Friday, March 10, 2006
The way we were: 20 years ago at the Mosquito
After retiring from my engineering career 20 years ago, I started to work at the Mosquito. At that time, the paper was being assembled in part of Mary Diment's two-car garage on South Street.
We had three early Macintosh computers and one laser printer that serviced all of them. All the layout tables, word processors and desks made for a crowded environment, with everyone practically sitting on his or her neighbor's lap. There was no large-paper printer and no copier, so assembly was crude compared with today's operation.
All articles were typed as a long, single column that was cut up and pasted on the layout sheets in one, two or three columns, depending on the layout desired. We had a device that waxed the back of the pages, making them easy to paste down and move around. Headings for the articles then had to be redone to correspond with the format, and other headings had to be generated for the pages where articles continued. The layout consumed a great deal of time, so as much proofreading as possible was done before the article was cut up.
Since we had no photo processing capabilities, each photo we planned to use was pasted on a separate sheet of paper, with cropping marks indicated and the final photo size and location marked. Photos were processed by the printing company and pasted on the desired page. At the Mosquito, we cut a piece of red plastic sized to the final photo size and pasted it on the layout sheet where the photo would be placed.
Graphics presented another problem. These are the sketches used to fill various spaces on a page. The Mosquito has many booklets with graphics that are not copyrighted and are free to be used. However, we had no copier, so each graphic had to be cut out of the publication, pasted on a paper with the desired size indicated, and taken to a copy center in Concord where it was reduced or enlarged. It was then cut out again and pasted in the layout.
Advertising was a challenge too. Since the Mosquito did not have a computer that could process ads, it could only publish advertisements as they were submitted by the advertiser.
The Mosquito layout was always completed by Wednesday evening when the proofreaders made final corrections. Someone took the documents to the printer, the Beacon Press in Acton. If the printer noticed an error in the paper, someone had to go there on Wednesday evening and correct the copy. He then put them in their final form and printed the paper by photo offset. The papers were picked up from the printer and taken to the post office. Then, as now, they were mailed to everyone in town at no charge.
The work in those days was hectic, but people enjoyed what they were doing and knew exactly what they had to do to get the paper out. One of the nice things about working in Mary Diment's garage was that she always invited us into her home for staff birthday parties, occasional meetings and holiday celebrations. Mosquito staff brought goodies, but Mary always baked something for us too, and supplied the coffee.
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito