Ragtime — Reflections on the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer’s history on 12th Street and its historic move (Columbus and the Valley Magazine, January 2015)
Reflections on the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer’s history on 12th Street
By Jim Lynn
Every day at 10 a.m. Every single weekday, Fairy Lee Hunter would polish the brass stair rail that led from the entrance of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer building to the second floor newsroom. We would bound past her, often two steps at a time, those of us in our 20s and early 30s, wondering fleetingly why she polished the railing every morning.
No time to ask, though. Deadline! There was typically a rush to grab one of the glowing, green terminals with their loudly clacking keyboards before someone else did. In the pre-PC, pre-newsroom layoff days, there could at times be more reporters than terminals. Planners threaten to widen 13th Street through Wynnton! Shenanigans on the Phenix City Council! Speed traps in outlying counties! Fort Benning gets a new commander! Carlton Gary is charged! Mayors promise riverfront development will happen “soon”!
But every day, Hunter, an older, African American woman wearing a crisp blue and white uniform, would smile and continue her methodical polishing. Gone were yesterday’s fingerprints and smudges like yesterday’s papers, replaced with an impeccable shine for a new day and new deadlines for the afternoon Ledger and the morning Enquirer. Turning the flight of stairs, a large window let in sunlight that seemed to set Hunter’s handrail ablaze. Outside the window, an American flag on a pole mounted above the entrance would catch the breeze.
There was a lot of pride in that stair rail. A lot of pride in that building, and in the work that was being done over the decades at typewriters, then terminals, then computers. Patterned on a bank building in central Florida, the 1930, Mediterranean-styled structure features a weathervane that always points to “NEWS,” no matter which way the wind blows.