Historically, we are a daring bunch. I have written before about my admiration for those willing to toe the frontlines (The Comfort of our Homes), speaking mostly about journalists. But novelists, playwrights, and poets have been just as daring...or just downright criminal, like good 'ol O. Henry--whose story reminds me of one Paul Harvey might tell!
|Paul Harvey and FBI Dir. J. Edgar Hoover. |
Courtesy Washington Post and FBI
It was the cold month of February in 1951. The country was recovering from the affects of World War II and the young me werer fighting again, this time in Korea. Back home, nuclear testing was going on at Argonne National Laboratory, just west of Chicago. Many objected, but one young journalist went a step further. This man drove his Cadillac Fleetwood to the Argonne property at around midnight on February 6th. He threw his overcoat over the barbwire-topped fence and climbed over. Security guards were upon him in a moment, but the journalist ran until headlights caught him in their light, and the journalist was forced to tell a tale. He claimed his car had broken down, but eventually gave the true story: a plan that involved scratching his name on "'objects that could not possibly have been brought to the site by someone else" (source). The man refused to comment further, demanding to talk to the American public before a congressional hearing. Security guards found a complete script in the man's Cadillac. The journalist had planned to tell the public the same story he told the guards, a tale of his accidental stop at the nuclear testing facility, and how "we could have carried a bomb in, or classified documents out." Espionage charges were considered, but none were pressed because this man appealed his innocence on the radio. This man debuted his own radio program on the ABC Radio Network. And that show was...Paul Harvey News and Comment...
And now you have...the rest of the story.
Thought Harvey was the nice voice, didn't you? Well, there are plenty more that won't surprise you.
source). Kesey fled to Mexico, where he stayed for eight months. Upon his return to the U.S., police arrested the author and he spent five months in the San Mateo County jail.
While Harvey was taking on the American government, Beat Generation founder William S. Burroughs was getting into a different sort of trouble. In that same year, 1951, Burroughs shot and killed his wife, Jean Volmer, in a drunken game of 'William Tell' in Mexico City. He spent 13 days in jail until his brother bribed Mexican officials to let him out on bail until his trial. But more problems followed. Burroughs' attorney soon fled Mexico, following his own legal problems involving a car accident and altercation with the son of a government official. Burroughs decided to skip bond and return to the U.S. He was convicted, in absentia, of homicide and given a two-year, suspended sentence.
|Porträt des Thomas Morus,|
by Hans Holbein the Younger
|O. Henry as clerk at |
First National Bank of Austin
Okay...I know I promised you Emile Zola, Voltaire, Robert Lowell, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Oscar Wilde. But this post has grown long enough...and I keep finding more great information! So I will have to break this theme into two (or more) posts. Tune in next time for...the rest of the story!