Thursday’s edition of The Sun in Baltimore carried an obituary for Roscoe C. Born, who died at 95. I hadn’t thought of him in years. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when I worked at Barron’s, Roscoe was a Washington writer the magazine had inherited when Dow Jones closed down the National Journal. It’s hard to grasp that he was younger then than I am now, particularly as I viewed him as an aged gasbag trading on his better days. When his copy landed on my desk, he was a pain in the neck to edit; if he hadn’t asked a question, he couldn’t see why a copy editor should ask it. His Washington reporting was otherwise capable but could have appeared anywhere, lacking the liberal-market fervor that marked Barron’s. He had, I think, little interest in markets of any sort.
In any case, Roscoe came to mind this morning as I’ve been trying to avoid work, and his name brought to mind those of other Barron’s colleagues. Most of them are long gone. Jim Meagher, who had worked with Roscoe on the National Journal, died a few years ago in his eighties. We enjoyed talking because he had gotten his start at the Rock Island Argus, and we compared notes on whether that was a worse place to work than the neighboring Moline Dispatch.
The commodities writer, Dick Donnelly, keeled over one evening at home in his sixties. He’d had an ideal gig: four days a week of exchanging raunchy and memorably misogynistic jokes with commodity traders and one hurried afternoon pounding out his weekly column.
Frank Campanella, who did the legwork on Alan Abelson’s iconic column (and was in his own right a sensible investor), died a few years ago. After I left the magazine my wife and I had a cheerful dinner with Frank and his wife at a French place in the forties and then went up to the Plaza for strawberries and cream and violins.
Bob Bleiberg, the splendid editor (and probably the last editorialist in America to defend aluminum house wiring), died in 1997. Abelson went a year or two ago. Michael Brody, who wrote good free-market editorials but considered himself a Maoist, left Barron’s for Fortune, then left Fortune to grow grapes in California, and dropped like a shot bird one day when he was less than forty years old.
Googling around, I saw the glum news that the former foreign editor, Peter C. DuBois, died this March at age 80. Funny how things stick to you. Peter affected a slightly British manner, collected modern art, and called me “Bub.” Sometimes I call my son “Bub.”
Peter Brimelow remains upright, author of books on stock market gurus and immigration. Jim Grant remains not only upright but six-five or thereabouts, thriving as editor of a Wall Street standby, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, and author of biographies of Bernard Baruch and John Adams, among other books. No point to this note except recollection.
October 10 2015