Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Day 1: Kaye Corbett

Memories of Day Oners, a unique group of 62 unemployed men and women from the defunct Toronto Telegram who spent Halloween of 1971 putting out that first 48-page Toronto Sun.

They succeeded despite Tely Wake hangovers, occasional blackouts and primitive working conditions in converted Eclipse Building factory space at 322 King Street West.

Kaye Corbett, associate sports editor:

"Where's the Eclipse Whitewear Building?

Where's Farb's Car Wash?

And the little greasy spoon down the road?

Quick get Doc Feelgood on the phone.

Editor Corbett's been caught in a time warp.

The last time I was conscious, Paul Rimstead was trying to con Doug Creighton out of more monies for an ill-gotten "business trip" somewhere in Mexico and I was trying to re-arrange orange crates to plunk my large carcass on at that early-Canadian foundry on King Street in Toronto.

Someone called it the Toronto Sun.

Some 36 years ago, Ol' Man Bassett had pulled the plug on one of Canada's great newspapers, the Toronto Telegram, and a scrappy bunch of news hounds were left out in the cold with pocketfuls of dollars and far too much beverage to consume. Some drifted into politics; others just drifted, but three of them - Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt - decided to scrape enough dollars to put a down payment in birthing a tabloid that no one expected to be successful. Oh, it might last a week, if best.

So with money burning holes in my pocket, Montreal seemed enticing. The Telegram had been good to me; gaining experience as a sportswriter and giving me the chance to write about the Amazing Mets of 1969 when the former bunglers of the diamond proved there were, indeed, angels in the outfield.

Alright, Corbett, get on with this story.

However, when I returned from Montreal with a terrific job in my pocket, the "Baron," George Gross, was waiting. With little fanfare, he, Creighton, Worthington, Johnny F. and Doug of the Bassett family and myself squeezed into a car and stopped at the Eclipse Whitewear Building, which happened to be an Edifice to Ugliness.

Before the day was over, I had accepted the job as associate sports editor to Gross with something that hadn't even hit the street.

Even today, 36 years later, the memory of those first 48 hours with the new Toronto tab are still vivid in my mind; such as the sheer panic of trying to put the initial sports pages together under Gross' direction and finding that nothing fit, photos couldn't be found and also coping with a pounding headache from the preceding Tely farewell parties.

The deadline for the first edition passed and hours stretched past the midnight hour and as well-wishers gathered around, Don Hunt urged the haggard sports staff to "bust our %$#@^& buns." And we did.

Suddenly, the first edition of the Toronto Sun hit the streets, mistakes and all.

Thanks for asking about Day 1 with the Toronto Sun. It was a time of panic and fun.

Now, 36 years later, all I can remember is the laughter and the exhilaration we all felt.

The memory of that time still makes this Ol' Man smile and smile and smile."

Thanks for the memories, Kaye.

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