Private papers paint fuller picture of legendary reporter

In 1976, Aloysia Hamalainen went to work in the Washington bureau and eventually became its office manager extraordinaire. Her maiden name was Aloysia Pietsch (pronounced peach) then, and as how everyone in the bureau was addressed by last name, that’s how she was known even after she married.

Aloysia Hamalainen

By then, Raymond Brandt had retired and had died. But sometime after Hamalainen took her post, Brandt’s nephew came in with papers that had been found among his property.

“These papers were removed from the office when Brandt retired and were out of the office for 20 to 30 years,” Hamalainen recalled. “They were private papers that Brandt brought home because he apparently didn’t want anybody else to see them.”

In addition to Charles Ross’ letter to Bruce Bliven, among the papers is a brief response from the New Republic editor. “I can only say that I regret deeply that I didn’t have this information in the office when we wrote our few lines about Paul Anderson,” Bliven wrote.

(Ross died of a heart attack in the White House Dec. 5, 1950, while serving as Harry S Truman’s press secretary. Ross’ papers are housed at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., but this exchange between Ross and Bliven over Anderson’s death is not among them.)

Brandt’s papers are kept at the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia, but the memos that were traded between him and Reese are not part of that collection. Neither is the correspondence between Brandt and a Memphis State University student who had written in 1965 to ask about Anderson. The letters are among the papers preserved by Hamalainen.

The student was writing a biographical sketch on Anderson, and he pestered Brandt with questions: “If possible, I would like to know what type of reporter he was, as seen by his co-workers. Also, how he went about getting a story and what he did with it after he had gotten it. In addition, what you would consider to be his biggest assets and his biggest shortcomings.”

A few days later, Brandt sent his response: “I regret that I do not have the time to give you adequate information about the complex, contradictory character of the late Paul Y. Anderson as a reporter and as a person. Several years ago, a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, after more than a year’s study of Anderson’s writing and interviews with persons who had known him, concluded the true story could best be told in a novel.”

Terry Ganey is the St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has more than 40 years’ experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent, and he has worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.