Hot-Metal Printer Profiles

We (Mike Maher & Ben Lopez) are happy to report that we have received positive responses for the web site, including pictures, tidbits, hot-metal printer profiles and comments. We will post them as soon as possible as we get them. As we all know, the hot-metal printing trade was a male-dominated craft. So the women were in a minority, so it was surprising to see that the first person to submit a profile of their hot-metal printing career, was a woman, Wilma Grant. So guys, let’s hear from you.

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My Story - By Bill Krakat

I graduated from Bladensburg High School in 1960. Immediately went to work for Laumann Construction, a well drilling company based in NYC. They were drilling wells for the Levitt Bros. who were building homes in Belair, a new community in Bowie, MD.

Then I went to work as a letter carrier in the Lanham, MD Post Office.

My apprenticeship in the printing trade came through and I started at the Cornelius Printing Co. in Silver Spring, MD. under the foremanship of Grayson Lehman in February 1961. Cornelius was the smaller arm of the main plant in Indianapolis, Ind. During all this time worked part-time at the Esso station in Bowie.

I received my journeyman’s card in September 1964 as a hand compositor/stoneman. Subsequently decided to try other shops to gain more experience. I went to Hodges Typesetting then to Comp-O-Type and finally to Artisan Type. I became general foreman when Dick Herdman and Waitt Hester formed a partnership and opened their cold type composition business.

Max Janoff, one of the Artisan owners, and I worked feverishly to retain the customer base. We succeeded and Artisan Type flourished.

But that opened my eyes that the linotypes were soon to be extinct. I surmised correctly that the owners of Artisan would not commit the investment for equipment and training, so I decided to get to the GPO.

I started at the GPO in February 1972 and was assigned to day proof Patents section. Then to main proof days and then night proof and was among the first wave of transfers to the newly organized Electronic Photocomposition Division, EPD. Eventually the EPD and hot metal proof rooms were combined. I progressed to Group Chief in charge of the markup section, shift 3.

Soon hot metal was shut down and there were a few supervisors that decided not to retire. One was assigned to night proof 3. I took the printing specialists test and went to work at Graphic Systems Development Division, GSDD. While in GSDD, along with Ken Kidd, and under the guidance of Don Peed, we developed the “Standardization of Formats for Congressional Work”.

After the retirement of the proof 3 foreman I was detailed into the position by the then Night Production Manager, Joe Mangialardi. Eventually getting the position and finally ascending to Night Production Manager from which I retired in July 2005.

Two of the best days of my career were the day I started at the GPO and the day I retired.

Since retiring from GPO I have had several part-time gigs: Shoppers Warehouse, stocking shelves, 5½ years, which I receive a small retirement from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union; Home Depot as a mixologist in the paint dept.; and recently graduated from the Fairfax County Citizens Police Academy, which I intend to volunteer at my local precinct as soon as we get back from our next cruise, which will be no. 22. Am an active participant with our Community Advisory Committee. And spend 1 hr. at the gym and 40 min. swimming each weekday morning.

Not ready for the rocking chair.