The newspaper formerly known as the Troy Daily News moved about a month ago. Miami Valley Today pulled up stakes and moved to a new location on North County Road 25-A. All of us old folks remember that once upon a time that location was home to Price Typewriter.
I spent more than 20 years working in the old TDN building and then in what we called the “new” building, but I guess it’s not really new anymore. I just can’t let it go away without sharing a few memories.
I worked at the TDN from late 1976 to 1999. I suppose if you were driving by those buildings things usually looked pretty calm from the outside. It was anything but that inside.
I started there as a sportswriter in the days before smoking was banned in buildings. Our copy editors, racing to fix mistakes every day before deadline hit, calmed themselves by constantly smoking. The smoke combined with the distinctive smell of ink from the presses in the basement to create a singular kind of smell that attached itself to any article of clothing. Jimi Hendrix sang about purple haze, we lived in it. I was happy when the TDN finally invoked a no smoking policy, buy my wife was happier.
When I first came to the TDN, the newspaper used a groundbreaking computer system. We typed on typewriters, it went into a computer and our chain-smoking copy editors called the text up on little computer monitors. They would work on it, send it to a typesetter, which would spit out the copy in long sheets of paper that were run through a waxer so they were sticky on the back. The copy would be cut by the composing room people, who tried to follow our instructions (which often didn’t work as planned) and slapped the stories down on the pages. When we finished, it would go down a chute to the camera room in the basement, which would get things ready for the press. The computer filled a whole room and had about a megabyte of storage. I can’t imagine how we ever got a paper out, but we did it every day.
The new building was planned by a California architect and was a “passive solar envelope” building. It has a space between the walls all around the building that was supposed to help heat and cool the building. Sun came in through the windows in the winter and in the summer cool air stored in tanks below the ground was directed around the envelope by fans. There was no heating and no air conditioning.
And it didn’t work. It might have worked in California, but in Ohio it is cloudy all winter and hot and humid in the summer. I had a pair of fingerless gloves I wore on Saturday nights in the winter because it often would drop to around 50 degrees inside. In the summer, it smelled like a high school boys’ locker room. It did get our reporters and photographers out of the building, ostensibly to look for stories, but I think they all just went to the pool. Eventually, we broke down and installed heating and air conditioning.
Upstairs there was an apartment where George Kuser, the owner of the newspaper, stayed when he was in town. George was great to work for, but he also was a major league partier. It got really interesting about 1 or 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings, right on deadline, when a guest at the party would wander down from above and perch herself on the desk in the middle of the newsroom right on deadline. You never could be quite sure what might happen.
I remember one Saturday night in January when the partygoers thought it would be a good idea to light the apartment Christmas tree on fire and throw it off the balcony into the courtyard below. This apparently had a satisfying effect until someone called the fire department. George got a lecture that night on the proper method to dispose of yuletide decorations.
Then there was … but wait, I’m already out of space. I’ll have to skip the exploding mustard jar, the antics of photographers and sportswriters, the fights over plurals, possessives and capitalizations, the lightning strike that forced me to work almost 36 straight hours, the tragic event at the ping pong table, the blizzard of ’78, the Japanese visitors, the irate coaches and band parents, the physical threats, the Great Escape and even the tricks we played on what was then our big rival, the Piqua Daily Call. Since the TDN and the Call are now combined as one paper, we will have to leave those skeletons and all the other skeletons in the closet. That probably is the best place for them.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.