Column: "Two Cents' Worth": Office history, as defined by the contents of a desk

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

by E. Alan Long

When Glenda, back in the composition department, had a desk that was falling on its last legs, my somewhat undeserved reputation for being a handyman was called upon.

Her drawers were sticking and/or popping off their tracks, an inappropriate situation for someone who keeps so many files of ad orders, layouts and the details on advertisers' preferences. That is not to mention all the CDs she has with clip art and previously run ads she is called upon to use dozens of times each week.

I jockeyed with the drawer and thought I had it working again, only for the drawer beneath it to start screwing up. Checking the frame of the desk, I found that the wall underneath, holding the drawers, was flopping around like a less-than-al-dente strand of spaghetti.

Not knowing how to weld ---- besides it's not in my job description ---- I pronounced the desk dead.

So Glenda needed a different desk. We cast around ideas, and contacted MJ at the Times-Echo office. Yes, she reluctantly admitted, there is an extra desk, but she didn't want to give up too much in case the company's budget improved to where she could bring on a staff member. Besides, she well knows once something from her office gets to Berryville, it may never be seen again.

My idea was to take the old wooden desk which I used when I worked in the Times-Echo office when it was in the Southwestern Bell building. I figured I would take it, and Glenda could have the desk I used ---- one that I bought from Donrey Media some 15 years ago when I owned the Holiday Islander.

But that was more than the ladies at the Times-Echo office could deal with. The thing is solid wood, and very bulky. So they sent a smaller, modern computer table, a fine piece of equipment, provided you don't need drawers.

Managing Editor Jerry Dupy cabbaged on to that so quick, Glenda barely had time to say it wouldn't work for her. He had been doing his work on a folding table, resulting in an awkward position for all the work he does on his computer.

But Glenda and I were back to square one. The following Monday, boss Bob Moore and his son took it upon themselves to load the old wood desk and deposit it right next to my work station.

So, I've been moving from one desk to another.

The curious thing is that I am moving into a desk I had used previously, some three-and-a-half years ago, and there were still some artifacts from my previous occupancy still to be found in its drawers.

There was the list of extension numbers and phone numbers for the CCN operation. There were extensions for Lanetta, Lanetta's computer, Dana, Jim, Duane, Curtis, Mike, and Martha, all of whom are gone on to better things, as well as the smoker's room, which is a thing of the past. The list had been updated at some point with my handwriting. probably at the time the Echo offices moved to The Park at Holiday Island.

A memo I had written to former desk occupant Beth Bartlett noted breakfast being served a Coffeehaus Aroma. There were old phone books dating to 1999 for Eureka Springs and Holiday Island ---- utilizing the old 501 area code, of course.

My collection of business cards from November 1997 to 2000 were also still in the old wood desk. I tossed the ones for people who have changed jobs, and those places I know have gone out of business.

Another previous occupant of the desk was represented by stories stored on the old 3 1/2-inch diskettes, written by Gale Myers of hole-in-the-ozone notoriety.

There were memos written on note paper with the "mouse that roared' logo of the Holiday Island Regional News, which CCN bought out some years ago. Some of the notes were instructions for downloading a digital camera.

Speaking of cameras, there was also a roll of black-and-white film and some color negatives, both of which are rarely seen in newsrooms anymore.

A print-out of a story on the Holiday Island Garden Club showed a proofreader's grammar lesson, noting, among other things, that a club or organization usually takes a singular verb, so the club could not have received a lesson in pest control at "their" March 21 meeting. The proofreader failed to catch the abbreviated March ---- a non-no by Associated Press standards.

Old brochures, business cards, clippings and notes on new businesses, underscored the changes that have taken place in recent years. Jim Girkin is shown in a picture passing on his pharmacy to Beth McCollough; a story tells of a new breast care center opening in Springdale; a brochure describes Groves Karate Studio's AerobiKick Kickboxing program; a menu discloses what "pub grub" is at Pied Piper Pub and Inn; a very slick booklet introduces the reader to Peachtree Village, and includes floor plans for both homes and apartments; a directory of Historic Hotels of America makes note of The Crescent Hotel; old notes from a special meeting of the Holiday Island Suburban Improvement District contains a seating chart from Frank Smith, secretary Ed Robertson, Ellen Bjork, chairman Howard Walls, Connie Carney and District Manager Kevin Crosson.; a January 2001 press release discloses Carroll County is eligible for economic injury disaster loans by the Small Business Administration

Moving from the desk that went to Glenda was also revealing. There were instructions for using a digital camera, a handout on Mountain Eclectic; negatives of photos of my oldest grandson taken on a hiking trail at Lake Leatherwood; info tags for photos to be scanned into the computer system; the redraft for my business card made when the e-mail address changed; an Ozarks Chorale Membership letter for the 1999-2000 season; a plastic pica pole, courtesy of Arkansas Press Services, from when the industry went to a slightly narrower column width; my hog bristle brush, a gift from an old girlfriend in 1969; a business card for Erin Hayes of ABC News; and half-tone printouts of the demolition of the old U.S. 62 bridge over the Kings River.

The list could go on and on, but it gives me pause to consider what I might find if I ever get my basement organized.

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