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It’s Back to Business, One Way or Another

April 24, 1995

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Eight desks sat in an otherwise empty office. Computer components were stacked on wooden pallets outside the door.

Editor David Page surveyed the room, lacking even a chair or pencil, and told a co-worker, ``We’re not publishing out of here today.″

His five-day-a-week business paper, The Journal Record, was one of many businesses struggling Monday to get back on their feet _ his in a new office.

The obstacles were many, beginning with yellow police tape and armed guards posted around the blast site.

Office workers _ many of whom stayed home in the days following Wednesday’s bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building _ returned downtown in force.

Those with offices inside the security perimeter had to wait in a line a half-block long to get the coveted photo badge allowing them inside. Even then, they were only allowed to check on things.

Page got back to the badly damaged Journal Record building to retrieve some computer records and a few women’s pocketbooks. The FBI wouldn’t let him take much else because it could be evidence.

His paper published abbreviated editions Friday and Saturday using borrowed computers and presses. By Wednesday, the staff expects to be working out of a building several blocks south of the damaged office, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

``It will be months, many months before we get back in there,″ Page said.

The police tape posed a puzzle for lawyer Michelle Robertson. Her office was just outside the perimeter, but access to her parking lot is within the perimeter.

``We can kind of drive down this alley. But the problem is, a lot of cars are parked in the alley. So basically, our parking lot is inaccessible,″ she said.

Businesses farther outside the bomb perimeter had to contend with traffic, compounded by closed streets and rescue vehicles.

Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., which has five buildings within three blocks of the blast site, shuttled some of its workers in from remote parking lots. Phone company workers were getting counseling in small groups but the company also offered private counseling to anyone who asked.

Everywhere clutches of people gathered, talk was of the bombing.

Robertson ate lunch downtown and described the mood on the street as ``somber″ and ``eerie.″

``I will say it’s not as sad as it was Thursday and Friday,″ she said. ``I think people are trying to put their lives back together and get back to work. We want to get our lives back.″

At McNutt Bros. Hallmark store, one of the few customers was a woman looking for a sympathy card for a friend who had lost someone in the bombing.

One florist was giving away the purple ribbons many people wore to show sympathy for the victims. An envelope next to the basket of ribbons was stuffed with donations.

Nayibe Gonzalez didn’t have an office to go to Monday. She works for a United Way agency, Community Counseling, that was located in the Downtown YMCA diagonally across from the bombed federal building.

``It’s supposed to be condemned,″ Gonzalez said.

At City Hall, people lined up to get permission to retrieve cars that have been impounded in the secured area since the explosion.

Police Lt. Mike Burkhart greeted the motorists with a map showing a blue area inside a red area. Cars in the blue area, closest to the bombing, were not being released. The FBI might need them for evidence.

``A lot of them have been destroyed,″ Burkhart said.

At the far south end of downtown, red-striped tents were going up in the Myriad Gardens, a public park where the annual Festival of the Arts is going ahead, as scheduled, beginning Tuesday.

The bright tents seemed to confirm the optimism of most downtown workers.

Said Page, the newspaper editor: ``Tell ’em we’re still in business.″

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