Record Town and journalism

It wasn’t all about music at Record Town. When Sumter Bruton Jr. heard I’d become a journalist, he told me my favorite journalism story. It’s worth retelling, as I have used it many times over the years.

Bruton said some Fort Worth Press reporters used to live around the corner from the store. The Fort Worth Press, in case you weren’t around, was basically the New York Post of Fort Worth, a scrappy underdog with a great sports section and bold, brassy headlines. The Press didn’t pay much to reporters (what’s new?), so they didn’t have a phone and would come in to borrow Record Town’s.

Once when they came in, Bruton went outside and put some nickels in the parking meters outside. When he came back in, the reporters asked what he was doing. “I just put some money in so our customers on this strip don’t get tickets,” Bruton told them. “We have a pretty active police force around here and I don’t want them running off my customers.”

The reporters then went back to using the phone.

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A couple of days later Bruton walked past a newsstand on the way to work and saw a big headline – typical for the Press: Southside businessman at war with Fort Worth Police!

Bruton thought, oh boy, that poor businessman is in for it now. He got to Record Town and began sipping his coffee until, I imagine, he did a spit take. The businessman was him. The reporters had taken the slight story of saving his customers a parking ticket by putting nickels in the meters and turned it into a “crusade by a local businessman.” The local cops were not amused. Neither was Sumter.

Needless to say, the next time the reporters begged to use the phone, they were refused. “I hope you don’t turn out like them,” Bruton told me.