July 30, 1976
A few days after the nation’s Bicentennial they decided that carpeting would be a good thing to have at the former Telegram-Tribune building at 1321 Johnson Ave. Built in 1958, reporter Dan Stephens called the building “The Pillbox” because the concrete block walls reminded him of an Army bunker. Note the pleasing lack of windows and the soothing direct fluorescent lights. There was a coffee maker in the corner, gone when I arrived on the scene as an intern about 6 years later. Reporters would sign out on the chalkboard with a return time. At the far right corner is the pneumatic tube that would wisk typewritten stories and photographic prints downstairs to the composing room where the pages were created and plates were made. On the wall of the darkroom you can see the closest thing to a Google Map in mid-1970′s technology.
The paper had made the change from the restrictive hot lead process to the more flexible photo offset process less than two years earlier December 30, 1974. This allowed greater page design flexibility which was good news for photographers.
The flat roof and a retrofit of air conditioning meant that the roof leaked in the darkroom, rains would create a sprinkler effect that could ruin a print if you were not careful.
In the photo you see the furniture pushed over to editorial side while advertising department was carpeted.
What is missing?
See any computers? Any electric typewriters? Any fancy phones with voice mail and polite electronic chirps?
Do I have any nostalgia for the old building? None.
The Scolari’s market that replaced it was a huge improvement. The South Higuera building the Tribune has called home since April 1993 another huge step forward. Ask anyone who worked there, they may have fond memories for their friends and the stories they worked on. I have yet to meet someone who loved the Johnson Ave. building.
The ad is from Hills Office supply, where folks went before Staples or Office Max.
Photo by Wayne Nicholls
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