Watching The Post tossed me into my own personal Wayback Machine.
Tom Hanks as managing editor Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as owner/publisher Katherine Graham might as well have been speaking directly to me.
Once upon a time, they did.
Romanticize those short encounters with a copy aide from the sports department circa 1978/79 I will.
Kay Graham, as they call her in this film timed a few years prior to my short career at the downtown D.C. daily I was honored to toil for while a journalism student at the nearby University of Maryland, loomed in the lobby as elegant, stately, a grand dame of this Publishing Palace. A shy smile and tentative Hello Ma’am was the most I could muster as we both got in the elevator, is what my memory brings back these many decades later. Her gracious glance back and returned salutation will not be forgotten.
Now Ben Bradlee, he was a wise, tough, cuss who considered the sports department part of his turf. When I had my feet up on a desk watching a TV up high tuned to a Washington Bullets basketball game during a down minute one night, he thought nothing of sliding in next to me and putting his shoes up next to mine and asking me the state of the proceedings. I don’t remember who was ahead, but I do recall my thrill at sharing the same air as this guy who had been ears deep in Watergate. And, yes, the publishing of the Pentagon Papers.
My review of The Post comes here tomorrow.
Until then, though, I’ll leave you with the thought that because of what they did that memorable night in the film, another wise editor, a chap by the name of Leonard Shapiro, was able to send me out on a little feature assignment one weekend day, to a hockey rink in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. I watched a Senior Men’s hockey league skate up and down and love every second of it, returned to the office, crafted my piece about the 50-plus players, and turned it over to Shapiro for editing.
I was proud of my lead.
The boys were up for this one.
He read it. Scratched his head. Grabbed his pencil. Made some marks. Handed it back to me.
My lead now read:
The boys of winters past were up for this one.
He’d nudged the buzz of Roger Kahn’s big book Boys of Summer into my little story with the addition of three little words. Genius.
Yeah, I learned a lot in my time at The Post.
My immediate boss in the sports department, Mike Trilling, did so much to help me secure my first real job at the small paper in suburban Maryland upon my graduation.
Then after four years there, I moved on to Syracuse and the big daily, where I obeyed the ink in my blood for 30 more years.
Long live the real news from good, hard journalism. May no politics every quash it.