Saturday, April 22, 2006
My Dad..."The Eighth Wonder of the World" - A Repost by Popular Demand
"My Dad...Anthony Bodden In Earlier Days"
Never in a million years, did I ever think I'd be writing (typing) about a past that would not have a future.
But I do believe that the beauty of blogging is to help document for others, The Teachable Moments. And please know that these moments occur when we least expect them to.
Today was just an average day. My kids' school was closed (again) due to parking lot paving that needed to be completed last week. But due to the excessive rain, it prolonged the event to yet another day off. I was livid; "another day off?" I cried. But little did I know that my 8 year old son would have a life lesson that would far surpass any history lecture ever given to him.
So...with my kids out of school today, my mom was the DB (designated babysitter). They had a great day at the movies and a mandatory nap at noon (something I haven't been able to enforce). But what was really awesome was the card my mother gave to my son. It was a memento of a card given to my father from his friends from work. The card was special in many ways; so special that it made me rethink my youth.
The card was a picture of a Linotype printer. The same one that my dad worked on when he was a Linotype operator, many years ago. As a kid, I heard much about Linotype. I actually credit my father for being the reason behind my passion for technological pursuits. But never had I actually seen a real Linotype machine. The Royal was all I came close to when it came to technology; although I did dabble in the King's Quest Series (awesome game) through our IBM computer (it was an early 80s model).
Anyway, inside the card were well wishes to my dad from his co-workers who all played a role in the Bowne Co. of Linotype operators in NYC. These were men from different racial backgrounds, but they were brothers who truly loved eachother. So (my mom told me today) when my father received the card (about 5 years ago) he cried. Linotype printing (and his family) were his life. Consequently, my life was spending time typing on the Royal typewriter in an effort to emulate my dad. Then came that dreadful era of computers.
Computers entered the picture. The young bosses and computer savvy technicians were in full blast and had virtually taken over the industry and the jobs from these "men" who had been doing this forever. I still remember my dad saying, "gosh, they're not much older than you." I was probably 13 at the time mind you. Unfortunately, this ended that part of my father's profession and livelihood. He tried very hard to adapt to this new way of typesetting; but it never seemed to work out for him. I wonder why? And probably will never know because he is deceased now and chose NOT to discuss these issues with us. He was a very proud man. But I do know that my son was very interested in what this huge machine meant to his grandfather. He wants the card by him at all times now. This has of course sparked my interest in trying to understand my father better and this era that has become virtually obsolete. I'd also like to integrate its relevance into my journalism classes and how Linotype printing set the framework for computing (I think).
Here's what I found out (so far): "The Linotype Machine: Thomas Edison called it the "Eighth Wonder of the World"
"Mergenthaler's invention measured 7 feet tall, 6 feet wide and 6 feet deep. It allowed newspapers to compose pages four to five times faster and caused thousands of hand compositors to lose their jobs. A skilled Linotype operator could cast four to seven lines of type a minute. The Linotype operator's key strokes told the machine which letter molds to retrieve from the magazines and the machine assembled a row of metal molds, or matrices, that contained imprints of those characters. Then, the machine poured molten lead into the matrices and the result was a complete line of newspaper type, but in reverse, so that it would read properly when it transferred ink to the page. The machine automatically restored the matrices to the magazines after the lead was poured."
More to come.