Stop the presses? Hardly

Our credo here is pretty much that old saw usually attributed to the mailman -- neither hail nor sleet nor snow would keep him from his rounds.

And nothing would keep Travel Weekly from going to press on deadline either.

The paper closed on time in the two weeks of a New York subway and bus strike in 1980.

Staffers walked or found alternative transport to the office. (In one of the finest pieces of timing in my life, the strike fell precisely during my two-week vacation in Morocco. I missed the whole thing.)

But I did not miss the Great New York City Blackout of July 13-14, 1977.

On the long -- and very hot -- day (July 14) of no lights and no elevators, several staffers met at our office building, then in Manhattan, for a ride to the print shop in New Jersey, where we set up a makeshift news operation, collecting and editing stories filed by reporters working at home or in bureaus. And so we closed on schedule.

In recent years, we have had some stupendous snowstorms that stranded numerous staffers at home or even caused our office building to be shut down.

Usually, those storms had not occurred on a press day. But it did happen once.

We were forced to go to press a day late, to my knowledge a once-only occurrence at this paper.

The upside was that we could amend Page 1 stories, answering some questions that we would not have had answered on the real press day.

And we caught up fast, closing our next issue with lots of new news -- and on time.

Last year, extensive preparations were made to ensure we would not miss a press day in case of Y2K-related failures, so one might ask why we could not go to press on time in less drastic circumstances.

The issue is one of scale: The possibility of missing deadlines for a whole week or more due to computer failure is a threat to this business -- and hence worth some costly preparations. To close a day late because of snow is not.

When the snow did get us, I cannot say I was too brokenhearted to have an unexpected weekday off in a very white New York City.

Besides producing a lovely sight, the snow-filled sky laid a gauzy mask over the buildings, creating a look that reminded me of old New York photographs under falling snows of many, many winters ago.

A radio newscaster observed that snow, with its capacity to absorb noise, creates for us an abnormally quiet city.

And maybe that is one reason the city under snowy skies suggests photographs to me. I am seeing the silence of a still photo.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI