“James, I have the typewriter!”
Late Friday night my vehicle is parked in front of First Community Bank. What kind of odd emergency would cause someone to yell down Merchant Row about a typewriter? Or did someone just steal a typewriter and why would they?
Like anything that comes out of a newsroom, the typewriter, which had been on display in the front window of the Milton Courier at 513 Vernal Ave. was a story. (If only we knew the stories it had typed.) I thought the Underwood typewriter had been used at the Milton Courier. Not likely. I also thought the late Rick Miller, known for his photos, had set up the display with the typewriter, three cameras, a dangerous-looking fan and a telephone with no dial. It turns out I was wrong. A friend of former editor Doug Welch had set up the display. Possibly the fan and the telephone had been used at the Courier, he said, but not the other items. Doug said he didn’t have interest in the typewriter and I didn’t remember anyone else having expressed interest. Where was former sports editor Ben Gauger, who fixes typewriters? Wyoming. I packed up the typewriter in its case and loaded into my vehicle. Former editor James Debilzen asked where the typewriter was. Later, I decided he should have it.
On Friday, we had had an informal newsroom funeral. Recent former editors and former employees who had worked at the paper for decades were invited to say goodbye to the building. Doug Welch, James Debilzen, Susan Angell, Paul “Scoop” McMurray, Judy Lippincott and Denise Derry all made an appearance. Michael Gouvion stopped by briefly on his way to a basketball game. And, the name of the late Rick Miller came up in several discussions.
For many, the newsroom was their home away from home. Doug decorated walls with Brewers posters. Gouvion, despite the displeasure of the maintenance men from Fort, set up a couch in the back room, though he rarely, if ever, used it.
The hours, days, evenings, weekends and holidays spent working in the newsroom at 513 Vernal are coming to an end. For some, it was difficult to imagine and with a lump in their throat, difficult to swallow, but a necessity none the same.
Looking across the room, with nearly as many unassigned as assigned desks, the reality of employees or contractors working off site was real. Circulation, production, classified ad specialists have been off site for years.
Getting together at Jake’s Junction Pub, the importance of the newsroom that had once been came alive. We talked about past elections, the wallpaper, how old the carpet might be, the challenges of reporting local politics, the new furnace, Google, Hermione (a newsroom cat who died a couple years ago) and more.
We wonder what might become of the building and know whatever happens is a story yet to be written without a typewriter.
On the Move is a column that will chronicle the move of the Milton Courier newsroom to the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson. Employees will have desks in Fort. Editors will spend Tuesdays in Fort putting together the paper and otherwise work remotely within the Milton community. As we are out and about and on the move, the column will continue.