Full Title: Deadlines: Being the Quaint, the Amusing, the Tragic Memoirs of a Newsroom by Henry Justin Smith
Book Location: Internet Archive; Google Books Date Published: 1922
Henry Justin Smith (1875-1936) was Managing Editor of the Chicago Daily News.
It is still dark in the streets, still dark among the fiat roofs of our block, when the day begins.
It is a winter morning before seven o’clock. Night clings to the city. Windows in some of the tall buildings burn with a radiance never extinguished; others spring into color ahead of the belated sun. On street cars and elevated trains
that sail through the darkness like lighted ships the seven o’clock workers are arriving “downtown.” They are shabbier, more morose, than those who come later. It is hard to be buoyant before seven o’clock in the morning.
In the newspaper office desks and long tables stand in a twilight due to glimmerings that penetrate through the windows. Typewriters, grotesquely hooded, lie in ranks. Waste-baskets yawn. The wires, clinging to the desks, are asleep; telephones have not yet found their tongues. The electric contact with the waking world is in suspension. What happened yesterday? What will happen today? The wires do not care.
A sleepy boy, shivering, his shoes trickling melted snow, enters the spectral room, carrying a bundle of morning newspapers which he lets fall upon a table. He sighs. He turns an electric switch, and the desks and tables spring into
outline. The boy stares about him, stumbles over a waste-basket, kicks it away, sits in a battered chair in front of the mouth of a tarnished copper tube that runs through the ceiling, and drowses, He has barely settled down when he hears men coming in, and starts up. The men are two ; young, but with graying hair. They have not much to say to each other. They do not even glance toward the boy. With a manner somewhat repressed, but alert enough, they go to desks, call out for the morning papers, and start slicing them up with scissors. Ten minutes go by, while the clock ticks serenely and the windows become grey with creeping daylight ; daylight that sifts down among the roofs and through veils of smoke and fog, that comes cold and ashamed and reluctant. It envelops in new shadows the bowed shoulders of the two young men, touching their cheeks with its own pallor, casting pale reminders upon the papers
they are cutting. One man glances over his shoulder at the clock. The clock presently strikes a puny but peremptory “Ping!” It is seven o’clock.
The day has begun.