Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Printer

I learned about printing early for a simple reason: my father was a printer at a newspaper, in the days before computers. When I was a child, during the summer I would accompany him to his workplace during the day (he always worked nights)to pick up his salary check (in the days before direct deposit). It was a lot for a child to take in: huge linotype machines, long tables and below them thin, long drawers filled with metal letters -- both now likely to be found at antique shops and flea markets--and the smell of ink. I had my name etched in a piece of hot metal on most visits, courtesy of the linotype operator. I loved finding this printer paper toy in the Occupations series produced by Lion Coffee in the 1890s.

No newspaper visit was complete without a trip to the basement where the paper actually ran off the presses--I'm reminded of it whenever I see a movie that shows churning presses in the background as a headline spins into focus! This printing press cut-out ran in the Boston Sunday Globe, August 16, 1896. You can see how proud the Globe was to have the cutting edge printing technology of the era.

This newspaper paper doll circa 1940s (a friend of Tillie the Toiler, perhaps?) looks remarkably like my father as a young man just starting out as a printer for the New York Times.

Happy Father's Day to you all.

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