R.I.P. Mike Harden

December 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Photo by Dick Garrett, Scripps-Howard Newspapers/Grandview Heights Public Library/Photohio.org

Although Columbus Dispatch columnist Mike Harden and I had both worked for the Ohio Youth Commission early in our careers, our paths never crossed at the time. It was only in the final year of his life that we had the opportunity to meet and compare our experiences. When I initially mentioned our common background, he immediately asked, “Did you ever hear how I wound up there?” I said I didn’t, and he proceeded to tell me a story which I will now repeat to the best of my ability because I feel it illustrates the type of man he was.

After Mike got out of the service, he enrolled at The Ohio State University, graduating with a degree in journalism. One of his earliest jobs was as a legislative aid of some sort (I wish I had jotted down some notes; I am relying entirely on my memory). Initially, Mike found it exciting to be working behind the scenes in state government. However, he soon saw the ugly side of politics, too.

What Mike found especially troubling were the lies. He was enough of an insider to know what the real budget numbers were. But when it came time for state budget hearings, they were expected to lie about them. Mike said he reached a point where he simply couldn’t be a party to it any longer. When he stated his objections, he was “exiled” to the Ohio Youth Commission to do public relations.

Mike said he had a lot of fun working in the OYC central office, but did not feel he was given anything particularly meaningful to do. Afterwards, he worked on Ohio magazine and Columbus Monthly, before joining the Columbus Citizen-Journal in 1981. When it folded, he moved over to The Columbus Dispatch.

Throughout his career, Mike retained an interest in society’s forgotten people.  I regret that he did not get to finish his book on his bank-robbing uncle (and namesake) who had supported the family during the depression with the proceeds from his crimes. But I suppose all writers leave unfinished stories behind and if it hadn’t been this one it would have been another. R.I.P. Mike.

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1 Comment

  1. Linda Schnur said,

    Dear Mike,
    I have been wanting to find out information about the former Bureau of Juvenile Research which was located in a complex of dark red brick buildings on W. Broad St. I have a personal interest as I was kept there from July 17 l950 to December 15, 1950, when I was 8 years old. I would like to know the reason I was sent there. I was given vague answers, such as that I was nervous or disruptive in school(according to 1950 standards. I haved subbed in a number of classes and seen examples of disruptive students.) My father stated that they could not find anything wrong with me. I have been wondering, whether my file would still be available for me to study.as my parents are both dead. They hardly discussed it after I came home. It ws more or less swept under the rug.It seems as though people back then did not discuss certain things. Darn!! It seems as though ignorance was prevelant back then. The subject was brought up by a cousin, when I was accepted for graduate studies at Miami University in 1987. Some relatives thought if I would have been kept there longer when I was 8, maybe I would not entered teaching. or that my studies at the University of Tuebingen in Germany would have a different outcome(graduate level studies.) I did not know about such things when I was 8. I have and M.A. in German with certification to teach French and German. I have near native fluency in German and am fairly fluent in French. At present I am retired from teaching and subbing for different classes. What I am curous about what happened to children after they were released from the BJR and how they turned out. I am sure I am not a typical example. I believe considering the place not many of them made it to graduate school let alone college, not to mention studying at a German University. Last but not lest I believe that the matrons in the Girls’ Cottage were ignorant old bitties.
    Mike, I would apprecitate it if you could give me some leads. Thank you very much for your consideration.
    Sincerely with my best regards.
    Linda J. Schnur

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