Great moments in copy desk history-III
It was an otherwise uneventful evening in May 1982. The copy desk at The Cincinnati Enquirer was at work on the first edition for the next day. Webb Matthews was reading the wires.
Webb was the sort of polymath who crops up on copy desks. He knew more about U.S. vice presidents (and had stronger opinions about them) than any man ought to. He was writing, in his free time, a verse drama in heroic couplets after the manner of Dryden. He shared a few pages of it one night in a bar; it was far from contemptible.
As wire editor, Webb was monitoring the incoming news from the wire services to which The Enquirer subscribed, alerting editors on the news desk to updates and breaking news.
Then the announcement came from the Associated Press that Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward Cleaver for 235 episodes of Leave It to Beaver, had died. Webb sang out, his voice carrying through the newsroom:
“June, I’m dead!”
(If you’re under 40, ask your father why this is funny.)