Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Getting together with Old Repubs

The way it was
Tonight I joined about 25 Old Repubs at the Red Rose Pizzeria in Springfield for a festive evening of storytelling and reconnecting. Old Repubs is the name of the Facebook group of former employees of The Republican, a group also including some hardy current reporters and editors. One of my former colleagues calls us recovering reporters.

Newspaper people tell the best stories. We talked shop – covering what has become of the industry and what it once was – and we told jokes and talked about our lives and our families and the state of the news biz and other things. Many of us lingered long after the meal was done, wanting to stay longer. Many have been gone for a long time, but we didn't miss a beat. We talked about how we miss the camaraderie, which before things started to go downhill could not be beat. We had joked around a lot but worked hard, staying late if we had to make up the time.

I never went back after my relapse in 2007, but, having worked as a reporter at the Springfield paper for more than 25 years, I often still say "we" when referring to the paper.

That is not to say it was all rosy. I still have nightmares about work: I don't have a chair, the light is too dim to see, they want me to work but there are not enough computer terminals to go around, they want me to produce more stories on impossible deadlines. (There never were enough working chairs; someone from the night shift would often take a day shift person's chair when he or she had just gone to the bathroom, and I would often start my day hunting for my chair.)

Recently, I awoke from a nightmare in which it was the last day of work before the paper went out of business, and we were all crying and saying this could not possibly be so and we did not know how to do anything else. I told this to someone tonight and she said that given the rate at which people are taking buyouts, retiring, or being laid off, the dream might be prescient.

When we get together, we lament what has happened to the industry.

Still, sooner or later, someone will say, "We had a good run."

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