Las Vegas Sun

May 22, 2015

News Staff Reactions Vary

"There's another day tomorrow."

This is an old saying as sound in newspaper publishing as it is in Ireland where it originated.

So the SUN staff's second reaction to the total loss of their publishing and printing plant yesterday was "How do we get out the paper?"

First off-duty staff member on the scene happened to be columnist Paul Prise, who was asleep at 5:15 when printer Bill Wilson called him n the phone to report the building ablaze.

Says Price, "I thought I was watching the death of an old friend. I've seen newspapers die this way before. I was full of joy when I found it wasn't going to be the end of the SUN."

Says SUN Executive Editor Bryn Armstrong, "The Review-Journal people couldn't have been kinder or more cooperative. As soon as Ruthe called them they laid out everything for us."

But that was the second reaction. The first:

Assistant Publisher Ruthe V. Deskin said "I cried all the way from my house to the fire."

Bryn Armstrong said "I felt like I was having my right leg torn off without an anesthetic. I watched the pillar of smoke all the way down Desert Inn Road and all the way I was still praying it wasn't true or it wasn't total. When I saw that glare in the sky I knew it was."

Night Managing Editor Noel Greenwood said "My first reaction was to fling all my clothes on and rush to the scene in a daze - and you can tell how dazed, I left the house with no socks on."

Wire Editor Gary Jarlson saw the fire from his home at the far end of Paradise Valley before he realized it was his own newspaper plant going up in smoke.

"I was out walking my dog, soon after five. I go on duty at 6 a.m.," said Gary, "and my first reaction was a joke with myself, I said, 'well, there goes my job.' Then as I drove down town I kept watching that pillar of smoke, thinking, 'this'll be the first story of the day, it must be a downtown casino.' So I headed that way to pick up the story, maybe. Then as I passed the corner of Hoover and looked down it I saw it was the SUN."

City Editor Dave Bradley looked at the blackened, smoking twisted girders lying across his charred desk and files. He said, "Well, there go a lot of things that took a lot of work to accumulate."

Feature writer Gloria Reible reported for work at her usual 8 a.m. and thought, "For the first time in months there'll be no Gracie on the corner of Main and Charleston selling copies of the SUN. She was there on the sidewalk at what used to be S. Main and and the rain and her own tears were mingling together as they rain down her face." (Gracie had her papers as usual, however.

Hank Greenspun's son Brian was early on the scene, interested in unreplaceable mementos in Hank's private office. He and willing helpers carried off all they could.

Publisher and editor-in-chief Hank himself was reached by phone in Geneva, Switzerland. His first reaction: "Was anybody hurt?" He was relieved at the negative answer, continued, "Get a paper out, I don't care how you do it, get a paper out."

Hank and wife Barbara flew out of Geneva to New York yesterday, and should be in town today.

The SUN's man-at-large Robert Shafto, who, being half actor says like Horatio in"Hamlet" he "draws his last breath in pain to tell this story," reached the fire when it was cold, walked into the blackened jungle of remnants and started climbing over twisted pipes and presses, heading for the second drawer down in what used to be the desk of copy-boy Pat Vermillion. Fireman Francis Buetnner broke it free with an axe and rescued all of Shafto's notes, including "an address book which took 20 years to compile - it contains secret addresses and unlisted London and Hollywood phone numbers which might take another 20 years to reassemble."

So good morning. The SUN staff is back at work.

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