Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saluting the best investigative reporter I ever knew

skipfloflash I rolled into the driveway a little before 6 p.m. today, having spent more than 18 hours behind the wheel of the Lexus over a three-day period.

The point of the exercise was to attend the induction luncheon Saturday of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame because my old Indianapolis News buddy, Howard K. “Skip” Hess, was one of five inductees.

I left Friday morning in a state of turmoil, having just discovered that my desktop hard drive crashed and praying that I can recover the data before it dies completely. That’s not a fitting prelude to a carefree road trip.

I spent Friday and Saturday nights with good friends Jim and Lauri south of Crawfordsville. They are superb and generous hosts and feted me Friday night with a great dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

I was up before the sun on Saturday to beat it down to Shapiro’s Delicatessen in downtown Indianapolis for breakfast with Indianapolis BMW Club friends and to collect a tank bag Harold Patterson generously offered. Then it was off in a driving rain to Bloomington and the Hall of Fame festivities.

Skip’s acceptance speech was the highlight of the event and he dazzled me by including a shout-out to me calling me the best reporter/rewrite man he ever worked with. High praise, indeed, especially delivered to an audience of about 200 of the state’s journalism luminaries. His remarks recalled a breaking story in the 1970s when disgruntled businessman Tony Kiritsis wired a shotgun to the neck of real estate broker Richard Hall and paraded him down Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis. Skip was on the scene, dashing from one pay phone to the next and I was on the other end taking down notes and quotes. It was the best work we ever did together and stands as a high point in my newspaper career.

I slept a little later this morning. Laurie made breakfast and modeled the 1940s apron I brought her from my mother’s collection. I made a quick dash to Maria’s parents’ house to drop off some of Austin’s stuff, then drove down Ind. 75 to pick up I-74 west as an alternative to construction-jammed I-70 to connect with I-57 south through Illinois to Sikeston, Mo. and I-55 to U.S. 412, U.S. 49 and home.

I covered 1,115 miles over the weekend.

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