Memoir newspaperpeople day 10 Nanowrimo 2021

Newspaperpeople

  1. Two years pass, and you are graduating UCSB, not tangled up in love, strongly focused, the proudest day of your young life, donning the cap and gown. In women’s history as an elective, you had been asked a question. “How will your life be different from your mother’s and grandmother’s?”

Years later you know the answer.

It’s going to be sad.

You won’t get to have children.

Men control what we can and cannot do.

They do.

I wanted a child. But I knew I never wanted to be like my mother, trying to raise children after a divorce. I wanted a solid, strong father for my children. By 28, that clock was ticking so loudly it screamed in my head. My best friend, and I, at fourteen, down on the beach at Butterfly, talking about how we would be pushing our strollers, wearing all that vintage lace we wore then, lace floating into seafoam, girls wearing periwinkle shells for necklaces just to be different from the puka shell girls.

By then, and I don’t think either of us had marriage as a goal in. High School, we had navigated the shoals of terrible relationships that had broken our hearts. Having fathers might have helped us. We didn’t that summer of 14.

Twenty eight and suddenly Alan is grabbing your jelly sandals at work and tossing them back and forth to Tony on the back dock. He’s so incredibly handsome, with a badger stripe of white down the center of his sandy dark hair.
What happens between you begins slowly and flirtatiously. You remember seeing him when you had worked in the cage, once, with the woman he was dating at that time, and thinking it, the handsomeness. On the floor, you’re all just friends, those breaks on the back dock. Flirty. Alan and Cathy. Suddenly, in the cold winter nights, warming up your Audi, the two of you look over at each other in the parking lot, night after night.

You didn’t know he had been married twice before then.

Margaux flirts with him. All the women do. It’s that body he had.

The best looking man in the entire place.

You knew he didn’t love her.

The typists hated her. That night at Wendy’s, after which they call you a food snob for liking the French food at Charlotte, better than their smelly Picadilly burgers, they raked her over their steely coals. Her clothes were too tight and she wiggled and jiggled in all the right places in the way that women do. He had lifted her out of her marriage, I suppose.

You realized then, the power of the women in that typing pool, all that cluck and peck.

After the two of you start dating, the gossip must have gone off the charts, with all of them. Suddenly you have the handsomest man in the whole building.

They didn’t like it.

By then, Harold was gone, and Gabe was dead. He’d had a heart attack, after he was dumped by the plastic pocket protector shortie that came out from Florida to run things. Mr. Catamaran. He likes to make fun of your gorgeous designer clothes, from behind, and he is the first shit you will meet during the years of the newspaper shuffle.

He promotes a machinist into position. Hurtling him to what will be the top with lightning speed.

Sharon, in her masculine chinos, says, “Well, I guess you found somebody to pay off your student loans now.”

The hatred was so pure, out of her. Those slitted eyes. Her angry everything. She must have really hated me, that day they sent me the credit card from American Express and all the guys on the Floor laughed.

“Are you a graduating senior making more that $10,000 a year?”

Suddenly I had the same card my Grandfather and Uncle had.

Little did she know I was responsible for paying off my debts, myself.

No wonder I wanted to be up in Editorial.

I pined for it actually.

For one thing all the women were fashionable especially Cissy. She was married to one of the best photographers who taught at UCSB, and Gary, all leather jacketed and cool. They were hip, and things upstairs were about to change.

Linda was brought in from outside and she pulled Gil the Gardener’s column.

It was tragic.

Suddenly we weren’t a small town paper.

At Robinson’s I ran into Joan in the dressing room, where we were both trying on clothes. She was shaking. That’s how it was in those years, with the kind of meanness that was saturating the entire place. I don’t know how most of us took it.

We formed pockets of friends in corners, those years.

I will say Mr. Catamaran did one good thing. He gave Wenke a gold watch for retirement. Like the Newspapermen were supposed to get.

They broke up the associations by making promises of big money.

It was the era of Wellness.

Suddenly the fantastic insurance we all had?

Was split into plans. There were four to choose from, and the executives had the best one. Suddenly we were in the era of Middle Manager, upon Middle Manager, like tiers. Most of them were pretty stupid and how they got there?

Was by kissing ass.

I was never going to dress like some of the women at the paper who were using their sexuality to climb the corporate ladder.

One of the reporters upstairs, who was a clone looks-wise for Hefner’s Benton, those mini dresses and boobs on parade? The men in Composing nearly fell all over her. All she did was bend over after bend over near them.

All of us watched.

All the women’s eyes collectively rolled.

Most of them had kids, or were single mothers and those were the only women the men actually respected.

“The best thing you could do is marry him,” Joby warned me.

It was three years of push and pull to give up my freedom. I knew that once I said yes, my whole life would change.

Harvey became our boss.

The feelings we had after Gabe was gone, would be impossible to explain, all that Italian charm he had. Harvey was the opposite. His father ran the Camera Department and he was a small town boy. Harold was gone and suddenly his wife Vicky was running Sue’s old job of dummying the paper.

They concentrated on busting up the unions we had in Pre-Press and Press and Camera and Composing. The company back east who bought the paper was very famous in New York. Suddenly they were bringing in people from all over, not Santa Barbara people. It had always been a small town paper and not like big city style. They were buying up papers all over.

Do you know what Harvey did to me?

He ruined my wedding.

One of the first rules was that no two people could be off on the same day in Composing.

So that meant no honeymoon.

Can you even imagine that?

Getting married and you can’t have a honeymoon?

That is how shitty it was.

Suddenly we were being ruled by a machinist who had come up from the dirty, greasy bowls of the building down in the basement.

Of, course, his father was happy.

He was a small town boy, and his dad got him the job.

Again I faced being terrified in a man’s world.

By Harvey.

Do you know what he said to me?

I went in to tell him we were going to be married.

“You let me know the date, and I’ll let you know your options,” he said, with a sneer.

I never had any proper wedding pictures. We had one day off, and it was right back to work. I had resisted, at first. How could I have understood what it was going to be at 28?

By then they were selling off the Goss.

George Anton was gone.

George who had made me my Pressman’s hat.

George whose Louisiana rumble and laugh, the best Pressman ever, so warm and so kind, chasing those pages night after night the way we did, never a mistake, we caught them all.

He made me a hat from the cartoon insert, on a Sunday.

All the decency of the paper was gone. Toward the people.

He was in his early 30’s then.

I was 28, and my husband was 42.

After we married the phone calls started coming.

It was Margaux, and Carol his second wife. She worked there upstairs, running the Library. She and Sue.

Most of the time we were on separate schedules, and we didn’t have the same days off.

Joby became my closest friend in those years, and a few of the typists, like Myrna. She would be going to Pacifica, too. Down the road.

Tony had planted himself in my apartment, and he didn’t want to leave, so, I had been taking pottery as an art class down at Schott Center, with all the finest teachers, after UCSB. I went trough a full range of all the Studio Art classes at City College, and he bought me a Brent.

I still have it.

Barbara my teacher, said “he must really love you,” to me.

It would be all the potters in the class who threw me a Bridal shower.

I never had a chance to have a wedding, really. We married standing on the compass rose in the tower at the Courthouse.

Three years from the day he sent me three dozen peach roses at work. When they came into the Composing Room it must have been a first. The gasps and sighs from the women at the sight of them. I married a gentleman. Our first date at Jimmy’s, he ordered a Martini.

You will learn it takes many years in a marriage, to know your husband.

I had married an artist. I had married an intellectual, and he was an Englishman, to boot.

Newspaperpeople Memoir by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 10, 2021 – all rights reserved

MEMOIR #NewspaperPEOPLE DAY 8 #NaNoWriMo 2021

Newspaperpeople

  1. Roads

If only I could have predicted the road ahead. In my generation, we fell in and out of so many arms. In 1982, that became dangerous. There was a disease. Suddenly it appeared on the scene. Out of nowhere it came, and I was worried for Stevie B.

To wipe him out of me, there would need to be others.

Dennis Dunn told me to say one sentence. It was, “I can never see you again.”

I said that over the phone. It was going to be the last time I ever said a sentence to him.
By that time the grey box of photographs weighed a ton. I would sit on my Murphy bed and look at them sometimes. It was hard not to. My friend Bob at work started to scavenge a darkroom for me. He was finding all the parts for it, all over town, because we had Brooks Institute here in town. He found me a Leica, too. M2.

I said the sentence into the phone.

He didn’t listen.

Hardly anyone listens to girls.

He didn’t listen. Instead, one day when I came home from school he had scaled the balcony of my apartment on Fig, and broken in.

I got home from school and he was sitting in my apartment.

Imagine that.

A girl who he was causing to think about driving into a cement pier on the side of the freeway every single day, and he did not give one fuck.

“I hate to think of you sitting up there all alone waiting for me, “ he said.

“Dennis told me I could not see you ever again.”

He didn’t care. He just pushed me down on that Murphy bed.

Then he zipped up and drove home.

Imagine a girl, crumpled into a ball weeping, after what he had done.

You might have to survive all kinds of things in your twenties, just to stay alive, and I want you to be as strong as me. If you need a therapist you can find one. You are going to stay alive no matter what. Dennis Dunn kept me alive. Once a week I went to see him. Maybe for six months. Little did I know, that the next time I saw Dennis, I would be telling him I was going to get married.

“That’s a good idea, “ he said.

I never met a bigger angel than Dennis Dunn.

Hacker was the first I invited to my apartment to spend the night. I broke the spell with him, and I don’t know if I ever told him that. We were only brief together, arms around each other, two artists. He would come over now and again, and we would sleep together. That foam pad made me feel sorry for him. You might feel sorry for some of them, in your life too. So when that 19 year old asked me for help? I was 22. Sure, I said. One night stands had pretty much been the rule in those years according to men. I was already quite experienced in the years past 19, so now that I think of it, I had in in love twice. I decided to be just like men, with their kind of freedoms. Why not?

In that era we all did.

The fact that her wrote me a love poem after that one night?

That’s what mattered.

Because he was sleeping with a poet, that night.

He brought that poem to me at work, at my desk, to say thank you.

Then he was off to medical school. I never saw him again.

Hacker and I palled around a little, like friends. My friends came over, for my vats of things. I was a girl who had her own apartment, just like an adult.

Suddenly one of the works of Hacker’s was up on my wall, next to those framed photographs of the two of us, the photographer had given me.

Hacker made it easier not to think of driving into a cement wall, because I had been so much in love with a total liar.

Imagine a guy running out of a restaurant to ask a girl for a date, and he was the dishwasher at The Paradise.

I was just walking down the street, across the street from the paper.

“You have to be my date,” he said.

He had to be two inches from me, face to face on Anacapa.

People here didn’t really go out clubbing like I had done with all my friends.

There was only one dance place, really.

Because I had my job at the newspaper, I could feed all my friends. The boys I knew then were always hungry. Most of them still lived at home.

Jim and Stevie B. were the two most fun people I knew, because Jim would drive Stevie up. He was Bisexual, and he was one of the handsomest men I would ever meet in life. Ever. So, we were just friends then. Did we ever go out on the town when Stevie was up. We went everywhere together, the three of us. Girls like me did not go out alone. We went on dates, and the guys were either lovers or chaperones. A girl alone in a bar? This was not done.

Stevie was from Pasadena, and so was I.

He was a charmer.

They were gentlemen.

The place where Hacker lived was by the best Theatre in town, for stage plays. Lots of artists lived in the little wooden places there. It was a hotbed for them. Men can get by with less than women need, in many ways. But for them, there was always going to be another woman around, if they needed a bed for the night, for instance.

I was a girl who had her own apartment.

I was a girl who had a job.

Judy worked for one of the meanest men in the Composing Room. He was the nightside boss in Ad Alley and his name was Bill. To say that being the proofreader was one of the hardest jobs in the whole building? It was, because you would not even believe what we had to read, nightly. Not only that, but everything had to be correct. Ever single letter. Every single punctuation mark, every single line of type.

I was that girl.

The only harder job, was going to be the Floor.
Judy had the hardest job in Ad Alley, under the meanest boss I ever saw. To say that men gave us a hard time in the early 80’s at work? Is only the beginning.

They had been hardened, working there, because in those days every single town had a newspaper. They had seen it all, the murders, the deaths, the obits, the all in all of a town. Advertising was how the paper was able to print itself.

So there were two parts to the paper.

Editorial & Advertising.

Bill didn’t like me. His eyes were cold and mean.

Sharon didn’t like me. Her eyes were hardened slits.

Maybe it because of the way I dressed, then.

Maybe I worked in the meanest part of the building.

Maybe everyone seemed mean because nothing could go wrong.

Not one letter could be off.

Nothing could be wrong.

And all of us cared.

You think the Reporters had it easy? No.

People like Gil the Gardener, had it easy. The columns he wrote were fun and full of metaphor.

Judy did Mark-Up, and mark up was the hardest job in the world. It was kind of like math, in the Cold Type days.

I made a mistake.

It was the worst mistake anyone could ever make at the paper, and it was humiliating.

It was for a Jewelry store in town, maybe at Christmas, that year. They were having a sale, and somehow, somehow, somehow, the typists had typed the whole thing twice, and I had proofread the whole thing twice and it had been pasted up twice as two columns, and it was the SAME two columns, twice and when it came back to my desk, I read the material twice. The only problem was? It was only supposed to be one column. I had read the identical material twice, when. I was the one who was supposed to catch that kind of thing. I read for both Editorial and Advertising at night, in those four hours.

The ad ran in the paper.

I’ll never forget the day Gabe called me into the office, and Bill was sitting in there.

Bill was glaring at me.

Gabe handed me the paper.

Bill said, “Look at this mistake.”

It was my fault.

Not only was a man terrifying me at my apartment, but now a man was terrifying me at work. I was going to be spending the next 20 years of my life, with bosses who terrified me.

I hope you never get a job like that.

I hope you never get a job where some men can make you feel really small, like I felt that day. Not from Gabe, who was my boss, but from Bill.

After that, he rode me.

Every single night.

I was so scared to proofread after that, as I returned to my desk, that I knew I was never going to let Gabe down again.

I felt like it was all my fault, but it wasn’t. The typists hadn’t noticed they had typed the ad twice, the paste-up person in Ad Alley hadn’t noticed he had pasted up the whole thing, twice, and by the time it got to me? Well, it was in something like 3 point, Times Roman, maybe.
Seeing the printed piece?

That I had not caught it?

I would never make a mistake like that ever again.

This was going to be even more important when I got to the Floor.

Can you even imagine how the Publisher felt?

Getting that call from the Advertiser?

Can you imagine how Gabe felt?

I had let Gabe down. I thought I was going to be fired.

I wasn’t.

It was part of the great learning curve that is life.

All of life is a series of roads you will take. But nobody knows where those might lead at 22.

Judy’s job was one of the hardest in the Composing Room, and she was in a man’s world, just like I was. Most of the women? They were just typists. It didn’t matter. We all had jobs. We had all gone to work.

Now that I think of it?

So was mine.

That was a full page ad.

I will never know how Gabe must have been raked over the coals after it ran.

Then it went down the chain of command, one by one, until it got to the girl who had made the mistake.

I never made a mistake like that again.
It was the road to be a Journeyman Printer.

At that time, I didn’t know I would be taking that road.

It was the road of honor, and of duty.

From the littlest paperboy right on up to the top of the Tower, where the Publisher sat.

Memoir Newspaperpeople by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 8th, 2021, all rights reserved #NaNoWriMo2021