Yesterday's Technology . . . Today!

The Lights Came Down Low

The fourth 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.

THE COMPANY bought a rebuilt Monotype material maker from Hartzell Machine works and it was delivered to the back platform of the old building. There was no place ready yet at the new plant being built. (Typical planning). So it was decided to bring it inside the mail room and cover it up until its new home was ready.

The mail room which had the overhead door to the platform was itself located in front of the newsprint storage room and the tables and other mail room equipment would be moved out the way when newsprint was delivered.

They had an ancient Clark fork truck to unload it. It was gasoline powered and I don't believe it had any piston rings left judging from the huge quantities of blue smoke that emanated from it.

It would even seep upstairs into the composing room at times if the wind blew wrong. So they got one of the kids from dispatch who supposedly knew how to drive the thing to come down and fetch the Monotype. He went into the roll room and fired the Clark up and came speeding out into the mail room.

Unfortunately, he hadn't lowered the forks all the way down. Part of the fork frame was telescoped upward. Suddenly there were tremendous crashing sounds, sparks flew and glass rained down as he took out about six fluorescent fixtures hanging from the ceiling. He somehow missed getting hurt and luckily wore glasses which probably kept him from getting glass in his eyes but what a mess!

Well, the noise brought everybody down, including the publisher and the business manager. As usual, the publisher immediately ripped into the manager. (He loved doing it because it was his brother-in-law.)

"Hells Bells, Jules!!" he sez. "What on Gods green earth's th' matter with you lettin' a boy try to bring that caster in! Lucky he didn' get 'holt of it an' drop the day-um thing off the platform! You know what that machine cost me? Day-um people 'round here ain't got a grain of sense 't all!!"

The machinist and I picked up the fixtures and we triaged them and made three usable ones out of the injured. The manager sent out to an electrical supply house and got some new ones to make up the for the rest. They were just hung from chains and were plugged into outlet boxes, so restoring everything was easy. Like shop lights.

They called the night janitor in who also unloaded the newsprint trucks to bring the Mono in. (Should have done that in the first place.) That Clark was so old it had a gearshift and clutch pedal, like a car, not your one pedal foot control.

At least we didn't have to sweep up, though.

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