Monday, Apr 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Milestone invokes a memory

Just think, it's been a quarter century since the Toledo Times published its last edition.

Every five years since that dark day in journalism, there has been a reunion of former Times employees - reporters, editors, printers, sales people, etc., - to reminisce about the "good old days'' on the small morning daily that was the little sister to the giant Blade.

This year the reunion will be held Sunday, July 23, at the VFW Post 2510, Second and Platt streets in East Toledo.

For those who don't know, the Times was Toledo's morning paper for many years. Although it was owned by The Blade and produced in Blade offices, it was still considered a competitor for the larger paper. At one point, it was Toledo's Sunday paper and in the 1950s, it had a circulation of more than 194,000. But as time went by, the numbers dwindled. Circulation was at about 33,000 when the Times folded.

Many Blade reporters and editors got their start on the Times including such familiar names today as Millie Benson, John Robinson Block, Homer Brickey, well, the list goes on and on.

And that list includes me.

When I first came to work in Toledo in 1969, it was for the Toledo Times. The staff was composed of a small but talented bunch of people who enjoyed engaging in friendly competition with The Blade. Because we were so small, anytime we could get a scoop on The Blade, it was a great moment and we all made sure to let The Blade know we beat them.

We all have memories of those days, but one in particular stands out in my mind. It was the only time in my long career that I got to shout what every newspaper person dreams about but rarely, if ever, gets the chance:

"Stop the presses!''

I also learned that it isn't exactly what it is cracked up to be. Oh, it works fine when Humphrey Bogart does it in the movies, but in reality, things are a bit different.

It took place one night when I was sitting in for the managing editor who was ill at the time. This is a very powerful position in the newspaper world, and I felt extremely important.

We had revised our first edition and were awaiting the final edition. Up to this point, everything was going fine and I was feeling a great deal of satisfaction.

The copy boy brought copies of the final edition up and when I scanned it, I discovered to my horror that they hadn't changed the edition label. The front page still was the first edition.

I grabbed the phone, called the pressroom, and shouted, "Stop the presses!" I then went into the composing room to confront the printers. Well, as it turned out, when the copy boy went to the press room, he grabbed the wrong stack of papers. Everything was just fine.

I got back on the phone and said, "OK, you can start the presses again,''

There was a small chuckle on the other end. "Tom, we never stopped the presses,'' the pressman said.

I was appalled. My orders were ignored. I frostily pointed this out.

"Hey, it's expensive to do that,'' I was informed. "Do you realize how that can hinder production? It would throw everything back. And they would blame us. Only God can stop the presses and you are a couple of ranks short. You've seen too many movies.''

Well, that was true enough, I guess. Still, I was acting managing editor. That should have meant something.

"Oh, it did,'' I was assured. "We did slow the presses down a bit.''

And so, one of the most exciting moments of my career was a bit disappointing.

I bet Humphrey Bogart never had that problem.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Tom Ensign's book ``There's More Than One Way to Skin a Human,'' which is a collection of columns about life with his cat, click here.

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