M. DeMar Teuscher has seen government up close from inside and out.
He was the Deseret News political editor from 1949 to 1970, an aide to a congressman for a year after that and a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation official for 17 additional years - a job he still works at now part-time in his retirement.He says experience has shown him that if someone wants excitement and challenge, he or she should be a reporter or work in Congress. That's because once he started to work in the bureaucracy, "I discovered what absolute boredom was."
He remembers fondly his early days at the Deseret News, the rush of deadlines and the excitement of rubbing shoulders with the nation's top politicians.
"Although I was the political editor, in those days we all did a little of everything and covered all sorts of stories. For example, I covered the atomic bomb tests in Nevada. That was impressive, it set the whole des-ert on fire," he said.
"I covered the big earthquake near Yellowstone that created Quake Lake and killed dozens of people. I remember I would rush around for details, then drive 20 or 30 miles to find a phone and call the story in.
"We were nominated for a Pullitzer Prize for our coverage of that story. We didn't win, but it helped us know exactly what the committee wanted. The next year I was in charge of submitting (former Deseret News writer) Bob Mullins storiesabout a murder and kidnapping in Moab, and he won the Pulitzer" - the only one the newspaper has ever been awarded.
Teuscher also came to know several of the top politicians of the day. "At that time, the Deseret News had circulation in parts of five states, and I covered the politics of all of them. Politicians found out that with one call to me, I could give them a rundown of what was going on throughout the region."
He remembers one young senator who wanted to take advantage of that during a visit to Utah. His name was John F. Kennedy. "He offered to buy me lunch. We went out, but he said he forgot his money. So I ended up buying him lunch."
Teuscher used other unusual techniques to come up with scoops - including taking his wife to receptions as a spy. Politicians who would clam up around him would talk openly when she was near. She would listen, then pass on the information to her husband.
Although he enjoyed the job, he decided to leave after disagreements with editors about how to handle his beat - plus he was offered almost twice as much salary to work for then Rep. Laurence J. Burton, R-Utah.
"I talked him out of running for the Senate three times, but the White House talked him into it four times," Teuscher said. So he helped run Burton's Senate campaign against then Sen. Frank Moss, D-Utah.
But he said he became frustrated again when his suggestions for Burton's campaign were essentially ignored while people sent by President Nixon controlled it. "They were all used to politics in the East and the deep South, but Utah is different." Burton lost.
After the defeat, Teuscher was offered a job by a friend at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as a public relations officer.
"It was boring. It was a lot of sitting around," he said.
"When you work for a newspaper, you go home at night and see your stories and know what you've accomplished. In government, a press release you write has to go through any number of people above you, any of which may change it. Once it is sent out to the press, you never know if it is used."
At one point a new administration didn't trust him because he had worked under a previous president - but it couldn't fire him because of civil service rules. "They gave me a new title, but I had absolutely nothing to do. For three or four months, all I did was read."
He worked back into the mainstream at the agency because he had been around the agency longer than most people and had a memory of events and people that was needed and otherwise unavailable, he said.
Teuscher also was put in charge of special projects, where he did such things as set up a field office in 1983 to handle claims because of flooding on the Colorado River and set up programs to help flood victims.
He officially retired in 1987 but has continued to work on some free-lance projects for the Bureau of Reclamation, including writing pamphlets. "I hope someday to get to know my golf clubs better and fix the things around the house I planned to do when I bought it but never have."