Bike Gardens Sprouting Up All Over

Wing Chun Training Videos – Martial Arts black; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;” title=”Bike in Tree 01-29-2009 Nathan Hale and Webster West Palm Beach FL” src=”×382.jpg” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”382″ />Son Matt and I spotted this bike in a tree when we were cruising a neighborhood not far from mine about this time last year. It didn’t look like it was chained down or attached to the tree, so we couldn’t figure out if it was supposed to be there or if someone had stuck it up there as a joke.

It wasn’t there when I went down that street a couple of weeks ago, so I guess I’ll never find out the whole story.

A bike garden in Queens

Sarah Mule, a former coworker at The Palm Beach Post, sent me a link to what she calls one of her favorite sites, ScoutingNY. That’s what reminded me of the bike in the tree.

The fellow who does the site says he works as a film location scout in New York City.

“My day is basically spent combing the streets for interesting and unique locations for feature films. In my travels, I often stumble across some pretty incredible sights, most of which go ignored daily by thousands of New Yorkers in too much of a rush to pay attention.

“As it happens, it’s my job to pay attention, and I’ve started this blog to keep a record of what I see.

That’s a pretty good gig. Sort of like what I got to do as a newspaper photographer.

His posting today was of a “bike garden” in Queens under the 59th St. Bridge.

Click on the photo to go to his site.

If you are from the New York area, I bet you’ll be fascinated by some of his finds.

Endeavor Didn’t Have Any Flats

The Space Shuttle Endeavor’s crew and I both took a ride this weekend. Clouds and low ceiling postponed their launch, but it was a picture-perfect liftoff 24 hours later. Here’s what it looked like from our front yard in West Palm Beach, FL.

Sorry for the bumpy video. I crawled out of a nice, warm bed at 4 in the morning to find temps in the mid-40s and I hadn’t bothered to grab a tripod. I wish I had. The shuttle was visible for a longer period than I can remember seeing any other flights.

My luck wasn’t so good

The mid-day temperatures on Saturday were great – in the low 70s – but the winds were brutal. They were 19mph sustained, with gusts into the mid-30mph range. They were mostly out of the west, so we decided to cruise some of the inland streets that my new riding partner, Osa, hadn’t been on.

She saw the house we rented when we moved to Florida in 1973. It still has a big tree in the front yard that we planted when Son Matt was born in 1975. We were afraid that a cold snap had taken it out about 10 years ago, but it’s doing great.

Some of the neighborhoods we rode through show tremendous improvements from the 80s when you could buy crack on almost any corner and drive-by shootings were common. The area has really turned around.

Osa had never been in Woodlawn Cemetery, where many of West Palm Beach pioneers are buried. It’s also the final resting place for 69 victims of the 1928 Hurricane that killed thousands in The Glades. Sixty-one of the 69 victims are white. When the scope of the tragedy became clear, non-white victims were turned away from Woodlawn. Nearly 700 other black victims were buried in a mass grave near 25th St. and Tamerind Ave. The grave has been neglected until recent years.

When we made a turn in the cemetery, the bike handled badly. I looked down and saw the rear tire was nearly flat. That was Flat One.

Osa on Dreher Park bike trail

After replacing the tube, we started off on another ride to Dreher Park, where I shot this photo of her. After cruising around the lakes on the north part of the park, we hit the south side, which has what passes for hills in West Palm Beach.

Osa chased down an ice cream truck. I thought my bike handled a little squirmy when we stopped for the break, but I was more interested in snarfing down an ice cream sandwich. When I got back on the bike, the FRONT tire was half flat. That was Flat Two.

There was enough air to make it home, but the bike really handled badly. Another few blocks and I’d have walked it home.

Flat Three

When I got home, Son Matt was building a garden for this mother in our back yard. When I started describing my flat problems, she said, “You didn’t have two flats today, you had three. The right-rear passenger tire on your car was flat, too.”

Good thing I wasn’t on the Endeavor crew. It much be a real bear to change a flat on that thing.

Jack the Bike Man Attacked by Thugs

levitra priceitle=”Jack the Bike Man’s Bicycle Shop at 4401 Broadway, West Palm Beach, FL” src=”×332.jpg” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”332″ />The anonymous tip came in close to midnight Tuesday night: someone was stealing bikes from Jack the Bike Man’s used bicycle business at 4401 Broadway in West Palm Beach. Police caught two juveniles near the scene and asked Jack to come see if he could identify the bikes. Indeed, he recognized one as being brought in the day before.

Jack found nothing amiss in his shop; he went outside to check a storage lot where there are hundreds of bicycles and parts waiting to be recycled. Robin Taylor-Greif, a volunteer in the store, said that Jack saw two more teens hiding under a stack of bicycles.

“He pulled out his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1,” she said. “He heard someone yell, ‘Don’t make that call!’ and they attacked. They took his cell phone and beat him, possibly with a tire pump. He thinks he popped one of them in the nose pretty good.”

Police have a good idea who the thugs are who attacked him. They potentially face charges of strong arm robbery.

He suffered a broken nose and wrist in the attack. He’s away from the office until after the first of the month, Robin said. Not because of the robbery and beating, but because he had a trip planned in advance.

Jack the Bike Man gives away hundreds of bikes

Jack is a well-know local character who has been recycling bicycles and giving them away to youngsters since the late 1990s. His charity, assisted by the Freakbike Militia and other volunteers gave away about 300 bikes to needy children at Christmas. “It would have been more – one year it was about 600 bikes ,” Robin said, “except that he didn’t have the funds this year.”

Community is responding

Tommy Horner, 14, showed up to volunteer after hearing about the attack, “That’s just not right.” Tommy, who lives in the neighborhood, said he’s been taking bikes apart and putting them together since he was five. He, also, has had his bike stolen, so he has little sympathy for the boys who were caught.

A Look Back at The Post’s Production Department

Palm Beach Post RIP 12/20/2008 – Sign on Press Room Wall

I was working as chief photographer at The Athens (OH) Messenger in the late ’60s when I decided I wanted to see what the best newspaper photo departments around the country were doing. I started subscriptions to about a dozen papers, including The Witchita Eagle-Beacon, The Louisville C0urier-Times, The Topeka Capitol-Journal, The St. Petersburg Times and The Palm Beach Post-Times.

It became clear very early that a lot of those papers get it together for special events and projects, but their day-to-day photos and display were pedestrian, to be kind.

St. Pete and The Post looked best

By the time I moved on to The Gastonia (NC) Gazette a couple of years later, I had let all the subscriptions lapse except St. Pete and The Post. They had the best color reproduction of any paper I had seen, but I didn’t like the way that too many of the St. Pete’s feature photos looked “too good to be true.”

Now that I had moved from the Midwest to the Southeast, I was competing with Post photographers in contests and running into them at conferences.

At the end of 1972, I was flattered to receive a job offer from The Post. (I use that term generically to cover all of Palm Beach Newspapers’ publications – The Post, The Palm Beach Daily News, The Florida Pennysaver and now, La Palma.)

Did I ever have a surprise!

The photo department facilities were the worst I had ever worked in. There wasn’t a single enlarger that would hold focus for a long exposure. There weren’t enough electrical outlets, so there were extension cords poked through holes in the wall. The color film processor was homemade and an OSHA nightmare that used a Sears 3/8″ drill hanging from the ceiling to agitate the film.

The production department might have been even worse.

If I hadn’t been following the paper for a long time, I’d have packed the U-Haul and headed back to beg my old paper to take me back.

We can do this better than anybody else

What the paper had, though, was an incredible spirit of “we can do this better than anyone else.”

Long before most papers were even thinking of running color, our folks had figured out how to process film in the back of an airplane or in a car rocketing down the road.

We control our own destiny

The other thing that was great about The Post was its independence. Former General Manager Lon Danielson didn’t like to be beholden to outsiders. We maintained our own presses, had our own welding shop, had our own telecom staff and computer programmers, had our own print shop, our own electrical and maintenance crews. Because they all worked for us, they had no one else setting their priorities.

We’re in this together

Because of this, we had a great feeling that “we’re all in this together.” If we were reconfiguring work spaces, we’d give the maintenance guys a hand with moving the cubicles and they’d pitch in to help us pull wire. Circulation folks would radio in news tips, and my staff hauled gasoline to bureau reporters in the days after hurricanes.

Employees risked their lives for the newspaper

The best example I saw of devotion to the newspaper came during one of the hurricanes that passed through in 2004 or 2005. The plywood panels covering air vents on the south production building were starting to peel off. If those panels had failed, the press room would have been flooded, and we’d have been out of business for no telling how long. A crew of maintenance workers used firehoses as makeshift lifelines to fight their way across the rooftop in the middle of the storm to secure the panels. You don’t get that kind of loyalty from rent-a-workers.

Breaking down silos wasn’t just a slogan

Years before “breaking down silos” became a fancy catch phrase, The Post, particularly under Lon’s leadership, offered staffers opportunities to explore new career paths and still stay at the same company. I was director of photography and ended up as telecommunications manager; the head of what was called Data Processing became general manager (Lon), and his successor was made production manager; an assistant sports editor became assistant production manager and then moved over to advertising operations. This cross-fertilization caused departments to better understand how all the pieces fit together.

In 1995, when the newspaper moved into a fancy new four-story building, I told the Cox head honcho who came down to cut the ribbon my first impressions of the place. “The only way this place could have worked like it did was that it managed to tap into (or suck out) the souls of dedicated employees. Lord knows that everything we accomplished was in spite of, not because of the tools we had to work with.”

$110 Million Printing Facility Planned

After that construction project, The Post bought property near the South Florida Fairgrounds for a state of the art printing facility. It was estimated that it was going to cost about $110 million.

Then the economy stumbled

The printing facility was put on hold. The publisher retired and a new publisher was brought in. When asked when we were going to build the new facility because the old presses and mailroom equipment were getting long in the tooth, he said, “I don’t think Cox will make that kind of investment until the paper has been in the black for at least 10 years.”

In August 2008, about 300 employees were offered “voluntary separations.” I was one of them.

The biggest bombshell

The biggest bombshell came close to the end of that year: The Post, which had set a standard of printing excellence for almost 40 years, was going to farm out publication to the Sun-Sentinel. Most of the distribution of the paper would be handed over to our former competitors. That cut staff by about another 300 employees. More jobs would be lost in 2009, shrinking what had been about 1,400 employees to about half that in about 18 months.

“Ask a Local” morphs into “How Can We Help You?”

At about the same time, The Post and the other South Florida newspapers entered into “content sharing” agreements. Instead of duking out to see who could do the best job covering the news, now we would give our stories to them and vice versa. What that meant to readers was that there would no longer be two or three reporters covering a governmental meeting, providing two or three different viewpoints. Now it would be one reporter, with his or her story being printed in all of the “local” papers.

I wanted to see the magic one more time

Even though I was now at the point in my life where I had to sign in at the security desk to get a visitor’s pass to enter a place where I used to possess a “God key,” I felt a tremendous affection for the production staff who made me look good for so many years.

I reached out to some former coworkers who gave me tacit permission to hang out in the press room during two of the last weekends before the paper stopped being printed locally. I’ve always believed that every worker should be able to show his or her kids and grandkids what they did for a living. This is my contribution.

I wonder what happened to the “Last Paper”

I’m only sorry not to have been there when the final paper came off the press. I’ve often wondered if someone saved it as a memento and what it was like to have been there when the presses rumbled to a stop for the last time. I thought about going up, but decided that that was probably a moment that needed to remain private for the men and women working there.

This gallery represents some of the folks I ran into and some details of the machinery that produced some of the finest images in the country. I’ll miss them — and the special magic of a running piece of Big Iron.

Continue reading “A Look Back at The Post’s Production Department”

Bicyclists Take on Barry Goldwater, 1964

I was digitizing old negatives  when I came across these pictures from the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missouri State College Homecoming Parade in 1964.

Big float promotes Barry Goldwater

1964 Southeast Missouri State College Homecoming Parade Goldwater float

[Editor’s note: (The Rialto Theater to the left of Barry is where I met my future wife.]

Democrats counter with bicycles

1964 Southeast Missouri State College Homecoming Bury Goldwater bikesThe local Democrats countered with two boys on bikes that had signs that read, “Let’s Bury Goldwater.”

Bicycle power must have been the key to success: Lyndon Johnson beat Goldwater, carrying 44 of the 50 states and winning with 61.1% of the popular vote, the highest percentage since 1820.

Maybe we should find those boys and those bicycles and use them to promote bicycle and pedestrian rights.

Bikes were built for utility

I can’t see what brand the bikes are, but both of them have fenders and chainguards. They were set up to carry things: both bikes have front racks and the one in the foreground has a rear rack and a saddlebag.