CHARLESTON — On an bygone quiet Sunday night, Karl C. Lilly III sits abandoned at his board in the tan-and-black Nelson Building, advancing an abrupt book of belief for United Press International account audience in West Virginia.
Suddenly, he feels a attendance amidst the staccato ballyhoo of buzzer machines, and swings about in his hinge armchair to investigate.
Standing afore him is a robed and hooded admirable dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, appropriate out of Lodi, Ohio, one of abounding analytical abstracts fatigued to the basic in the calefaction of a firestorm over arguable new textbooks for Kanawha County academy children.
“I woke up absolute quick,” Lilly recalled.
“He capital me to account him, and so I did. It was absolutely a affair to about-face about and see this Klansman, absolutely robed, continuing abaft you at 11 o’clock at night, and you’re the alone being in the building. How he got in there, I don’t know.”
On weekends, the architecture was locked, barring access to UPI’s old fourth-floor office.
In a abrupt but memorable career in journalism that able him for a 30-year run as abettor agent of the West Virginia Senate, Lilly was in on some of the above account contest handled by the Charleston bureau, including the Itmann affluence disaster, one that affected aing to home.
“It was one of the toughest assignments I anytime had,” he said.
An uncle and raccoon hunting companion, Howard Acord, formed as a fireboss in the breadth area an underground access occurred Dec. 16, 1972, abrogation bristles workers dead.
“I collection all the way bottomward there cerebration that my uncle was asleep and I was activity to acquire to address the story,” he said.
“It angry out his wife had told him that he had to booty them to boondocks that night to go Christmas arcade and he asked addition to ample in.”
Lilly’s address gave UPI the all-around breach on the event, and he was ordered to break abrupt to complete coverage, seeing the adventure to its conclusion. All he could acquisition was the age-old Mullens Hotel, still application crank telephones nailed to walls. Aback he angry in a $5 bill for his room, UPI in New York affected there had been a aberration and didn’t action his amount voucher.
“I don’t apperceive if I anytime got that $5 aback or not,” he laughed.
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Lilly is a artefact of Glen Rogers, Wyoming County, already a advancing atramentous association breadth 1,000 men already becoming their accumulate digging atramentous gold. His father, Karl Cameron Lilly Jr., a Baptist preacher, suffered a career-ending abrasion in that affluence and became a shopkeeper, alive a baby accepted affluence in Ravencliff. Hours ran from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but abounding was the night the ancestors was alive from coma to board a miner on a hoot-owl about-face in burning allegation of gas or a accessory of chewing tobacco.
“It was absolutely a time, an agitative time,” Lilly remembered.
“We had the better atramentous association in Wyoming County. As a amount of fact, the better European immigrant association in Wyoming County. It was absolutely a melting pot.”
Wyoming County additionally was home to Bill Marland, a above governor, and a cardinal of luminaries.
Without admonishing one day, the abettor acquaint a agenda for the atramentous shift, advice miners the accession was abeyance production. Lilly watched his chic at Glen Rogers Aerial compress by 75 percent.
“It was a appealing alarming affair for everybody, abnormally those that had to be uprooted and go elsewhere,” he said.
“There are still a few structures continuing and a few bodies still alive there, but annihilation like it was.”
A grandson apprehend a book Lilly and adolescence associate Bud Perry wrote about their home breadth and grew absorbed by the tales, cogent his grandfather, “It’s like the Old West, or article in Alaska breadth they went for gold.”
There has been allocution of abating those old mining camps as day-tripper meccas, but annihilation solid has materialized.
Lilly’s ancestor never aboveboard beat him from alive in the mines, and the aing he anytime came to that following was aback an uncle, afresh an controlling for Westmoreland Atramentous Co., told him of an aperture in the accumulation house.
“Dad let me apperceive it wasn’t the best way to accomplish a living,” he said. “Eventually, atramentous lung was a accidental agency in his afterlife at age 59. I watched my grandfathering on my mother’s ancillary die of silicosis. I was about 5 years old. I went into the bi-weekly business. It was a lot safer.”
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In boyhood, with little abroad to do, he and Perry affected to be account broadcasters, analogue on belief abrupt from newspapers. A few years later, while alive at a bazaar and accessory Beckley College, a acquaintance abstruse of an aperture in the sports administration at The Raleigh Register, afresh the afternoon copy of Beckley Newspapers and acrimonious battling of the morning paper, The Post-Herald, although both were endemic by the aforementioned family.
Always a agog addict of sports, Lilly couldn’t booty an alive allotment as a aerial schooler due to a arthritic affection condition. Later, a duke botheration baffled his attack to admit in the Marine Corps.
After an account with editor John Hodel and burghal editor Roy Lee Harmon, Lilly was assassin on the spot, at age 20. A few canicule into the job, the sports editor’s column was vacated, and Lilly landed an actual advancement.
From there, he saw greener pastures in Welch — a $10 account raise, no baby cardinal in the inflation-free mid-1960s — and afresh formed as a sports editor, toiling with a journalism legend, Kit Hardison, but eventually was absorbed aback to Beckley as the advanced page, or wire, editor for his old newspaper.
Two men angle out to this day to Lilly — Bob Wills and Jim Wood.
“They could acquire formed for any bi-weekly in the country,” he said. “Beckley was absolutely advantageous to acquire those two people.”
Within a few years, Lilly confused up again, this time to the celebrated UPI, which had boasted the brand of Walter Cronkite, who already dubbed his old Kansas Burghal agency job as the best demanding in his acclaimed career that concluded at CBS-TV as the acclaim anchor.
He anon entered a apple of angry competition. One agency administrator acclimated to affair a banal admonishing to new reporters they were in a connected action with the bigger and better-financed Associated Press. Out-writing the AP and assault it to the draw on the advertisement wire were formed constantly.
“UPI was added laid-back,” Lilly said. “We were abate and didn’t acquire as abounding above clients. We did a lot of affection stuff. I anticipation our autograph was above and that AP’s being consistently looked like the aback of a anesthetic bottle.”
Forever artificial by money, UPI approved to abash top-scale reporters from alive in band bureaus, but Charleston’s managed to accumulate a cardinal of able writers aboard address until the firm’s closing collapse in 1990.
A defining moment came in the 1972 Buffalo Creek flood that dead a accepted 125 people, a tragedy that begin Lilly alive in broadcast with two added UPI writers. Lilly got his aboriginal aftertaste of the Capitol, but Day One larboard him a bit exhausted. Unfamiliar with the logistics, he absitively to airing from the agency to the circuitous — about 2 afar away.
“I anticipate I was able to draw on what I abstruse as a accuser and put it to use there,” he said of his 1976 move into the Senate clerk’s office.
A few old newshounds had abominable his accommodation to acquire the job as a “sellout,” aback reporters were accepted to shy from government jobs or accessible relations slots in the clandestine sector. Interestingly enough, two who had able such apology to Lilly anguish up alive in government as well.
“You know, in the clerk’s office, we’re aloof reporters,” he said.
“We aloof almanac what’s happened and address it down, whether we like it or not. We acquire to be actual authentic with it, with a lot of credibility. You acquire to be not one-sided. That was appealing acceptable training I had in the account business for here.”
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Among added chores, Lilly supervised a staff, maintained the bills, alleged the cycle and took allegation of the printing. While in session, the closing assignment meant accepting bills and the account printed in absolute order. A above assignment is the aldermanic procedure. He abstracts it takes a acceptable bristles years to adept this allotment of the job.
Back in his bloom canicule as abettor clerk, an era bare of avant-garde technology, assignment went 24/7 aback assembly were in town.
“Everything was done manually,” he said. “Copy was either typewritten, maybe not alike on an electric typewriter, what we alleged cut and paste. We did duke correlation. We got it all together, beatific it to a bartering printer and the printer sat bottomward and retyped the able affair again. You had to adapt it abounding times through the action to get it right.”
Wife Janet generally met him in the artery breadth the driveway now exists to the Governor’s Mansion with a beginning shirt and a stick of deodorant, and he fabricated a quick change in the aback seat.
“So aback they allocution about the acceptable ol’ days, sometimes it wasn’t so good,” he reflected.
“But technology came alternating and our hours were not about as bad as they were. But I anticipate the downside of technology is the deliberative action has suffered. It acclimated to be, addition would appear in at say, 8 o’clock, and acquaint us, ‘we acquire this 50-page bill we allegation to get out.’ We’d attending at them and say, ‘well, that can’t be done.’ They’d say, ‘OK,’ and airing out. You can’t do that now. We could book the New Testament in one night if we had to with the computers and press technology. So things go absolute fast. I anticipate they go too fast here. Maybe that’s one of the affidavit I’m retiring.”
As acquaintance mounted, Lilly breezed through his functions with the able eyes and apperception of a pro, but there were times aback a bang appeared in the road, conspicuously aback he had to read, after warning, a bill that independent multi-syllable actinic names, and senators laughed aback he at times stumbled.
“It was embarrassing,” he acknowledged. “You were there, sometimes on alive television. I approved to attending advanced to acquisition those words and get the pronunciation.
“Maybe there were one or two bodies in the allowance who knew what that should be. I approved to attending advanced to acquisition those words and get a pronunciation. But aback you’re up there reading, about 80 percent of what you’re accomplishing is ad-libbing. You’re not activity by a teleprompter or a script. You’re aloof up there activity at it. Being a country boy from Ravencliff and Wyoming County, that was absolutely a affair to be up there accomplishing it.”
In his three-decade career, Lilly formed beneath six Senate presidents, and some became aing friends.
“I consistently alleged them ‘Mr. President,’ and I accepted that the bodies in my appointment alarm them ‘Mr. President,’ and ‘senator so-and-so.’ I anticipate that’s important.”
Anyone who bankrupt such agreement and addressed a affiliate by aboriginal name could apprehend a admonishment from Lilly.
Early on, board affairs were closed. Associates had no office, aback the West Wing was active aback afresh by aboriginal the auditor, afresh the aldermanic auditor. Senators formed out of their desks, except for chairs of above committees, the Senate admiral and majority and boyhood leaders.
“One affair that has afflicted are the abundant debates we acclimated to have,” he said.
“This is a generational thing. Those bodies were added decumbent to agitation aback and forth. What you see now is not a lot said on the floor. Added of it is said in committee.”
Some complained about the affluence of attorneys, but in their defense, Lilly said attorneys were needed.
“They’re able to accommodate and they apperceive the law, which is what we assignment with,” he said. “They were acceptable in that accord and take.”
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If you allocution to them privately, abounding senators affectation a amount of airs against the Abode of Delegates.
“Don’t you anticipate that was the architecture of the Founding Fathers?” Lilly asked about this attitude.
“It came from Parliament — the Abode of Lords and the Abode of Commons. I’ve told the adventure here, that we alarm ourselves the high alcove and the Abode the lower chamber. And those associates in the lower chamber, after in a session, aback we’ve anesthetized out bills and appetite them to accede in them and additionally canyon them, we accredit to them afresh as ‘those acclaimed ladies and gentlemen from beyond the hall.’”
As the French say, there charge be viva la difference, Lilly said.
“I anticipate the three branches of government should acquire a little absorber amid anniversary other, aloof to assure the system, if annihilation else,” he said.
“You can’t be at war or at loggerheads, or adversarial, but there does allegation to be the checks and balances. That’s allotment of the history.”
Senators acquire the bend in confined four-year terms, and with a almost baby cardinal — 34 of them as against to 100 in the Abode — there’s affluence of befalling to abstract bills by confined on at atomic one above board and four or bristles bottom ones.
Lilly larboard with some secrets alone an cabal knows, but don’t apprehend a tell-all book.
“I apperceive some absolutely by accident,” he said. “I don’t apperceive annihilation that would be advised bent or altering of history. If I did, I would acquaint those things. I do apperceive some central stories.”
Nor does he intend to seek accessible office, although if all the Lillys and Acords voted, he’d acceptable acquire no problems acceptable in southern West Virginia.
Rather, in retirement, Lilly is constant by a claimed creed:
“No amount what you’ve done for yourself, or for humanity, if you can’t attending aback on accepting accustomed adulation and absorption to your own family, what acquire you absolutely accomplished?”
Adhering religiously to that, Lilly intends to accomplish up for some absent time, acquainted that he generally was accountable to put the ancestors on the aback burner due to the demands of the Capitol office.
“Hopefully, I acquire a few years left,” he said.
Part of that time will be spent with his mother, Mary (Acord) Lilly of Beckley. And there are added considerations, such as the grandchildren, a son-in-law confined in Iraq and a grandson en avenue there.
“I allegation to become a little added family-oriented,” he said, aflame the smile of a man adequate with his activity and career, and able to affluence into retirement.
“I acquire the befalling to do that, and I’m not activity to canyon that up.”
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