Drugs, sex, politics and laughter – all in a day’s work

Ray and Jennifer had their first date on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, they happened to both be checking their mail slots at work at the same time. The mail boxes were located behind Barbara’s desk. Jennifer grabbed her mail, walked away, and after she left, Barbara  turned to Ray and said, “So, how long have you two been dating?”

Caught off guard, Ray knew he was busted. “How did you know?” he asked.

“I’ve been watching newsroom romances form for 20 years,” Barbara responded.

Fast forward almost a decade, and Ray tells that story with delight as his wife Jennifer laughs. Leave it to Barbara to figure out their romance – maybe even before they did!

 A woman named Sheri, who I have never met, writes this on a Facebook wall:

“Had a lovely 8 months in Rock Hill just out of photo school in 1988  … will never forget being arrested the night of the newsroom Christmas Party, being met at the station by Terry the Editor, & then getting all the ‘high-fives’ later that night. Thanks for great first job memories!”

These are two of the stories that were told as an eclectic group gathered at the lake this past Saturday. Some of us had never met each other, and some of us knew each other so well that we could recite middle names and birthdays if we needed to. What we all had in common was The Herald, the hometown newspaper in which we worked, at some point or other during our careers. Some of us worked there in the 60s, some in the 2000s. And amazingly, even with 50 years separating some of the experiences, there were more similarities than differences.

The other thing those two stories I told above have in common is they did not make it into the newspaper I designed to commemmorate the event (but they would have been great assets, which is why I tell them here.) Journalists and former journalists sent in their favorite moments, photos and highlights of their careers, and I was asked to put them together. What better way to do this than a newspaper?

I wrote this in the email that I sent out to everyone explaining what they were looking at:

We all have our stories to tell. Some are funny, some are tragic, some are downright strange. They happened months, years, decades apart. But they all happened here: At The Herald, in the newsroom. It was windowless, moldy, dirty, fluorescent-lit, at times even smelly. But it was our newsroom. And when even the hint of breaking news happened, we were there, ready to tell the stories, ready to make history for all of our readers. But slowly, quietly, and perhaps unaware even to ourselves, we were building another history – this one ours, and only ours.

As we prepare to get together again, years later, we bring with us our stories to tell why it was we loved that moldy, dirty, flourescent-lit, and at times even smelly Herald newsroom.

Here’s the first page of that newspaper, which was so much fun to design:

Want to see the rest? I’ve got them here … enjoy your insider’s look to what newspaper life was really like (back in newspapers’ heyday, at least).