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• Notes from M.W.Tully

This biographical note written by Andrew Tully's wife Molly is the Introduction to the book Andrew Tully on Everything and is reproduced with the permission of Molly Wood Tully.

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Notes from Molly Wood Tully

Andrew Frederick Tully, Jr., was born on October 24, 1914, in Southbridge, Massachusetts, a couple of miles from Old Sturbridge Village. He was the youngest of six children of Andrew and Amelia Mason Tully. His mother was a Protestant of Scottish descent, his father from an Irish Catholic family. The small town of Southbridge centered on textile mills in the 19th and early 20th Centuries; but after the mills closed down, the American Optical Company took over, and most of his family and friends were employed by AO.

His oldest sister Beatrice, eighteen years his senior, was the family matriarch during most of his life, especially after their parents died, and he wrote about her in many of his columns. His next older sibling, Lucy, was a frequent playmate (and protector) whose athletic prowess he admired. She was one of the smartest, best-informed persons I ever met; she was reputed to have read every book in the local library, never missed an episode of Jeopardy and knew most of the answers.

Andy graduated from high school in 1932, at the depth of the Depression, so there was no possibility of his going to college. Instead, he took a job at the service station owned by his oldest brother, Ben, while also working as a part-time reporter for the Southbridge Evening News. He had been a delivery boy since the age of ten, and his talent for creative writing had been recognized by his high school English teacher, Thecla Fitzgerald, who encouraged him to pursue writing as a vocation. From Southbridge, he moved on to the nearby and larger Worcester Evening Post, where he worked for three years.

at desk

In 1939, he became managing editor of the Southbridge Press, a weekly that had been a local institution since 1891. He bought the paper after seven months, when the owner retired, becoming — at the age of 25 — the youngest newspaper publisher in America! Many of his friends and family worked as reporters, photographers, and pressmen at the Press. His nephew, Tim Moriarty, who later became a well known and prize-winning journalist himself, got his start as Andy’s chief sports editor, photographer, and general assistant. Tim eventually became sports editor of Newsday on Long Island; he was inducted into the ice hockey hall of fame for his contributions to the sport and as author of a book about the famous Esposito brothers.

After two years, Andy sold the Press to the Evening News which wanted to eliminate competition from this weekly, and in the process turned a profit for himself. Meanwhile, he had married his high school sweetheart, Mary Dani, part of a prestigious Italian family in Southbridge. They both had been active in high school theatrical productions. They lived in Southbridge and began a family of three girls.

With World War II underway, Andy was hired by the Boston Traveler. He wrote several stories about the famous 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire which brought him recognition as a reporter, and soon he was made a foreign correspondent and sent overseas, where he covered the Yankee Division made up of National Guard troops from all over New England. With mail sporadic and censorship heavy, Andy’s dispatches were often the only news folks back home had of their native sons. When the invasion of France began, he covered the D-Day landings and the battle for Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and the liberation of Paris. It was in Paris that he met the legendary Ernie Pyle, while both were staying at the Hotel Scribe, a popular headquarters for newspaper correspondents.

berlin

On April 27, 1945, Andy was among the first three Americans to enter Berlin to witness that city's fall. After overhearing the decision made at the River Elbe to allow the Soviets to “liberate” the German capital, he and another American journalist, Virginia Irwin of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and jeep driver Sgt. Johnny Wilson, defied the U.S. Army and drove to Berlin to cover the event. He sent several descriptive dispatches about that experience, the first eyewitness accounts available in the United States.

The Army subsequently expelled him from Europe. But seventeen years later, what he had seen became the book, Berlin, Story of a Battle, which was a bestseller in 1963.

Andy was ready to ship out to the Pacific when the war ended. He was then hired by the New York World Telegram as an overnight rewrite editor, and moved his family to suburban Dobbs Ferry, New York. One of his early assignments at the Telegram was a series of articles about the famous mansions on Fifth Avenue — later published as his first book, Era of Elegance. It described the lifestyles of such families as the Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Astors, and included pictures of their famous townhouses.

It was also at the Telegram that he got to know Robert Ruark, a nationally known journalist, and they became fast friends. When Ruark went on to work for Scripps Howard in Washington, he told Andy about an opening in the Washington bureau. Andy was hired and moved to the nation's capital, settling with his family in suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland, in 1948. From his Washington base, he covered many historic events, such as the Sheppard murder trial in Ohio, the sinking of the ocean liner Andrea Doria, and Fidel Castro's overthrow of the Batista regime in Cuba.

In 1953, after a trip to the Soviet Union to report on the Russian people, he received the Ernie Pyle Award and the Headliners Award. The Pyle citation read: “for reporting judged to be most nearly exemplifying the style and craftsmanship for which Ernie Pyle was known.” It called the series of articles “the best reporting to come out of Russia” during the year. “He was sent over to do what none of the pundits could or would do — try to see the Russians as just people,” said the judges. “He did that — and with stories that were sympathetic, observant and understanding.”

Washington D.C.

Andy was Scripps Howard's White House correspondent under Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. At the same time he was continuing to write books. In 1961, he left Scripps Howard to spend more time on books and to write a syndicated column. His books totaled sixteen, about half of which were non-fiction, half fiction. Most were published by Simon & Schuster. Other publishers included Morrow, McGraw Hill, and Coward, McCann and Geoghegan.

He was a prolific writer who often published more than one book a year. He is the only author to have New York Times bestsellers on both the fiction and non-fiction lists simultaneously.

Molly Tully

Images: From the top

1. Andrew Tully and his sister Lucy (playmate and protector)
2. At 25, Tully becanme the youngest publisher in America when he purchased the Southbridge Press
3. In April 1945, Tully was one of three Americans to witness and report on the Russian "liberation of Berlin.
4. Tully was the Scripps Howard's White House correspondent under Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy and wrote a nationally syndicated column from 1962-1987.