THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

Fleeting Friday

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For the first time in a very long time I didn’t read one piece of work email today. I also took a break from sitting in front of the laptop for multiple hours. I really didn’t even pick up my camera today. When I did take my cell phone out to dinner with me tonight, I left it in the trunk of the car.

It’s nice to disconnect once in a while. That is why I picked the photo below. It took me back to the days when I started in Newspapers in Ellicott City. The Times Newspapers. And Mr Yates store was almost next door to us. When the summer months were upon us I’d walk over to Yates every day for a half-dozen 5 cent popsicle’s or maybe 3 10 cent ice cream sandwiches or both.

Those we’re the times indeed. Some of my fondest memories of the industry. Don’t get me wrong, it was some of the toughest and most brutal work I’ve done. But I fell in love with it and its people immediately. And also the function it served in the community. And after working in community and daily papers, I like the community the best. But of course times have changed drastically for them also.

Mr Yates behind his counter.
Photo by Mike Hartley

There wasn’t any air conditioning in the Engraving, Press and insert rooms at the building on Main Street. Fumes from tractor trailers delivering rolls of newsprint would asphyxiate the building for a few hours after deliveries. I’m convinced that flying newspapers off the press was some of the early damage I did to my back.

By the way, flying papers is two guys, one on each side of a conveyor belt that is spitting out newspapers at 24,000 per hour. You lean over and take 50 at a time, the press turns one slightly so you know where the break is. You take those papers to a table right behind or to the side of you and you bounce them so they are straight and compressed by a bear hug you give it. You jump back and pick up the next 50 after your partner gets his and you bounce and stack those on top of the other 50, hit the banding machine and stack the skid and run back for the next 50. And you do this till the press stops because the run is complete or you need to change paper rolls. Oh yeah, you help with that also instead of taking a break.

I mainly worked in Engraving but I got out to the pressroom a fair amount. They always were short on help and I loved overtime. Unloading newsprint trucks is the closest I think I’ve come to getting killed in my life. Some yahoo who loaded one truck didn’t chalk it properly. And if that happens you run for your life when multiple rolls of paper that weighed over a ton a piece get chasing you. We worked in areas filled with noxious photographic chemicals used on an industrial level. We handled large aluminium plates. We hand rubbed them for the long press runs with some noxious alcohol based nastiness. Thankfully there was a machine that did the low run plates, but we still loaded chemicals on that.

Oh yeah, those ultraviolet lights to burn the plates and those quarts pulse lights for the camera that wouldn’t fit in most living rooms now days. It was nice having a tan year round. At least they kept us warmer in the winter. We would turn them on if we weren’t busy sometimes to take the chill off.

We used to joke about having the skin peel off our fingertips after a long night. Of course you had to watch out for the fork and clamp truck drivers who weren’t always that good. I came out one morning around 2 am when I heard a loud boom out in the pressroom and one of the yahoos had driven the fork life spikes through a brick wall.

Old Stromberg Publications poster.

Ah those were the days. Those were some classic times. It taught me it was a hard charging business. It taught me how the old photos of heavy smokers and drinkers weren’t all smoke. There was a lot of truth to that. Its been 42 years now, (not including my paper delivery days) and I’m hoping to finish out the career in it.

That is always a tentative thing for an old-timer like myself. I hope I see the same path that they do for this. I’m trying to find new ways to enjoy it now. In some ways its like working in a new company and new industry. And it really is now after the last 5-10 years. And that is OK. I’ve seen dramatic change over all four decades and there is no reason for it to stop.

I guess I started this thinking about the days of little technology after disconnecting myself a bit this day. And I end this though with the thought that I’m meeting some of these old friends I started in this industry with tomorrow for breakfast. That has been the best gift of this long career. The wonderful friendships that have come out of it.


What a great Thursday night I had. HH with one of my best friends, pizza made to order, tons of sports on tv and Happy Hour turned into a 5 hour marathon of fun and laughs. Really good time. Thank you brother.

It’s nice to have brothers. I don’t have any blood brothers but these guys qualify in so many ways above and beyond. Funny thing. This brother was also a co-worker at first. But its a relationship for a lifetime.


Random Thoughts of the Day

If you bought 1 Mega Millions ticket you probably did it for the fun of it.

If you bought 5 or more you probably had a bad day or week at the job or have some dire need or bill facing you.

If you bought 10 or more you are getting desperate. You should have spent that money on friends and family.

If you bought 20 or more. You spent more than you can afford to if you’re an average Joe or less. Stop being selfish.

If you bought 50 or more you have too much money or a gambling problem. Stop being selfish and give some to charity or get help.

To those of you purchasing hundreds of tickets. Thank you, it makes winning off of one ticket that much more gratifying.

I got one ticket. OK I fess up. I also got one Powerball ticket for tomorrow night.

Author: Mike Hartley

With a lifetime and a half in the Newspaper industry I'm preparing for my retirement career as an Artist, Writer, Photographer and Video content provider. I'm a proud father of two wonderful children and I'm still married to the first girl I fell in love with and probably only one that would have me.

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