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Newhouse’s Legacy   Leave a comment

This is another one of the pieces I wrote for my writing class when I went back to school. It is a flash memoir, and is focused around the building I work in. I struggled to find a concept for the assignment, but I am happy with the result.


Standing eleven stories tall, across from the courthouse and next to Gallivan Plaza, is Maxwell’s eatery. Well, that is all anyone driving by sees. Someone walking down Exchange Place might see the stairs leading down to the deli in the basement. I know that when I was pacing outside of the Boston Building, nervously psyching myself up for a job interview, that was all I noticed. I didn’t stop to think about the building I was standing in front of, aside from what floor I’d need to take the elevator to.

Samuel Newhouse certainly thought about it. Born back when slavery was still a thing, Newhouse was a New York born lawyer. Maybe he was just as nervous as I was when he had to get his job. Probably did a better job than I did, since he made enough money to move to Utah and become a mining magnate. Ever hear of the Bingham County Mine? I mean, I hadn’t until I researched it. But if you live in Utah, then you’d know if by its other name: Kennecot Copper Mine. Who knows; maybe one day I’ll get enough gumption and drive to do the same when I’m in my forties?

Newhouse built the building I was nervously pacing in front of as an attempt to bring a little bit of NYC to good ol’ SLC. He wanted to build four skyscrapers on Exchange Place, in an attempt to make his little bit of the city the new heart of the city. The Boston Building was the first he built, and it was the tallest building in Utah when it was completed in 1908. Well built too, as it was still there over one hundred years later for me to walk into once I got up the courage.

As I continued to pace in the lobby, trying to plan my way through all the nightmare scenarios, I stared at the stairway next to elevator. I didn’t know it until recently, but the stairs I go down every day when I leave work, and up every time I lose my sanity, are the original stairs the building came with. I’m sure the paint is new, but I’ve touched the same railing that Mr. Newhouse had. I wonder if he paced whenever he was nervous. I’m not sure I’d ever find out, as there isn’t much to find about the man.

See, as I was riding up the elevator to hopefully make some money, I was riding in one of the last things Newhouse got to spend his on. He built the building back in 1908, and got to enjoy it for eight years before his business empire collapsed. I can imagine, regardless of whether he paced or smoked or drank, he probably had many a nervous moment as he went up and down the floors of his building. The business world can be such a cruel mistress. Who knows; maybe one day I’ll get enough money and drive to lose my mining empire as well?

I got off on the eighth floor of Newhouse’s legacy to be greeted by keycard locked glass doors. It was a stark contrast; the 1908 aesthetic of wood, gold and tile clashing with the sleek minimalism and boring grey office carpet. As the secretary opened the door to my future, my nerves didn’t subside. I’d never done any office job before. I’d always worked retail, and my best job so far was a bank teller. I wonder how Newhouse felt about simple jobs before he became a rich man. As the son of immigrants, he must have had respect for them, right? Did get nervous as he waited for his interview? Did those nerves subside as his interview went on, like mine did? I like to imagine he was a people person. It’d be hard to succeed in business if he wasn’t. But to score a tech oriented job working with computers and not people, being a neurotic awkward mess is good enough. Maybe Newhouse would have seen the same potential my bosses saw in me. I think I would have been able to make him proud as well.

The interview went well, and I was given the job on the spot. I’d eventually prove my worth and get a full-time position, and with that I’d get a drastic enough pay raise to make my goals something more than living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve grown a lot in the skeleton of Newhouse’s empire. No one really knows its his anymore. If it wasn’t for a solitary plaque in the courtyard, I wouldn’t have known either. But if I’m being honest, after a century of being gone, you could do a lot worse than a couple of buildings and a plaque with your name on it.

– Shaman

Posted 09/28/2017 by Shaman in Writing

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