Friday, January 25, 2013

2000 Memories

In 1953, it was good for a laugh
by Ken Neal
The Tulsa World
January 2, 2000

Early in 1953, I walked into the Tulsa World newsroom to stay, off and on, for 47 years, more or less. It was but an eye-blink ago.

There are many memories of the old newsroom of those days; that is fortunate because it exists today only in memory. Nothing, except the hard walls of the third floor of the World Building, remains of that newsroom.

And what a newsroom it was. For a high school newspaper editor of 17, the World was big time, never mind that the job I sought was the absolute bottom level of the newspaper hierarchy with a starting salary of $27.50 per week.

I was there because my high school journalism teacher and close friend, the late John R. Roberson, was a University of Missouri classmate of the late Ed Johnson, head of the department of journalism at the University of Tulsa and the man who routed TU students into part-time jobs at the World. They wanted to be sure I attended TU the following fall.

I was hired on the spot, not because of any special talent, but because the World was desperate for a copy boy and Ed Johnson had sent me.

I still lay claim to being the best copy boy in Tulsa World history, although there are those who dispute that and still others who would observe that that might have been the last job at which I was the very best. There are not as many of them as there once were, however.

This is not a story of my beginnings on the Tulsa World as such, but about a conversation on that night nearly 47 years ago that I have thought about many times as the end of the century drew near.

Lee Erhard was managing editor. Sid Steen was city editor. Both are gone now. In the cramped little newsroom, they sat at adjoining linoleum-topped desks, only a loud conversation apart in the midst of clacking typewriters, the chatter of teletypes and the cackle of the police radio.