Sunday, July 19, 2020

My Favorite Dick Perry Story

One of Dick Perry's 20 books, a history of Cincinnati radio station WLW.
(WARNING: No Bourbon Content.)

Dick Perry was a journalist in Cincinnati and Chicago, the author of 20 books, six plays, and hundreds of articles. When I knew him, I was in college at Miami University and he was living in Oxford, stringing for the Cincinnati Post. We got to know each other when he was reporting on the campus anti-war demonstrations in which I participated (1969-1973). We became friends and I always enjoyed seeing him. He was the classic ink-stained wretch, in a shabby trench coat, always lurking inconspicuously just around the corner like the pro journalist that he was. He was about the same age as my dad.

My favorite Dick Perry story took place on election night, 1972. I was covering it at the Butler County Courthouse in Hamilton for WOXR in Oxford, and he was covering it for the Post. At some point in the evening, Dick caught my eye and motioned for me to follow him. He led me through the dark corridors of the empty courthouse until we came to an office. The door wasn't locked so we entered. Dick turned on the lights. He motioned for me to sit, as we both did.

"Chuck, as you know," he said. "It is illegal to consume alcohol in the Board of Elections on election night. This, however, is the Board of Education." From the pockets of his trench coat he produced two bottles of beer, which we proceeded to open and consume before returning to our work in the Board of Elections.


Unknown said...

Your "no bourbon" posts are at least as entertaining as the rest, keep 'em coming!

Malcolm Johnson said...

Hello Chuck,

I recently found your piece on Dick Perry and was delighted to read of your adventure with Dick. I hope you were able to have more. Like you, I got to know Dick while a (sophomore) student at Miami. This was around 1964-65. Two of his friends, Don Martello and Bruce Goldflies were friends and band mates of mine. As I was still a teenager, hanging out with the three of them was an advanced course in how to be cool and funny without being obnoxious.

Dick's sense of humor was fast and often provocative. I always had to pay attention to what he was saying and how he was saying it. As a Theatre/Speech major I directed a one-act play my senior year. Dick was generous and allowed myself and another student to use a couple of his shows. The audience loved our efforts although the old professor wasn't as thrilled with those crazy newfangled ideas.

Over the next three decades life took me far away from Oxford. But whenever I and my family got back to visit, Dick and Jean Perry were always welcoming friends.

By the way, I wish I had known you knew Dick when I attended your bourbon talk at the Capital Cellars in Frandfort, about a hundred years ago. I was there and had a fun and educational time. Thanks for that and thanks for posting your story about Dick and yourself at the courthouse in my old hometown of Hamilton.

Malcolm Johnson
Miami Class of 1967