I took quite a long vacation from writing a column. Friends and family finally got to me about my dereliction, so I’m back at it, and thoroughly enjoying writing, when I can finally get to it.
I used to have my own office, etc., here at the T-I. Now I’m using Sam’s old desk, which was made or refurbished by master woodworker, the late Dick Horstmann. Opening the middle front drawer is quite an experience. The first impression is: 5,000 loose paper clips. Then, a multitude of old dried up pens, several letter openers, various old membership cards, and on and on. Way back when our family was young, we hosted a Rotary exchange student from Australia. Lo and behold, there in the drawer is a box with a lock of his beautiful red hair. Go figure.
There hasn’t been a linotype machine here for ages. Yet there is a box of “sorts.” Sorts are solid brass things into which molten “pig” metal was injected to form words and sentences in the old days of “hot” metal printing. The old linotype machines would regularly produce squirts of hot metal, causing the operator to leap backwards and likely suffer burns anyway. Sam’s legs had scars from linotype squirts, but the majority of his scars were from playing football. He loved football. Me, not so much.
Back to the linotype machine. In beginning typing we are taught the middle range of keys spelled “a s d f j k l .” On the linotype machine you would get “e t o i n s h r d l u,” or etoin shrdlu. Phonetically, it didn’t mean a thing.
Pig metal was kept hot in a pot in the backshop. Fumes came off that pot, and I’m quite sure they weren’t healthy to breathe. It’s cold printing nowadays. Has been for years. Just like on a typewriter. Well, computer. I haven’t seen a typewriter around this place for years either.
There in the middle desk drawer is what I would identify as a streetcar token, from my years living in California. When or why Sam got it is anybody’s guess. I’ll take it home and examine it with a magnifying glass.
There’s nothing of any real value here, but some mystery. There is evidence that either I used this desk at some point, or that some of my stuff got put here including a lovely silver chain with a broken clasp. It would be worth it to get it fixed, if possible, for one of the girls.
One of the women of the Utah Press Association made a pair of earrings for herself from linotype sorts. Not my style.
Whoever gets (has) to clean out the venerable middle desk drawer eventually will have quite a task at hand, unless he or she has the fortitude to just empty the thing directly into the waste paper basket (never a basket in my experience). Trash barrel more likely. ‘Nuff for this week.