Whitesburg KY

Printing equipment I’ve used in my 63-year career

When I reported to Lackland Air Field, Texas in 1948 for my ‘on the job training’ in my new printing career field at the base reproduction department, I was introduced to the mimeograph machine and collating equipment. I quickly learned to operate both machines. With me having large hands, I could jog a ream of paper with the best of them. At the time, Lackland was one of two bases in the U.S. that trained men and women in the Army Air Corps. We printed mostly forms and shipping orders for the graduating trainees.

Sitting in the corner collecting dust was a strange piece of printing equipment that no one in the shop knew anything about. I opened a door on the machine and found some papers, along with the operator’s manual. I took the papers to my barracks and read them many times over the next few days. I got permission from our boss, who was a non-printer, for me to check out this press and see if I could get it running in my spare time.

It was an old Multilith Model 1250, built many years ago. While trying to operate this press, the other printers watched me and made fun of me. It was near Christmas, and I made two plates using reproducing pencils and printed my first job. It was a Christmas card, printed in two colors, black and green, and turned out pretty good. I then printed some of the Christmas cards with the other printers’ names on them. They loved the cards. From that moment on, I was the offset pressman.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950 and I was sent to Sampson Air Base, N.Y., to open the print shop on that new base, we bought many models of different offset equipment for the new printers being assigned to the print shop. I was asked by the Haloid Corporation of Rochester, N.Y., when we rented the equipment, to help them iron out the bugs. We did just that and found a lot of things wrong with both pieces of equipment. Later, Haloid Corporation became Xerox. (I should have bought some stock then.)

In 1971, my last three months in Germany, I was allowed to work in our field printing plant, operating all printing equipment, letter presses, large paper cutters, electric staplers, folding equipment and collators. At the time I thought I would retire, but I went to the Pentagon and worked another 18 months before retirement.

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