Harold must have been 60 then, the Nightside Foreman, on the floor. Everything was based on Seniority, then. To get anything you had to move through the ranks, like days off or weeks off. I only worked four hours a night, so I had a fixed shift. But I wanted, well I hoped, to make it up to the Third Floor where the writers were. That was the coolest place in the building and they had the best desks. The women up there seemed free, as if there was no meanness. Harold was so kind to me, but I was bored just proofreading, and I wanted to learn more. After all, I was a student at UCSB, wasn’t I?
I was being exposed to all the art in the world, at 23, and all the history in the world out at school. I had three jobs that year. In the Arts Library out at school, part time, Work Study, and two at the paper. Proofreader and on weekends, Measurer of all the ads. In those days we climbed the corporate ladder, as women. We knew we would have to do that, to get ahead.
The writers had the best job in the building, and they were the best people you could ever meet. I found myself heading up to the Third Floor all the time, those weekends, where Bill Milton worked. His wife Becky worked there too.
“Can you teach me how to write?” I asked him.
“Here kid, do a rewrite on this hed,” he said, pulling a story off the hook of the City Desk.
That was in my spare time, non-paid, after I finished all the measuring down in Advertising.
Harold was the sweetest boss I ever had, in the early years. It was a combination of sweetness and mean in there, because the old timers had been the last to really do Hot Type, and they had worked for newspapers when it was hot metal lead. In the 70’s, the changeover had been to cold type, and this was done by computers called VDT’s – they were not like the computers of today at all. They had black screens with green letters. I don’t think there was a “systems department” yet. Maybe the guys up in Editorial ran it? At first.
Later, there would be so much tech, the entire job changed.
After that mistake I made, and after that man was out of my life, for good, my life became easier. I was working very hard, to get more money, of course, but to advance on the job. I asked Harold to let me run the Pacesetters, when I finished proofreading for the night.
That was going to be my start, on the Floor. Plus I was with the fun guys, Alan and Tony and Jack Collins. The Nightside paste-up crew was the funnest. Sharon and Jackie worked on the floor at night.
Dayside didn’t have any females on the floor – the women on Dayside had the best schedules, so the rest of us, on Nightside? We missed every holiday, like say Christmas Eve, any old eve of any old Holiday because we had a paper to put out. Daily.
Harold was married, but he had a lover at the paper named Sue who used to dummy the pages. That means, she was responsible for the layout. Her office was above the Advertising Department, that held a sea, a veritable sea of faces, Like Rick Carter and Sarah Sinclair and Joe LaFontaine and Wes Ginther. We had the best Christmas parties in those years.
Not having Seniority?
Made many people’s lives Hell in that place.
It was about to get worse, after the first buy out.
All the sales reps were very loved by the advertisers, and so big gift baskets would arrive out in Advertising, and they always shared with us. Like say, See’s Candy. The biggest boxes. Most of us, were going to meet our partners at work, because of the nature of the place and the hours.
We had the best parking spots in town, because we worked there. We could just pull right in, because we worked there, and it was the year before we had to start wearing badges. Everyone could just walk right in, like going into a market.
The more I think about it now, it was the computers that ruined everything. It was a fun job before that.
You know why we had to wear those badges, after?
At the back dock entrance?
It was locked because the computers were considered more valuable, than us.
If you knew how had it was to put out a daily paper on those computer systems?
You wouldn’t even believe it.
We never saw it coming.
Nor did we expect the heartless bosses.
Our parties were at the Old Miramar for Christmas and Peg was like a shining beam of happiness. Joy was the executive secretary for Mr. Sykes and Mr. Plet. It was like the whole town was under control in those days. Because of what T. M. Storke had built. Every day I walked under his tower at UCSB, and every day I ate lunch at the UCEN. Usually California Health salads, because, well, we are Californians, aren’t we? So I was learning to eat again, after that guy was no longer in my life.
At home I ate things like Oatmeal.
I had to force myself at first, to stay alive after him.
So when Harold used to burst out singing Tangerine from the 1940’s when he saw me wearing that orange arty smock, I burst out laughing.
He had been in WW2 at the beaches in Normandy. Many of the old timers had.
One thing about all of us?
We had great jobs. In those days.
At Christmas, and at Thanksgiving, there were two traditions. We were all given bonuses, and out by the door at the back dock? Everyone got a bag with a complete dinner, with all the fixings on those eves. Because at that time, it was TM’s crew. It was all one big Christmas Party from the minute November started. I don’t think I really realized just how gossipy it was going to be.
It was because there were short timers and long timers.
The long timers held the whole place together, because they had worked there for years. Tony told me he started in 1963, three weeks before JFK was assassinated. He started in the hot type era, himself. He had made the transition to cold type, and he and Alan and Jack and Eddie and Vern ran the floor at night. The only people in the building after 5:00 were the Composing Room, Editorial, the Camera Department, the Pressmen and whoever was the night Switchboard Operator.
That place was ALIVE with News.
Day in and day out.
We were a morning paper at the time, and it was delivered by paperboys.
That is how Gabe Renga started there.
Tony told me he started as a paperboy.
Our Christmas parties on Nightside, were the talk of the whole building. We fed them all, all those Editors on the late shift. Composing’s job was over at 10 p.m. There were three editions, the Valley Edition, The Home Edition, and the Street Final in those years.
Harold had his spiked punch, and all of us, every last one of us, had things to bring, on Nightside. People that had Avocado trees, well, we were never at a loss. Or orange trees, or clementine trees for that matter. Harold’s warm smile is a thing that can never be erased from my mind, not ever.
Or Jack Collins and that Christmas Fudge he was famous for.
At night the editors worked the hardest, because for the Street Final news had been breaking all over the world, all day long, and that had to be put together.
Jack was a member of MENSA, and he was one of the smartest and funniest men I have ever met. He also smoked, and so did Jed, right inside the building. You were allowed to at that time in the early 80’s.
Oh, believe me there is a reason people up in Editorial drank so much.
Most writers do.
Can you even imagine what it is like to produce the news for an entire town?
That’s what we did every single day.
From my desk, in the proofreading room, which only had Margaux in it, during the day, and me in it at night, the whole flux and flow of the place was something we could see whenever we looked up from the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of lines we were reading, then reading again. Over and Over.
Then the guys on the floor, and those night editors were reading everything all over again, and we had Jim Brown come down, those years, with the sweetest face. Another of the kind ones, the Newspapermen.
There isn’t a way to describe exactly, how warm my feelings are for all the people I knew.
It wasn’t just a job to us.
I see Dave Loveton. I see Jack Collins. I see Pat O’Hara.
I see all of us, with all of our Christmas cookies, and Jack and I, those cigs on the back dock with him. Looking up at the stars, because there was a power outtage that night, someplace, and a transformer had blown out. But we had a paper to put out. It wasn’t going to matter how long any of us stayed, to do so.
That’s just who all of us were. The long timers.
I guess I must have felt like that, with only three years under my belt, in 1983.
I can see Joan Crowder and Cissy and Gary and Dewey and Marilyn. I can see Jenny Perry and Mary Every, I can see Lois Sorg.
I can see Harold smiling at me now, That little girl of 23 who he gave a bottle of Glenlivet to, and I must have given a bottle of Bushmills to, that year.
We are the Newspaperpeople.
And all over the world, in little towns everywhere there are people just like us.
There always will be.
- -30 –
- Newspaperpeople copyright November 9, 2021 by Adrienne Wilson – all rights reserved Nanowrimo 2021