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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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Part:         Session:         Page of 512

I'm now resuming reading from the memo: “But then the publisher added that he wanted Frankel to succeed me not on or near the date of my mandatory retirement of May 1, 1978, but on January 1, 1977, sixteen months earlier and only nine months from now. This did take me totally by surprise, and I said I did not think this was a good idea at all and could not understand the necessity for it. There seemed to me to be plenty for Mr. Frankel to do until my retirement date, both in helping unify Sunday and news departments and in fact, in travel, writing, and generally preparing himself for the job for which however capable he was, he had no prior experience. The publisher told me that this was only a suggestion that he was making, that it was to be considered by me in the nature of a “non-conversation.” I'm now interrupting the memo to simply put in here verbally that I still so distinctly remember his use of that word in his talk to me, a “non-conversation.”

That is -- I'm now reading from the memo again -- “nothing definitive as to the date and that I should talk this over with the one person in the building who had any knowledge of what his desires and intentions were in this respect, namely Sydney Gruson. The clear inference was that, although my successor had been definitely determined, the timing of my replacement was still wide open and in fact, as I assumed, no force would be exercised.”

I think I have to read a little bit of the next paragraph, of the next two paragraphs in this memo: “To the best of my recollection, there was no mention in this conversation of any changes of staff other than my own, although there might well have been a comment by the publisher that Frankel would want to bring in one or two of his own people and that one or two or at the most three of my present staff, whom I had been trying for years to move off the editorial board, would indeed be transferred or otherwise removed.”

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