Longtime Glens Falls newspaper writer Maury Thompson retired last fall after 21 years at the Post-Star. Now, at age 59, he’s beginning a new chapter as a freelance writer and is working on a book about Glens Falls native Charles Evans Hughes, who was not only revered for his lengthy political career, but also for his facial hair.
WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard caught up with Thompson at a recent event in Glens Falls. He asked Thompson how his latest project compares to his work over the last two decades.
Maury Thompson: Well, it’s similar in that I still have a beat and I got out and report every day, and come up with stories. But I’m reporting on things that happened 100 and 120 years ago instead of things that happened yesterday. And how it is different is that I don’t have daily deadlines and multi-tasking pressures.
Lucas Willard: What else are you doing on your free time?
MT: Well, I’m doing some freelance writing for Hill Country Observer and for EDC Warren County and I’m working on a book to come out in the spring called “The Animated Feather Duster: Slow News Day Tales Of The Legendary Facial Hair Of Charles Evans Hughes.”
LW: Can you describe it for me? The facial hair?
MT: Yes! Well, he was known throughout his career for his whsikers. And as I’ve been researching about Hughes I kept coming across newspaper reporters writing about his whiskers throughout his life. And reason I thought, “well this will make an interesting magazine article.” And when I came up with about 80 sources, I said, “this is a book!” And so it’s a book also that tells about his life and career through the perspective of his whiskers. I tell people that to the best of my knowledge it’s the first biography of a politician’s whiskers. But it’s also a book about how the media covered Hughes.
LW: And what’s the significance of Hughes to around here?
MT: Well, Hughes was born in Glens Falls and came back many times throughout his career. He served as New York Governor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned from the Supreme Court to run for president, narrowly lost, and then served as U.S. Secretary of State under Harding and Coolidge. And then he was U.S. Chief Justice. And I tell people he’s probably the most famous native son from Glens Falls until Jimmer Fredette.
LW: You’re still here in Glens Falls. No plans to go vacation somewhere else? Or are you sticking around here?
MT: Well, I might go south for an evening in Wilton, but other than that I am sticking around Glens Falls.
In addition to writing about Charles Evans Hughes, Thompson is also giving a series of history talks at the Rock Hill Bakehouse cafe on Exchange Street in Glens Falls over the next several months:
February 21st at 7 p.m., Charles W. Anderson: 19th Century Civil Rights and Political Orator
March 21st at 7 p.m., When Patronage Was Praised: The Politics of Addison B. Colvin
April 18th at 7 p.m., Historic Motion Picture and Television in Warren County
May 16th at 7 p.m., "Cool's Switch Riot" in the 1902 Glens Falls Trolley Strike
All events are free and open to the public.