by Frances Edstrom
Every now and then someone at the Winona Post will get an inexplicable urge to clean the office. I was the beneficiary of that this week. I came into the office and on my chair (the only place in my office that is not cluttered with papers) was a clipping from a June 1989 Post. No, whoever it was did not clean my office; that’s a hanging offense.
We had just moved from the first floor and basement of 56 E. Second Street to the first and second floors and basement of 64 E. Second Street. There were photos of us, taken by Jerome Christenson, assembling desks, working on makeshift tables, and trying to fit the detritus from our old offices into our new ones. Christie Hughes and Linda Lewis were putting pages together with paper, hot wax and X-ACTO knives. Colette Killian was setting type on a Compugraphic machine, a phototypesetter.
There wasn’t a computer in sight.
We got into the newspaper business in 1971, just as hot metal typesetting was phasing out in favor of the easier phototypesetting. That fact enabled people like us to go into the newspaper and printing business without the enormous outlay of capital once required.
It wasn’t long after the move to 64 E. Second Street that computers entered our lives. We had used a crude word processor and dot matrix printer, but when Apple came out with a computer we could afford, we jumped on it. Now, our computers are our lifelines, the entire pre-press routine is simplified by 10, and we no longer watch the sun rise in the morning after putting the paper to bed. The latest any Post employee has to work is midnight or so, delivering bundles to the carriers on Tuesday and Friday nights. That driver’s life is not yet the beneficiary of the digital age, except at the gas pump.
The move to bigger quarters was a good one. John and I got our own offices and desks. In the old place, we shared not only the office and desk, but a phone. The art department went from huge typesetting machines and layout tables, at which the artists worked either on high stools or standing up, to regular desks and silent computers. The salespeople have their own offices, and now with cell phones, we can bug them even when they are in the field. Gone are the piles of ledgers in bookkeeping, but the paperless society that some envisioned with the dawn of the computer age has not materialized. We each have a box behind our desk for recycling the reams of paper we go through. Even the mail room has evolved, with machines replacing hand-stuffing. The press room is still ink and paper, but the ink is soy-based and the paper re-wound.
Some things don’t change. We still have a proofreader, a luxury many people have done away with in favor of the computer spellchecker. Unfortunately, the spellchecker doesn’t catch the difference between “public meeting” and “pubic meeting.” Of course we still make errors, the computer age has not solved the human problem.
Do I miss the old days? No. But I do miss the people.
Happy birthday, Andie!
Andie Gish, my younger granddaughter, is now five years old. Her cousin, Harry, who is still four, is coming down to help her celebrate. They are going to Chuck E. Cheese for a little party. I have declined. There are very few things I have control over in my life, and not being assaulted by noise bombs and missing out on a tasty lunch are two of them. I have never been to a CEC and am not going to start now. I have a date with Andie to go shopping, which I am hoping is less stressful, but could turn out to be a joke on me.
If you had gotten on the wrong side of Andie sometime in the last couple of months, you may have been uninvited to her birthday party. I was, several times. In her young life, she has even less control over events than I do, so having the power to invite and un-invite has been a heady experience.
The only trouble is, once the party is over, she is back to being powerless. Well, except for withholding hugs and kisses. Her older sister, Peyton, is a worldly seven years old, and has almost figured out that her power comes naturally to her as the oldest child. (I swear I didn’t tell her, although as an oldest child myself, I was tempted to share the good news.) It has taken her a while to figure it out, and she still has trouble putting the fear of God in Andie, but I’m sure that will come.
Happy Birthday, Andie!