News that The Evening Sun will publish for the last time Sept. 15 was met yesterday with sadness and tributes, but little surprise.
"It's a sad day when your paper dies, even when expected," said Ernie Imhoff, who served for several weeks in 1992 as The Evening Sun's last managing editor after a long career on that paper.
"Others of us are glad the lingering illness is ending. Many of us paid our respects three years ago when the Sun and Evening Sun staffs were combined," said Mr. Imhoff, now an assistant managing editor in the joint news operation.
Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke had this to say:
"A significant portion of people in the city came to rely on The Evening Sun as their primary source of news, so for them this will be a tremendous loss," he said.
"However, the announcement of a completely redesigned morning paper sounds promising, and I look forward to reading the new Baltimore Sun," he said.
Recollections of The Evening Sun's quirky and spirited competitiveness laced the newsroom's conversation yesterday.
"What other paper had a dinner party for 700 alumni on its 75th birthday? Or considers April 18, 1910, [the paper's birth date] the start of American history?" Mr. Imhoff asked.
Sun Editor John S. Carroll, who worked as a morning Sun reporter from 1966 to 1972, told his staff he "learned a lot of lessons by competing with a lot of Evening Sun reporters who were better than I was."
Sun feature writer Carl Schoettler, 62, joined the evening paper in 1959 when the newsroom had typewriters, not computers, and old-fashioned stand-up telephones.
One of The Evening Sun's strengths, he said, was its tolerance of idiosyncrasies in its reporters, a trait that attracted people of high talent and singular personalities. In that atmosphere, "a young reporter could discover that he loved newspapering," Mr. Schoettler said.
"We loved getting the story first and doing it better, and our staff was pretty feisty about that," said John M. "Jack" Lemmon, 67, managing editor for The Evening Sun from 1979 until his retirement from the paper in 1992.
The perception that more and more readers wanted a morning paper became "a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said. "There could very well have been a trend back toward the evening if given a chance to develop. . . . I would have loved to have tried. It was
The role of business economics in the decision to close The Evening Sun was particularly irksome to Mr. Schoettler. The paper "was born in an era when decisions were made by editors. It is dying in an era when decisions are made by accountants," he said.
Evening Sun columnist Jacques Kelly noted that it has been almost nine years since the News American closed, and he found a new home on Calvert Street.
He had not been told yesterday whether his column will continue in the morning paper after Sept. 15.
"The Evening Sun was in many ways the paper of people who still live in Hamilton, Irvington and Brooklyn Park, the sorts of neighborhoods where time seems to stand still," he said.
And he expressed admiration for the "tremendous tenacity of Evening Sun readers, who stuck with the paper."