On Sunday morning, Oct. 8, 1972, fire destroyed The Times and Democrat’s physical plant in downtown Orangeburg. From tragedy was born the newspaper career of Ramona “Mona” Garrick of Orangeburg.

On Nov. 8, 1972, exactly a month after the fire, Garrick began service at The T&D that would see her work in roles from advertising production to graphic artist. On March 31, 2023, more than 50 years later, Garrick retired.

She leaves the newspaper with memories dating back to that time in 1972 when the newspaper scrambled to produce every day’s edition (which Garrick and others did) in the wake of the fire. She recalls the beginning.

“After The T&D building fire in October 1972, T&D Publisher Dean B. Livingston had a meeting and said he needed two more employees in the ad design part of advertising. Momma (Lillian ‘Teen’ Bookhart, who spent 38 years at The T&D) had been working here for a year and she asked if he would consider hiring her daughter.”

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“He hired me and I started on Nov. 8, 1972. He didn’t tell me exactly what I would be doing, just that I would have to know how to type. Thank goodness, I did! I’ve been in the same department since then.”

The advertising department is no different from all of the newspaper in having seen changes over a half-century.

“The changes since 1972 have been amazing. What used to take hours to do can now be done in less than 30 minutes,” Garrick said, citing an example.

“A&P Grocery would run a double truck (two-page spread) every week — it took two days to create the ad. Now, Fogle’s Piggly Wiggly runs four pages and it takes less than four hours to build them. We only had a limited amount of fonts and only eight point sizes for type: 10, 12, 14, 18, 24, 36, 48 and 72. I can’t believe I can remember them! Now we have over a 100 fonts and unlimited point sizes.”

And there are memories beyond her T&D start:

• “Three months after I started, we had the 24-inch-deep snowstorm of 1973. When I was able to get to work, I flagged down an Army truck that brought me, my dog and a suitcase to town. I spent that night with one of the girls that worked with me; she lived in town, so we didn’t have far to go after work.”

• “When Hugo went through in 1989, The T&D had no electricity. Cathy Hughes (then-advertising director and later publisher) had power at her house in North, so she came and got me and Malissa Smith and our computers and took us to her house to work. While we were working, Cathy’s daughter made us cookies. I felt so bad because back at work, they were using a generator to power some of the computers.”

• “Another memory I have is being here all day on a Sunday with Mr. Livingston working on The T&D 100th anniversary section in 1981. We had 100 pages spread out everywhere. It made me feel important when he asked me to work with him on that day.”

Hughes, the now-retired publisher, served with Garrick for 50 years.

“I worked with many extraordinary people during my 50-year career at The Times and Democrat, and Mona Garrick should be the role model for every one of them,” Hughes said. “Even-tempered, smart and conscientious, Mona could be called ‘Ms. Dependability.’ And depend on her we did, and I can honestly say she never let anyone down.”

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T&D Operations Director Georgianne Walton, who has been at the newspaper for 46 years, has known Garrick since before their days at The T&D.

“Not only is Mona my co-worker, but she is also my cousin, so we have spent a lot of time together and she is very dear to me. We have a lot of memories at work and outside of work. She is one of the hardest-working employees we have and is always willing to help others in any way. She will be missed greatly and I wish the best for her in retirement.”

As to others with whom Garrick has worked, she has a special memory.

“One person who had a special place in my heart was James Young Starratt, better known as J.Y. He was the grandfather I never had, always happy and so caring. My younger son, James Tanner Garrick, was named after him. He passed away a few months before Tanner was born. I could try and list everyone that has touched my heart but I’m afraid I may leave someone out. Like I said, I will truly miss all of my T&D family!”

And she is proud of her career and the newspaper she served for 50 years.

“I have lots of memories working with so many wonderful people and some real characters! That always made work interesting! I have always loved what I do and never found it boring. It could be very challenging at times but there was always a newspaper printed and delivered. I’ve always been so proud of our newspaper and how we have become a family always doing our best to put out a good product.”

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Contact the writer: mbrown@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD

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