Yesterday's Technology . . . Today!

Australian Linotype Mechanic

IN APRIL 1948, when I was 15, my brother, who was a compositor at The Wagga Daily Advertiser, in New South Wales, got me a job as office boy. After six months I was indentured to serve a six year apprenticeship, as a Linotype Mechanic.

At that time the paper had a battery of ten Linotypes, a Ludlow and an Elrod machine.

The first day on the job as an apprentice, I was helping move a Linotype from the newspaper to the job printing department. As we moved the machine off the concrete base, it fell straight through the wooden floor, to the ground two feet below. The distributor hit me on the shoulder and sent me flying behind the next machine.

The mechanic said "Oh my God, look at the machine!" An old Linotype operator looking on said "Bugger the machine. Where's the Boy?"

The Boy was "OK" and got lots of experience helping rebuild the machine, after the broken parts were welded and the bent parts straightened. Fortunately there were a couple of good fitter-welders there.

I finished my apprenticeship and worked at The Advertiser for a couple of years as a tradesman.

We had a comp working with us from Launceston Tasmania. He was the first person I saw who could water-ski barefoot.

Anyhow he went back to Tassie to work at the Launceston Examiner. He wrote me a letter using the Examiner's stationery. I was on night work at the time, and the letter was posted on a notice board where mail and such were left for the night staff.

When I collected the letter there was also note from the Advertiser's General Manager, asking if I would come and see him the next day.

The letter was asking a favour and was of no consequence, except that when I saw the GM, he asked me if I'd like a transfer to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The GM of the SMH was part owner of the Wagga Advertiser. I said "Sure I'd love to." He said "Good I'll make the arrangements. You'll be better off there than in Launceston!"

This goes to prove, "You can't judge a letter by the envelope!"

Copyright © Dave Hughes 2000-2015. All rights reserved.