(Updated June 3, 2018)
There was a memorial service yesterday afternoon for Larry Hughes, an old friend and a fellow journalist. An honor guard from the American Legion was there to salute a former Army veteran. After taps were played, an American flag was presented to his sister. It was a powerful ceremony.
Then a man in the audience stood up, said he was a former district attorney and judge and wanted to let others know that Larry Hughes had always done stories about local issues that were fair and free of opinion. What a tribute in these times, from citizen to citizen, to a first-rate newsman.
This morning the sun was out, the sky was clear and it was warm enough to wear shorts, but it’s turned out to be a rotten day. Word came around lunch time of the death of an old friend from my days at ABC Radio News, Larry Hughes. Larry was a desk assistant when I met him and was writing a book about his 13 months in South Vietnam as an Information Specialist in the U.S. Army.
He would come out to Long Island from time to time with a chapter or two of what became his book, “You Can See A Lot Standing Under A Flare In The Republic Of Vietnam.” We would talk about the book, go to a bar and at least once (after a few drinks) joined in a softball game. He was also showing chapters to another writer-editor at ABC News, Radio, H. Paul Jeffers. I suspect he followed few of my suggestions because William Morrow & Company published the book.
After ABC, Larry went into local news in the Hudson Valley and loved it. He covered stories, went to Arizona to report on baseball’s spring training and wrote a column for many years for the Poughkeepsie Journal. A few years back I reconnected with both Larry and Gil Longin, a fellow writer-editor from ABC. We would have lunch once a year at some scenic place picked by Gil or Larry.
I worked a lot of big stories from a distance—the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the death of Mao Tse-tung, the slaughter in Tiananmen Square, the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan—but Larry did his work up close. Knew the players be they politicians, cops or defendants. His stories at our lunches were always more colorful, better, funnier than mine.
He was 73 years old.
Two of the many images of Larry that stick in my mind: this kid from Indiana had never had scrambled eggs on a hard roll until Larry ordered me one at ABC; and on our first home leave from Munich in the early 1970s we went to see Larry and both adults and children sat around talking while eating a bucket of chicken from KFC.
In August of 2015, he wrote a column marking his 43 years at the Poughkeepsie Journal. Here’s a taste:
“My first City Editor was GAP – George A. Palmateer, crusty exterior, soft interior. He’d been around forever. GAP took an extraordinary amount of time and patience to make me a reasonably competent print journalist.
“I handed in a short police story. Couple guys arrested for gambling. They were charged with shooting ‘crap.’ A note soon came to me: ‘Craps is gambling. Crap is doo-doo. GAP.’ ”
(I told you he had better stories.)
Posted May 26, 2018
If you scroll way down on the Salutes column to your left, you’ll find a piece from 2015 about Larry Hughes.