Picture of Sheri Burns
The Big Four-Oh

Right about the time this magazine was coming to life, I also was being born. Okay, truth be told, I was born a year earlier. But let’s not quibble. My point is that I was too young to know that, in some ways, American Way’s life would end up being very much like yours and mine. Over the past 40 years, it’s had its ups and downs, its good times and bad. It’s had people come and go and come again in its lifetime, and it’s often seen history repeat itself.

And even though I’ve been with this company for only 15 of those 40 years, I’ve seen incredible changes in that time. When I first arrived, we were just barely moving into the computer age. Prior to that, we employed a typesetter — a job that doesn’t even exist here anymore. We would actually paste down the pages of the magazine to boards that would then be photographed. If we needed to make a correction, it wasn’t a simple keystroke as it is today. Instead, the typesetter had to make the change, print it out, and then the art department would use an X-Acto knife to cut out the line in question and paste the corrected part in its place.

I also remember one of the guys in our office lobbying for a modem. He was met with all kinds of resistance. I think he finally bought one, hooked it up, and showed us all the advantages of being able to use something called the Internet and e-mail — all at the blazing speed of 2,400 bits per second.

Wow, am I aging myself! Let’s move on to this magazine’s significant birthday.

When the staff got together to go through past issues and dig up the most interesting nuggets from the last 40 years, it was as if we were going through old family albums! People oohed and aahed and laughed and grimaced at the past.

But our attention spans are short. And while our searching turned up a lot of great stuff, it also left us with a lot of stuff that could be great and a lot of holes that needed to be filled.

So after each of us wandered out and the lights to the conference room were turned off, all of that work fell to just two people. But they are two super people. Associate editor Anna Fialho and one of our newest employees, assistant editor Haley ­Shapley, spent untold hours pulling together all of the information, finding the missing bits, and organizing it all into the wealth of fascinating facts you can enjoy starting on page 19.

Once their work was done, though, it became the problem — I mean, challenge — of the art department. And designer Sam Solomon was the lucky guy on whose shoulders it fell to figure out how to fit all of our precious words in the allotted space. Additionally, Sam and project coordinator Betsy Semple tracked down all of the photos and graphics to make everything look good.

But thanks to them, and to everyone else who had a hand in this issue, I think you’ll find that we’ve captured a great snapshot of the way this magazine was and how it has grown and changed over the years — along with some interesting tidbits about changes to our lives.

However, there is still one question that remains unanswered. Today, microwaves — and the smell of burned popcorn — are as ubiquitous in the office as cubicles. So, what did people snack on in the office 40 years ago? If you have a clue, e-mail me at editor@americanwaymag.com. And if you happen to have a vintage American Way in your possession, we’d love to know why you’ve been hanging on to it for so long.

Signature of Sheri Burns