Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2014

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Where I Stand:

Taking a look at the bigger picture after the smoke clears

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Hank Greenspun

Even the worst of firebugs couldn’t have hoped for more destruction and devastation than what occurred exactly one week ago and which I would have to admit is as black a Wednesday as I have ever known in my lifetime.

When my executive assistant, Ruthe Deskin, told me the news over the telephone, it wouldn’t have shocked me if she inferred from the conversation that I set the fire myself.

Ruthe’s first words were: “I have terrible news for you.” The last time she said that over the phone a few years ago, her next words were, “Your father died.”

I was ready to leap off the Eiffel Tower if it were handy when I shouted, “Quickly, tell me what happened.”

Half-sobbing, she replied, “The Sun burned down right to the ground.”

“Is that all?” I yelled. “Ruthe, you scared the hell out of me. Was anybody hurt?”

When she answered, “No,” I said, “It’s only money, buildings and machinery. We’ll build a bigger one, but make sure the Sun comes out tomorrow morning even if it’s only four pages.”

I have never known such relief as the news the fire brought to me. I could breathe again. The black despair I had felt was lifted from my heart.

I could imagine Ruthe’s despair standing on the sidewalk watching the Sun go up in flames. She’s got her life’s blood wrapped up in it, like all of us.

And like Ruthe, the group of Sun employees desperately attempting to salvage something from the flames must have been going though the most devastating experience their young lives had witnessed.

I can’t tell you the hundreds of employees who have come and gone since the start of the Sun. The same small nucleus remains, but in all of its existence, never has there been a more capable, more loyal or more devoted group than now, and they give of themselves with genuine and complete dedication.

In fact, the knowledge that I was getting slightly superfluous around the place was slowly being impressed on my consciousness, which isn’t the most flattering of emotions. Every human requires a feeling of being desired or needed, so the best I can hope for is need.

It was, therefore, tragically gratifying to receive Ruthe’s call that I better get back in a hurry and be greeted by Bryn Armstrong’s column that they thought they could get along without me, but the old boss is needed in the emergencies.

It gives me a feeling of belonging, being part of something big, but I still think we could have gotten along without the doggone fire.

Hank Greenspun was the founding publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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