The dark paneling continued throughout Duke’s office. I pulled out my stringer book and showed him my college bylines. He said he really didn’t judge candidates by their stringer book and closed it. And I said, “But Mr. Duke, I worked very hard on those stories.” The next thing I knew, he was showing me the city room. I reported for work the next Monday.
My first assignment was writing obituaries on a small manual typewriter. My desk was across from City Editor Mike Harris. Tough as Sizzler steak, he growled rather than spoke. A pipe drooped from lips hidden somewhere under that villain’s mustache. Fortunately, he liked me. Soon he assigned me to retrieve the fire and police calls and municipal court misdemeanors. Then, he gave me my own column — Pets’ Pal, listing all the animals residing that week at the animal shelter. One dog had been lost twice, and the owner found him after seeing him listed in the column. I still run into the woman from time to time.
On my first trip to our sister paper, the Glendale News-Press, I remember seeing the Linotype machine, which cast individual letters from molten lead, at work — and the mess of lead scraps all over the floor. A year or two later, during another visit, I walked by the wire room filled floor-to-ceiling with the yellow paper tape the wire machines used.
The first generation of computers came along and we were all issued IBM Selectric typewriters with OCR, or “optical character recognition,” type balls. When the office was moved from Orange Grove to Angeleno Avenue, across from the Holiday Inn, the movers dropped my typewriter and from then on, the “ru” was tweaked. One time “By Joyce Dolph” made it into print and I got phone calls asking if there was a new person at the paper.