Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inside the Kerrville Daily Times -- in the late 1960s

One of the important assets of any community is its newspaper -- and in Kerrville, in the late 1960s, there were two newspapers -- the Kerrville Daily Times and the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
Recently I found a packet of negatives showing the pressroom of the Kerrville Daily Times as it received a new Goss Community printing press.  Included were images of the old pressroom and the old printing press.
As a printer myself, I am a little astonished by the old press.  It looks dangerous as heck.  Open gears, exposed belts, tools littering the floor, pressmen smoking, an extension cord snaking its way beside the machine.
It's hard to believe the news was printed on that little beast.  And that the little beast served a community as large as Kerrville at the time.
I'd appreciate your comments on these photos --

Click on any image to enlarge
Kerrville Daily Times, late 1960s, old printing press
This press scares me: it looks extremely dangerous

Kerrville Daily Times, late 1960s, composition and layout area

Kerrville Daily Times, late 1960s.  Hot lead composition
on a Meganthaler Linotype, which created type
by melting lead into to matrices.  Really.

Press operators, Kerrville Daily Times, late 1960s

Kerrville Daily Times, late 1960s
Moving in a new Goss Community Press.
Bill Dozier, publisher, is on the far right; barrel of ink
is right behind him.

Kerrville Daily Times, late 1960s
The Bill Dozier family beside their new press.
I particularly understand this photo; we have a similar one
of my family next to a new Heidelberg 4 color, taken years ago
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  1. The back room of the Kerrville Daily Times building had a very distinct smell to it. It was not a bad smell, just different than any other smell that I've experienced.

    It may have been the ink, the paper, the heat from the press, or even the melting lead in the linotype machines. I don't know.

    I cannot identify the origin, but it was a smell that I always enjoyed and looked forward to each day.

    The top photo shows one of the old presses. I do not see a concrete lined pit underneath the press, but it seems like there was one.

    I remember seeing one of the pressmen UNDER the press while it was running. He was trying to make an adjustment to the press.

    Perhaps it was a different printing room, and not the Daily Times room. I'm too old to remember all the places I've been over my lifetime.

    The old linotype machines were wonderful. There was a burner built into the machine that melted the lead while the operator was typing the day's copy.

    I can't remember if it was a lever or a pedal that controlled the lead type (after the operator had created it. I do remember that the machine made a great deal of noise. However, I loved those old machines. Even my Grandfather produced copy on a linotype machine.

    Kids used to take the 3 to 4 inch lead blocks that had holes or tubes that ran the length of the blocks. The kids used them to shoot paper wads at each other (putting lead in their mouths - hard to believe, but it happened every day).

    The typesetters would take the lead type that had been produced on the linotype machines and "set" a page for the newspaper.

    To set the page the typesetter would place an entire page of lead type on a large tray. That tray of type would print one page in the newspaper.

    I once saw a typesetter drop an entire tray of type onto the floor. That was hours of work that he dropped because the newspaper was late off the press that day.

    Printing was a very different world back then. Everything was much more labor intensive than it is today. Not to imply that today's printing is an easy task because it's not.

    Today's printing technology is also very demanding, but again, it is different from the technology of "yesteryear."

    I even remember when word processing was first introduced to the back rooms. In our printing room, there was one man, and only one man, who had the knowledge to set type on a computer.

    We looked at him in awe, even though we knew that his way was about to "shake up" our back room world.

    I miss the noise, smell, stress and chaos of the old printing rooms.

  2. The last picture of the Dozier family and the Press Machines is priceless !
    I worked for the KDT in the late 70's and early 80's as a photographer. The presses rolled out several other weekly papers and had hours that they rolled. It was good to know the schedule as the presses made the cement floor and wall vibrate and shudder, pretty much making it impossible to print negatives from an enlarger. We had to print photos fro the daily paper. Many of the photos shot were taken the same morning as the afternoon edition of the KDT. I remember having to go through two other darkrooms to get to the tiny closet that we printed photos in. Timing was everything, as the pressmen had 5 other papers to run.

    I remember when we got the "unisetter" type setting from computer terminals in the front of the building. People had to change their jobs and how they completed things to get the Daily out. At that time, I never thought of cameras that would work without film. Auto focus was only discussed as something of the future - perhaps a military secret !

    Bill and Eleanor Dozier were good to me. I was very young and they assigned me to a job that eventually would pay my way through college and provide a lifetime of supplemental work turning into income through a love of photography.

    In the old building of the KDT, I remember going in at night to process negatives from Friday night sports events. While waiting for my film to dry, I would go out in the paper roll storage area (the rolls seem to be about 4 foot in diameter) and drive the FORK LIFT around for fun ! Of course I NEVER told anyone else that I was playing my own version of "bumper cars" ! 30 plus years later, the stories of a teenager !

    Kerrville was a great place to grow up !


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