June 18, 2011

Rememberies of the Star Herald

’76 – ’79-ish.

1) Mrs. Carroll (Editor of the weekly she inherited it from relatives before her, sold it to the the publisher in Corning, a decade before I started working there)l: Rick, you’re fired!

Me: Again! Why this time?

She: You turned the air conditioner thermostat up to 78. (This in the middle of the gas crisis in the late 70’s when we were trying to conserve.)

2) I relearned to type, without watching my hands, at a vo-tech class in the evenings, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

3) We got a new typesetting computer. It had one “direct console” where you could feed information directly into the machine (This is where I did advertising copy). Everything else was done on “punch-tape” keyboards. When type was set, I set the “tape” on a reader where it was “read” by the machine and it set type onto photographic paper through “filmstrips” of fonts, in perfect columns that were developed and fixed by the computer. It was a big computer, but small for its day, the size of say, a refrigerator. Columns came out of the machine ready to cut and, after feeding through a gizmo that coated the back of the strip with sticky wax, stick on the paste-ups of each page.

4) I was taught by a high-school, part-time employee, to develop black-and-white pictures in the dark-room. This is most delicious. I remember standing in the cool-completely dark, feeling the opening of the camera, removing the wide-format film from the Yashica. Peeling off the paper by feel, threading it into a spool that fit into a canister, pouring the chemicals into the top of it. Turning the knob by every count of 30 or so until some minutes were done. Hanging the film to dry. When it came to make prints, under the red light, making one that wasn’t quite right and having learned and practiced, Cropping, “dodging” out certain areas for a little more light or a little less, depending. I loved that dark, cool, quiet space, working on something I knew I could make better.


  1. Amanda Mae on June 18th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    “I loved that dark, cool, quiet space, working on something I knew I could make better.”

    Beautiful Rick!

  2. Sheila Ryan on June 18th, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Love all the physical rememberies, Rick. They remind me of sitting all alone in the radio station New Year’s Eve at the crack of 1983 and cueing up the reel featuring a performance by R.E.M., who’d released their EP Chronic Town back in the old year.

    Yep. Reel. To. Reel.

  3. Sheila Ryan on June 18th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Somehow it happened that I never worked as a keypunch operator. Surely this is unusual for a woman of my generation.

  4. Cindy Scroggins on June 18th, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you, Rick. This is beautiful.

  5. Sheila Ryan on June 18th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    “Again! Why this time?”

  6. Daryl Scroggins on June 18th, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Feeling the opening of the camera.

    This is beautiful, Rick. Thank you.

  7. Carole Corlew on June 19th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Goodness. Your memories are my memories. Just up the road some. I also didn’t get fired for fiddling with the thermostat. And I was hired as managing editor of one of those little papers partly because I could take the ad photos and do darkroom work, too. I would go into that darkroom and stay for hours without realizing it.

    There was so much physicality. Little exacto knives and stories and headlines cut out and pasted on pages. Metal rulers. And I laughed about your high school employee. I had two. One wrote the farm column.

    It is coming full circle, in a sense. The new journalism needs kids who do everything — report, video, audio, edit, reformat according to different needs, all on the laptop and churn it everywhere from home or a spot at Starbucks. Need tech support? You’re it. Dude.

    Back to the future, in an odd way.

  8. Sheila Ryan on June 19th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I love X-acto knives and literal cutting and pasting. And those blue pencils.

    Now I am thinking of Daryl’s posts about his print shop experience.

  9. Sheila Ryan on June 19th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Also, darkrooms are magical places.

  10. Carole Corlew on June 19th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    You even know how to spell it, Shelia — X-acto. I went from using one in Boaz, AL, to standing there twiddling my thumbs watching union press guys use them in Birmingham. I wasn’t supposed to touch! I wanted to grab the dang thing and cut in the headline myself.

    Mr. B. had to borrow one of mine to use for a physics experiment, build a balsa wood bridge that would hold the weight of a bunch of bricks. Be VERY careful, I said, this knife is super sharp, you will cut off your finger. Mr. confident said no problem. Within about a minute he was charging up the stairs yelling to the Iowan WHERE’S MOM?????!!!!! It was just a small cut but you know how the finger bleeds. The good thing is now Mr. B. KNOWS first-hand (tee hee) the evil genuis of the X-acto.

  11. Sheila Ryan on June 19th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Carole, I have a lovely little hinged box, like a plain and simple jewelry box — with little inset grooves for three handles and for a heap of different X-acto blades.

    Finger cuts are spectacular. My first was at age eleven. Linoleum block print. I’ve done a couple more since then. Matting and framing. Cutting the mats by hand.

    Once when working in a space where there was no running water close to hand. The library director’s office was closer than the nearest public bathroom, so that is where I went. His administrative assistant nearly fainted, I was spurting so violently. But it was no big deal.

  12. Sheila Ryan on June 19th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    “The evil genius of the X-acto.” I love that. A super-villain. Maybe if Clark Kent were simply Clark Kent and not Superman, his nemesis would not be Lex Luthor but the Evil Genius of the X-acto.

  13. Rick Neece on June 19th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    There are so many things X-actos are good for. I keep one in the pencil jar on the desk upstairs (point-down) and one in the pencil tray in my desk at work (just laying there, one-a-these-days I’ll stick my hand in there and get a surprise). I buy blades by the hundred to make sure I’ve always got a sharp one.

    I love this thread. I love y’all.

  14. Carole Corlew on June 19th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I love the little hinged box, Shelia. I keep my X-actos in with the jewelry making things. But you are right, Rick, they are good for so much more. At stores I will stand and stare at them. Different ones to choose from now. Not just plain old X-actos anymore, although I buy and keep the plain ones. One day I probably will buy a fancy X-acto and see if it is worth the fuss.

    And the evil genuis X-acto could be a comic strip character featuring an archivist who is alway cutting herself as part of the plot.

  15. Amanda Mae on June 19th, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I put a knife all the way through my hand when doing a linoleum block print.