Posts Tagged ‘Patricia Hearst’

Adventures With Mike Carey

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

I have two terrific stories to tell about Mike Carey who began his career as a photographer at the Times Herald-Record 44 years ago and who has just retired as the newspaper’s local editor.

I got to the Record in 1973 and was assigned to the Sullivan County bureau to work for the great Bill Lowry. Around that time Bill was writing investigative pieces about the “superfecta,” an exotic wager at Monticello Raceway whose payoffs often were stupendous and in which heavy favorites occasionally were passed by horses whose winning percentage was so bad you’d swear they only had three legs.

A man named Leon Greenberg was president of the track and also a Sullivan County International Airport Commissioner. He didn’t like Bill – or Bill’s colleagues, such as me – on several counts. There were those superfecta stories and there was the fact that Bill embraced the waggish explanation of why the name of the little-used county airport included the word “international.” Why? Because migrating Canada geese often landed on the runways to rest and never were disturbed by takeoffs and landings.

One day I got a tip that Robert Abplanalp, a friend of Richard Nixon’s, was interested in being the fixed-base operator of the airport and would be flying in to discuss matters with the commission. We were told there was to be no press, which didn’t stop us.

I met Mike at the airport and we waited. Across the terminal about 25 feet away stood Greenberg and the other commissioners. Greenberg was furious at my being there and ordered Mike and me to leave, but a sheriff’s deputy reminded him that the airport was public space.

At which time, Greenberg turned slowly from the deputy and started walking toward me while muttering a little too loudly, “I swear I ought to …,” whereupon Mike, bigger, broader, and taller than Greenberg, stepped in front of me and asked, “Ought to what?”

Greenberg turned away and to this day I believe that my nose owes a great debt of gratitude to Mike Carey. For a while, he generously used the pronoun “we” when telling the story.

Then there was the Patty Hearst story. There had been rumors that the kidnapped heiress-turned-terrorist had spent some of her time on the run in Sullivan County.

Finally, a UPI reporter covering Hearst’s bank robbery trial in California called to ask us if we knew anything about a creamery in Jeffersonville because there had been trial testimony that that was where Hearst and some of her cohorts spent a summer. It turned out to be a creamery converted into a house.

An editor in Middletown sent Mike up to Monticello so we could have photos with the story. I was set to drive to Jeffersonville, but Mike, who seemed to know every inch of the paper’s circulation area, said he wanted to shoot from the air.

He contacted a pilot he knew and the three of us climbed into a small plane. I announced that I hated flying, and Mike said I’d write a better story if I could see just how close Hearst was to Main Street.

Just go low and slow, I asked the pilot.

We were at about 1,000 feet when Mike spoke words I’ll never forget: “Hey, can you do any tricks with this plane?”

Before I knew it, the plane was rocking and rolling side to side. Then the pilot aimed the plane downward. Not 90 degrees but certainly about 30 degrees, which was steep enough. I held a handle and heard Mike laughing, then asking, “You OK back there?” I was not OK.

(When I spoke with Mike this week, he said, “I’d heard the expression about someone’s being so sick as to have a green face, but I never saw it. With you it was true. You were green.”)

Once Wilbur and Orville up there in front were finished with their tricks, we headed for Jeffersonville and after two or three passes, Mike spotted the creamery.

He got terrific pictures. Hearst really was very close to town.

Later we went back to the bureau where Lowry asked how it went. “Smooth as silk,” Mike said. “Page is fearless at a thousand feet.”