I will never forget my first meeting with Vernon MacKenzie, by far my favorite (and most memorable) professor at the University School of Journalism, as it was known in the '50s. An AP war correspondent in Europe during the fiercest days of World War II, Prof. MacKenzie was renown as the last man alive to have interviewed both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
One can imagine the stories he had to tell, and tell them he did. My assignment was to interview MacKenzie about his interviews of The Evil Twins, and I made an appointment to meet in his Lewis Hall office. When he opened the door to his private office, I was overwhelmed by a huge Nazi flag draped over a couch that stretched from wall to wall. Turns out that this flag once flew over the SS headquarters in Berlin, and MacKenzie commandeered it for his own just before he left Germany for home.
MacKenzie taught a course in "propaganda" in the mid-50s, and, as you might imagine, it was always full, with a waiting list. He could regale his students for hours with stories about his war experiences, and his interviews and conversations with the famous and infamous.
He also taught a beginning course in news reporting, and he always told his students on the first day of class, "You will get a flunk for the day if you misspell (1) my name or (2) the word "it's/its." Even today, almost 50 years later, I never misspell it's (or its). It's amazing how often I still see the word misspelled, even in full-page ads or on neon signs or billboards!
Vernon MacKenzie was one of the greats of UW Journalism.
Rolf D. Glerum, '55
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