It’s a community institution where some of us got our start at 410 State Street Downtown. Now the once family-owned Connecticut Post is a key component of Hearst Connecticut Media’s corporate journalism with a mighty digital and hard-copy readership that stretches from Greenwich to New Haven and includes newspapers in Danbury and Middletown and also Connecticut Magazine. Most of the operations in Bridgeport have shifted to Norwalk while the majority of the editorial department remains, for now, in a building for sale. A print operation, in a separate building a block west, churns out the daily hard copies fading into the dominant online traffic.
CT Post Editorial Page Editor Michael Daly, who’s spent more than half his life there, recently wrote about the changes and reminisced about the days in a commentary.
The Connecticut Post, ladies and gentlemen, has left the building.
That would be the building at 410 State St., corner of Lafayette Boulevard, where the newspaper has been written and edited since 1928.
… Hearst Connecticut Media is consolidating its operations in Norwalk. Friday was the last day at 410 State St. for most of the Connecticut Post employees. It’s all part of the relentless march of time and change. Some of us will remain in the building for a while, along with the ghosts and the memories.
Word is Hearst is searching for a Downtown home for the editorial department to maintain a city presence. Staffing levels have changed dramatically from decades ago. The paper’s editorial department represents two dozen or so editors, reporters and photographers. Shoot, we had that many almost every night drinking at local watering holes after deadline. Back in the day, Post Publishing had the morning Telegram, afternoon Post and the Sunday Post. I generally worked for the morning Telegram.
The shift I initially worked was 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. then segued to 4 to midnight. We had a pretty good scam going with the genial owner of Sol’s Cafe, Solomon Roth. Weeknights, although the bars were supposed to be shut down at 1 a.m., he kept the Downtown joint open for us cash-paying liquor-law violators. I mean if anyone called the cops who was gonna write about it? Back then some of the industry giants such as Carpenter Steel still hummed. Every Thursday night Sol had an arrangement with the steel workers. They came to the bar with pay checks, he cashed them. In exchange he’d keep the change reflected on the check. Sol had tens of thousands of dollars on hand Thursday nights. Many stayed and drank heartily.
Sol’s was an inspirational place for stories. Pull up to the bar and people yapped about all kinds of stuff. Pretty soon I landed the police and fire beat a few nights a week. Being in the newsroom was a drag. I perched myself at Sol’s bar. If I saw or heard a fire truck, I chased it. Yes, I was an ambulance-chasing reporter.
From Sol’s pay phone I’d call good ol’ Lieutenant Ed Casey who manned the detective bureau phone at night. “Detective Division, Lieutenant Casey!” Casey barked into the phone like a racehorse announcer.
“What’s up Casey?”
“Ah, just a bunch of Mickey Mouse burglaries.”
If Casey had something I walked up a few blocks and was at the station.
Casey was old Irish, a cop’s cop, that meant protecting cops. One night I’m chatting with Casey in the cop house, a couple walks in whose house had been burgled. Casey searches around for a detective to take a statement. Dagnabbit, no one around. Casey directs the couple to take a seat in another room. Casey looks at me.
“Pull out your notepad. Go in there and take their statement like you’re a cop.”
“Casey, I’m not a cop.”
“Well, you are now!” he commanded.
Casey kept score. He fed me lots of stories. I pulled out my notepad and sat down with the couple. I was 21 years old. I asked them questions as I would anyone else. I never said I was a cop. I simply said Lieutenant Casey asked me to take your statement.
The couple leaves and Casey says, here’s an incident report, go type it up. I’ll get one of the other guys to sign it when they return. Today you’d be locked up for something like that but to Casey’s way of thinking, “Those two would have sat here all night until a dick was available to take that statement.” That’s what detectives were called then … dicks.
So for one night, I was a dick. Of course, I am called that regularly.