Louisville’s love affair with Hugh Haynie

The famous Hugh Haynie Christmas cartoon

Hugh Haynie 1223b.jpgThe last time I saw Ned, he was at some political cocktail party, and just happened to be standing there talking to Hugh. Ned was out of politics, and had landed the dream job of V.P. and special counsel for the Southern Railway. His job required him to be a “roving ambassador” for the railroad, and to ride around the country in his private rail car. You know, the kind with overstuffed leather chairs, bedroom, kitchen, and the works. It even came with a butler and a chef. He was trying to convince Hugh to quit cartooning and accompany him on a grand tour. I don’t know if they ever managed to pull it off, but I do know Ned and Hugh remained close buddies for the rest of their lives.

In the fall of 1963, I became editor of my college newspaper, The Bellarmine Concord. We needed an editorial cartoonist, but couldn’t find any student with the requisite skills (like getting along with the editor). With all the hubris of youth, I stopped by Hugh’s office at the C-J and offered him the job. He claimed to be flattered, but allowed as how his salary at the newspaper (Dad would never tell me what it was) was considerably higher than what the Bellarmine Concord offered (none), and that he really couldn’t serve two masters (me and Barry Bingham).

Hugh Haynie 1223h.jpgAs a compromise, Hugh agreed to let me reprint any of his cartoons I wanted in my school paper. This was in the days before syndicates and their lawyers needed to be consulted for such an arrangement. He agreed to be my cartoonist, and I put his name in the Concord’s masthead. For an entire year, Bellarmine College had the services of the world’s greatest cartoonist for its student newspaper.

The only problem was, it cost us thirty bucks to make a photo cut of an editorial cartoon for the old flatbed presses we used to publish the Concord. That was about a third of our budget for each issue, and meant we would have to cut back on basketball photos, and would thus alienate most of our readers. (I never fooled myself that Bellarmine students picked up a copy of the Concord to read my editorials.)

Hugh Haynie 1223c.jpgNo problem. Hugh gave me a large box full of the original zinc plates used by the Courier-Journal to print his cartoons. The plates were used to run off proofs of the cartoons, and then used to make curved Papier-mâché mats, from which the giant rotogravure plates were made. We just glued one-inch wooden blocks to the back of the zinc plates and fitted them into our letterpress chase to print the Concord’s editorial cartoons.

One of the zinc plates Hugh gave me was his 1961 Christmas cartoon, and I ran it in the December 11, 1963 issue of The Bellarmine Concord. That was the issue with the Haynie cartoon of JFK on the front page, superimposed over an American flag at half mast. Most of the stories that week were about the assassination.