Michael Young – First Job!

As a volunteer office assistant at my junior high school in 1966-68, I was instructed on how to use the school’s Graphotype 6300 Series embossing machine, and an Addressograph-Multigraph printing machine identical to the one seen here:  http://forsale.oodle.com/view/addressograph-multigraph-machine/2778141383-roanoke-va/

I was good enough at it that the school hired me as a part-time employee after classes, and a full-time worker during Summer vacation.  They paid me fifty cents an hour!  I would have been 12-14 years old during that time period.  Can you imagine allowing a child to operate a non-cabinet model Graphotype in this day and age?  With all its exposed moving and spinning parts?  No way today!

It was a very prestigious way of earning extra money.  While my friends were delivering morning or afternoon newspapers, cutting grass, etc., I was making a lot more than they were while doing “grown-up” work.

The Graphotype machine was located in the main, front office, with the Secretary for her convenience.  But the Addressograph Room was my little domain, my own “office,” about 10×12 feet large, that was actually intended to be a storage room behind the Assistant Principal’s office.  I could only access it through his office, and if he was “in conference,” I could not get back there, but since I was “on the clock” I didn’t care how long I had to wait.

Not long after I started working, the Assistant Principal and Secretary began discreetly coming back and closing the door to the room, ostensibly because of the machine noise, but in reality because of the spontaneous outbursts of profanity with which I would “turn the air blue” whenever I dropped a tray of plates, or got “out of synch” in trying to slide documents to print under the printhead and ran it over my hand, or otherwise misprinted a document, causing me to have to back up the plate feed and reprint the form, breaking my “stride.”  Running those machines was the first opportunity I had to really become fluent in cursing, a talent which has served me well throughout the rest of my life.  The secretary once told me that while she would not tell me how to conduct myself while back in “my” office, while I was using the Graphotype I was in “her” office, and in a public place, and I would need to watch my language.  This was difficult, because the Graphotype was more irritating to use than the Addressograph.  I seem to recall that the Graphotype I used had a plate that said it was made by the Graphotype-Linotype Company.  It looked VERY old, like something from the turn of the century.  Its top speed was about one character per second, and if you got ahead of it, it would jam or emboss the wrong character and mess up the plate.  You could only go back and “undo” a spot once or twice, as I recall.  If you made a typo in the same spot twice, you ruined the plate and had to throw it out and start over.  This could be very frustrating, and the boss didn’t like it because it spoiled a plate, and they cost money.

Becoming adept at using that equipment was a big plus for me, at just the right time in life.  I continued to work for my high school, although my duties no longer involved using the Addressograph system.  I had already advanced beyond that level!  I was given “more advanced” tasks.  But it opened the door for me to get involved with office machines and office work, and to organize my work ergonomically and efficiently.

I remember the Assistant Principal once telling me that being proficient with Addressograph systems was a BIG career plus… that businesses would ALWAYS need good Addressograph operators!

Michael Young
Florence, SC

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