In the late 1950s, while I was non-commissioned officer in charge of printing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Bill Taliaferro, office manager for Syar Industries, visited me. Bill had been my boss overseas at Hickam Field, Hawaii in 1955. He was now retired from the military and working for Syar.
He asked me to set up a print shop for Syar and come in weekends to do its printing. At the time, Syar was a large construction company with hundreds of employees in four counties. I would be printing a small newspaper for the employees, forms, labels for their winery, scorecards for its golf course, and photos of homes it was selling.
With my large family, I could use the extra money.
I started looking around and found a print shop that went out of business long ago. The printer had left the ink in an old model 1250 Multilith offset press. All the rollers were a mess. The good part was they had lots of supplies.
I took a three-day pass from the military, and spent the time sandblasting the rollers and cleaning and making adjustments to get the press in working order.
On the third day, I was ready to print my first job. Some of the employees came to the shop to see their first printing equipment. C.M. Syar, the owner, came also. He called me Sarge for years after that first day, and I always called him Boss. He loved it. His son Jim came by. He had just gotten out of the military and was working on the paving crew.
I printed some forms for my first job. I was very lucky. The old press ran better than I thought it would. The forms looked great and the employees thought I was the best printer in the world.
I worked part time for Syar until I was assigned to Germany in October 1968. I retired from the Pentagon in November 1972, and went back to California and worked full time at Syar Industries until I was 81 years old.
The Syars treated me great. I could not have asked for a better job. I also played on the company softball team.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)