The period covered is that of his professional nonage—from his entry into journalism as a reporter for the Baltimore Morning Herald in 1899 to 1906. It was not all Baltimore, however, for he went into brief exile when the fire of 1904 destroyed the plant and forced the paper to print in Philadelphia for five weeks. During those roaring years the young journalist did little, if anything, to bring uplift to his city, nor did he become an influential figure in the councils of state or nation. But he did gain a rare knowledge of his community in all its more colorful and uproarious aspects; and he has set them down here in his own inimitable way. It is not the great events of civic life that draw his attention, not the respectable—and dull—doings of respectable citizens. Rather it is the caperings of the judiciary on their days off, the mysterious and melancholy ways of the commercial artists who haunted the newspaper offices of the period, the peccadilloes and generosities of cops and cabbies, of madams and Baltimore’s omnipresent Afro-Americans that make up the bulk of this highly personal memoir. As such it brings to livid life the whole of an American city of sixty years ago. It is a book to read and savor, not only for its constant delightful humor, but for its fine picture of the salad days of American journalism as well.
About H.L. Mencken
Henry L. Mencken was born in Baltimore in 1880 and died there in 1956. He began his long career as a journalist, critic, and philologist on the Baltimore Morning Herald in 1899. In 1906 he joined the staff of the Baltimore Sun, thus beginning an association which lasted until a few years before his death. He was co-editor of the Smart Set with George Jean Nathan from 1908 to 1923, and with Nathan he founded The American Mercury, of which he was sole editor from 1925 to 1933. He was the author of many books, most notably The American Language, Prejudices, Happy Days, Newspaper Days, Heathen Days, and Minority Report.
Charles A. Fecher was born in Baltimore in 1917 and lives there still. He is the author of The Philosophy of Jacques Maritain and Mencken: A Study of His Thought. He has written articles and reviews for a large number of publications, including The Critic, The Catholic World, The Sign, and the Baltimore Sun.