John Howell Sr. 3/15/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 15, 2013

John Howell Sr.

Whatley’s new office on Square occupies familiar space

Stephen Whatley gave me a quick tour of his new digs earlier this week. The building on the Square that now that houses his Edward Jones Investments was until 1966 the office of The Panolian.

When I mentioned that to Stephen after he first told me about his moving plans, he asked if I had any old photos of the building. I sent him a copy, and he had it enlarged in a canvas print and hung on the wall of his new office lobby.

As I stood there looking at the enlargement it brought back memories of the building as it was then — housing the newspaper, office supply sales and a print shop.

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I visualized the space in the building and described to Stephen what and who were where back when.
In that front lobby where Kaye Harmon now presides were sold most of the office supplies. There were also two large desks facing each other. Ruth Bradley sat at the front desk with her back to the door. Glena Haley sat, facing Mrs. Bradley’s desk and the door.

Bradley was our “society editor.” She excelled at flowery, effusive description of social events in this county, especially weddings. She could be rather blunt, even when she didn’t intend it and moreso when she did.

Mrs. Haley, whose nature was sensitive to these matters, often ran interference to offset Mrs. Bradley’s bluntness.

Further back were the offices of my dad and Bud Pearson. Not offices, really. Just cubicles with pegboard walls.

Beyond those were printing machinery. Presses, Linotypes, more presses, large type cabinets that held hand-set type in a variety of sizes and styles, a paper cutter, stacks of paper, a room for melting the used lead from one week’s edition and casting them into “pigs” to be remelted into the liquid that would be cast into new lines of type for the next edition.

It was complicated. And dirty. And dark, except for the immediate areas where operators worked at the various machines.

But all that’s gone. I went looking for traces of ink that I remembered smeared on the wall of the back room where the large newspaper press was then housed.

There was no trace.

Wade Aldridge has remodeled that space into elegant offices and meeting rooms. The interior is trimmed to perfection in subtle colors and combinations that are attractive and welcoming. All traces of that building’s former use have been removed and it now exists only in memory.

And in pictures. I promised Stephen that I’d look for more, and he said he would mount them as well.