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Phil In The Blank

Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio

Back in time

July 27, 2011 - Digging through the archives for Mrs. Jean Saile's obituary story last week took me back to the 1970's.

I was a youngster, born in 1969, so no "Dazed and Confused" type memories for me. Mostly "Star Wars" and the Bicentennial fun.

Jean was editor of the Clarkston News from 1971-1977, a time of transition for the paper. Jim Sherman Sr. bought it in 1970. They established much of the format still used today, including the tabloid size, photo and story layout, and "Jim's Jottings."

I was too young to remember President Nixon and his troubles, but I do remember President Ford.

At the time, my parents had a Ford station wagon. I probably figured there was some kind of connection, but maybe not – I remember thinking the vehicle was called a "Fork."

The 70s is a long time ago in newspaper technology. No computers, Internet, cell phones, digital cameras, just manually operated everything.

Jean and her reporters would pound out their stories on typewriters, then send the copy to Oxford where typesetters would retype them into newspaper columns, ready for plating.

For pictures, they would use cameras with film, probably rolled in-house from film bought in bulk. They would send used canisters to Oxford where technicians would develop them in a darkroom. They would then send negatives or contact sheets back to Clarkston where reporters would look at them through an eye loop, select photos they want, and send them back to Oxford. Photo technicians would then make prints out of those choices.

She'd go to Oxford on Tuesdays, and lay out copy and prints, wielding razor blades and hot wax, probably with the help of more technicians.

Now, the work of about a dozen technicians retyping copy, processing film, making prints, laying out pages, all with chemicals, hot wax, and razor blades, I can do on my laptop computer sitting on my couch at home watching television.

It may not be the moon colonies, flying cars, and robots people back then expected us to have by now, but it's still pretty amazing.

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