad health. The day of the great fire he was sick in bed, but he got out and tackled his killing job, and to it he stuck until he dropped in his tracks. Eighteen hours a day—and no surety that salary day was ever coming! Such men make the newspaper busiuses worth while. They are not plaster saints. They are not fake martyrs. They don’t take their work too seriously. But all the same, they do it to the best of their skill and strength, honestly, faithfully and courageously, and so they make it the easier for every man who follows after them.
Allegation of a clergyman in today’s Letter Column:
[The Hon.] Mr. Mencken pronounces the war against political corruption a failure, and in the next paragraph declares that it has a social value and holds in check the political mountebanks. These two propositions are not easily reconciled.
Why not? Can’t a thing have a perfectly good immediate effect and yet fail in the long run? Bright’s disease is a wholly incurable malady, and yet its discomforts may be considerably relieved and the inevitable time of death postponed. Most of the really stimulating and useful combats never come to an issue. For instance, the combats between idealists and realists, democrats and aristocrats, moralists and immoralists, progressives and conservatives. Each of these, I believe, will go on forever. Neither side will win. And yet the struggle is worth while.
Consider, again, a combat mentioned specifically by this clergyman—to wit, that between libertarianism and determinism. Is the will free? One party says yes; another says no. In 10,000 years neither has shaken the other. Well, as for me, I am content to witness that eternal draw. Both sides are right and both are wrong. It would be extremely dangerous to have either side wipe out the other. The stimulation of struggle would be gone; peace would be far more costly than war.
I believe the same thing of other combats—that between landlord and tenant, that between plutocrat and Socialist, that between politician and anti-politician. Each has its high uses. Each side is benefited by the effort to hold the other in check. The world in general to benefited whenever either to turned back from final victory. Life is not static, but dynainic. It is an eternal becoming. Once it halts it will be worthless.
Ten thousand dollars reward for the hide of the Christian Scientist who hath shot me full of malicious animal magnetism and maketh me to sneeze 450 times a day, to the delight of the Hon. the Bentztown Bard and such like ribald fellows! Five thousand for half his hide! A thousand for a schnitzel!
Now we all drink the “alleged” bad water and before long some of us will have the “alleged” typhoid fever. So, at least, the super-Mahon is alleged to have alleged, in his alleged counterblast to the alleged Sunpaper. Which calls to mind one of the past masterpieces of the Hot Towel: “The alleged dead man.”
Contributions to the ———ing Harry monument fund, to noon today:
———A bit slow, true enough, but no doubt things will look up a bit when the Democratic Telegram gets its “letter of introduction” before the city contractors and horse-shoers. Meanwhile, it seems strange that the jobhounds of the City Council should be so backward. Have they no gratitude?
Free advice to the Maryland Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage: see that the Maryland Suffrage News is received regularly by everybody in doubt.
Forty-two cheap but clean cigarros to good old McMains, camerlengo, etc., for any evidence. etc., etc, that etc., etc., etc.
Come on, Colonel Pabst! We faint, we despair! Slide us a mass or two of that American Muenchener!