Harris on the Record

What impacts you and the media doesn't cover. – Art Harris

About

After 40 plus years of writing, it’s difficult to put paper and pen aside, especially when the conscience is pricked by some action or activity impacting the public: thus the decision to again pursue the elusive truth.

According to blog etiquette, a brief resume of the author is suggested. So, in all modesty allow me proceed.

Born in 1936 in Brooklyn, N.Y. during one of the nation’s hottest summers, my parents moved a few years later to Delaware where my father was employed as superintendent of the Wilmington transit system. My primary education began at Walnut Green School – a public school with one room, one teacher for six grades, outside toilets and a pump for well water, and I walked there and home two miles each way – character building they say.

In second grade, I entered Tower Hill School, a private school in Wilmington, started by duPont families. I continued there through the sixth grade, and spent the seventh and eighth grade at Friends School, also in Wilmington, and the arch rival of Tower Hill. The story line my parents told me for the school switch was because Tower Hill tuition increased.

In the summer of 1950, my father accepted a position in the management of the Indianapolis Transit System as vice-president and general manager. The only connection I had with Indianapolis was that I used to listen to the race.

At the end of August, my parents and I drove cross-country to Indianapolis, and the day after Labor Day I entered at Shortridge High School as a freshman. I went from private schools with enrolments of a few hundred to public education with enrolments of thousands.

Talk about culture shock.

We had lived on 40 acres in the bucolic Delaware countryside that was owned by Crawford H. Greenewalt, the president of the DuPont Company, which assisted in the development of the atomic bomb.

In Indianapolis, we lived on the second floor of a duplex at 38th and Pennsylvania and the landlord lived downstairs.

To say I was a bit miserable is putting it mildly.

Somehow I amazed teachers and administrators and graduated from Shortridge in 1954, and that Fall entered Indiana University despite premonitions by my advisor that I’d never graduate. Regardless of the odds and fraternity life, I gained an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree – a masters in American History. My primary advisor was Dr. R. Carlyle Buley, a Pulitzer award winner.

Entranced by academia, 1960 found me on the staff of Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill. with my then wife of two years, and a year later with a son, Wes. Ironically, one of the students there now lives several blocks from me, Jim Voyles.

Dismayed by the college president, a position of sports editor opened at the local daily newspaper, The Jacksonsville Journal & Courier, which hired me despite my handicap in journalism and sports. (My credentials – student manager of the IU varsity baseball team.)

My seven years with the Illinois newspaper was a fabulous learning experience, and in 1968  I returned to Indianapolis as a general assignment reporter with The Indianapolis News at twice my Illinois salary. My boss was Wendell C. Phillippi, whose family was from Zionsville.

During the 34 years with the Pulliam papers, and subsequently Gannett Newspapers, my assignments included covering city and county government, state courts, the environment beat and the Indianapolis 500, retiring in 2001.

It was a wonderful run and I was privileged to meet and know many great Hoosiers, as well as some scoundrels.  The Pulliams were an extraordinary family to work for and with.

My spouse, Elizabeth (Betsy), whom I met while at The News (she of  The Indianapolis Star),with her daughter, Ayun, and I moved to Zionsville in 1978 after Judge Paul Johnson married us at his home on a rainy June 29 evening while his wife fried salmon patties.

In 2003,  a vacancy opened on the Zionsville Town Council when Lance Lantz resigned to become street superintendent. The four council members were split 2-2 between myself and the other candidate, Guinn Doyle. Town Clerk-Treasurer Beverly Harves broke the deadlock, and I was elected to complete the vacated term.  That May, in the primary I was elected, and in 2007 was re-elected serving until 2011.

Betsy and I, along with several black Labrador retrievers, have lived in our Zionsville log home for 32 years and plan on staying.

My hope in composing this blog is to bring readers in Zionsville and Boone County thorough, impartial and balanced coverage of news which impacts their lives and their families that somehow is missing in the media.

And, thus I continue the search for the elusive truth.

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