The Newsroom At 55 Park Place
By Don Storch
Books By Don Storch
The Newsroom At 55 Park Place
Snakes in the Swamp
If a Passive-Progressive Leads from behind he is a Double Oxymoron
This book is dedicated to my Mom and Dad, mentors of an only child, with daily memories of loving gratefulness, Viola Pauline (Helmstatt) Storch (1910 – 1969) and George John Storch (1903-1969)
Norman B. Tomlinson Jr
The following is work in progress and as you may have already noted, memoir has been deleted from the book cover. A Chapter will be published each week.
I borrowed my Dad’s car, drove west to Morristown New Jersey and pulled into a parking space in front of a soda shop. It was near the local movie house and across the street from the library. I walked into the shop looked for the newspaper stand and bought the local paper, the Morristown Daily Record, it cost me 5 cents.
It was 1957.
I went back to my car to scan the classified section for jobs, and there it was, an ad for a reporter, the very job I was looking for.
I went back into the store and asked the clerk where The Newsroom at 55 Park Place was on the Morristown Green, a roundabout that was called a square in the center of town.
It was quaint, historic, a place where the Revolution was fought and one of many places General George Washington slept – the father of our country.
Today his statue may be in line for desecration, or worse removal. After all he too was a slave owner and probably harassed women.
There at the end of the first turn was an old three story white building with the name, Morristown Daily Record. There was an open parking space in front of the building. I parked, got out of the car with paper in hand and walked in the front door.
It was the front office where they sold papers and took classified ads. A woman asked if she could help me. I said I was here to apply for the reporter’s job you were advertising for.
She told me to go through the door in front of me and walk down the hallway and the news room would be on my left and ask for Herb Thorpe.
I opened the door and immediately heard a bunch of clacking, someone whistling, the wall to my left was a partial partition with frosted glass on the top.
I asked for Herb Thorpe, and found the whistler. He didn’t whistle a tune, it was a nervous whistle, off key and he was holding a metal ruler. I introduced myself and he asked me to sit down alongside of his desk.
His desk faced the partition, another desk faced a wall and a third faced the opposite wall from the partition at that end of the room. There were some five desks in the middle of the room with old see through Remington typewriters sitting on the top. The desks were metal with a rubber like surface. There was a bank of wire service machines alongside the partitioned wall, all clacking away with rolls of paper spewing over the top onto the floor.
The names on the sides of the machines were Associated Press and United Press International, one teletype machine had no name on it, it was news from the Dover Bureau.
The phones on each desk were stand-up Bell Telephones with either a headset or a receiver you held apart from the mouth piece you spoke into.
At the far end of the newsroom there were two more desks, one facing the partitioned wall – the sports desk – the other facing the wall separating the newsroom from the classified section of the paper – the social desk.
There was one window in the room overlooking the Morristown Post Office.
The metal ceiling was high enough to shoot baskets, walls had wooden tongue and groove paneling half way up.
Herb was the News Editor and he introduced me to Norman B. Tomlinson Jr. son of the Publisher Norman B. Tomlinson Sr., known to all as ‘Father.’
I was to find out later that junior was a graduate of Princeton, graduated from Harvard Law school and passed the Bar on the first go around.
Norman was short with a butch haircut, one eye looked in a direction than the other.
They both interviewed me, I told them that I had just been honorable discharged from the United States Navy and before that attended two years of college before being drafted.
I told them I worked on the ship’s newspaper while in the Navy, among other things, within the hour I was hired at $70 a week with a flat $20 a week expense account, which was to cover gas and other incidentals.
It was the beginning of a beautiful job that had nothing to do with work for the rest of my life.
Of course, I needed a car and a brand-new Hillman Minx, Pippen red convertible, was in my vision; $2,000 and several car payments later, I had a car with 100,000 miles on it in the first year of a beautiful relationship.
My first day on the job I was assigned to do a feature on a Presbyterian church that burned down two years ago in Long Valley N.J, which wasn’t even in Morris County, the coverage area for our paper.
The church was breaking ground to rebuild and it was important to Norman that we beat the Newark Evening News to the story. This was the State’s leading newspaper and our primary competition, because any reporter at the Daily Record that was beat to a story in their coverage area by the Newark News had hell to pay for at ‘heartburn hour,’ which was 12 noon in Morristown, which was when the News arrived.
Our reporters were out gunned by their reporters by 2-1 on every beat.
On this story, we beat the Newark News on the rebuilding of the Long Valley church by one year, no one even noticed but Norman.
The church wasn’t easy to find for it wasn’t there yet, and we didn’t have GPS, just Triple A maps, but we got the interview.
When I got back to the newsroom, Norman had the lead for my story, “Rising like a Phoenix from its own ashes . . . “
How trite, I thought . . . it was the last time I ever took a lead for any story from anybody. I prided myself in my leads because I believed it was the lead that drew the reader into the content of the story, and the shorter the better.
To be continued . . .