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Having the Last Word

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More than a century's worth of stories -- in print, unprinted and unprintable -- haunt the rubble of "307 North Penn," erstwhile home of The Indianapolis Star and the late lamented Indianapolis News. A few former hands stopped by recently to pay their respects -- and perhaps make one more search for a favorite lost coffee cup or unredeemed expense voucher. They shared some cherished, or at least unshakeable, memories.

Lyle Mannweiler (here in the mid-1960s) "did every kind of odd job around the place," as a high-schooler and then Butler student. He went on to become a writer, editor and photographer for The Indianapolis News, and then The Star, working more than 49 years at the local landmark.  - COURTESY OF LYLE MANNWEILER
  • Courtesy of Lyle Mannweiler
  • Lyle Mannweiler (here in the mid-1960s) "did every kind of odd job around the place," as a high-schooler and then Butler student. He went on to become a writer, editor and photographer for The Indianapolis News, and then The Star, working more than 49 years at the local landmark.

Lyle Mannweiler (1955-2005)

Recall your fondest memory of 307 North Penn? Impossible. Too many of them tucked away in those nooks and crannies. Memories one can talk about; joke about with old cohorts; but to write, well, nobody would believe. Would you start with the constant clatter of teletypes that lined the wall, spitting stories 24 hours a day? Or the clerk who saw to it that -- by hand -- every stock price of the day made the Blue Streak (the last of The News' seven editions)? Or the super effort it took to get the entire boys' basketball draw in for a 9 a.m. deadline?

But it was the characters that made the memories. The sportswriter who drove a pace car in the dead of night the wrong way on the race track -- without lights. Or the copy boy who decided he wanted to become a photographer. He was found lying on his stomach in the middle of West Washington Street, Brownie Kodak in hand.

It was the people, the drunks, the womanizers, the illicit affairs that were consummated in 307's darkened stairwells and beneath desks. Hell, there was many a department head who -- hard to believe in this day of prissy reporting -- had mistresses. But all that's gone. There isn't enough ink in today's newspapers to dirty your hands. Everything is by-the-corporate book clean. The good old days are gone. Oh, and then there was the reporter who ...

Journalists from the former Indianapolis Star building stand amid its demolition site. Back row: Welton "Art" Harris, Dan Carpenter. Middle row: Lyle Mannweiler, David Mannweiler, Jay Harvey and Marc Allan. Front row: (brown suit) Jeff Atteberry, (hat) Gerry Lafollette, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp. - PHOTO BY JAMI STALL
  • Photo by Jami Stall
  • Journalists from the former Indianapolis Star building stand amid its demolition site. Back row: Welton "Art" Harris, Dan Carpenter. Middle row: Lyle Mannweiler, David Mannweiler, Jay Harvey and Marc Allan. Front row: (brown suit) Jeff Atteberry, (hat) Gerry Lafollette, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp.

Jay Harvey (1986-2013)

In the old days of "Star Drama," as the arts and entertainment department was known, flacks and friends could easily just drop in at our cramped, curved-wall office to talk with the boss. That meant everybody heard everything. One time a theater PR person came in to pitch a show called A Shayna Maidel. In the course of the conversation, arts boss Dick Cady was having a little trouble with the Yiddish title. After Cady took a few stabs at it, Marc Allan muttered wearily, with a credible Lower East Side inflection, "Ach, goyim!" Another time, a fellow none of us knew poked his head in the doorway and asked, "Is Corky Richmond around?" Without missing a beat, Steve Mannheimer replied: "I think he's down the hall taking a dump." We all laughed nervously, and Jill Warren said sharply: "Steve!" Mannheimer shrugged and said: "He looks like the kind of guy you can talk to like that." And he was. The visitor laughed harder than anyone.

Marc Allan (1988-2004)

The worst story I ever wrote for The Star was about the Madame Walker Theatre. It's a magnificent building with a glorious history, but my story failed because it was about the building and not about the people who made the place special.

I'll be smarter in talking about 307 N. Pennsylvania St. The building itself meant absolutely nothing to me. But the people -- that's another story. Dennis Royalty, Vic Caleca and Tom Leyden hired me. Dick Cady gave me a chance to be a critic, and he supported me through the best and worst of times. So did Zach Dunkin and Jim Lindgren.

They allowed me to have a nice career in journalism that has continued long after I left the building in 2004. To them, and to all the friends I made at the newspaper over the years, I'm grateful.

The wrecking ball swung on this final section of the building July 3rd, leveling a legendary landmark in Indy's publishing history. - PHOTO BY JAMI STALL
  • Photo by Jami Stall
  • The wrecking ball swung on this final section of the building July 3rd, leveling a legendary landmark in Indy's publishing history.

Dan Carpenter (1976-2013)

They didn't have wall-mounted televisions every 20 feet back when I was assigned to watch a man's head being blown off, but they had a set back in the sports department and there I sat, pen poised, heart hammering.

It was the infamous 1977 live "press conference" staged by Tony Kiritsis in a roomful of cops and reporters at a Westside apartment complex. He held their respectful attention, inasmuch as he had a loaded shotgun wired to the neck of businessman Richard Hall, whom Tony accused of cheating him in a property deal.

Less than six months on the job, I got to be TV monitor. If Tony hadn't released his hostage and gone peacefully into custody instead of doing what we all feared this profanity-spewing little crackpot would do, I may not have stayed in the job for the succeeding 36 years.

Kevin (1984-2013) and Madelyn (1980-1991) Morgan

We are a journalism family. I was a copy editor, reporter and editor for almost 30 years. Madelyn was a copy editor for about 10. Though both of us were laid off by The Star, we're not bitter.

It was a great life, being first to learn the news, having a shot at making it more thorough, accurate and interesting, believing you were providing a service to the community. It was work with purpose, and it was exciting. Now our son Dan is starting out as a newspaper reporter. You won't find our name on any building, but we are a journalism family.

PHOTO BY JAMI STALL
  • Photo by Jami Stall

David Mannweiler (1975 - 2008)

The Star had its city room on one side of 307 and we Newsies [Indianapolis News staffers] had our city room on the other side of the second floor. There was no "Here There Be Dragons" warning if you left the News' side and ventured into Star land, but visits were rare.

After all, The Star had a police reporter who would take his desk, pull a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and put his pistol next to his typewriter. A typewriter had been thrown in anger out of the city room once. We Newsies considered ourselves far more sophisticated. We only had an obit editor, Bess Watson, who stood on her desk and crowed like a rooster.

Former Star news and political writer Gerry Lafollette takes in what little remains of the old building. - PHOTO BY JAMI STALL
  • Photo by Jami Stall
  • Former Star news and political writer Gerry Lafollette takes in what little remains of the old building.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp (1981-1997)

A managing editor once stood at my desk in the city room and told me that people who worked for their hometown paper lacked get-out-of-town ambition. I was stunned by that, and very much disagreed, because all I ever wanted to do was work for The Indianapolis Star, my hometown paper.

I was proud to work there for nearly 20 years and to tell the stories of the city and state that I love, from higher education and Circle Centre Mall to the collapse of the Cline Avenue bridge and the architecture of our homes.

Most of all, by allowing me to be a garden columnist (a relationship that continues today), The Star helped launch a whole new career for me: garden writer and editor, for which I am eternally grateful. I cherish my time at The Star and every day, use the skills nourished and honed there.

Welton "Art" Harris (1968-2001)

In my fourth month at The News in 1968, I was dispatched to cover an Indianapolis Foundation meeting. Exiting on an elevator with me was William A. Dyer Jr., general manager of the Indianapolis Newspapers. After introductions, and in his booming tones, he asked me how I liked working at The News.

I replied, "It would be great if I had a phone, desk and typewriter." Mr. Dyer hrumphed, "Well, young man let's see what we can do about that." That afternoon, a phone, desk and typewriter were delivered to the city room for me.

News management, mildly upset with an upstart reporter, wanted to know what was said to Mr. Dyer. I said, "I told him the truth."

Jeff Atteberry (1974- 2015)

I began work as a photographer at The Indianapolis Star June 16, 1974. Three years later I had my first conversation with my future wife, Mary Wade, in The Star newsroom -- Monday, May 2, 1977 -- the day The Star almost didn't publish. There was a teamsters strike in progress that day and other unionized workers were not crossing the Teamster picket line. This prevented The Indianapolis News from publishing that Monday afternoon (At the time there were two daily papers in Indianapolis -- The News was the afternoon paper.) Mary worked the night wire desk and the copy for The Bulldog (the first edition of The Star).

During the lull in production, while watching the picketing from the newsroom, I noted that publisher, Gene Pulliam, was talking to a Teamster official in the picket line that had been set up in the back alley of 307 North Penn. Mary had never seen the publisher so she came to the windows in the back of The Star city room to take a look.

Former  Indianapolis Star photographer and, until this June, Gannett Content Workflow and Product Analyst, Jeff Atteberry holds a framed copy of The Star front page from the day he met his future wife Mary Wade, with whom he worked on the newspaper. - PHOTO BY JAMI STALL
  • Photo by Jami Stall
  • Former Indianapolis Star photographer and, until this June, Gannett Content Workflow and Product Analyst, Jeff Atteberry holds a framed copy of The Star front page from the day he met his future wife Mary Wade, with whom he worked on the newspaper.

Mary and I struck up a conversation and talked about whether The Star would suffer the same fate as The News had that afternoon. Before the end of the evening, though, the strike was settled and a small item on the front page of the Tuesday May 3rd Indianapolis Star noted the settlement of the strike. For Mary and I the rest, as they say, is history.

After a few months of dating we were married in a ceremony that was "covered" by The Associated Press -- our friends Chuck Robinson, the Indianapolis AP bureau photographer and contributing AP stringer Mary Ann Carter shot photos as a wedding present. And in what we consider an ode to our craft, our garden wedding, attended by many of our Star coworkers, was rained out by a newsworthy storm that also flooded our reception location. But that's another story.

Special thanks go out to Sky Blue Window frequent contributor Dan Carpenter for coordinating this special piece. To these and all the fine journalists (and countless other professionals -- from bean counters to Classifieds clerks and so many more) who called 307 North Penn their place of pride and business -- we tip our hats.

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