A Winters Express opinion column
By Charley Wallace
Cold weather brings too much time spent inside. I do find time for weekly walks, or drives — on a golf course — but it is a little chilly for a motorcycle ride to the coast. I find myself sitting in front of a fire, reading or playing on my iPad. Our new dog, Willy, still wants to go on neighborhood walks, and he is pretty insistent no matter what the weather is outside. He didn’t mind the wind last week and doesn’t even mind the rain, if it ever comes back. I’ll admit that I escape to my office and leave those extra dog walks to Sherri.
My printing company has been busy lately, which is a good thing, even if I’m not used to putting in hours running my old press. Running a press run is good for your soul — like driving a tractor, it is relaxing as long as everything goes smoothly.
My 1950 Heidelberg windmill just might be the most dependable printing press ever made. Heidelberg, Germany, started making this type of press in the 1920s, called a windmill because of the way its two arms pick up and drop off sheets of paper. They stopped making them in 1985, but the rumor is that they sold 300,000 Heidelberg windmills worldwide and they are still running.
We were both made in 1950, but the windmill is in much better shape. Right next to the windmill is a Chandler and Price, an American press from 1917. Just a little bit older than the design of a windmill, but a century behind in innovation. The Chandler and Price is hand fed, meaning you use your hands to put in and take out pieces of paper between closing platens. It is clunky and slow enough that you don’t have to worry about getting your hand smashed, but don’t mention this to the workers’ comp people.
Both presses are called letterpress, where you literally press the paper between platens and the printing plate. They were my inspiration in calling my print shop a museum, which has become a real museum with the help of the Historical Society of Winters. It is nice to have an office to go to, even if it is just to try and organize 70 years of family hoarding.
If I clean out a space, there is an office pool to guess how long it will be before something else piles up in its place. If you guess two days, you are probably off by a lot. Which brings up the question of what do you do with a lot of stuff/junk that some people think has value, but if you try to give it away — people just stare at you.
Last week, I took 50 years of U.S. Mint proof sets, coins from each year, to a coin dealer in Davis, along with some other odd coins from around the world. He looked at the box and said it would take an hour to look up the price of all of the coins.
My permanent tenant and I went across the street for lunch and when we came back he had $368 written on a piece of paper. I held up the bag of odd coins that were on the edge of the counter and asked if he didn’t want those. “The price is for everything you brought in.” I said sold, and he just shook his head and said, “I was hoping you would say no.” It is going to take him a long time to get rid of a box of stuff, but it is out of my office.
If you are wondering where all of the proof sets came from — Christmas presents from my father. He found an easy way to shop and gave each of us a proof set each year, with first a $20 and later, a $100 bill inside. Made his Christmas shopping easy and made all of us happy. I regifted a few of the coin sets with our kids and grandkids birth years, but there are only five of them.
Try and stay busy and have a good week.