when i was a kid, my dad worked nights for a newspaper as a pressman. every wednesday (back when people used to get paid every week) he would take me down to the paper so he could pick up his paycheck. i got to experience the giant presses, the smell of ink (oh, how i love the smell of ink!) and the comradery of working there from a young age. my dad would walk me around and show me all the different departments and i decided i, too, wanted to work there one day.
when i was 18, after i graduated from high school, my dad brought me home an application for the news paste-up department. i was so excited, that was the department i had fallen in love with during our tours. i applied and the day before my 19th birthday, i started working the swing shift in the news paste-up department at the press-enterprise newspaper.
it was all so fascinating. the big wooden banks covered with plexi-glass sheets with all the newspaper boards lined up by sections waiting to be decorated with the day's happenings was so beautiful to me. grabbing stories as they came out of typesetting machines in galley strips, running them through a melted waxer to stick them to the boards and cutting the galley strips down to size with xacto blades. there was skill, there was precision and there was artistry.
i learned everything i could, i couldn't get enough. i would even go over to other departments to learn what they did and help them out if we were slow. i loved it!
but, as much as i loved the work, what really made it was the people. some of the people i was now working with i had known since i was born and some from my dad walking me through on payday wednesdays. so, automatically, i was surrounded by not only co-workers, but family.
i'm not going to pretend it was all peaches. like any job it had it's not so good moments and like friends and family we didn't all always get along like happiness and rainbows and remember, i started when i was 19, i still had a lot of rebellion to go through. but, all in all, my memories are the good ones.
today, i got to see a lot of those people again. since we are all so close, we do keep in touch on facebook and we've seen each other at a few funerals, but today was different. today was to celebrate something we all had in common. a love of the newspaper business. the old newspaper business and the people that made it all happen.
we laughed, we cried, we fell back into old times. we all know so much about each other and each other's families, it was great to catch up with everyone and to be in a room full of familiar faces, laughter and love.
i just keep thinking about that line from the movie stand by me...
"i never had any friends later like the ones i had when i was 12. geez, does anyone?"but for me, it's coworkers and i was 19-30 years old.
when i left the newspaper, i didn't realize what a great thing we all had. since i was so young when i started, i guess i thought every job would be like that. it's just not. we had something special and i'll always cherish those years and the relationships i was able to form because of them.