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by Ben OlivoMay 13, 2019
San Antonio Express-News
San Antonio Express-News building is located at the corner of Avenue E and Third Street. BEN OLIVO | HERON

I don’t know the year, but I remember there was a big newsroom announcement, probably something about how the paper would have to do more with less, and after it was done, the smoking deck was the place to be.

David Lauricella, who was an editor at the time, came out and said, “So what do the pundits have to say?”

I was, I don’t know, 28 at the time. Express-News columnist Carlos Guerra was out there, as was copy desk chief Claude Simpson, and Metro reporter Darryl Byrd. It was a smoke’em if you got’em situation and by George we smoked them.

That smoking deck is sort of the nostalgic place within the overall nostalgic place that is the Express-News building.

There would be more such meetings. But over the years, the smoker became less and less. Although I think there might be a copy editor or two who still uphold the tradition.

The truly great stories I experienced during my time working inside the San Antonio Express-News building, the ones I’ll take to my grave, I cannot share on this site. Nor can I share the ones that were told to me during my early years at the paper. It’s not that they’re unfit for public consumption—although some are indeed R-rated—it’s just that they’re best told while consuming alcohol. It’s part of being a journalist, or something.

It’s something you’re taught at an early age. For me, that early age was 17. That’s when I started working at the Express-News, jotting down high school football stats on Friday nights. Afterward, the agate crew would take me to Elena’s, which was a bar frequented by the boxing community, on Losoya Street. When I protested, and said I had to go study or go home for some reason, they’d called me a candy ass, and I’d end up going. Joe Alaniz Sr., Wiley Alexander, and David Ramires. . . . Drinking Miller Lites.

In the subsequent years, I’d also work in the business news department and Metro department, while studying journalism at San Antonio College

When news broke late last week that the Express-News building at the northwest corner of Avenue E and Third Street was bring sold, my Facebook feed was flooded with many emotional posts from former colleagues. I was one of them.

I won’t share my fondest memories during the 19 years I worked at the San Antonio Express-News. Nor the stories that were told to me. Those are not for public consumption. Those are best told over a beer

You used to tell people that the San Antonio Express-News was located at Avenue E and Third Street. When someone needed an address, I had to ask. You think we'd learn the actual address, which was 301 Avenue E. But it never stuck, at least for me, until by the time I left in 2016.

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

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