Yesterday's Technology . . . Today!

Just a Utility Boy

The second in a series of stories sent in by Greg Fischer (aka Linofish).

Says Greg: "All the incidents happened at the Trenton NJ Trentonian, between 1958 and 1965. This was at the old Front Street building. In 1965, we moved to a brand new plant with a new Hoe Colormatic letterpress. Much improved from the old building which was said to be used at one time by the Mercer Automoble Company.

Greg has previously supplied Metal Type with a large selection of Letterpress Limericks.

A RUN IN with the "Old guy." Seems he didn't get the word that I was hired as an apprentice. He thought I was the new utility helper, the previous one finally getting a comp apprenticeship.

So about the third day of my tenure, I was tending the Monotype material maker, hanging pigs, removing material, and something started to go wrong.

The pusher blade screw had loosened and disconnected from its actuating arm. So I threw the pump out and shut off the motor. I corrected it quickly and started the machine up again.

Just at that time, around the corner comes the old machinist. "I heard the caster stop! What happened?" I proudly related my accomplishment and he blew his top.

"You aint supposed to TOUCH the machines 'ceptin' plungers and bands! You keep yer hands off! Yer just a utility boy! You got no RIGHT to do things to the machines. You come git me when sumthin' happens!" A little vein jiggled on his forehead.

I just turned on my heel and went up to the foreman and explained that there was a misunderstanding, I was hired as an apprentice and if that meant being a utility helper for a year which would have been an extra year of "time" and lower pay, I didn't want the job.

The foreman says "Let's go upstairs" to see the general manager who happened to be talking to the publisher by the stairway at the time. I was on good terms with him as I worked in dispatch for five years and he straightened things out fast.

He says "Why shore, Slim here's th' machine (sic) apprentice. Day-um it, Jules, cain't anybody git nothin' straight 'round this day-um place! There's a day-um note downstairs but there's so day-um much junk nailed up on it you cain't hardly see th' board! DAY-UM! (He was a Texan.) :-)

Man, the old machinist was protective, I don't know if it was a union thing or an ego thing. He apologized. I rewired the death trap of a test panel he had built and we were buddies again.

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