The Power of the Press

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My in-laws are getting ready to move, and as they were packing—reaching into the far corners of the attic, they came across a vintage 1905 typewriter and a printing press. Based on e-mailed pictures I thought it was a mimeograph or spirits duplicator, which were mainstays of my grade school days. The mimeograph was better quality and was reserved for the school newspaper. The spirits duplicator was used for tests, and printed in purple; it also had a distinctive aroma of the solvent used to transfer the stencil to the papers.

When I actually saw it, though, it turned out to be an actual printing press, complete with type from the last printing job still in place. This wasn’t some toy with individual rubber letters; each line of type was cast in metal, and I believe it may have used some type of offset process. I have more research to do on it.

Today, we take it for granted that any thought, feeling, or whim can be shared with the world by Twitter, e-mail, blog or whatever. Here’s a selfie. Now here’s a picture of my spaghetti.

However, there was a time, not so long ago that the process was more time consuming. The sieve was more selective, and only those thoughts that made it through several critiques were shared with the world. That was not necessarily a bad thing.

About 90 percent of the e-mails, social media posts, and other messages I receive electronically is spam. Many news articles are followed by a nasty trail of anonymous troll droppings. So maybe the hassles of getting into print in days past was not so bad a thing.

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One response to “The Power of the Press

  1. Hey, Steve, I don’t want to date myself, but I really do know how to work that offset press. I learned when I was a kid and an old farmer friend of my dad’s needed a helper for a one page newsletter he sent out to his fellow farmers about the weather and government proceedings, etc. My dad volunteered me for the job. I learned to set type, to install the paper one page at a time, and to run the press. It was a trip. Yet, I learned and learned and learned.

    And, you’re right. At about age 6, what I learned most was to care for the “farmers”–and what was said and “inferred” in that newsletter.

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