A Life in Writing: The Story of an American Journalist

Charles Champlin, Syracuse University Press, 2006
Charles Champlin, Syracuse University Press, 2006

Charles Champlin relocated to Cleveland in 1942 to live with his mother, Katherine Marietta Masson, and stepfather, Charles Haynes, a Cleveland native.  His autobiography, A Life in Writing: The Story of an American Journalist, provides a glimpse into the life of Mr. Champlin, who went on to write for Life Magazine, Time Magazine and the L.A. Times where he was a well known film critic.

The first couple of chapters talks about life in Cleveland during the 1940s.  His stepfather’s father, also Charles Haynes, worked in the glass factory.  Sprinkled throughout the story are several names from the Cleveland area: Carpenter, Fred Wise; Grove Brockway and Sons; Butcher, George Kaiser, the App family, Harold Morse and Morse Garage, Dr. Marvin Brown, Father John Butler of St. Mary’s Church and Episcopal Priest, George MacNish.

Mr. Champlin has also dedicated a chapter to his interactions with Camden.  He tells of how he came to commute to Camden High School and his time living and working in the village.  He wrote for the Camden school paper and was published in the Advance-Journal.

Another chapter is dedicated to his brother, Joseph Champlin, who went on to become a priest.  Many in the Syracuse area may recognize him as he spent some time at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

The remainder of the novel brings us through Charles’ time at Harvard, his service in World War II and his career.  A picture of the Haynes house, located just east of the village and a family portrait from within the house are both included in the publication.  It was from the backyard of this Cleveland residence that he wrote his first published short story.

This book is a great read from start to finish.  I would speculate that many Upstate New York residents will relate to Champlin’s life and draw similarities to the their own families.

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