from Reporter’s Note Book by Duffy Jennings

Walking into the Chronicle city room to meet Abe Mellinkoff was as much a sensory experience for me as seeing that perfect, green Yankee Stadium grass for the first time. It looked so much like the newsrooms I’d seen in movies—men and women talking on the phone with headsets and typing quickly at the same time, cigarettes dangling from their lips, some wearing green plastic visor-style eyeshades beneath the harsh fluorescent lighting, others reading the newspaper or talking with colleagues. Everyone seemed busy.

Everywhere I looked there were cluttered desktops, scattered newspapers and notes, and cigarette butts on the bare, dark wooden floor. I heard loud shouts of “Copy!” and “Boy!” (no women were yet in this job, hence the term copyboy). I sensed the frenetic movement of people from section to section. Cigarette and pipe smoke rose up from every section and blended with the scents of strong coffee, printer’s ink, pencil shavings, gum erasers, gooey mucilage in paste pots and the oily odor of the wood floor, all combining to produce an earthy and intoxicating aroma.

I did not remember meeting Abe before. He was short in stature, maybe five-five or five-six, with graying hair. He wore a dark blue suit, blue and white-striped button-down shirt, tie, and suspenders. Around his neck on a lanyard hung a monocle that from time to time during the conversation he would insert in his right eye to read something. We talked about what I had been doing and that I was looking for something more satisfying. “Are you going to school?” he asked.

“Yes, I’ve registered for classes at City College.”

After a short time, he went over to talk with Darrell Duncan, the office manager. He returned to his chair, smiling.

“It turns out we have an opening for a copyboy,” Abe told me. “It pays sixty-two dollars a week. We can work around your class schedule. If you can you start tomorrow morning, be here at 9 o’clock.”

“It turns out we have an opening for a copyboy. It pays sixty-two dollars a week. If you can you start tomorrow morning, be here at 9 o’clock.”

© 2019 by Duffy Jennings. All Rights Reserved.