Switchboard Saturdays

It could get weird on Saturday afternoons, when I was the only person in this big, three-story building where about a hundred people worked during the week. The paper went to bed early on Saturday so people could go home at noon or shortly afterward.

The switchboard was centered in front of the big entry doors on the first floor and the switchboard operator (me, in this case) also had to be the receptionist.

In Search of a Tornado

Tornado warnings had been issued one Saturday, which was not terribly unusual in the Green Bay area, though no tornado had ever actually touched down up to then.

I was aware of the warning but really hadn't thought about it until the front door burst open and a guy came charging in with a tripod on one shoulder and a large bag hanging from the other.

"Which way is the tornado?" he demanded.

"I have no idea," I said.

"Isn't this the newspaper?"


"Where's the city editor?"

"Probably home."

"Who else is here?"

"Just me."

It turned out he was a freelance newsreel cameraman who had driven about 20 miles to film the tornado.

After Lightning, a Pregnant Pause

Another Saturday afternoon, a violent thunderstorm was raging (but there was still no tornado). The Catholic Women's Club was next door to the Press-Gazette building and a transformer was mounted on a pole in the alley between them. It was almost time for me to lock up and go home when there was a tremendous explosion and the power went off. I quickly realized that lightning must have hit the transformer.

Actually, that didn't seem like a big thing since it was almost the end of the day. I decided I'd simply lock up, go home, and call the Press-Gazette's maintenance supervisor to let him know what had happened. The power company would certainly know about it, I figured, and they'd have it fixed before people came to work on Monday morning.

Just then, the front doors flew open and about thirty pregnant women flooded in.

They were almost as panicky as I was. Visions of having to deliver several babies danced in my head. But eventually we all calmed down, mainly because of one woman.

She was the leader of the class for pregnant women that was held at the Catholic Women's Club every Saturday afternoon.