Tuesday, December 30, 2008
One of the oldfashioned reporters and editors was Worth Gatewood, who once was a columnist on the Houston Post. He belonged to a generation of colorful writers. Worth decided to go to New York and he became an assistant editor on the New York Daily News. Arthur Laro, who was editor of the Houston Post, wanted Worth to come back. To disguise my mission, which was to try to talk worth into coming back, Arthur sent me on a junket to England with a stopover in New York. I stopped off and told Worth we still loved him and invited him back. He and other editors held forth in a bar across the street from the Daily News. This was the old days of sensational and competive newspapers. After that I went on to England where I had an objective of my own. We landed in Manchester and I obtained a government guide and played sick so I could make a secret trip to the Comet aircraft plant. One of the large passenger planes had crashed over Rome, killing about 200 passengers. The plane was powered by Rolls Royce engines, which I did not believe were to blame. When I got to the factory it was like attending a funeral. Eastern Airlines had cancelled their contract with the British company. Eventually I found out that the fuselage of the new post-war plane had collapsed because of the stress of high level flying. When this became common knowledge it led to the construction of airplane bodies with stronger material and to the development of world wide flying. I wrote the story but The Post chickened out because I could not name my source. Eddie Rickenbacker, who was president of Eastern Airlines, decided to buy planes from a West Coast manufacturer. When I got back to Houston Worth Gatewood was in the middle of the editorial room. He had come home.