Once, during SI's early days, one of our writers was filing a story from a remote area of the Southwest where the Western Union operator also owned the local service station. Whenever a car pulled in for gas, the operator would leave his keyboard and head for the pump while our man ground his teeth in frustration. And there was the writer covering a Saturday night basketball game at a college in a rural area who was told by the local operator that he'd be available to send the story to our New York offices on Sunday morning—as soon as he was finished milking his cows.
Times have changed. No longer can writers claim that Western Union has delayed their stories because of un-milked cows, or that an inattentive operator has omitted some of their best lines. Today SI uses telecopiers (briefcase-size devices that can send written copy over telephone lines) and even faster electronic equipment that not only transmit stories in minutes but also deliver them virtually error-free. At our end, in New York, editors and reporters rely on telecopiers as they send out streams of queries, instructions and requests to hundreds of correspondents around the country, as well as cabling the Time-Life News Service bureaus around the world.
At the nerve center of this flood of two-way electronic communication is Eleanore Milosovic, a self-effacing, highly but quietly competent woman, who is also a charter member of the SI staff. She has been running our news bureau for nearly 12 years, during which time our wire traffic has tripled in volume, just as the world of sport has burgeoned. In addition to the array of telecopiers that her assistants operate in the office, Milosovic—always on the job—has a copier in the kitchen of her Manhattan apartment, plugged in where you'd expect a toaster, to handle evening and some weekend (Tuesday-Wednesday at SI) traffic. Since 1954, she has hired and/or worked with every one of our Special Correspondents—from Frank Gerjevic in Anchorage to Martie Zad in Washington, D.C. She also has a remarkable memory for each correspondent's area of expertise and his eccentricities, as well as his daily schedule. (Reaching someone in Kansas by phone on Monday afternoon is a lot easier if you know that's when he'll be enduring root-canal work.)
It's at Milosovic's desk, too, that many a new SI staffer has learned—or endured—his or her first lesson in practical journalism. Not to beat around the bush, Eleanore has been known to get testy when a newcomer hands her a poorly conceived or written message to be processed. Staffers quickly discover that when you're wiring a busy correspondent, it's mighty helpful to think logically and use language with economy and clarity.
In an overworked word, Milosovic is a perfectionist, a trait she probably acquired from her mother, who at 90 still turns over the soil in her garden in New City, N.Y. by hand because she doesn't like the way the Rototiller does the job. Helen Milosovic also makes the best pork sausage the palate of man ever has savored, and is currently experimenting with fresh cherries, sugar and gin to produce an interesting new drink. Small wonder New City is where you can often find Eleanore on a Tuesday afternoon.
MILOSOVIC: A TELECOPIER IN LIEU OF A TOASTER