My father, Thomas W. Miles ’30, covered the Princeton Bicentennial for the Newark News. It was both the high point and the final hurrah of his career as a reporter. Shortly thereafter he decided that he couldn’t raise a family on a reporter’s income and left New Jersey for greener pastures in Washington, D.C. I recently came across a note in my father’s papers from the late William K. Zinsser ’44, then a Herald Tribune reporter. Bill and my father were among the pool of reporters covering the proceedings of “Planning Man’s Physical Environment,” one of sixteen Princeton Bicentennial conferences. Both were there for the inflammatory exchange between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Robert Moses, New York City Parks Commissioner. Wright attacked cities as “a pig-piling,” “a human huddling,” “a stimulus similar to alcohol,” and “a vampire living on the fresh blood of others.” Moses responded by assuring the gathering that cities were none of these things if properly planned. Bill wrote my father after the event, “I envied you the extra time you had to collect your thoughts after the shouting had died down; my impressions of that aesthetic scrimmage were squeezed out of the typewriter so hastily that I was out of breath for a week.”
My father managed to publish at least one story in the Newark News — sometime as many as four — for every Bicentennial conference held at Princeton that spring semester of 1947, a testament to the value of his liberal arts education as a Princeton undergraduate and the efficiency of Princeton’s Department of Public Relations, which provided him with typescripts of the papers to be discussed in open forum by the conference participants. Following the final Bicentennial Convocation on June 17, a “Letter to the Editor” appeared in the Newark News from President Dodds. Dodds thanked the News for its coverage, singling out my father among other reporters for praise. Dodds also made mention of an editorial cartoon that the News had published on June 16. Entitled “Light in a Dark World,” the cartoon captures the spirit of the times and the hope for a brighter future that Princeton and its Bicentennial represented for a wider public.