What happens when you move downstairs

TOUR TIME — This June 1980 file photo of a tour of Weirton Steel, a division of National Steel Corp., was hosted by WSX Public Relations Department employees Chuck Cronin, left, and Ralph Cox, right, for Herald-Star representatives Publisher Charles Govey, Managing Editor Tom Waller and then-Hancock County reporter Janice Hout.

My daily “aerobics” workout has changed quite a bit.

It used to be that my co-workers and I had three flights of 28 steep steps to climb to get to the second-floor newsroom, to make our way to our desks and our newspaper environment. And, no, there’s no elevator to take.

Imagine ascending and descending those 28 steps numerous times a day — and never empty-handed, of course — as we would leave and return on varied missions throughout the work day.

Do the math on that for a week or a month or a year and then multiply it by a good four decades, and well, that’s a lot of up-and-down and a lot of steps.

Justification for a jelly doughnut or two, if you ask me. Do the steps and don’t worry about the calories.

It was not uncommon for visitors coming to drop off a news release or suggest a story idea to, upon arriving at the newsroom, stop, inhale, huff and puff a bit for emphasis, and wonder aloud how on Earth do we manage these steps all the time.

Good gravy!

Well, now we don’t.

That’s changed in recent months as our newsroom has been relocated to cozier surroundings on the main floor of the building, meaning that instead of having 28 steps to climb, now there are only four.

Piece of cake, right? (Or maybe just warranting half a jelly doughnut now.)

While the move has logic connected to it, any move comes with many strings attached, mainly that you have to move stuff from Point A to Point B.

And that involves cleaning out desk drawers and storage spaces with out-of-sight, out-of-mind contents reserved for that day way, way, way down the pike when it’s retirement time or you’re a hostage in the building with nothing else to do.

Just like your home, your work area accumulates more than you can imagine until you start trying to put it in boxes for the trip to a new location.

Yes, there’s a lot that can be tossed, but there’s more to keep, specifically newspaper history and our connection to it.

Often are the occasions when people call with what seems like a simple enough request — do you remember when this or that ran in the paper? You did that story a while back? Maybe in the ’90s?

Honestly, for the most part, maybe. Do I have clippings and photos connected to that inquiry? Possibly but no guarantees. Can I put my finger on anything quickly? Not really in the realm of Janice possibilities.

Funny how things turn out, though.

A former area resident now living in Florida had contacted me recently about some stories I had done, and she was interested in having them for a special project she was doing.

I felt so bad I couldn’t help her and said as much, but guess what?

Our office relocation and under-deadline-pressure desk-cleaning orders ultimately produced exactly what she was looking for.

I never felt so happy about mailing something.

I’ve kept programs from events and brochures through the years, clippings, cards and letters people wrote, resource material — no way can I part with all that. It’s part of me. It’d be like throwing away an arm or a leg.

And there are pictures, of course, all of which you have to reminisce about a little.

One was from June 1980 when I was covering Hancock County and went on a tour of Weirton Steel with then-Publisher Charles Govey and Managing Editor Tom Waller. Our hosts were Weirton Steel public relations department employees Chuck Cronin and Ralph Cox.

It gave me a chuckle to look at it because I can remember not really being a fan of the hard hat and goggles I had to wear.

And it made me sad, too, knowing three people in that photo — Mr. Govey, Tom and Ralph, who worked as a stringer at the paper — no longer are with us.

Desk cleaning and relocating office history is not for sissies.

And it does tend to work up an appetite for a jelly doughnut or two — steps or no steps.


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