COLUMN: Those good ol’ days seem long gone

Guest Comment

By DON DENTON

The other day I wandered into my local watering hole, propped an elbow on the bar and muttered, ‘the usual.’ Moments later I peered down into the depths of my drink, admiring the frothy cream contrasting with the pretty blue of the ceramic cup and knew this wasn’t the bar of my youthful dreams.

Social mores and trends change, and one of the biggest has been the way we approach drinking alcohol.

I was brought up on industry tales of hard-drinking newspapermen who could pound down shot after shot, all the while hammering out faultless prose on their old manual typewriters, or focusing their cameras without missing an image.

The truth was that the stereotype often held – well, maybe aside from the faultless prose, but that was what editors were for.

My first night at my first newspaper job I was interrupted from my darkroom work by a veteran reporter, who took me for an initiation drink. I ended up crawling back to the darkroom at 6 a.m. to finish my printing before the day shift and the bosses arrived.

I later spent a summer as a darkroom assistant, with unofficial chores that included going up to the cafeteria to pick up extra large cups of ice so the staff photographers working the night shift could cool down their spirits-and-mixer combinations. The empty bottles were tossed behind the drawers in the darkroom.

Legend has it that when they finally closed the darkrooms and ushered in the digital era, the photographers organized a secret cleanup. Apparently, many, many garbage bags were needed for the empties accumulated over the years.

This was at a time when the Vancouver Press Club thrived. It was located very conveniently across from the Granville Street building that housed not only the Sun and Province newsrooms, but all other aspects of production, including the printing press.

That led to scenes such as one time when two writers, who were not overly fond of each other, wound up in an old-fashioned scrap in the newsroom. One man apparently pinned the other on his back on a desk, whacking him with the receiver from an old (and heavy) rotary phone –  meanwhile the other combatant tried to push his rival’s head onto the spike used for message sheets.

I also worked for one Alberta daily where every Monday the publisher would trundle out a drink cart and serve a beverage or two of your choice to the assembled staff.

Those days are long gone.

The suggestion of alcohol on one’s breath after a midday lunch would raise eyebrows in most newsrooms (and truth be told in most businesses) these days.

Which is why I am surprised to realize that my dream of one day hanging around a dive bar called something like The Gritty Shot and complaining to a bartender named Woody or Peg Leg about my life has come true in a certain way.

It’s just that now my local is a café and the bartender is a barista. I pop into Street Level Espresso where Ken (the owner/coffee master) will cast a speculative eye across the counter before serving up an espresso (to stay) or an Americano (to go). We’ll chat about photography and cameras or the world in general. It’s what he does with most regulars.

When we leave we’re brighter-eyed than when we entered the drinking establishment which, no matter how fondly we view the past, was not usually the case in the old days.

u

Don Denton is  is photo supervisor for Black Press South Island.

Just Posted

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman who was killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read