By the end of the 1950s, we had pretty much achieved some stability in the Current News operation. The Air Staff had established a printing plant next door to our office and, by written agreement, had assigned top priority to printing the Current News. I kept that written agreement handy because I frequently had to use it to shout down some Air Force Colonel who wanted his stuff, whatever it was, printed ahead of the Current News. Anyway, we were distributing between 400 and 500 copies to the Air Force – both the civilian and military staffs – and another 300 to 400 to Office of Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
|Random photos on this page from ’60s and ’70s|
The out-of-town papers were another matter. Most East Coast papers came to Washington by truck – from Boston the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor; from New York the NY Times, the Long Island Newsday, the NY Daily News (afternoon) – also the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Sun, and from the South the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Atlanta Constitution, and a few others I can’t recall at the moment. They all arrived at an out-of-town newsstand in Bladensburg (border between D.C. and Prince Georges County in Maryland – a scary neighborhood around 4:00 a.m.) We also took turns picking them up until Leon took over.
|My mom (blue dress) attended many Pentagon events|
I seem to recall that I had to be re-investigated and re-cleared every five years or so. Also, every two years or so we got a new Colonel in charge of the office. We got two kinds of Colonels – either it was his last active duty assignment before retiring or it was his best assignment on his way up the ladder – a prestige job working for the Secretary. Every one of them was a sharp, intelligent, top-notch guy.
When Zuckert came back, he greeted me as an old friend. I told him I was especially glad to see him come back because, while he was number one on the roster of Office of the Secretary of the Air Force personnel, it was also true that he followed right behind me on the alphabetical roster, which meant he was also last – sort of like George Washington, first and last in the hearts of his countrymen. One of the first things he did was fire the Administrative Assistant, my boss John McLaughlin. After John, there were a number of Administrative Assistants – Phil Curran, Tom Nelson, Joe Hochreiter, John Lang and Bob McCormick. I got along well with all of them, but it was an efficiency expert who was brought in some time in the late 1960s to examine the workings of the Secretariat, who jolted me by saying that the reason I got along well with my bosses was because they made a special effort to get along with me. More on that later.
(Although Harry ends with "More on that later," I haven't come across further reflections in his old files. If I get my hands on more, I'll let you know. You can get an overview of his years at the Pentagon in the book "Distorting Defense, Network News and National Security" by Stephen P. Aubin. )
Copyright 2017, Elaine Blackman