About the Authors
Dr. Marion Dearman
More than a half-century ago, John and Marion began
their work experiences learning the printing trade in "country weekly"
print shops. John in suburban St. Louis, and Marion in rural Oklahoma.
Both started with typical apprentice or "printers devil" chores, progressing
toward journeyman status by learning everything from melting linotype
metal into pigs, to feeding Chandler Price snappers, hand-pegging type,
composing ads, making up pages, learning the Linotype, to designing "job
work." Both joined the Typographical Union at their first opportunity
and enjoyed working throughout the United States on numerous newspapers,
commercial printing plants, and typesetting houses. From coast to coast
and border to border, each worked for scores of daily newspapers and commercial
Privileged to witness the dramatic revolution in the printing
technology, John and Marion adapted their skills, changing from ancient
hot metal traditions to teletype tape, to pasteup, to photosetting, and
finally to digital computerization -- the end of the ancient traditions.
The technology started by Johann Gutenberg six centuries ago, underwent
a series of profound revolutions during John's and Marion's lifetimes.
As journeyman typographers, tramp printers, and finally
as graduate students in the social sciences, they felt compelled to record
some of the traditions before they disappeared into the dustbin of history.
The result was their book, "Tramp Printers." Unfortunately,
the book is out of print now, and not likely to go into another edition
(unless some unforseen demand arises). For this reason they are posting
these pages for those who have an interest in this particular facet of
In several ways Howells' and Dearman's life styles were
remarkably similar, which accounts for their close friendship over
the past 45 years. Each enjoyed living the romantic and carefree lives
of tramp printers during significant periods of their lives. Both traveled
for a time with their wives and children, pulling house trailers from town
to town. Both were interested in formal education (while working at the
trade as newspaper printers, both acquired university educations
and went on to graduate degrees). Marion Dearman received a PhD in
Sociology, and John Howells an M.A. in Ethnic Studies.
After college, their working careers diverged. Dr. Dearman
reluctantly left the printing trade to become a professor of Sociology
at California State University at Los Angeles (chairman of the Sociology
department for several years). John Howells continued working for
the San Jose Mercury News, working with computers and new printing processes,
while pursuing a career as a travel writer on the side. Eventually he was
successful in becoming the author of a dozen non-fiction books on various
topics ranging from retirement in the United States, Mexico, and Costa
Rica, to the breakup of the Soviet Union.
of books authored by John Howells)