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June 1990, Vol. 113, No. 6
Recollections of a former editor
Lawrence R. Klein
Lawrence R. Klein became something of a BLS legend during his 22 years as editor-in-chief of the Monthly Labor Review and director of publications in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When he retired in 1968, he established an annual award to recognize good writing in the MLR. To do this, he matched the funds his friends collected to buy him a retirement gift and donated the total—the latter matched by his friend, then Assistant Labor Secretary John W. Gibson. As a trustee of the Lawrence R. Klein Award Fund, Klein not only participates annually in selecting the best articles published in the MLR, but also continues to contribute to the fund each year.
To help mark the Review's 75th year, the current editor invited Klein, now 82, a resident of Tucson, Arizona, and still engaged in teaching writing, to reminisce about his 22 years at BLS.
The day I left the Monthly Labor Review is fuzzy, lost behind a turn in the road, but the events of that first chilly day in March 1946 when I came to the Review are frozen in time. I had come to town very early in the morning, by train, a stranger, and carried my luggage to the BLS offices, which then were in the old and ornate Labor Department building at 14th and Constitution, a latter-day Horatio Alger character carrying his possessions, only this time not as a bundle on a stick.
Charles D. "Chuck" Stewart, a friend from college days at The University of Michigan, was the only staff member I knew, and so it was with a feeling of insecurity that I reported at the Commissioner's office. Isador Lubin was the Commissioner, but he hadn't been around the Bureau in almost 6 years because President Roosevelt had dragooned him for defense and war work at the White House. A. Ford Hinrichs was the acting commissioner. As he wasn't in, Aryness Joy Wickens, his deputy, received me. After a briefing, I was taken to my office, which consisted of three rooms: A reception room where my secretary and a typist sat, a connecting office for a leading editorial staff member, and another connecting office for me. Leading off the reception room was a huge bathroom, tiled from floor to ceiling, complete with glassed-in shower. This suite had been used by Hugh S. Hanna, my predecessor, who had retired 2 years previously. When the building was designed, the suite had been intended as the Commissioner's office. But Commissioner Lubin wanted a corner office, so one was assigned to him with a newly-installed bath. An ironical footnote: My stay in the royal suite lasted only about 2 years. I was ousted to make room for the departmental information director who insisted on a private bath. Sic transit gloria mundi.
This excerpt is from an article published in the June 1990 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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