By Beth Gross
That friendly person subscribers and advertisers would meet at the Swarthmorean office for the past 24 years ended her last day at the paper on Thursday, January 28. Patti was office coordinator and staff writer. But in a small office, staff members do just about everything, and she did.
Miraculously she kept our decrepit label machine going for all those years. It was on its last legs when she began working at the old office in the building that now houses Bamboo Bistro on Dartmouth Avenue. She could intuit when the machine was going to act up, and she nearly always managed to get it going again.
She organized our major moves: from the Dartmouth Ave. office, to the alley next to the Post Office, and a few years later to 112 Park Avenue (in the former Rudi’s Restaurant).
On Thursdays she hauled the papers to the Media and Chester post offices, then back to the Swarthmore Post Office to be mailed. She became friendly with those U.S. Post Office officials, who changed their procedures inexplicably with little notice, and she handled her dealings with them with great diplomacy.
Despite blizzards, ice storms, floods, power outages, and last minute front-page story delays, the papers were always at their designated post offices on time, because she was determined that readers would receive them in their Friday mail. Whenever I, as the former editor, was out of town, I had no qualms leaving the office in her able hands.
Every work day, she went to the round bank with the Swarthmorean’s deposits. Thus she took the First Keystone embezzlement news hard, because she knew all the bad-gal tellers and could furnish background details for the article.
Patti and I share November birthdays, and decades ago we realized we were both partial to chocolate pudding pies. Every year I cooked one as her gift. This year the pie I made for her failed to jell, though I don’t think that is the reason she is going. Rather, she intends to spend more time with her two young granddaughters at the Jersey Shore, as well as her new daughter-in-law, who lives close to Swarthmore.
When Patti first came to the Swarthmorean, she seemed to know just about everyone in town, having worked at the Swim Club for many years and as director of the Swarthmore Community Center, where she became friendly with its patrons, both young and old. That knowledge — her village memory — turned out to be a tremendous asset to the paper.
Patti also has an incredible memory for numbers and dates. So when we needed to know (before the paper was digitized in the library) when the Ingleneuk fire or big blizzards occurred or when the new Co-op was built, she could pinpoint the years with ease.
We wish her productive and happy years with her family, both nuclear and extended, and her high school, college, and local friends (“the usual suspects”). Also, we hear that the Swarthmore Library may be the lucky place where she plans to volunteer.
Her contributions to the paper have been inestimable. We will miss her dearly.