In the early '70s, The Star was already old and frail but there remained a determined, try-anything attitude.

Someone decided the newsroom desk arrangement needed updating. There was insufficient communication among, foreign, telegraph, metro and copy desks.

The editorial sages wanted a universal desk, a great, connected thing that would put everyone alongside everyone else. But money was tight and no one had ever designed a newsroom before.

They looked around and saw, tucked away on the metro desk, avant-grade artist Yuri Schwebler, who paid his rent by laying out the local pages. Schwebler labored over his sketches for months. When they were done nobody knew how to read them but they looked artsy. The carpenters went to work.

Six months later the huge new desk was in place. The telegraph editor found when he backed up his chair to get coffee he collided with the news editor, who banged into the art editor. The design was perfect -- except it was about half-size. The staff spent much of the time saying, "Excuse me."

Communications was much improved. The metro editor was in whispering range of the news desk. But if he wanted to hand a sheet of paper to his assistant across the desk he had to walk halfway around the building.

At The Star it always seemed like The Post was out to get you. Once the editorial page editor, Smith Hempstone, was mugged on his way to the parking lot after work. They next morning The Post, in its crime-and-punishment list of the night's transgressions, had him as "Hempstone Smith, a parking lot attendant, of 225 Virginia Ave. SE. . ."