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Editorials Serving those who have served us



I recently attended the groundbreaking for a facility that Interfaith Community Services is building in Escondido to serve homeless veterans as well as veterans who are recovering from surgery. The facility, known as the Veteran and Family Resource Center, will be located on Ash Street.

From time to time we are reminded how much we owe our veterans and how close to the brink many of us are when it comes to being homeless or having nowhere to turn.

In the eighteen months since my home burned down on Palomar Mountain I’ve come to understand that particular issue a little more clearly since I’ve had to rely on the help of wonderful friends to help get me through this situation.

But what I have experienced is as nothing compared to some of the challenges that our veterans face as they return from hellish duty in barbaric corners of the world such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Most people I know, including myself, have never experienced life as a soldier or member of the Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps. All we can do is at least try to empathize with these heroes.

Imagine being affected with PTSD and then having to deal with not having a place to live. Add onto that the medical problems that veterans often have as a result of their service and it’s no wonder that people such as Supervisor Bill Horn are redoubling their efforts to help veterans. Horn’s concern for fellow veterans is so keen that as this year’s Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, he has declared 2015 as the “Year of the Veteran.” To that sentiment, I say, “bravo!”

As Time Goes By

Sunday when I was attending the funeral and later the reception for Valley Center’s great publisher Van Quackenbush—under whose tutelage I learned my trade—I was reminded just how much the technology of putting out newspapers has changed in the 40 years that I’ve been at it—and even more how it has changed since the days when Van was a lad.

The notion of “desktop publishing” had just started to come into common useage when I first visited Van’s office. In fact, we didn’t do much work on a computer at that time, we typed it out on brown butcher paper and gave the paper to the compositor to typeset into a machine that was called a Compugraphic. This large clunky metal machine translated type into photographic paper, which was then developed within the machine. The machine would spit out long sheets of photo paper, which we would then wax on the back to make sticky. We affixed the results onto the life size pages of the newspaper. In addition to spitting out rows of type, the machine also created headlines of whatever size was needed.

Some people who visited print shops more than twenty years ago might recall seeing “light tables.” These were tables with clear glass covers and light sources under the glass. You composed the newspaper onto ruled sheets. The light shining through the paper allowed you to line everything up on the ruled sheets.

Once the newspaper sheet was finished, we put it into a box. When all pages of the paper were finished, one of us would take the box down to the printer, where the pages would be painstakingly photographed on an enormous camera. The negative from this process was used to “burn” a plate that was used for printing each page.

Van came from an age before that when printers would set metal type, as I mentioned in last edition. It’s all part of a tradition of printing that goes back to Gutenberg and the invention of moveable type.

The knowledge of such technology is passing away, although the Internet being what it is, there are probably Websites galore for people who want to preserve such things, just as there are Websites and organizations for people who continue to take old-fashioned photos using film cameras and just as there are aficionados of vinyl records.

Because I find such things fascinating, and suppose that others do also, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a short book about how the technology of printing has changed during my lifetime.

We’ll see if I ever have time to carry out that desire, however.



*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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