The Boring Word About Bigger and Better “Toys”

January 29, 1997

There’s a saying that we don’t give up our toys as we grow older, the toys just get bigger and more expensive. Perhaps the equipment we use in producing our newspaper may not appear as toys to most people but in my family they take up as much – or more – time, and money – than any hobby.

If you pay attention to details, you may have noticed the address portion of your newspaper has changed in the last month. Instead of a label stuck to the paper with glue, your name is printed right on he paper. This is thanks to a new ink-jet addressing machine we installed right after the new year. This is our newest toy.

The machine is the very latest in technology – or so they tell me – and so far it has lived up to all its promises. The job of addressing the newspaper used to take many hours and at time even went on all night if our temperamental labeler was not working properly. That same job takes a little over an hour, maybe two if my son decides to “fine tune” something.

That’s where the toy part comes in – the “fine tuning.” It seems no matter how high tech, – there is always something that can be “modified”, “fixed” or “improved.”

To me, the new machine is a wonder in itself, without any changes. Since I was a child I have helped with the addressing of our newspapers. I can remember rolling papers in envelopes that had been typed, hand-cranking a machine which used paper and cardboard stencils, and marveling when we got a new addressograph that used metal stencils.When Dad rigged up an electric eye that knew when we missed the paper it was a real miracle.

With each upgrade there was new technology to learn, a new language to master and additional skills to perfect. This time we have entered the computer age and I have decided to let the younger generation have their turn at the “fun.” I can still understand the mechanics of getting the paper through the feeding process. Just how these names get on the papers is another mystery which I can’t fully understand. They tell me little jets of ink too small to see come out of dozens of holes smaller than a human hair and somehow fall into just the right pattern to form your name and address. And this is accomplished in time I can’t even calculate. Last Friday we were sending the papers through at more than 7,000 per hour!

Our dad always enjoyed the new machines that produced his newspapers. He was always willing to try something new. He would have loved this new acquisition.