Partial at home: from lawn mowers to printing presses

Birney Imes

On the final morning of the week, 23-year-old Kadee Holmes stood atop The Dispatch’s over 70-year-old Goss Urbanite printing press, directing a stream of black ink into one of the 10 wells that supply the press rollers with ink.

Although not strenuous, the work is messy. The patina of the ink that the old press has acquired over the years transfers easily to skin and clothing.

Once the ink and water wells are filled, Kadee will remove the metal plates from the previous day’s race.

Then she will begin the process of making the plates by transferring the computer files of the day’s diary pages to a processor. As the plates come out of the processor, she punches and bends the plates and, along with the chief presser, Tom Hudson. put them on the press.

At 10 a.m. most days, Hudson will bring this hulking device to life that appears to be a relic of the industrial age.

As the press begins to spin, its two operators, like children climbing on a jungle gym, adjust the ink flow and the path of the newsprint as it moves through the press.

When they are satisfied with the print quality, Hudson will place a green card in the stream of newspapers traveling by conveyor to the mailroom, indicating the “right” papers and will increase the speed of the press.

Over the next hour and a half, the two pressmen will continue to monitor and make adjustments throughout the draw. Another Day’s Diary was born.

Some people run the other way when they sniff the job. This was never the case with Kadee Holmes.

As a child, she helped her grandfather John Oswalt work on lawn mowers, which she still does.

As she is with printing, Kadee was intrigued by the mechanics of machines.

Later, the horses entered the scene. First it was pleasure riding, then barrel racing, then working as a ranch hand at Joe Gillis’ horse farm on Old West Point Road.

“They are like giant dogs,” she says of the horses. “Some of them you can build a relationship with like you can with a dog.”

When her mother, Lisa, worked at The Dispatch and the downtown carrier retired, Kadee hit the road delivering the paper to downtown businesses.

“It was nice to get out and walk around,” she said of her paper itinerary. “Everyone was so nice.”

Kadee then began working part-time in customer service at the newspaper.

About a year ago, another opportunity to learn and grow quickly presented itself. The newspaper lacked a pressman.

Generally speaking, most members of The Dispatch’s press team seem to have been commandeered by the core cast, grizzled, usually gruff and taciturn old-timers.

Needless to say, Kadee, who has a youthful, bright personality and goes to the gym almost every day, does not fit this profile.

In the electronic present we live in, newspaper pressmen are a bit like farriers or coopers: they are hard to find. Like most newspapers, The Dispatch has had to grow.

When Dispatch production manager Mike Floyd asked Kadee if she was interested in helping out senior pressman Tom Hudson, she unsurprisingly said yes.

As with her grandfather’s lawnmowers, Kadee was intrigued by the mechanics of the job. And fearless by the challenge… and the setting.

“I liked how it all worked,” she said, “I wanted to be around the machine.”

Kadee’s hours of 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. most weekdays and 6 or 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday evening/Sunday morning are not conducive to an active social life. She’s okay with that.

“It’s in a hurry,” she says of handling the press. “There are a lot of little parts that control a lot of little things.”

Hudson is full of praise for the young press operator.

“She’s fast; she wants to learn,” he said. “If I had one more like her, we would.”

Birney Imes ([email protected]) is the former publisher of The Dispatch.

Birney Imes III is the former immediate editor of The Dispatch.

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