Kenneth Roberts: A Blast From the Past – St. Petersburg Times

Google News Archive is a treasure trove of old newspaper articles on Kenneth Roberts.  I found an interesting article from the St. Petersburg (FL) Times dated October 21, 1925.  At this time of Roberts’ career, he was a known writer for the Saturday Evening Post at this time, but had not as of yet made his name known for his historical fiction (Arundel was first published in 1929).

In an article titled “Kenneth Roberts Gathers Facts and Figures While Touring State for Post,” the Times presents a short blurb on Roberts’ stay in St. Petersburg.  Apparently, the town was excited that a Post writer would visit their town on a fact-gathering trip.  Unfortunately, Roberts provided little in terms of quotes or information for the paper.  The Times opens the article with:

A strong desire not to talk and an equally strong desire to find out as much about St. Petersburg and Florida in general as possible characterized the attitude of Kenneth L. Roberts, staff writer for the Saturday Evening Post, who left St. Petersburg Monday afternoon after a brief visit to the Sunshine City.

Roberts had little to say to the Times about his visit:

Mr. Roberts had little to say with regard to his impressions of the state and the Sunshine City.  Instead he seemed pointedly intent upon gathering as much information as possible from every source, with regard to living expenses in the state, hotel rates and prices of everything.

Apparently, Roberts had little to say to the Times.  I think these two paragraphs illustrate well the temperament of Kenneth Roberts – he was a man who, when working, did not want to be distracted with frivolities and other distractions.

One must admire the tenacity of the reporter, for the article goes on to mention the type of information Roberts was after while in St. Petersburg.  The reporter’s source? Mr. Dennis, the manager of the Princess Martha hotel.  Mr. Dennis divulges the vital information Roberts was after (information that “Mr. Roberts appeared eager to grasp”): the price of milk, eggs, beef and sugar.

Either the Times hit a slow news day, or they were eager to get anything on the visit of a well-known Post writer.  The article ends with a note of excitement:

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts left the hotel for Sarasota Monday afternoon with the expressed intention of returning to St. Petersburg within a short time during their travels through the state, and Mr. Robert’s investigation of the “Florida situation.”

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