I really didn’t want to go on the job interview, but my journalism counselor told me it would give me a boost to my career.
I had only worked at the Valley College library for two weeks when professor Leo Garapedian called me into his office down the hall from the Valley Star college newsroom and told me that a copy girl position was available at the Burbank Daily Review — my hometown newspaper.
The dark paneling continued throughout Duke’s office. I pulled out my stringer book and showed him my college bylines. He said he really didn’t judge candidates by their stringer book and closed it. And I said, “But Mr. Duke, I worked very hard on those stories.” The next thing I knew, he was showing me the city room. I reported for work the next Monday.
My first assignment was writing obituaries on a small manual typewriter. My desk was across from City Editor Mike Harris. Tough as Sizzler steak, he growled rather than spoke. A pipe drooped from lips hidden somewhere under that villain’s mustache. Fortunately, he liked me. Soon he assigned me to retrieve the fire and police calls and municipal court misdemeanors. Then, he gave me my own column — Pets’ Pal, listing all the animals residing that week at the animal shelter. One dog had been lost twice, and the owner found him after seeing him listed in the column. I still run into the woman from time to time.
On my first trip to our sister paper, the Glendale News-Press, I remember seeing the Linotype machine, which cast individual letters from molten lead, at work — and the mess of lead scraps all over the floor. A year or two later, during another visit, I walked by the wire room filled floor-to-ceiling with the yellow paper tape the wire machines used.
The first generation of computers came along and we were all issued IBM Selectric typewriters with OCR, or “optical character recognition,” type balls. When the office was moved from Orange Grove to Angeleno Avenue, across from the Holiday Inn, the movers dropped my typewriter and from then on, the “ru” was tweaked. One time “By Joyce Dolph” made it into print and I got phone calls asking if there was a new person at the paper.
When we moved from Angeleno to Magnolia Boulevard, the old Thrifty Drug Store attic, I carried the typewriter into the office myself. What I remember most about that location was the view of the infamous “40 acres” that later became the Media City Mall, now Burbank Town Center. Those visiting that office had to walk up eight stairs before reaching the newsroom landing, front counter and the sea of reporters and editors madly trying to make deadline. People would come into the office and shout out to us. It was then that I realized what it must be like to be an animal in a zoo’s cage.
Over the years I interviewed or photographed residents, city officials and celebrities. My favorite celebrities to interview were Nancy Reagan, Ron Howard, Victor Borge, Joanne Worley, Micky Dolenz, Angela Cartwright, Pat Boone, Susan Sullivan, Peter Noone, Debbie Reynolds, Tom Hatten, Chubby Checker, Garry Marshall, Toni and Gene Bua, Rick Dees, Stefanie Powers, Betty White and Carol Channing.
My favorite subjects to cover were the symphony concerts, Pasadena Showcase House, Road Kings car show, Fab Four at Starlight Bowl, Taste of Glendale, Cruise Night, Be-bopping in the Park, Come Out and Dance concerts, Woodbury University fashion shows, Brand Art Galleries and the Burbank Creative Arts Center.
My most embarrassing moment while covering a story was having to ask a celebrity to drive her car in front of mine while I was leaving her home because there was a cliff at the bottom of her driveway and I thought my car’s brakes would give out.
The most important story of my career was writing the obituary for Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse. It was such an honor and thrill to interview his wife, Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse, and Tony Anselmo, the voice of Donald Duck.
My most touching stories? It’s a tie between the annual holiday pageant produced by BCR “a place to grow,” and the opening of the Mervyn’s store.
Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit more than watching the clients in the BCR program singing and dancing on stage.
And I’ll never forget how the tears clouded my eyes as I peered out of the Mervyn’s doors and out into the beautiful indoor mall. That Mervyn’s was the first store to open in the then-new Burbank Media Mall, and the first really top-notch retailer in the city. I wrote in my column I had to pinch myself to prove I was awake and still in Burbank.
And now, I have to pinch myself again, this time to prove that I haven’t dreamed these past 36 years, and that they’re really rolled by so quickly. But I am awake, and they did happen. And now all that’s left for me to do is sign off with the traditional journalist’s symbol, a symbol that means this story is done and I’m ready for the next one.