For an old printer like me, the Peabody Printing Museum is a real treasure. I drove over Saturday to get the tour from Wes “George” Bentz, who has been shining up the place for the past year or so. Based on what I saw the last time I was there and this recent trip, the place really glows.
I started to feel like an old codger when he was talking about pieces of equipment that were used more than a half century ago—I had run all of it myself, beginning as a teenager.
From the hand-fed open presses and the Kluge press to the California job cases where type was set by hand to the linotypes, the Babcock cylinder newspaper press and the addressograph, to the casting box and the smelter—it was all there and I knew how it all worked.
Jim Hiebert was back in town for the all-school reunion and to see family, as he has done for many years. He stopped in at the Free Press to see the old Avon Theater where he used to pop popcorn in the concessions corner at the south front of the building. He also swept out the place on Saturdays and was allowed to play music over the sound system for his personal enjoyment.
I hadn’t heard it firsthand before, but he said the floor actually sloped to the back to the big screen. He said somebody went to a lot of work to fill it back in so the floors are now level. (Good thing they did or there may be a pronounced slant on what is written here).
I don’t know if anyone has ever tried this besides me, but if you eat a Dove dark chocolate and then use some Listerine mouthwash the taste is amazing.
Getting back to the printing museum, there is one piece of equipment that holds a special place for me. When I was in college at KU, I spent many weekends smelting lead for the KU Printing Service. I could take my books and study while I waited for either the lead to melt or for the new ingots (pigs) I was making to cool.
Given the size of printing operations at the time, there was a large roomful of discarded lead slugs and whatnot that had accumulated during the week to smelt. It took a long time to get it shoveled into the lead box and processed.
It was one of the first recycling operations I had been involved with, beginning at the newspaper in Hillsboro.
With that job at KU I was able to finish college owing just $750 when all was said and done. I think most young graduates today would trade that amount for what they owe.
I had a National Defense Student Loan with interest at 8 percent and quarterly payments of about $20. I took the full 10 years to pay it off.
If you have trouble hearing, you may have a case of earwax buildup. I have had to get mine flushed out several times in recent years. It seems to me that it might be a waste of time for the nurses to clean this out, so I’m going to try to do it myself from now on.
While in Peabody last Saturday, I stayed for the lunch in the park, which was very good. I bought a ticket for homemade ice cream but they ran out before I could get some.
They had an excellent solution however—another drumstick and some more beans.
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