Wednesday 31 October 2007

Day 1: Ken Robertson

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.

Ken Robertson, former city editor:

"Day one was a Sunday, barely five or six hours after the now infamous, humongous Tely Wake at the Toronto Press Club. Some thoughtful soul laid in a huge stock of aspirin to help us get through that memorable first day. Had that not been the case, it is doubtful there would have been a paper in the boxes Monday morning.

Mr. Bayer's name should have appeared on the masthead.

We took turns using the few available typewriters, trying to bang out stories with the machines wobbling this way and that on temporary cardboard box desks. As the day wore on, and the sun (old Sol, that is) began to sink, so did the lighting in the "newsroom."

A wonky kettle, salvaged from a back room, left on the floor by the previous occupants, kept blowing fuses and putting us in the dark. In desperation, the braver souls among us made periodic emergency dashes across King Street to a long-gone little corner diner (Kingsplate Open Kitchen) for something vaguely resembling coffee. Bob MacDonald used to say reporters should eat in such places at least once a week "just to keep our resistance up."

I went home about two a.m. and fell asleep on the livingroom couch. When I awoke, I looked out at the Sun box at my corner and, be gad, there were actually papers in it. The first of what I always called "the daily miracle."

There were also, much to my delight, a small lineup of buyers waiting their turn at the money slot."

Thanks for the memories, Ken.

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