Someone is still there in that seemingly empty campus, behind a door where a person, not a machine, answers the telephone most days, even on national holidays. The sports editor was still there. They never stop working. They work 52/24/7. He doesn't give you an answer: he just gives you a clue. There's still a story here even though most of the people have gone home. It's
THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.
You can get the Laney Tower online, but it's not the same as going to the newspaper office and getting one in person. Hot off the press, as they say. Production was the previous night. Some of the newspapers were still in stacks bound with plastic ties.
"Isn't it a little late in the semester to produce another newspaper?" I asked. (That wasn't being seductive, was it?) He just shrugged his shoulders.
I guess that was their way of having a final exam--a real deadline to meet. One last issue to get out before the guards lock the door and put the "for lease," sign on the window. No, not really. They won't put the school newspaper out of business like the real world where superhuman efforts keep a daily newspaper going until they can't get their papers delivered and they can't truthfully say they have enough circulation to claim the advertising they need to survive, even from advertisers who would forgive the newspaper for just about anything they might publish, that's how much they believe in freedom of speech.
The Oakland Tribune was all we heard about and thought about when we were young. It was as if San Francisco didn't exist and the only thing that mattered was The Oakland Tribune and the Knowland family. And how Joe Knowland should have known his limits and not run for public office, because running a daily newspaper should have been enough power for him or for anyone. Some people just can't take no for an answer.
High on a tall city building, the U.S. flag flies alongside the red flag of the People's Republic of China. The third flag was the flag of the State of California, I think, or perhaps it was the flag of Mexico. I guess every city in the United States has a Chinese restaurant, and that's all most Americans knew about China until they started sending us manufactured items that were so cheap that they put American businesses out of business. It was, and still is, a price war. Some people were afraid that Americans would lose important skills, like shoe repair and sewing. Of course I heard about those two things because I am a woman and I get my shoes repaired before I wear them. Now the only place I can get the lift on my left shoe is at a shoe repair that is run by an Asian-American couple who hardly speak any English, so it's very difficult to communicate. It's called orthopedic work and not every shoe repair place does it.
I am reminded of a little girl I met in a San Francisco middle school. She walked around with her head down as if someone had told her not to look at them, to bow her head. It reminded me of black people on the CCC campus who used to say to me in an antagonistic way "What are you looking at me for?" She looked like she had been put in a cage to show her the proper position of her head. She was the shape of a cage or a box. The teachers told me that when they put a lesson on the overhead projector, they had to give her a separate piece of paper because she would not raise her head to look at the wall. So they made accommodations for her and they taught her the same lessons the other kids learned. They thought it might have been child abuse that made her that way, and they assured me that I did not have to report it: that it had already been reported.