Monday, November 25, 2013

My JFK story

The logistics of getting a message to someone traveling in 1963 in a foreign city were a lot more complicated, but the phone operators at the Toronto Star were and are the sort of people who could connect a guy on the bridge of a freighter in a typhoon to a reporter in the middle of a riot as part of their daily routine.
During the funeral of John F. Kennedy in Washington, a message needed to be sent to the correspondent covering it - and he was riding in a car in the funeral procession!
The operators got to work and knowing the parade route, and in which order the car he would be in was in in the procession, looked at the Washington City Directory - there was a big rack of phone books and directories for many cities in the world in the newsroom - and made calls to places along the route until they found someone who was willing to count the cars and then run out and stop that particular car and give the message to him.
It worked!
I don't know what the message was - this had become part of the folklore of the Star, which is more than 120 years old - it's part of a chain of folklore - they knew the people who knew the people who knew Hemingway when he worked there.

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