There is nothing like the smell of a page, freshly grabbed from an off-set printer. I miss those days of helping out in ye olde print shop, I really do. My fingers would get ink stained, it was hotter then Hades and I so often would acquire a paper cut or two. All worth the price of admission. Most afternoons it was a labor of love and I never earned a paycheck, but I did earn so much more.
It started with me going to work for my Dad. I had been helping him off and on for a few years before that, just pitching in when he built a car wash, or delivering parts. It was the spring of '92 and jobs were hard to find, more or less, and I needed a job. The company was going to expand out, do more then just build car wash facilities. They needed a parts catalog and who better then the kid who went to college? I had no idea what I was doing, but they wanted me to do the catalog, use what I know, use my education.
As an important side note, I was spending time with the poetry gals, working on the mag and printing chapbooks and the like at the time. I was the junior assistant gopher guy. I was doing it to learn about poetry, printing, making books and the like, just to learn. I even did a chapbook for myself, a real labor of love but I am rather fond of it.
My Dad knew this guy, name of Frank, who had a small printing place down by the river. He did menus, business cards, floppy disk covers, the whole range of small print stuff. He also did catalogs for a few, select customers. Frank said he would do the catalog, but I had to do the work and help him in the shop, a trade of services to keep the catalog price reasonable. Seemed like a deal. We got a nice catalog and we did several more with Frank, all at a reasonable price with me learning to do the bulk of the work and helping out as a trade for better pricing. It worked rather well. It was a big time bonus for me.
I learned a lot helping Frank. He was a tough old guy, cranky and pretty rough around the edges, but smart as a whip. He knew his stuff, and the harder I worked, the more he taught. I learned a lot about the off-set press, how to use it, even helped fix it a few times. I also got to dig out the big printer trays and hunt for blocks and help set that up. Got a lot of ink on my hands, spent many a sweaty afternoon lugging boxes of paper and shipping out/delivering stuff. He also had a computer with all the bells and whistles for design that was the best of the best in 1992. He taught me how to use that as well.
Today, I am trying to lay out a small chapbook of my own poetry that I want to self publish. I got to thinking about Frank and the poetry gals and how they helped a kid learn something about it all. They were the pioneers twenty years ago, making little to no money. But what a wealth of creativity, hard work, and knowledge they possessed! I was thinking I better do something grand, use what I learned, do it right, not only for my self, but for them as well. Time to get back.
I wonder what they would have thought about electronic books?