Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Photo-File Finish for the Once-Famous

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Photo-File Finish for the Once-Famous

Article excerpt

It's about 5:30 a.m. The temperature must be somewhere north of 90. I'm assembling cardboard boxes and filling them with old newspaper photos and sweating like Nixon.

I'd volunteered for this duty. An email went out last week asking if anyone wanted to make $10 an hour by helping to pack the photo files in the old Post-Gazette building Downtown during nonwork hours.

Getting these ancient treasures across the river to our new office is important work, so I shrugged off the ominous warning: "The old building is very hot ..."

At the brief training session held last Thursday noon, I got down to a T-shirt faster than a Chippendales dancer but still left dripping. I figured a predawn attack on the files would be cooler.

As it happens, my older daughter took a job in a bakery this summer that has her punching in at 5 a.m. So I asked her to wake me at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. I could put her bicycle in the back of the station wagon and drive her to work before heading to my own toils. That would save her a mile of pedaling while getting her old man up and at 'em.

When the heat of the old PG building's second floor hit me, I wished I hadn't raised such an obedient kid.

The security guard told me he'd brought in a thermometer once and saw the mercury rise to 117. There's no air conditioning in the oversized bunker and the photo files are far enough from the nearest windows to make any breeze a rumor.

Ten boxes had already been filled when I arrived. An 11th had been assembled. After plugging in three fans, I grabbed the box marked "11" and went to the shelf where my predecessor had given up. She'd gotten most of the way through the "D's."

I grabbed and boxed files marked "Durante, Jimmy" and "Durocher, Leo" and "Dust Bowl" and so on. I didn't have to open the files to see the images inside. Just seeing the name of the great Durante - "Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are" - how long has that sign-off phrase been clinging to a wrinkle in my brain? …

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