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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Monday, March 14 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Brushes with technology

An item in Saturday's History Tidbits, "March 16 1922: Nanty Glo Journal gets Linotype machine," inspired a little reflection about my lifelong fascination with publishing technologies and my exposure to some of them. When I read that item, my first take was, "what did they do before that? Set the type by hand?" I'm sure they did, but for a few minutes I couldn't believe that the way Johann Gutenberg himself (c. 1397-1468, inventor of "movable type") had been setting type was still being used in 1922 for the fledgling Nanty Glo Journal. The item didn't specify that the Journal wasn't yet a year old when the Linotype machine was acquired, the paper having been launched on May 5, 1921.

As a technology, the Linotype was a veritable "factory" in a single machine, which at a keystroke found a zinc "master" of any letter or other character or space, dropped it into the right place in a line of type, and then poured molten lead over the master line, and as the lead cooled, pushed the "slug" outside the machine and added it to the "column" (more correctly, the "galley") of lines of lead type growing at the machine operator's side. The machine was introduced in the late 1880s.

I read in his obituary that Herman Sedloff, the Russia-born founder of the Journal and its publisher until the late 1960's, first came to Cambria County as a typesetter for a newspaper (no doubt a weekly) in Cresson. It is likely that it was then that he learned about the boom town of Nanty Glo and the fact that it had no newspaper of its own. As I recall, he returned to New York briefly (I'm guessing to look for backing) and returned to Nanty Glo, where he either took over a fledgling shopper-paper someone had started or through competitive advantage put it out of business, and published the first edition of the Journal.

Having known he came to the area as a typesetter, and knowing him not only as my boss but still the main typesetter for the Journal and other Mainline Newspapers when I joined the Journal fulltime in 1962, I assumed until I saw the "tidbit" on Saturday that his having been a typesetter in Cresson meant he had been a Linotype operator already then. And I'm still guessing, as a bright aggessive Jewish lad in New York that he had learned to operate a Linotype there and was leaning on that knowledge as the main technology on which to launch his career in newspaper publishing. But it's possible that he knew only hand typesetting at that time and that he first met a Linotype when he acquired his own machine in 1922.

I'm guessing that such a machine at that time, even if used ones were available, would have cost as much as 10 miners' annual salaries. But such a machine would have made him highly competitive in the county, and his skill at operating it was no doubt his main asset to his fledgling enterprise, or at least the one second only to his business acumen and drive.

I didn't expect that this topic would be worth a series, but it's apparent that this postcard is already full with lots of related observations remaining to be shared, so I'll continue on Wednesday.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Irish jokes

Murphy, O'Brien & Casey were sitting in a bar dicussing the words they would like to hear spoken over their coffins at their wakes. Casey says, "I would like them to say 'He was a wonderful family man- he always supported his wife and kids, and they never wanted for anything'". O' Brien says, "That's lovely Casey. But I would like to hear them say, 'He was a great man in the community - he undertook a lot of projects to make his community a better place.'" Murphy says, "Thats's very nice, O'Brien. But I would like to hear them say, 'Look! He's moving!'"

Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

Christian one-liners:
I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

Sent by Carl Essex   

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