On a corner shelf in the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED news bureau stands a small box with a discreet red cross on its side that has been the salvation of more than one editor and writer suffering to meet a deadline. The keeper of the box, and the generous dispenser of its nostrums—aspirin, antacid tablets and Band-Aids—is a woman of infinite patience and unfailing good nature who this month began directing SI's team of more than 100 correspondents.
Eleanore Milosovic is the lady in question, and in a way her unofficial first-aid chores mesh nicely with her other functions over the years, which have consisted chiefly of seeing that editorial disorders (missing dispatches, errant photographs or balky teletype machines) are put right before they cause headaches to the magazine.
Since 1969 Eleanore has been the deputy chief of the news bureau operation, and for several years before that she performed the function without the title. When her predecessor, Arlie Schardt, left last month for a position with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, Eleanore stepped right into the middle of the Western Union strike. Teletype messages are the lifeline of our operation, but it was characteristic of Eleanore that the flow of queries, story suggestions and research continued with barely a hitch.
Sunday is the big day in the news bureau, the day when all the pieces must go together, so to speak. Eleanore gets a jump on her weekend teletype crunch by arriving approximately along with the dawn, digging into the overnight arrivals and getting them around to the editors early. "Editors tend to be patient about unforeseen delays," she says. "But they do have a habit of stalking silently up and down just outside my door." She often stays till midnight.
The news bureau operation has grown in both size and complexity since Eleanore first appeared on April Fool's Day 1954, some four months before the first issue of the magazine. She had graduated from Ladycliff College in Highland Falls, N.Y. intending to teach school on an Indian reservation. Instead she more or less adopted a tribe of editorial temperaments that would test the patience and resources of a lesser woman. Her longevity in the job, plus her surefooted memory, have enabled her to track down arcane bits of information with the skimpiest of clues. ("It was a query I sent out about two years ago to somebody in the Midwest about trout fishing or something....")
She is also good at finding people, particularly errant correspondents. "You get to know just which places certain correspondents frequent, and at what time," says Eleanore. "I have one fellow who must be having trouble with his teeth because I can always find him at the dentist on Monday mornings."
Once she spent several hours trying to reach a reporter on long distance, only to run into an experience familiar to any late-running commuter who has tried to reach home from a pay phone with his last dime. When Eleanore finally got an answer, the correspondent's small child came on the line. "Is your father there?"
"Yes," said the child, who promptly hung up.
Oh well, Eleanore always has the aspirin bottle handy.
ELEANORE IN HER DISPENSARY