Nothing entrances newspaper people more than the telling of tales about the sins and glories of their paper. At the venerable Star, a place both beloved for its eccentricities and Dickensian characters and deprecated with gentle bemusement for its company-store air of paternalism, that art form flourished with special flair.
The stories were told late into the night, with everyone fully aware they were sometimes apocryphal. That didn't matter; they were part of the cement that held the old place together. They added to a sense of pride. The more outrageous the behavior recounted, the greater the glee in the telling and listening. Any newcomer was immediately introduced to them, and I was no exception. No matter what post I filled over a 12-year span, whether city reporter, copy editor, assistant city editor, night city editor, national reporter and others, I couldn't escape them.
You'll find some recalled here, by those who once worked there. Now we're scattered across the landscape of American journalism, and some of us are outside the news business, but we retain a common bond. We look back with nostalgic fondness on having once served the old gray lady of Washington journalism, who had her racier moments, and with sorrow for this day that now writes an end to the story of The Star.
By the time I joined the staff on a steaming August day 24 years ago next Monday, the stately old marble building on Pennsylvania Avenue already was the repository of ancient legends. The building contributed to the atmosphere. Halfway between the Capitol and the White House, with long dark corridors and a newsroom paneled in mahogany with back windows overlooking a tourist hotel (to the pleasure of night-shift voyeurs from the art and photo departments), it was the kind of structure that ought to house a newspaper of long traditions.