The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 9, 2013

Marquis Childs, Journalist


His parents were Republicans, but his writings leaned to a more liberal bent. In 1976, he stated, “The Clinton Herald was the Republican newspaper,” (which has been denied), “and across the street was The Advertiser, the Democrat newspaper.” Young Marquis was interested early-on with the newspaper business and rued the day that people went from “studying a newspaper for half a day, and now (1976) only read it for 30 minutes!” He recognized that television would become a powerful new medium, but “Someone should analyze the psychological impact” of it, he prophetically opined during his riveting speech to an audience of 300 at Vernon Cook Theatre.

Indeed, the handsome and articulate Childs appeared often on television in its early days. He wrote several books and hundreds of magazine articles and, at one time, his column appeared three times weekly across the country.

A proponent of civil rights, he warned that journalists must resist the ‘heady wine’ of proximity to power and refrain from trying to shape world affairs. It jeopardizes the integrity, the independence of the observer-reporter.”

Marquis Childs was an adventurer/writer who could have traveled many literary paths. He loved the River like Mark Twain and was in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, as was Ernest Hemingway. Childs chose to write in newspapers rather than use his mighty skills in the lucrative field of novel-writing, although he wrote a few.

Writing in The "Lincoln Mercury Times” in 1951, he said: “Sawdust Town, there was contempt and pride in the name; in the booming, roaring, shrieking mills that from the early spring into late fall worked 12 to 14-hour shifts, the great mountains of sawdust piling higher and higher. And the raw, sweet-smelling lumber was shipped out in trainload after trainload to the west. The River was carpeted in the early spring with logs, and neither anxious mothers nor vigilant raftsmen could keep boys of the town from swimming and diving off those rafts. It was dangerous sport, because if you slipped under that brown carpet of logs, it was ten-to-one you would never come up alive.” --- (Sawdust Town, 1951)

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