November 4, 1909
Samuel Lieberman, 15 years old, son of Rabbi Max Lieberman, pastor of the Kenneseth Isreal congregation, died at 7 o'clock yesterday morning at the German hospital, after an illness of one day. The cause of his death was arterial sclerosis, or hardening of the arteries -- a disease that rarely attacks persons in their youth. The funeral will be at 2 o'clock this afternoon from the family home, 1423 Tracy avenue.
Samuel Lieberman was known to readers of The Journal as "Sammie the office boy." Small of body, quick of wit and cheerful to a degree rarely encountered even in hopeful youth, he became a favorite with editors and reporters, who encouraged him to write the small news stories he occasionally picked up on his daily rounds. At first the stories he wrote were given to the copy readers to be edited, but one night one of his stories was published just as he had written it, and credited to "Sammie, the Office Boy." Mr. Taft felt no greater elation when the wires conveyed to him the information that he had been elected president of the United States than did Sammie, the office boy, when he saw his first signed story in print. He became a frequent contributor to The Journal's columns and numerous inquiries were received at the office as to whether "Sammie, the Office Boy" really was an office boy or a reporter concealing his identity under the pseudonym.
Never strong in body, Sammie taxed his physical strength to the uttermost. He kept the same hours as the reporters, though it was not necessary for him to do so, and on election nights when the men were on the "long stunt," from noon to dawn, he stayed with them and it was useless to try to get him to go home. He liked the atmosphere of the local room. He said he hoped, one day, to become a great editor.
Once he ran away. He visited and worked in Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo and other places. He was at home in the larger cities. He had early learned that the peregrinating reporter always gravitates to Central police station, where the "dog watch" men from the various papers hold out. Sammie could talk shop like a veteran who had worked "with Dana of the New York Sun." Whenever a group of reporters gathered in the local room Sammie could be found lurking on the outskirts. He learned the reporters' distinction between a "good story" and a "bad one" and on occasions aired his knowledge with the positiveness of a managing editor.
Not many months ago a veteran reporter, after hearing Sammie talk about newspapers and newspaper making, removed his pipe from between his teeth, pointed a long finger at the door through which the boy had just passed out and said:
"That boy isn't long for this world. He's going to die young. He's smart beyond his years -- too smart. Why, he's a man, almost, already. He thinks and reasons better than lots of men I know. And there's a peculiar brightness in his eyes that doesn't look good to me. Mark my words, that boy isn't long for this world, and it's a pity, too, for he would be heard from if he should live to manhood."
The random observation of the veteran soon came true. Sammie was at the office Sunday. "I don't feel very good," he told one of the boys, "but I'll be all right when I rest up a bit." There was a hopeful smile on his face Tuesday afternoon as he lay on a cot at the hospital. "I'll be back to the office soon. I hurt awful at times. I ain't going to stay here long."
Soon after dawn of the following day his final words were verified. "Sammie, the office boy," had heard the fateful "Thirty" that, in newspaper offices, signifies the end.