Sign Languish

Remember the Miami News? Remember its great big neon sign? Want it?

His efforts to give away the remnant began with the obvious: He called the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, which had inherited the paper's photo archives. "They said there was no room at the inn," says Miller, who next tried Miami-Dade Community College's south campus; he thought the sign would be a perfect complement to their new communications building. "They sent out inspectors," the NEWSman recalls, "but the college found it inappropriate."

He called local historian and erstwhile Miami News editor Howard Kleinberg, who wasn't interested, either. "I did say no," Kleinberg confirms. "He's been trying to force those letters off on people all over town. The sign is neither significant nor historic. The word news doesn't mean a damn thing by itself. The sign wasn't put up by the Miami News, it was put up by the Miami Herald on the Herald building. Why he took it in the first place I'll never know. He seems to be stuck with it."

Disappointed but undeterred, Miller heard from an intermediary that the sign was wanted by Mark Soyka, co-owner of the News Cafe, the popular Ocean Drive eatery. "I never contacted the News Cafe," Miller says. "He was going to open at another location and he wanted to put the sign there. But he didn't call me, and I'm not going to call him. I enjoy eating at the News Cafe, but I'm interested in an appropriate home, not a commercial place."

Finally the old journalist turned to what most journalists turn to when they're desperate -- fellow journalists. Once again, Miller's efforts to memorialize the News required the assistance of those who most benefited from its death. He called Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence, Jr. "They were very cooperative," Miller reports. "The Herald guys tried and tried to place it. They went through the same routine I did; they went to community service organizations."

"I contacted several former Miami News people as well," Miller adds. "Nothing."

Miller says that if he can't find a respectable site for the sign within the next few weeks, he'll be forced to transport it north, rent a warehouse in West Palm Beach, and store it there.

He says he tried the Herald once more late last month, as the sale of his house neared completion. "They were my last resource," he laments.

Anyone interested in helping Miller find a suitable spot for the largest remaining vestige of Miami's oldest newspaper can call him at 407-585-3593.

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