Miles and time are the age-old enemies of friendship. We develop close friends, share good times, and work together. Then we go different ways, the years pass, and soon we're just memories.
That, pretty much, was the way with Carter Hague and I. We worked together throughout most of the seventies at the Daily Nuisance. Then I left to go back to the mainland and he left for other jobs on the island. We exchanged letters for a while, this being before e-mail, and one of my sons, who was still on the island, sent me a tape of Carter live-on-the-air for WVWI reporting-on-the-scene some major storm or other. But, but communication lapsed as it willand it was just a week before the end came that I heard, from Stevie Bornn, another Daily Nuisance veteran, about Carter's cancer.
As it will happen, once you get out of touch, it was too late to talk again. Igot through to the hospital only to find that the phone in his room was disconnected, because he could no longer manage to physically handle a phone.I did get through to a floor nurse who relayed some words, banal I'm sure, from me, and I heard a "thanks" from Carter, But that was it.
I did send off a letter, and also e-mailed a copy to Carter's friend, Linda Pinson, which I hope she got to him before it was too late. Not, that that would have made him any better as far as his health is concerned. It's just that we feel better ourselves, as when we go to the hospital to pay our respects to a friend who's on the way out of this world, and hope that it will do the same for the one in the hospital bed. Whatever, it's over now but the memories are still here. Those memories do reflect his writing skill and his tremendous ability to get beneath the surface and find out what really was going on, particularly on the crime scene. But more than his professional expertise, I recall his human characteristics. He was fun to work with, and fun to be around.
Who else, when the German destroyer Rommel was in harbor and some of thecrew were whooping it up in Sparky's on the Waterfront and looking for"vimmen," would have collected a tour bus driver and conned the Germaniclusters into boarding the van for a trip to Katie's where the women could he found. He did not venture there to report upon the scene!
Or who else could be so renowned, in our family at least, as a purveyor of "hockey pucks at midnight," due to the rather late and very well done entrée he presented at the first dinner hosted at his digs.
And who else, could have contributed so well to the Mash-style nomenclature of the 1970s Daily News newsroom. Stevie Bornn, of course, was Radar, and someone else was "Jungle Jim¾but Earl Melchior deserves the credit for that.
Some of the others and their "Mash" names would be best left unsaid, as those so christened might be say as did Queen Victoria, "We are not amused."
The main thing, though, is that Carter was an integral part of what was a very unique, and now rarely found, at least in the printed media, example of the best in journalism. This was long before our time, but where else could he have worked on a paper and for a publisher who, during World War II, would take the position that responsibility came before rights, and advocate the extension of the draft to the Virgin Islands. Unpopular? Yes. Principled? Yes.
The Daily News was still as opinionated and principled in the seventies as in the forties, and I suspect that, wit and self-deprecating humor aside, Carter would regard his decade at the paper as his most fulfilling contribution to the island he came to call home. He just never would put it quite that way.
A TRIBUTE TO CARTER HAGUE
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