Saturday, March 29, 2014

The craft: Passed on from one generation to another



Fifty or sixty years ago, you could wander into a newspaper office and take up a craft that was pretty much same as it had been for 150 years.
Now, as noted in a recent CBS Sunday Morning story, there is really only one Saguache Crescent, run by Dean Coombs, last of the hot-type publishers.
"The press itself dates to about 1915 -- about as long as the Coombs family has been publishing the Crescent, every week, since 1917. The same intricate choreography -- perfected and passed on, one generation to the next," according to CBS.
"They hooked my baby carriage to the back of that press," Coombs said. "The carriage would go back and forth," rocking him to sleep.
"To put it another way, Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain could walk into the Crescent office and go right to work. The Linotype machine might be a novelty to Franklin (Twain lost heavily with an investment in a competing machine which, he claimed, “could do everything a human printer can do except get drunk on Saturday night,”) but the cases of hand-set type would be familiar, as would the mutton quads, rules, dingbats, platen pins, chases, quoins, galley trays, and proof press," wrote the late Ed Quillen, way back in 1995.
"I don't actually think there might even be another newspaper in the world" using Linotype, Coombs said. "There are none on the United States."
The Courier, which is a direct descendant of several papers from from Teller County, started by one Ernest Chapin Gard, who also founded The Palmer Lake Herald, and the Monument Register, as well as about 20 other papers around the country, 11 of them in Colorado.
Gold’s discovery in the Cripple Creek District precipitated Gard and his partner’s race to become the first newspaper in Cripple Creek. He pulled out all the stops to beat William McRea by four days, publishing the first edition of the Cripple Creek Crusher on Dec. 4, 1891.  Descendant of the Crusher and other consolidations, The Cripple Creek Gold Rush still published until 2007 when it became incorporated into Pikes Peak Courier View, of Woodland Park. It is now simply the Pikes Peak Courier.
Gard, and partner W.S. Neal, celebrated the feat by printing in gilded ink — a layer of gold over the regular ink — for the inaugural edition. McRea, four days late and perhaps more than a dollar short, sported vermilion headlines that said “New Gold Field.”
To confuse matters a bit more, the Geddes family armed with a loan from the Golden Cycle Corporation,  Kenneth and Margaret, bought the daily Times-Record of the district on 
April 1, 1941. Descendant of the Crusher and the product of consolidations of the Victor Record and the Cripple Creek Times, the Geddes closed on the deal, and then had to turn around and get an eight-page paper out that afternoon.
"We went to the office the morning after we settled the deal and realized we have to fill up eight pages in time to distribute by 5 p.m.," wrote Margaret Geddes in "Gold Camp Indian Summer."
"We discovered how our lives would be changed on the first day. We met the force, which included a foreman, two Linotype operators, two men for general shop work — and then there was Freddie., who admitted he had a difficult time with second grade," Geddes wrote.
"Freddie had a little boy, Eugene, who also had trouble with second grade. Eugene was bound to be musical, his daddy said, 'since he was brought up around a piano.'"
My own history is reflected similarly. Having grown up watching the hot-type Dolores Star being put to bed every week, I was bound to be inked-stained, as I was brought up around a Linotype. The craft, it seems, is passed on from one generation to the next.

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