The Great InvasionBeginning at 7:30 P.M. on Thursday night, an army of news media personnel descended upon Glassboro, at first in company strength, and, as the evening wore on, in battalion and finally in regimental numbers. In the vanguard of this horde, of course, were news hawks from nearby towns and cities-places like Woodbury, Camden, Philadelphia, and Wilmington. In their wake came representatives from Long Island, New York City, Newark, Trenton, Baltimore, and Washington. Breaking speed limits as they drove on the rain-swept, two-lane approaches to Glassboro, many hard-bitten, big-city reporters became frustrated not only by the weather, but also by the difficulty of locating their destination. More than one pulled into a gas station to inquire, "Where the hell is Glassboro?"
But they eventually reached the Summit Town. By 8:00 P.M., 200 reporters and photographers besieged Holly Bush, packing into the large screened-in front porch and spilling out on the asphalt driveway. Here either College Public Relations Director Donald Bagin or his assistant Benjamin Resnik took turns in replying to a barrage of questions. While one official attempted to quench the visitors' thirst for news, the other stationed himself in the Holly Bush dining room, manning the telephone to respond to inquiries from news sources from all over the world, with answers being recorded on tape in newspaper, radio, and television offices thousands of miles away from the Glassboro scene. It was a difficult assignment with no time to prepare for the ordeal. Midway through the Holly Bush interviews, Mr. Bagin's secretary, Penny Whilden, had hurried over with material on college background, stenciled and mimeographed in record time. But to many of the questions posed by reporters or radio and television interrogators, both Bagin and Resnik had to give the answer, "You know as much about that as I do." Above all else, what these men hoped for, was an opportunity to reach their offices for an opportunity to get organized.
But not all of the newsmen converged on Holly Bush. Many, weary of battling the crowd at that building, fanned out all over town, tracking down news with the zeal of detectives searching for clues. One reporter later wrote, "We interviewed everyone in sight, including local government officials, police men, students, college professors, customers in diners, bar tenders, hotel owners, and housewives." Items for human interest stories were the reporters' principal concern, but they did not hesitate to jot down and use bits of local history.
Friday, June 23, found town residents anxious to discover the results of the reporters' nightly labors. On that day the Bowe's News Agency did a landslide business, with customers thronging the store to scan eagerly full-page, banner headlines appearing in the metropolitan press: SUMMIT COMES TO GLASSBORO; JOHNSON AND KOSYGIN MEET IN GLASSBORO; GLASSBORO SUMMIT BEGINS; and JOHNSON AND KOSYGIN MEET TODAY AT HALFWAY SITE IN GLASSBORO, N. J. Devouring these and other attention-catching headlines, Glassboroites reached into their wallets to purchase not one but as many as six newspapers. They were determined to hand down to their children's children scrapbooks depicting one of Glassboro's finest days.
On that hot, sticky Friday, when they were not milling in the history-making Whitney Avenue and Route 322 crowds, Glassboroites reveled in reading newspaper accounts of the "tiny and sleepy town" that onrushing events had made the news capital of the world. Opening their papers, they saw pictures of familiar people and places: Dr. Robinson and his family, Governor Hughes, Holly Bush, Bunce Hall (the original, colonial-styled college building), and maps of the eastern seaboard showing Glassboro's specific location. They read well-written, analytical accounts of the steps leading to the Summit, its probable agenda, and the role that Governor Hughes played in bringing the Summit Meeting to Glassboro. News analysts, writing in air-conditioned New York and Washington offices far from Glassboro's madding crowd, also described the recent history of prior summit meetings in faraway romantic places-Casablanca, Teheran, Cairo, Yalta, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, and Camp David. Even the realization that Glassboro was the smallest community a summit meeting had ever been held in failed to lower Glassboroites' mounting pulse beats appreciably. It was enough for them to savor the thought that:
Glassboro's avid newspaper readers also read stories describing the history of both the town and the college. Some of these, particularly the one appearing in the New York Times, were interesting, informative and accurate; others convinced perceptive Glassboro readers that the writers were far better journalists than historians. And there were the feature stories which described Glassboro residents' reactions to the big event. It was in these articles that Glassboro citizens either saw their own names in print-many for the first time-or recognized those of relatives and friends. Borough employee Betty Durney, Police Sergeant George Conte, and Glassboro Professor Michael Kelly, for example, probably did not realize that their names appeared in journals throughout the United States including California's Long Beach Independent. Reporter zeal to reach the man in the street accounted for Glassboro residents, a few days later, opening their mail to find news columns containing their names. Thoughtful acquaintances from distant places had clipped and mailed the columns to relatives or friends, who, for a few days, were basking in a glow of national publicity.
Beginning Friday Glassboro will share a place in history with these much larger communities and with only one other American site, Camp David, the isolated Presidential retreat in the Maryland hills outside Washington, D. C., where Mr. Eisenhower and Khrushchev conferred in 1959.
Highest on the hit parade of feature stories with the human interest touch was the account of Mayor Joseph Bowe's death at 4:30 o'clock Thursday morning, a scant thirty-one hours before the two world leaders sat down to reason together. One of fate's cruelest ironies robbed the hard-working Mr. Bowe from sharing with his fellow citizens the town's greatest moments. Newspapers from east-to-west coasts were quick to see the reader appeal of this tragedy. A second human interest angle that the large press associations played up was Glassboro's dubious distinction of being the community that introduced the word "booze" into the American vocabulary. This doubtful claim to fame was brought about, in 1840, when Philadelphia distiller, E. C. Boaz, used Glassboro's Whitney Glassworks' log-cabin-shaped bottles as containers for his whiskey. Since the Summit Conference, linguists have disputed Glassboro's contribution to the English-speaking language. They insisted that Englishmen were using "booze" as a word as far back as Shakespeare's time. Not usually prone to engage in the subtlety of academic debate, news editors probably agreed with their scholarly critics; but, from an editor's viewpoint, the "booze" angle was still a good story that helped sell papers. Another news item given wide press coverage was the Glassboro theatre's decision to change the films scheduled for Friday showings. For two motion pictures called "Easy Come, Easy Go" and "Hot Rods to Hell," the imaginative movie proprietor substituted "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming," and another film called "Cast a Giant Shadow," which describes Israel's struggle for independence.
Most Glassboro readers riding high on a tidal wave of national attention, gave the press performance a superior rating. But a few critical diehards were less than enthusiastic, agreeing, in the main, with Charles Lamb's assessment of newspapers, "Newspapers always excite curiosity, but no one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment." Disillusionment with the press grew out of the feeling that too many factual errors found their way into Friday's news columns. Critics supported this indictment with a sampling of mistakes–some inconsequential, others more serious–that appeared in seven different newspapers published Friday, June 23.
In the realm of present-day Glassboro activities, one newspaper named Philip Coppolino as Police Chief. Another bestowed the honor upon Peter Smeresky. Still another news organ claimed that Glassboro's police force totaled six. Actually Everett Watson is Chief of Police, and he heads a law-enforcing force of sixteen. Joseph Bowe served as Glassboro's Mayor for eight years, not the twenty-five reported in the press. Glassboro's principal industry is not glassmaking; the last piece of glassware was turned out in Glassboro thirty-eight years ago. The Franklin House has twenty-one rooms; it never has contained the thirty rooms which one reporter claimed for it. Negroes represent sixteen percent of the town's population, a figure much lower than the thirty percent listed in a news column. And Glassboro's homes do not range from $15,000 to $30,000. Negro Elsmere and South Glassboro residents would like very much to live in $15,000 dwellings.
College personnel also were surprised to read some strange items which made their way into Friday's press notices. They found it difficult, for example, to understand how eighteen buildings could be so widely separated on a tiny fifteen-acre campus that one reporter claimed for Glassboro. The correct acreage is 178. Undergraduate enrollment at the college totals 3400, instead of the press figure of 2500. The college newspaper is not called The Whip; The Whit is the correct name. Alumni who played on the 1939 tennis team must have been puzzled to read, "No tennis courts existed on the campus prior to 1952.". This item made them wonder what the courts adjoining Route 322 had been prior to that date. Present-day Glassboro students were amused to read that their favorite meeting place is the Franklin House Hotel. Actually they rarely visit that meeting place, preferring the Student Union's "Co-op." To college sports enthusiasts, the press item reporting that varsity baseball teams, until 1967, had experienced losing seasons was a cruel blow. For, in 1965, the Glassboro nine had gone as far as the semi-final round in the National small-college playoffs held at St. Joseph, Missouri and, in 1966, the team had tied for the New Jersey state college leadership, losing a twelve-inning play-off game to Montclair State College.
Some of these journalistic aberrations were made by reporters faced with a host of problems, not the least being a 2:00 A.M. filing deadline set by Friday morning newspaper editors, providing scant time for checking sources. However, other mistakes could not be justified by a time shortage. Just as verse writers use the technique of poetic license, newspaper writers evidently employ a device that can be called journalistic license, which is a trick of substituting fancy for facts, especially when the fiction item gives a novel twist to a story. Thus thousands of newspapers throughout the country reported that Mrs. Thomas Robinson, the College President's wife, exclaimed, upon hearing that the Summit Meeting was coming to Holly Bush, "Where is my vacuum cleaner?" This was, of course, a journalistic natural, and for newsmen a logical question for Mrs. Robinson to have asked, considering the circumstances. The fact was that she never uttered these words, but that bit of journalistic fiction made good copy. Another Alice in Wonderland dispatch was filed by a reporter who learned that Mrs. Robinson, like millions of other Americans, had no fondness for alcoholic beverages. Therefore, the journalist, reasoning from an invalid premise, concluded that she was a member of the Women's Christi Temperance Union. The actual fact is that Mrs. Robinson never has belonged to this organization. A final example of journalistic license involving the Robinsons was the news item claiming that Dr. Robinson for months had tried to gain state approval for air conditioning Holly Bush. Again a reporter had jumped to a conclusion based on a shaky premise. The fact that the state had not installed air conditioners until the Summit Meeting came to Glassboro did not mean that the College President had asked for them. Neither he nor his wife had ever made any effort to install the cooling devices. But to some newspaper reporters fiction at times has a greater appeal than fact.
Fiction took over again in the Friday evening edition of a large, metropolitan daily when a feature writer reported that for the Summit Conference wall-to-wall carpeting had been laid on the Holly Bush floors and its interior had been repainted. The facts were that workmen laid no additional carpeting and the only painting done was the walnut stain applied to the three missing doors.
These were the kinds of press errors that made some Glassboro summer-school students skeptical of newspapers as primary sources for future historical studies. One student, responding to the section of a questionnaire asking for specific Summit annoyances, cited annoying newspaper mistakes and then wrote, "The above kind of reporting makes me wonder who makes the news, the people or the reporters." For good measure, she added, "Reporters need lessons in telling the truth."
But there is another side to the coin. This book's author has had access to and has read thousands of Summit news cliipings[sic] culled from newspapers throughout the world. This examination indicates clearly that the reporters were skilled craftsmen, with the knack of graphically communicating what actually happened at the Holly Bush conference. Their deviations from the straight and narrow path of complete accuracy probably went undetected by readers outside the Glassboro orbit-people who, if they had discovered inaccuracies, would have tolerantly dismissed them as the inevitable by-products of reporting carried out under difficult working conditions, including the tryranny[sic] of impending deadlines.
What the Summit Conference did prove to the uninitiated was that newsmen are ingenious, adaptive, and resourceful. These were traits displayed in ample measure, for example, by the staff that the Associated Press sent to cover the Glassboro Summit story.
It began at 9:30 P.M., Thursday night when Associated Press newsman Lee Linder knocked on the door of an attractive, two-story: brick colonial house about fifty yards across the street from Holly Bush. Accountant Rocco Petroni, owner of the home, answered the Linder knock and, after inviting him inside the house, readily agreed to the newsman's using the telephone.
It was after he had completed his collect phone call that Mr. Linder learned anew the real meaning of the Biblical verse: "I was a stranger and ye took me in." For after chatting a few moments, the newsman asked whether Mr. Petroni would permit the Associated Press to use his home as a communications center during the Summit Conference. Again the Glassboro accountant gave his assent, requesting only that no damage be done to the house.
Before long, Associated Press newsphoto men, photographers, teletype operators, and reporters were milling about the house, twenty in all. Included in the group were famed John Hightower, Lew Gulick, Bill Ryan, and Stan Johnson. Bell Telephone workmen arrived to install additional phones and special circuits for wire photos and teletype machines. The first-floor recreation room and Mr. Petroni's study became the news center. At these places, Hightower and Linder typed out their stories, had them quickly edited, and delivered them to teletype operators, who sent them to Associated Press locations throughout the world. Technicians converted the Petroni basement into an Associated Press picture-processing location.
They used the furnace room to develop pictures and the freezer room as a chemical storage place. During the Summit days, Glassboro boys Joe Barca, Carmen Mitchell, Anthony D'Amico, Joseph Mitchell, and the two Petroni boys, Nicholas and Lewis, acted as runners, delivering film taken at the Summit scenes to the Petroni basement where, after processing, pictures were transmitted to points in the United States within eight minutes. Photographs sent overseas took thirty minutes.
The Petronis did more than offer their home as an Associated Press headquarters. They kept hard-working newsmen supplied with plenty of coffee, ham and roast beef sandwiches, and they also moved their two sons out of their bedroom to enable Lee Linder and John Hightower to catch some badly needed sleep. Rocco Petroni played this Good Samaritan role throughout the Summit Meeting days from Thursday night through Monday morning. Upon leaving the Petroni household on Monday morning, Mr. Linder asked for the bill. "No charge," said Mr. Petroni, "History was made across the street and the fate of the world may have been decided. I've been proud to offer our home as a world news center."
Mr. Petroni did ask for some Associated Press Summit photographs. Shortly after the meetings ended, he received by special delivery fifty-five handsome pictures, along with copies of The Log, house organ of the Associated Press, and the July 2nd edition of Editor and Publisher. In both of these publications Rocco Petroni's contributions toward helping make a more peaceful world were given feature-story status.
The Summit Conference also proved that the United Press-International was a resourceful and adaptive news organization. By 11:00 P.M. Thursday, more than fifty UPI representatives had set up headquarters in one of the college gymnasium's large, first-floor rooms. Included in the entourage were reporters, news film cameramen, photographers, audio reporters, and technicians. UPI's Washington Bureau George Marder went to work coordinating the news coverage activities. In a later report he gave an inkling of the problems newsmen faced on that Thursday night:
It was this practice of getting a connection and holding on to it for hours at a time that almost gave Bell Telephone officials coronary attacks, for as long as a circuit was under the long protective custody of one reporter, others were unable to make telephonic contacts outside of Glassboro. But UPI newsmen were by no means the sole perpetrators of this technique. They merely followed what developed into a standard practice. Getting the news out developed into a policy of every man for himself, and, in keeping with the Darwinian principle, the strong survived the competition much better than the weak.
Communications were rugged. It seemed we spent hours trying to arrange telephone and Western Union circuits, arguing, pleading, and occasionally browbeating. When we finally got a private phone, the long distance circuits were so jammed we couldn't get out of Glassboro. Fortunately we took over a pay phone near the press center in the college gymnasium. We opened a line to Washington and kept it opened for an eight-hour stretch.
UPI was ingenious in solving another problem. Holly Bush, where the news was to be made, was about one-third of a mile from the gymnasium news center, a long distance for weary reporters to trudge with their news nuggets. George Marder decided to arm crack reporter Merriman Smith and other news gatherers with walkie talkies, devices that would enable them to radio developments from Holly Bush to the gymnasium, at which point other UPI news specialists relayed the stories over the captive telephone to the Washington desk.
But how were news pictures to be developed in a large well-lighted room without running water? To resolve this difficulty, Marder held a conference with Jim Corson, the gymnasium's maintenance man. The outcome was a triumph of improvisation which the UPI director described later:
On that eerie Thursday night, the Petroni household and the college gymnasium were not the only spots where news organizations practiced their improvising magic. About one half mile from Holly Bush, the Franklin House Hotel, the town's only hostelry, was also converted into a communications center, with twenty New York Times newsmen, armed with typewriters and teletype machines, taking over the hotel's 18' x 40' dining room. Reporters from the Washington Star usurped owner's Ernest Reisner's personal dining room, and the American Broadcasting Company set up operations in his personal living room, which was an advantageous location because the broadcasters could set up their equipment and broadcast from the spacious, outside porch which encircles the hotel's second-floor rooms. News media personnel at the Franklin House followed the standard practice of not hanging up telephone receivers once they had made connections. To protect their claims to open circuits, reporters employed local youth to stand guard over unhooked receivers.
The conference produced basement quarters. A mop closet was used for processing film, a latrine for printing, and a locker room for editing and printing. Two rubbing tables from the trainer's room and a fan appropriated from the coach's office filled other essential needs.
Some newsmen discovered other ingenious methods for filing stories. Peter C. Schroeder, reporter for a Netherlands radio and television network, used Glassboro faculty member Dr. William Pitt's bedroom telephone to send his reports overseas. His initial efforts to get through, however, were fruitless, but after repeated attempts, he followed Dr. Pitt's advice for reaching his Holland office. The plan was both simple and effective. Mr. Schroeder telephoned his New York office secretary, giving her Dr. Pitt's phone number and ordered her to make contact with the Netherlands office. Personnel from there called Mr. Schroeder at the Pitt household, a communication method which enabled him to send his stories quickly and effectively. It was in one of these dispatches that the Dutch reporter, impressed with his Glassboro environment, used the phrase "The Spirit of Holly Bush," probably the first time this widely-employed term was used.
Getting OrganizedTelephones are as essential to reporters as books are to scholars. The difficulty on Thursday night and early Friday morning was that newsmen did not have access to enough phones. Not all, for example, were as fortunate as the Associated Press. Most reporters had to go searching for telephones in private homes, diners, police station, stores, and college buildings. In the Summit's initial stages, reporters filed their stories on their own initiative with no help from a centralized headquarters.
About 11:00 P.M. the White House staff's decision to use the college gymnasium as the press center began to bring a semblance of order to the communication tangle. Lloyd Hackler, Presidential Assistant Press Secretary, made a series of rapid decisions on the employment of facilities. By the use of the folding door, the spacious gymnasium floor, 110' x 190', was divided into two sections; one part measuring 110' x 120', the other 110' x 70'. Hackler assigned the larger area to the working press and the smaller one to the White House press scheduled to arrive on Friday morning. He designated the gymnasium's lounge as a headquarters for the White House staff, and the reception room became the location where reporters picked up credentials. Commodious classrooms were earmarked for radio broadcasters and for the United Press International.
Hackler's decision-making set off a flurry of activity. Glassboro's Business Manager Walter Cambell dispatched maintenance men to Glassboro High School where they borrowed and brought back to the gymnasium long, folding tables used in the school's cafeteria, enough to meet the needs of 1000 reporters. Other members of the maintenance staff drove trucks to Glassboro's elementary schools where they picked up 700 folding chairs, delivered them to the gymnasium, and set them up beside the tables. Still other employees entered college building offices to confiscate typewriters for reporters' use at the press center. Maintenance men also erected stands for television cameras and a large platform suitable for press conferences.
In the midst of this activity, twenty Western Union workmen arrived to begin installing thirty-four teletype machines along the gymnasium's west wall. These were placed in two banks of seventeen each with about five feet separating the banks, providing enough room for operators to operate machines in each row. The Western Union's late 4:00 A.M. arrival was caused, according to Samuel Porch, college liaison man at the gymnasium, by the company's hunch that the Summit Meeting would be held at Princeton University. It was at this location company employees had set up their equipment. This hasty prognostication meant that workmen had to disassemble, pack, and reassemble their complicated equipment at the actual Summit spot, activities that consumed a considerable amount of extra time.
By 4:00 A.M. the gymnasium was beginning to take on the appearance of a bona fide press center, but the absence of certain essential instruments kept it from being an operative one. Telephones in assorted colors were visible; however, they were not yet in operating order. Impatient reporters began a "no-holds barred" struggle for the use of telephones in faculty offices. The contest reached an intensity resulting in Press Secretary Robert Fleming's ordering newsmen out of the White House office suite. Only the labors of Bell Telephone workmen could bring peace in the battle for telephones.
The New Jersey Bell Telephone Company's Role in the Battle of CommunicationsOn Thursday night, June 22, D.E. McCauley, Frank Shunk, George Katzenberger, and Roland Pratt, four of New Jersey Bell Telephone's top managerial officials, arrived in Glassboro to accomplish in twelve hours a job which ordinarily would take three weeks. Their three-pronged task was to provide telephonic facilities and service for: (1) the working press, (2) Summit Conference governmental officials, and (3) radio and television companies. To complete this assignment, 555 Bell Telephone employees worked throughout the night, 256 in Glassboro and 299 in other localities.
On Thursday evening at about 10:00 P.M., faculty member Samuel Porch was standing outside the gymnasium. He saw in the distance, moving slowly down Carpenter Street, a long line of vehicles, which resembled an army convoy bound for a staging area. The vehicles turned left into the Esbjornson Gymnasium's parking lot. On closer inspection Mr. Porch identified the vehicles as fifty Bell Telephone trucks. His observation was confirmed when worksmen jumped out of the trucks-cable-men splicers, installers, repair experts, construction men, and transmission test experts. Within minutes these orange-helmeted men began stringing a cable about the size of a burly man's upper arm from the gymnasium to Route 322, from which point the cable split in two directions. Telephone men routed one section to the Bell Company's central office on Delsea Drive; they moved the other across Route 322 in the direction of Holly Bush and the Administration Building, both located on the old campus.
This operation took place before White House officials had made the final decision to make the gymnasium the press center. When final word came, the workmen continued their cabling operations. Others hauled cable into the gymnasium where installers and splicing craftsmen erected panels and commenced making telephonic connections. Work continued throughout the night. Huge construction trucks lumbered onto the campus well off established roads. From these vehicles workmen snatched tools and climbed telephone poles and trees strong enough to support the heavy cable. An observer at the scene later described the sight:
Back at the gymnasium, onlookers observed another strange sight. Four small trucks, each hauling a small van, pulled up to the building's outside east wall. Telephone men lowered the vans' side panels revealing six telephones in each van. These were the Bell Company's phone trailers, housing coin-operated telephones usable by reporters from small-town newspapers or by other newsmen desiring quicker phone connections than the instruments inside the gymnasium could provide. Bell employees had delivered these trailers from widely-scattered points in the state. At Fort Monmouth they had encountered some minor difficulty in persuading army officers to part with their trailer. District manager Robert Christensen told how resistance ended. "One of the officers there said he'd throw an armed guard around the trailer if we tried to move it, and demanded to know who wanted it. When we answered, 'the Commander-in-Chief.' there was no further problem."
It had begun to rain once more. Through the rain and mist, I could see men high upon poles and trees stringing cable. Workmen had donned yellow slickers and matching rain-proof trousers. They were working with the heavy wire underneath small tent-like shelters. With their linemen's belts, orange helmets, and safety glasses, they gave the appearance of figures from another planet.
Inside the gymnasium, Bell employees labored steadily, installing circuits of all kinds such as telephone, teletype, telephoto, radio, and television. Always at their elbows were nagging reporters demanding, "When will the telephones be in operation?" A long-suffering Bell officicial [sic] picturesquely described the newshawks:
By Friday morning the Bell Company had not provided the reporters with a miracle. Before the start of the first Johnson-Kosygin meeting, workmen had been able to install 100 telephones but only one-half of them were in working order.
One thing about them is as predictable as the law of gravity. When 750 news media representatives gather to cover a story of international significance-whether it's breaking in New York City, or Bivalve, or Glassboro, New Jersey-their appetite for communications is voracious.
They want to be able to ring up their offices in Tokyo, Berlin, London, San Francisco, Bangkok, and Rio de Janeiro with as much ease and facility as they place calls to friends next door. Over the years they've come to expect miracles of the Bell Systems.
In their benignly combative business, they go after a news story with the same patience and spirit of fair play as a pool of hungry sharks attacking a side of beef. Getting there 'fustest with the mostest' is the name of the game. When they expect miracles, heaven help those who don't bring them off.
Bell officials attributed this performance to a number of reasons. First, twelve hours was not enough time to complete a task of the magnitude demanded by the news media. Second, the choice of Glassboro, as far as the telephone people were concerned, was unfortunate. Bell official D.E. McCauley, a man who got seven hours of sleep from Thursday morning until Sunday night, stated the Bell Company's feeling bluntly, "Few Summit sites would have suited our purposes less than Glassboro." The Bell Company's Glassboro central office, with its six-man staff, serves only as a switching center for dial calls, having few facilities needed quickly for a Summit Conference. A principal handicap was the lack of operator personnel to man switchboards. For billing purposes outgoing calls had to be made through operators, and the absence of these people at Glassboro meant that all reporters' calls had to go through heavily burdened Woodbury and Camden switchboards. Fewer number of calls were channeled to Atlantic City. Time prohibited the installation of additional circuits from Glassboro to these points. A third Bell Company problem was the piratical tactics of reporters, who, once they had obtained a connection, held on to it for hours. This practice, Bell Company officials insisted, did as much as anything else to slow down telephonic communications when they were most needed.
In the early hours of the Summit Conference, the Bell Telephone Company did not make all reporters happy, but its performance pleased governmental officials requesting communications services. For White House officials and the State Police no delays occurred in the installation and prompt operation of all the special circuits required.
The vital communications center of the Summit Conference was not the gymnasium. On the contrary, this distinction fell upon Glassboro 's tiny Bell Telephone headquarters. On Thursday night Bell officials ordered POTUS taken out of its Newark-based security vault and delivered under heavy security guard to Glassboro's Bell Telephone Building. POTUS is the presidential switchboard whose letters stand for President of the United States. Whenever a President comes to New Jersey, this switchboard joins him. POTUS, a distinguished instrument in its own right, found itself in famous company. For not far from where it was placed stood the renowned hot-line teletype machine brought in from Washington Many will be surprised to learn that this is not a mysterious, red telephone over which American presidents talk to Russian premiers. It is a teletype device which transmits messages in code. Fortunately the hotline operator was idle during the Summit Conference, but the POTUS operators had few relaxed moments.
From the presidential switchboard, Bell workers installed circuits making connections with Washington and from there to centers throughout the world. Installers also laid special circuits to Holly Bush into which they placed twelve additional telephones. Some where white; others, black An interesting feature of these phones was that all but one of them received incoming calls without the aid of harsh-ringing bells. Secret Service men were alerted to incoming messages by the signal transmitted by a neon-white light placed on the telephones. Bell Company officials provided this extra service to please President Johnson, who dislikes the sound of telephones. However, one telephone did ring as well as light up. This was the one placed a stand near the entrance to the dining room. A call coming over this phone meant that the message was of special importance.
Rumors flew thick and fast at the Summit Conference, and now seems as good a time as any to explode one of these myths. According to a person with access to Holly Bush, the red telephone on top of Dr. Robinson's dining room desk was the famous hot-line instrument. Actually there was no red phone in Holly Bush. Moreover, ten of the telephones could be termed hot-line phones. For all ten were connected to the White House switchboard, which was located in close proximity to the hot-line teletype machine. Either Premier Kosygin or President Johnson might have, if the occasion had arisen, picked up any one of the ten telephones and communicated through the hot-line teletype instrument with leading members of the Russian Politburo. The few telephones they could not have made contact with were in the Russian second-floor Holly Bush quarters, because these phones were not linked with the presidential switchboard. For reasons of its own, the Russian delegation preferred placing calls through the same toll lines the reporters were using.
Bell Telephone workmen also installed several special circuits into the College Administration Building, where the Secret Service and New Jersey State Police command posts were located. Five circuits were provided for the Secret Service alone, enabling agents to communicate through the Presidential switchboard with colleagues on the Glassboro campus and with fellow agents throughout the country. For the State Police, Bell technicians installed both land-lined and radio-telephone circuits. With these, the state law officers were able to maintain constant contact with the Kosygin cavalcade as it sped along the New Jersey Turnpike bound for Glassboro.
A cardinal rule of the Bell Telephone Company is that the President of the United States is always within reach of a telephone. This was a rule that the company did not break at the Summit Conference. From the moment on Friday morning, June 23, when President Johnson left the White House until he walked into Holly Bush, a telephone was within his grasp. The telephonic links on this 138-mile journey were numerous: in the car taking him to the Washington Airport, on board his Jetstar plane, at the Philadelphia airport, air-borne on the helicopter traveling from Philadelphia to Glassboro, at the Glassboro Athletic Field where the helicopter landed, and in the auto-mobile cavalcade to Holly Bush. At the entrance to this building, the Bell organization had set a phone ready for use. Nothing was left to chance, as was evident by Bell official D. E. McCauley's driving the company's mobile car equipped with twelve channels linked with the presidential switchboard. McCauley was in the cavalcade as added insurance that in an emergency the President always had a communications contact.
Supplying radio lines to the four major networks covering the Summit Conference–Westinghouse, American Broadcasting Company, Metro Media, and the Storrer Broadcasting Company–posed no serious problem for the Bell Telephone Company. But meeting the needs of the television networks turned out to be a difficult assignment.
Early Friday morning at 12:45 A.M., two huge television vans moved into Glassboro and parked on Whitney Avenue near Holly Bush. A short while later six other vans joined them. Network officials immediately began to pressure White House Press officers, urging them to designate a location for television facilities. In the midst of this effort, Secret Service men ordered the vans removed from Whitney Avenue, a command which exacerbated sensibilities already bruised by a feeling that White House officials were not interested in whether television equipment was set up or not.
Reporter Freddie Boyle, writing in Editor and Publisher, credited Glassboro faculty member Dr. William Pitt with breaking the impasse. Dr. Pitt suggested that the vans pull onto the parking lot behind Oak Hall dormitory, a building located about fifty yards from Holly Bush. He also recommended that television cameras be installed in front of Holly Bush fifty feet away from the building. Robert Fleming, Presidential Press Secretary, went along with the Pitt proposals, stipulating, however, that the networks pool their facilities and not jockey for favorable positions. Television personnel accepted the Fleming conditions and commenced installation operation. By now it was 3:00 A.M. and over two hours of valuable time had been lost by the negotiations.
Locations established, television technicians began stringing cable, making connections from cables to cameras, getting platforms built for cameras, and performing many other complex time-consuming activities necessary for television operation. At 4:00 A.M. Bell Telephone program transmission experts started to erect near the television vans an eighty-foot tower capable of supporting three dish antennas. These would catch the television signal from the cameras and beam it by microwave to reception antennas to the north of Glassboro. Fred Mabie, a Bell Company transmission man, later explained the complicated maneuver:
By 9:00 A.M. Friday, technicians had made the mysterious connections from television cameras to the tower, and signals were transmitted from the large dish antennas. But neither the Philadelphia nor the Swedesboro antennas picked up the Glassboro signal. In Bell Telephone jargon, workmen were having difficulty in establishing a line-of-sight to the reception points northward. At this critical stage, with the hour of the Summit Meeting fast approaching, Bell Telephone Operations Vice President Jean Felder established telephone contact with the Philadelphia receiving point. He began relaying instructions to Bell transmission men, informing them of the minute changes that had to be made in directing the Glassboro tower's antennas.
We've got to have a line of sight to our reception point. What we're going to try first is to hit the receiving gear on top of a tall building in Philadelphia. If we can't make a hit there, we'll go to the Swedesboro long-distance tower. We'd like to make it in Philly because there's a good supply of outgoing facilities from there, but it might be too far.
At exactly 11:15 A.M., Mr. Felder shouted, "We've got a picture!" This exclamation came just as President Johnson and Premier Kosygin were about to shake hands in front of Holly Bush. Transmission man Fred Mabie and Vice-President Felder went limp, breathing, "That's the closest we ever came to losing one."
The television breakthrough capped the heroic efforts the Bell Telephone Company exerted to make the Summit Conference a success, efforts that resulted in the installation of more than 300 special circuits for the press and governmental officials. In total, Bell workmen added 200 miles of circuits for press coverage and the vital Presidential communication needs.
College Public Relations ActivitiesAttention now is refocused on College Public Relations director Don Bagin, whom we left several pages back on the Holly Bush porch fending off questions fired by news-hungry reporters. Relief from this difficult chore came at 11:00 P.M., giving Mr. Bagin and his assistant Ben Resnik a welcome opportunity to go to the Administration Building public relations offices where they could get properly organized. Back in familiar surroundings, Bagin and a small staff of graduate assistants and journalistic student volunteers plunged into the task of reproducing materials the press would find helpful: maps of the college, maps of the Borough of Glassboro, copies of college publications, excerpts from the book called The Glassboro Story, and articles on college programs and growth. Willing volunteer workers ran copies of these materials on a multilith machine, gathered them together, and placed them in 1,000 large-sized envelopes.
During these frenzied early-morning hours, Bagin and Resnik spent forty percent of their time on the phone making radio tapes for stations throughout the country as far west as California. At 6:30 A.M. on Friday Mr. Bagin dispatched Mr. Resnik, graduate assistant Sally Jo Delph, and senior student Jack Wilson to the Philadelphia airport, where at 7:15 A.M. they met 150 members of the White House Press Corps. On each of the three buses bringing the reporters to Summit City, Glassboro representatives distributed informational packages and answered questions raised by seasoned journalists.
At 8:00 A.M., Director Bagin and his weary staff established headquarters at the gymnasium press center, taking with them stacks of informational packages, typewriters, pencils, and other tools of the journalistic craft. Settled at the press building, the Glassboro public relations personnel prepared to serve the news media throng whose size by now indicated that the Summit Conference's zero hour was fast approaching.