A Star in the Hoosier Sky
By Lawrence S. “Bo” Connor
Hawthorne Publishing; $18.95
In the mid 20th century, the daily newspaper was still the primary source of news for most people. There was no Walter Cronkite or CNN or Matt Drudge. Every city of any size had two, sometimes three newspapers and people picked the one they liked most and stayed with it.
For 41 years, from 1949 to 1990, Lawrence S. “Bo” Connor was the embodiment of the hard-working newspaperman. He began his career as a police reporter and retired as managing editor of The Indianapolis Star, in the process watching the city he loved grow and grow.
His memoir, A Star in the Hoosier Sky, is a lovingly rendered remembrance of those years, when reporters kept bottles of whiskey in their desks and people actually shouted, “Stop the presses!” when a big story broke.
The book is filled with humorous anecdotes about wayward reporters, newsroom pranks and the delusional people who once wandered into The Star offices at 307 N. Pennsylvania St.
More than that, the book is a tribute to the journalistic pioneers who worked alongside Connor for those 40 years. Longtime readers of The Star will appreciate his stories about the legendary sportswriter Bob Collins, the columnist Tom Keating and dozens of others.
Connor pulls no punches when it comes to describing Eugene C. Pulliam, the devoutly partisan owner of The Star in those days. Connor recalls editors being instructed to kill or downplay stories because they didn’t match Pulliam’s political agenda.
But Connor is justifiably proud of the two Pulitzer Prizes the paper won under his watch and of the people with whom he worked. Along the way, he tells the backstory of many of the notable events in Indianapolis history: the Tony Kiritsis hostage crisis, the Blizzard of ’78 and the Marjorie Jackson murder case, among many others.
The book is a delightful and thoughtful read. If it has a flaw, it’s that it’s too short. To cover all of the events Connor witnessed would have required a book at least twice its size. Too often, Connor is in the middle of telling a fascinating story and then quickly moves on to another one.
But that’s a minor quarrel. A Star in the Hoosier Sky is not only a well-written book by one of the legends of Indiana journalism, it’s an invaluable addition to local history. For four decades, Connor loved this city, its residents and his newspaper. All of that comes through convincingly in this marvelous book.
A Star in the Hoosier Sky is available at local bookstores, at hawthornepub.com or by calling 317-867-5183.