When George H.W. Bush tapped Huntington's Dan Quayle almost out of obscurity to be his vice-presidential running mate in 1988, the event put Huntington County on the national map and our little newspaper was buzzing for six months. I was just a year out of college and was still learning about the newspaper business. I grew up a lot that summer and grew as a journalist. There were quite a few memorable photos from that time, and a lot of historic issues of the Herald-Press. Here is a sampling of some of the work we did.
The summer was hot. I mean, really hot.
Through June and July of 1988, temperatures had been in the 90s, and we hardly had any rain in Huntington.
I had been at the Herald-Press for a little over a year. We had a good little paper. There were three veteran journalists there, including Mike Perkins, the editor who had hired me as the photographer in the spring of 1987. There were also three of us who were pretty new. Duane Shuman was the sports editor. We had been on the Exponent staff together at Purdue and we shared an apartment in Huntington. Janet McIntyre was a couple years younger, but had some experience after previously working for the weekly Huntington TAB. We were young, but we were pretty good.
None of us on the staff had any idea what we were going to experience that summer. Beyond the heat, that is.
Dan Quayle was the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana, and wasn’t well-known outside of the state. He was also from Huntington. His parents owned the Herald-Press, and it wasn’t unusual for Dan to make a trip back to town once in a while to see his mother and father. He came to town early that summer for a visit. We took the opportunity to do a story on his visit, and I snapped a few photos as he made stops around town.
1988 was also an election year. By early summer, Vice President George H.W. Bush had pretty much wrapped up the Republican nomination to replace Ronald Reagan. The only question was who Bush would choose as his running mate. He was probably going to wait until the convention in August to announce, but speculation ramped up all summer.
By the middle of July, Quayle’s name popped up as a possible running mate. Because of his relative obscurity, national media started to descend on Huntington. In anticipation, it was decided to send someone to the August Republican convention. Janet took the company credit card, packed as quick as she could, and was off to New Orleans.
It was there Bush made the choice of Quayle official on Tuesday, August 16.
At the paper, we were off and running as well.
Our editor, Mike Perkins, was on vacation with his family. Needless to say, he cut the vacation short.
The Herald-Press issue on Wednesday, August 17, 1988, flashed the all-caps headline "DAN'S THE MAN." It is probably the most famous front page in the history of the Huntington newspapers, and had all-local writing in multiple stories.
In the newsroom, we were fielding calls from all across the country from news outlets looking for information and photos. I handled the photo requests. Before Quayle had been chosen, and just in preparation, we had already started gathering old Quayle family photos. Now, I was making reprints and filling requests from Time magazine, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and just about every other major news outlet.
Quayle’s parents had gone to New Orleans, and Duane and I were asked to go stay in their house, mostly as a security measure. That was fine with us; the Quayles had an indoor pool.
But days were crazy. It was announced that there would be a campaign kickoff rally in front of the Huntington courthouse on Friday, August 19. That just happened to be across the street from the newspaper building.
The area closed off at 11 a.m. for the 12:30 p.m. rally, meaning our noon deadline was already blown. My day was spent running film back and forth from our other photographers in the crowd back to the darkroom for processing and printing. Our paper was delivered a bit late, but we had tons of local stories and photos for that day and also in the following days.
In addition to all the extra stuff we were dealing with, we also had our regular work of putting out a daily newspaper. It was certainly a challenge, and we often worked on little sleep.
We prepared for the country to descend on Huntington. The rally came and went. It was all pretty much a blur. So was the rest of the summer. I didn’t even notice the heat.
Janet came back from New Orleans, and then Mike Perkins went out on the campaign trail for a time.
It was still crazy in the Huntington. Bob Woodward, the journalist behind “All the President’s Men” came through the newsroom looking for a Quayle story. He prodded Janet, who was all of 20 years old, for some inside information.
She told Woodward, “Do your own work, Bob.”
We continued with our own local coverage into November when the Bush-Quayle ticket was victorious. It wasn’t until after inauguration day in January of 1989 that things started getting back to normal. It wasn’t normal for long. In February, the Huntington North girls’ basketball team made a run to its first state finals. But that’s another story.
Because of our special family access, we were able to put together stories and editions that no one else had. Many of our issues became keepsake editions for people in Huntington County. We really came together as a news staff, and we young ones really grew up in a hurry and honed our craft.
We also found ourselves the subjects of stories by other media outlets. They wanted to know how our small-town newspaper was handling the coverage. Duane wrote a story about our early coverage for Editor&Publisher. Famously, there was a story and photo in Playboy magazine with Mike Perkins standing on the newspaper building steps. He's still the only person I know who has posed for Playboy.
As vice president, Quayle returned to Huntington for a July 4 parade in 1991, and another rally in front of the courthouse. In 1992, Bush and Quayle were running for reelection, and Huntington was once again a campaign stop for the Vice President.
Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, and Quayle left the pubic eye to his home in Arizona.
The Quayle Vice Presidential Museum opened in Huntington in 1993, and Dan Quayle would return each year for a fund-raising golf tournament. The Herald-Press would always field a team for the event.
Quayle was back in the national spotlight in 1999, deciding he would run for presidency. He kicked off his campaign at North Arena in April.
By that time, many of our newspaper staff had changed, but we still knew how to cover the big event under deadline pressure.
Quayle’s presidential bid did not last very long. He polled in the middle of pack, and eventually dropped out of the race in September. The nomination went to George W. Bush, who would go on to win the presidency.
The Quayle family would continue play a role into my own future.
Dan Quayle’s parents, Jim and Corinne Quayle, remained owners of the Herald-Press. Jim died in 2000, and their son Mike took over running the paper.
By 2006, the family was looking to get out of the newspaper business, and eventually sold the Herald-Press to Paxton Media Group in 2007.
Paxton’s vision for the direction of the paper didn’t match with the way we had been doing things. Mike Perkins left in late 2007 to work for Parkview Huntington Hospital. I followed in February of 2008, leaving after 21 years to join Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters as their communications coordinator.
We went our separate ways, but we all shared in that hot summer of 1988, and knew we had contributed to chronicling an historic time in Huntington County’s history.
The photo above is my favorite from the Quayle coverage, and one of the most enduring. A Quayle display was being set up in the Huntington library, and this cutout of Dan Quayle was part of it. Quayle supporter Marj Hiner and her mother, Dottie, had to carry the cutout a few blocks to the library. The photo ran in our paper and I sent it out onto the UPI wire service, where it was picked up and published by papers all across the country.
Below are a few more of my photos from that time:
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