My First Real Job.
Who among us cannot remember their first real job? Mine was working as floor manager for one of the two TV stations in Hartford, Connecticut.
My official title was “messenger” because the first few hours of every day were spent running actual errands . . . like meeting the train coming up from New York with black-and-white news film for us to run in our local newscasts. Or picking up the chief engineer’s pants from the cleaners . . . important stuff like that.
The rest of the day I spent working in the large TV studio on the main floor of the building. My job description changed for that part of my day. I was now the floor manager . . . essentially the hands of the director, Jerry Moring, who controlled what we produced on the studio floor from a glass-enclosed control booth overlooking the entire studio. Whatever Jerry and I produced went out over the air into millions of living rooms all over New England. Well, that’s how I visualized it at the time.
This was in the late 1950s and before videotape, so everything that went out over the air from our studio into all those living rooms was either on film or it was produced live in our studio.
Even 30-second commercials were produced there. And so, on any given afternoon, a shiny new Chevrolet would perhaps be driven into the studio and carefully lit by the director himself, using some of the several dozen lights hanging from the studio ceiling.
With perhaps two minutes to go, Al Kennedy, the staff announcer, would emerge from the control room with a cue card . . . actually a large sheet of paper with the text of a 30-second commercial scrawled on it with a marking pen. Kennedy would hand the sheet of paper to me, I would stand next to the black-and-while TV camera, holding the sheet of paper close to the camera’s lens.
Through the head-set I was wearing, I heard Jerry Moring say “We’ve gone to black. Fade up Camera One. Cue Al.”
I would point to Al Kennedy and he would start to read the words on the sheet of paper I was holding.
When he finished, he would smile. Jerry Moring would say, “Fade to black. Roll film.” And the movie of the day would resume.
That’s the way I spent my days all summer and on weekends for two years when I was nineteen years old.
I was paid $40 a week.
It’s still the best job I ever had.