Tom Smith, owner of two candy stores in DeKalb and Sycamore,
at one time was one of the editors at the Chicago Tribune and
shared some fond memories of his tenure there.
Last Sunday, Tom and about 500 other former employees and
current Tribune staffers gathered at the iconic Tribune Tower,
435 N. Michigan Ave. in downtown Chicago, to bid farewell to
the workplace where the newspaper had been produced since 1925.
The tower building recently was sold by its parent company to
Golub and CIM groups. The new owners plan to convert the neo-Gothic,
36-story tower into other uses, possibly condominiums. So with
the sale, the Tribune had to move elsewhere. It is relocating
to the Prudential Plaza overlooking Millennium Park, leasing
two floors of that 41-story tower.
Tom Smith stands beside the imposing fireplace in
the office of the late Col. Robert R. McCormick, longtime Tribune
publisher. (Provided photo)
Tom saw few others from his era at the informal going away party.
He noted that it was a bittersweet occasion and a non-event
in his thinking more like a wake, he said.
There was no formal program, no handouts and no mementos to take
away. One thing he particularly noticed was that a large mural
depicting Injun Summer, used for decades on the cover
of the papers magazine section every autumn, was no longer
on the wall. He wondered when it was taken down and where it
might be now.
He worked there from 1961 to 1970, hired by Waterman native
Clayton Kirkpatrick, who was city editor at the time. Tom has
a lot of respect for Kirk as he called him, saying
Kirk brought the Tribune out of its politically charged past
as a Republican standard-bearer into the 20th century as a great
independent metropolitan newspaper.
Tom moved rapidly up the ladder to become acting photo
editor, then makeup editor, which was a major position in determining
the dailys news play. Kirk became editor and asked Tom
to design and oversee a new product, the (suburban) Trib in the
collar counties around Chicago. So Tom set up an office in Hinsdale
with about 33 editors, photographers and other newspeople reporting
He said that was the most exciting time in his journalistic
career, including going after the mob, among other projects.
But tiring of the pressure and threats, he decided to change
careers and went into the more lucrative public relations field.
After retiring from that, he came out to DeKalb and opened two
candy stores The Confectionary in DeKalb and later, The
Confectionary in Sycamore.
Another DeKalb County native, Linda (Klein) Means from
Hinckley, was one of his early hires at the Tribune, who, he
said, was one of the best reporters he ever hired. Linda was
a college classmate of this columnist, and we worked on the NIU
campus paper together in the early 1960s. But thats another
While touring the Tower on Sunday, Tom went up to the 24th
floor to see the palatial office of the late publisher, Col.
Robert R. McCormick. He admired the imposing fireplace in the
office and posed there for a photo. Inscribed on it is a quote
from McCormick: The newspaper is an institution developed
by modern civilization to present the news of the day to foster
commerce and industry, to inform and lead pubic opinion, and
to furnish that check upon government, which no Constitution
has ever been able to provide.
It is hard to imagine the Tribune Tower no longer housing
what once was called the Worlds Greatest Newspaper
another sad chapter in the fading print media scene.