Mary Ann Barrows Reminisces in 1983


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from the Calhoun Chronicle dated 6/9/83.

A Day at the Chronicle
by Mary Ann Barrows

Sorry I don't know the date.  Even the year is just a guess, but it must have been about 1964, and I think it was summertime.

One of the greatest fears for any printer - in the days of hot type, when each line of type was set on a different piece of metal and the larger sizes of type such as were used in headlines and advertising were hand set, letter by letter, - was to "pi" the type.

All of these many hundreds of pieces of metal were assembled in page sizes in large trays that looked like a picture frame with no backing.  Everything had to fit together and be tightened, then carried back and put on the press.  To drop even one page meant hours of reassembling the work.  Once at the Glenville Democrat the front page was dropped and Editor Linn Hickman decided the only thing to do was have a blank front page with a brief explanation that it was impossible to reconstruct the whole page of a newspaper after it had been "pied."

So on this summer day in 1964, on a Tuesday noon, four pages of that week's edition of The Chronicle were ready to be printed.  The heavy frames were carried back and put on the press.  Paper was placed on the feed board, and the press was turned on and rolled over.

There was the loudest crash I ever heard in the printing office.  While the four pages had been put on the press bed, they had not been tightened and held in place with clamps; moving the press bed caused four pages of type, over 400 pounds of metal, to slip off the press bed and fall to the floor, and all in a big jumble.

What a mess!  My first thought was that the big cylinder which carried the paper through the press had fallen to the floor.  That would mean disaster.  When I got to the back of the press and saw that was only four pages of pied type, bad as that was, it was with the knowledge that we were not completely out of business and ruined.  That thought saved my sanity, and I tried to be reassuring to my husband, Olin Barrows, who had done the fateful deed which caused the terrible accident.

"We can put it back together.  We must put it back together." That's what we kept telling each other.  Harley Gayle Harris and Rusty Haynes happened to come in.  They pitched in to help, first picking up the many pieces scattered under the press.  Greta Roberts came back from lunch and started putting the lines of type together again.  For some reason Bernard Harris, our loyal pressman for seven years, was not there that day.  But there were five of us working at the job and we had it done in six hours time, by 6 p.m., and back on the press, and The Chronicle didn't have any blank pages.  It was out on time on Thursday.  We didn't even tell our readers what had happened to pages two, three, six and seven of the edition.