Courier Express reunites for last time

Text: T T
by JULIE HALM
Reporter


Former Courier Express employees, Mary Anne Shea, promotion; Moe Callahan-Carr, dispatch layout; Paul Krause, garage worker; and his wife Diane, bookkeeper, look at a scrapbook of past photos during the final Courier Express reunion picnic Monday at Sheridan Park in Tonawanda. At left, former employees Rae Marrone, data processing, and Pat Spencer, payroll supervisor, set up food during the picnic. Former Courier Express employees, Mary Anne Shea, promotion; Moe Callahan-Carr, dispatch layout; Paul Krause, garage worker; and his wife Diane, bookkeeper, look at a scrapbook of past photos during the final Courier Express reunion picnic Monday at Sheridan Park in Tonawanda. At left, former employees Rae Marrone, data processing, and Pat Spencer, payroll supervisor, set up food during the picnic. Walking into the 30th annual Courier Express anniversary picnic, one would likely feel more like they had stumbled upon a family reunion than a group of people who once shared an office.

Former employees of the Buffalo newspaper have been gathering at Sheridan Park for the past three decades to share memories and just catch up, but on Monday afternoon, the event was held for the last time.

“It’s like we’re reliving the Courier closing again,” said Madeline Marrone, who began working at the paper at the age of 16 in accounts receivable.


Photos by Jim Smerecak Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Photos by Jim Smerecak Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Marrone, like several other former Courier employees, had many members of her family who were also employed by the paper and said that network made the whole building like a family, and a wonderful place to work.

Following the closing of the Courier, Marrone never worked for another paper.

“That was it for me,” she said. “That was the love of my life.”

Many of the former employees at Monday’s event reflected on when the paper closed in September

1982.

“It was like somebody really kicked you in the stomach,” said Marrone. “It was like a family member had died. You just didn’t know which one.”

“It just happened so fast, we were all in shock,” said Jim Di- Giore, who spent 18 years at the paper setting type and later working in data processing.

DiGiore experienced many momentous events at the paper, including day Martin Luther King Jr. died as well as the edition announcing America had successfully landed on the moon.

According to DiGiore, there was only a 13-day notice for employees before the paper shut down its presses.

Perhaps this was a difficult blow for staff members, but none seem bitter. They readily recall the lessons they learned more than any setback the paper ever caused them.

Mary Ann Lauricella began working for the paper when she was 16 and was writing by the time she was 19.

Despite the many lessons that reporters learn in the field, that is not where Lauricella said she found the best education.

“I learned more inside that building than I ever did outside,” she said, going on to explain how editors sat down with reporters and their copy, going over each story, point by point.

As much as the lessons, however, Lauricella remembers the atmosphere and feeling of belonging she experienced along with so many others at the Courier Express.

“When I graduated high school, they threw me a party. When I graduated college, they threw me a party. When I got my first apartment, they all brought me something,” she said.

If it is hard to imagine the near-magical atmosphere that once existed there, perhaps Larry Smith’s simple presence at the event proves how incredible it really was.

Smith spent nearly 30 years at the paper and was the Sunday editor when he retired in 1980.

He has now been away from the paper longer than he was employed there, but still shows up to the picnics, along with former employees from Ohio, Texas, Florida, California and Canada, just to relive a few hours of the wonderful business that was once the Courier Express.

“What a place that was,” he said.

2012-07-18 / Local News

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