Great-Grandmother, Dad, Big Bro and Me.....
My father, Donald H. Milton, was very proud of his Grandmother, Sarah DeWolfe Webster Milton, and her career as a columnist for the Chelsea Gazette, Boston Globe, other Boston newspapers, and as a writer of small books. When I showed some of her same passion for writing, Dad encouraged me, saying it was only natural...since I'd been born with printer's ink in my blood.
Reprinted from a memoir my Dad wrote in 1975:
"I started out as a printer, on a small paper, a weekly [Gazette and Courier]. Later I went to another weekly and later a throw-away advertising sheet [part of the Greenfield Recorder]. In those days everyone did a little bit of everything; I collected news items, took them over the phone, sold advertising and collected bills. Then I got into another aspect of the trade and worked in a book publishing firm, in fact a couple of them. When World War II came along I was working out of town and found it difficult to get gas and tires, so I quit printing and went into the defense industry."
But, the writing and printing bug never left Dad, and anytime he was a member of a group that needed something written for the newspaper, he would volunteer. His last "big job" as a newsman was at age 67, and it was one that brought him great joy. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Bernardston, Massachusetts, sponsors of the 1975 U.S. Snowmobile Association "A" Races, and was made Chairman of Public Relations. He thrived on researching and writing the background for the news stories and working with local editors to get his material in print.
My older brother was also drawn to printing, and by junior high school had built his own hand-operated printing press. He'd pick up odds and ends of paper at the local paper mills and convert the paper to stationery size. His expectation was that my sister and I would sell his idea of "personalized" stationary to the neighbors. Once we had a sale, he would set the typeface into his press and hand print each sheet of paper and envelope. After high school, he also worked briefly for the Greenfield Recorder before leaving the print business. Now, as a super-duper computer techie, he's come a long way from that hand-operated press!
But....what I love is creating the written word. Seeing it in print is the icing on an already delicious cake. As editor for two magazines, I would be horribly anxious as I dropped off the final paste-up copy at the printer's--remember, this was before computers! When the printer's final mock-up was ready, I would proof and proof and proof, hoping to catch every typo or misprint. Being dyslexic, I had to pay extraordinary attention to proofing. The printers would call to let me know an issue had rolled off the presses, and I'd race down and read it from cover-to-cover....praying I wouldn't find something I'd missed.
Great-Grandmother and Dad must have loved that kind of pressure ~ but that's something I don't miss!
Eventually, I hope to learn how to include some of great-grandmother's columns on this site. In the meantime, below is a photo of the original printer mock-up for one of Great-Grandmother Milton's books ~ Thoughts Sketches and Aspirations ~ A Love Story ~ circa.1856