Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 21 – Changes in the wind—again

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Looking Back: 21 – Changes in the wind—again

     No, things are definitely not equal and the one thing we can be sure of is that things will change. A couple of changes that argued against my settling down to a conventional life were occurring almost from the day I started working at The Colonial Press.

The Colonial Press, Inc.
       The first change was in the then new techniques (now obsolete with the advent of word processing and desk top publishing software) of type setting. Soon after I started working in the composing room a new type of typesetting machine, photo typesetters, were introduced in the lino-type division. Without going into the technical details, phototypesetting eliminated the need for dual process typesetting and lead extrusion by using photographic paper that created a finished photo of the text ready for paste up. This was an enormous improvement over the cumbersome process of using heavy lead. So, I had accepted a job that was already doomed to go the way of the horse and buggy. In retrospect I probably had the foresight, or intuition, to see the handwriting on the wall. By 1977 The Colonial Press, Inc., once the largest printing company in the United States and the printer of the Warren Commission report on the Kennedy Assassination, was out of business.

       The second change was an internal one, restlessness--the old call of the road—the impulse to seek and shape my own changes and not wait for them to happen to me. I was getting bored with routine and wanted intellectual stimulation. Travel experiences while I was on active duty in the Navy had made me curious as to how, what historical forces, had shaped the places I had merely glanced off the surfaces of during recreational port calls. To slake my curiosity I decided to pursue some college history courses a couple evenings a week at Worcester Junior College in Worcester, a large city about half an hour's drive from my home.

with me bro. and his sailboat
       After a semester or two I found the courses stimulating and wondered if I might not enroll in the Associates Degree program. Since I had not been in the college bound track in high school I lacked certain required courses for a degree. I discussed the issue with a counselor at the WJC who told me about a way to fulfill the course requirements by taking some “remedial” algebra and science courses right there at the junior college. That's exactly what I did for three years of working full time days at the Press and attending evening classes at the junior college a few evenings a week, by which time I had accumulated 54 credits, almost half the number required for a full Bachelors Degree.

me cuz. doing his Elvis thing
BBQ - Summer of 1967
       By then it was 1967. Although I was engrossed in my own pursuits and enjoying life, I was aware of things happening in the broader society, specifically the Cold War I era proxy war variously known as (depending on your point of view): the Second Indochina War, the Resistance War against America or, most famously, the Vietnam War—the ultimate game changer of my generation. It eventually caused an ideological schism in American society that has never really been healed. Had it not been for a fortuitous change in my economic situation, I might have remained on the right side the schism, instead of the left (wrong?) one.

best man at me bro.'s wedding
To be continued...

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