END, DAWN OF AN ERA
The Watertown Daily Times has completed its move to the new location at 218 S. First St., just a couple blocks from the old building at 113 W. Main St.
Although we are pretty much fully retired from the Daily Times we did help a bit with the move to the new location. Our primary work was figuring out how to keep all of our historical archives intact, and that was no small deal. More on that another time.
The company has been operating out of the new location for a couple weeks now and things are starting to settle in well.
Our footprint is much smaller with the new building but soon it will feel just like home for the staff which now numbers about 17-18 people.
It was with a sense of sadness that we watched all of the desks, the computers, the endless stacks of paper as well as bound editions of the newspaper being carted out of the building and into a moving truck and then taken to the new location.
We were simply amazed at how well organized the movers were. They got things done far quicker than we could have imagined.
As we walked through the building back on Monday, Sept. 9, and Tuesday, Sept. 10, it was a bit emotional. So much has happened at the 113-115 W. Main St. location over the century the paper was located there, it was hard to get our arms around it all.
What's left in the building now will likely be sent away for recycling or simply placed in a landfill somewhere.
In the half a century we were with the news department we had only two offices. When we came on board Clarence H. Wetter had retired and his office was vacant. Mary Brooks Zielsdorf was the senior reporter there and she deserved that location, but, in her kindness, which was always, always there, she said that as the new kid on the block I should have that office and all the history that went with is. And, so it was.
Then, as our news staff grew along with the other departments, the decision was made in the late 1980s that the old barbershop building to the west of the Daily Times building, long vacant, and owned by the company, would be completely gutted and renovated. The second floor of that addition was completely used by the news department and the first floor had offices for circulation, business, accounts payable and management.
We remember back when the management team was trying to work on the configuration for the second floor. Originally my office was to be about half the width of the new building, but unknown to me Clarence Schroeder, the production manager, a key member of the staff and a dear friend, convinced John Clifford that my office should be the full width of the new building, including both large windows overlooking downtown Watertown and the Rock River. Arguably, my office had one of the best views in all of downtown.
We were in that location for about 30 years before retiring and it was passed along to my successor, Scott Peterson, who got to enjoy it for about four months until it was time for the move to the new location.
As we walked through the vacant building in recent days, lots of memories came flowing back. We met and interviewed lots of celebrities, politicians, community leaders and so much more within that building, but our favorites were the local people who came in and had a story to tell, needed some help with something or just had a good tip to offer me, many of which turned into great stories.
Over the years there has been some remodeling of the building to accommodate more people, different technologies and to use the space more effectively, but the basic areas remained pretty much the same.
The large office John D. Clifford occupied on the second floor, just east of my office, was converted into a conference room shortly after his death. The room included lots of cabinet space, a large conference table with eight chairs and a large screen for teleconferences. That new use for John's office was a real benefit to our team -- a perfect place for a one-on-one interview or a department meeting.
But, back in the day, John was behind the desk and led the newspaper operations. He was quite the editor and when he went on one of his emotion filled tirades, there was no question but that he meant business.
We miss John and so many others who have passed away, retired or move on to a different endeavor. The offices, halls and various departments echo with memories of all these special people who were the real fiber of the Daily Times.
It was not the brick and mortar but the people that made it special.
And, so it will be with the new location. It will just take time before the walls there have their own stories to tell.
And, so we say goodbye to our business location for over half a century, and hello to the new location on South First Street.
Thomas L. Schultz