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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Mt Zion

By Richard Carreno
Junto Staff Writer
I sort of knew Sidney Zion, who died at 75 Sunday. How well could a copy boy (yes, in the early 1970s, we were still called copy boys) know a staff reporter for The New York Times? At the time, Zion was the staff reporter. Me, the copy boy.
'Copy, Copy,' yelled Zion. If it was wasn't was he, it was the late great Peter Khiss. In those days, too, 'copy' meant print, like in paper, like in five-part books. And like in typewriters.
But from where was the voice coming?
No problem with Clive Barnes. He was in the Culture Gulch upstairs. Khiss was easy. He would be the one in front-row centre flinging notes and clips every which way. Zion? Just a mound. A mound of paper. He and his desk were covered in books, newspapers, clippings, last week's laundry. Who knows?
He was always distant, remote -- until about five years ago, that is.
I was having a drink at the Yale Club in New York (across Grand Central Station on Vanderbilt) when Zion sits next me on a sofa. I recognized him immediately. He hadn't changed much, if at all since the last time I saw him, many years before, at The Times.
Hey, Sidney, I sez, a bit presumptuously, I daresay, since he has no clue who I am.
'What ever happened to Scanlon's?' I sez.
Brilliant pick-up line, it turns out. Scanlon's. He's interested. I explain the background -- copy boy stuff and all.
He orders drinks. I think they were whiskys.
Where's my date? We're supposed to meet. (Turns out, she's cooling her heels in the foyer below. Not good, that).
Hey, my new friend Sid sez, 'Stay in touch.'