Time to Get Started

In fall 1940, when I registered at City Downtown, I fortunately knew a few people there. One of them was Ray Cowen, who was then on track to be the next editor in chief of The Ticker. Ray suggested that I might find working for the paper exciting. The following Friday evening, encouraged by Ray, I went to the ninth-floor office of the paper. Ten or 15 minutes after introductions had been made, the news editor handed me a flyer and said, "Give me a few hundred words."

playing cardsThe flyer announced that appearing at the Pauline Edwards Theater [now Mason Hall] doing their music and comedy act would be the Foner Brothers, all of whom were teachers and at that time were being questioned by the Rapp-Coudert Committee (the New York State version of the House Un-American Activities Committee). The Foner Brothers came in fours, and of the headlines I tried I remember that my favorite was "Four Flying Foner Freres to PerForm." I am still very fond of it, but unfortunately it was cut to "Four Flying Foners." Monday morning the article appeared on the front page, and wonder of wonders, there was my byline. I was hooked.

For the next two years, I felt that we were being pushed into a premature adulthood. The rest of the world was at war, and we all knew that our time was coming. At school many of the faculty and a number of students were being investigated for supposed subversive activities.

In that mad world, there was always the office where you had friends who gave you hope that both you and the world might make it.


  • Friday midnight. Time to deliver the copy to the printer in a loft five flights up, no elevator, in a darkened building on an eerily deserted Lafayette Street.
  • The endless games of hearts.
  • The Ticker lunch table at the Peerless Drug Store on the southwest corner of 23rd and Lex.
  • The basketball games at the old Madison Square Garden, when City was a basketball power.
  • The political rallies at the St. Nicholas Arena. After those meetings, we knew that we could and would change the world.

locketIn 1946, after I was discharged by the Army Air Corps, I returned to City to complete my last 20 or 30 credits. One of my first stops was The Ticker office. There was only one young man there, and after we introduced ourselves, he mentioned that he remembered me. We spoke for a while, and he said that he was now the editor in chief but if I wanted to edit the paper for a term he would gladly step down. I was very touched. I thought for a brief moment and then I thanked him, "but," I said, "it was really time to get started."