Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The power of the press is, well, powerful.
Last week, we wrote a piece about tidbits from the Moultrie News' history. In that story, former publisher Charlie Diggle was asked about the identity of columnist Hungryneck Harry. He had no clue.
Well, Hungryneck Harry's daughter called to reveal his identity.
It was none other than Jay Mullen, former husband of the late Jeanette Mullen Harper who passed away May 8.
Harper made her children swear that as long as she was alive, they would never reveal that their father was the author of the sometimes controversial column. Coincidentally, her passing and the questioning of Harry's identity were timely.
Maggie was just a child when her father penned those columns, but she remembers he would sneak over to the office building, long after they had closed for the day, and slide his story under the door.
Mullen served in World War II in U.S. Air Force Intelligence as a spy for the Allies.
According to Maggie, he decoded encrypted messages and carried Cyanide in case he was captured.
He attended the University of Cincinnati and the Schuster-Martin School of Drama and later moved to Charleston in 1953.
Mullen landed a job and hit the airwaves on WTMA as a DJ and talk show host on his show “Moon Mullen.”
Maggie describes him as a gifted musician and songwriter and a star of stage and screen in Charleston.
Mullen had a traveling comedy act variety show on WCSC-TV in 1955 and worked as the promotion manager at WCSC-TV in the early days of television.
He also served as director of the Dock Street Theatre from 1955-1958.
He tried unsuccessfully at politics by running for the for U.S. Senate in 1959 and for county council in 1966. He ran for State Senate in 1992 and barely lost again.
Mullen returned to college at age 65, and graduated at age 69, before going on to earn his Masters degree at age 72 from The Citadel.
He then taught history at the College of Charleston and The Citadel.
Mullen died in 2006 of Parkinson's Disease.
So why all the mystery?
Perhaps fear of retribution to his family should someone disagree with his political leanings.
But daughter Maggie said, “If dad had not been such a great writer, I wouldn't have bothered to say anything. He had great wit. His sense of humor was unparalleled.”
Mullen was previously married to Jeanette Mullen Harper, 79, of Mount Pleasant who passed away May 8, also after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Jeanette was a retired Charleston County magistrate and municipal judge, as well as a retired Charleston County teacher. Both are survived by their children, Maggie LaBrasca, Chris Mullen and Tim Matthew Mullen.
“For whatever happens, we have only ourselves to blame. The good Lord has provided us with the ability to reason. The way we use that ability is what has and will set us apart from the lesser species of animals. It is still not too late. There is still time for us to reflect on the past, the present, and our desires for the future. But it must be done in a spirit of morality, integrity, character, good will and courage and the continued blessings of God Almighty. Anything else will fail.