Friday, August 13, 2010

Larry Ellis

After 27 years at The Herald, I like to think of myself as a bona fide old-timer.

But I'm just a rookie to Larry Ellis, who has been kicking around this joint for 50 years. A succession of managers, ownership groups and operating systems have come and gone, but Ellis has been a constant at The Herald.

Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of Ellis' hire at The Herald, and the event was celebrated a few days ago with a ceremony and the presentation of a watch.

Actually, it should be noted for the record, his affiliation with the newspaper started four years earlier, in 1956, when he threw The Monterey Peninsula Herald as a delivery boy. He was hired fulltime as a district manager in circulation in 1960. Ellis moved to the composing room three years later. Over the years and as the technology supposedly "improved," Ellis has learned seven different systems to produce and output type, from hot type to Linotype to whatever it is The Herald is using now.

With his low-key humor and his mellow demeanor, Ellis said he survives the stresses of daily deadlines with a "one-day-at-a-time" attitude.

For those keeping score — and Ellis is — the record for employment longevity at The Herald is held by Clark Bruce, who retired after 50 years and two months.

Ellis said he intends to break the record. "People generally can't survive in jobs that long anymore," he said. "When I started, longevity was considered a virtue."

In the meantime, Ellis said he was grateful to receive the commemorative watch for his 50 years of service, especially since the watch presented him on the occasion of his 25th year stopped working the day after he got it.

He also recalled that Clark Bruce had been eagerly awaiting the watch he would receive on his own 50th anniversary. Bruce had told his colleagues that he intended to wear his 25th anniversary watch and his 50th anniversary watch on both wrists, a matching set.

Alas, when it came time to celebrate Bruce's 50 years of service, the company presented him with a commemorative VCR.

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