by John Howells and Marion Dearman
Another woman who qualified as a tramp printer was Lydia Avery. But her name wasn’t well-known among those of the authors’ generation; she did her traveling earlier in the century and then settled down in New York to spend 40 years working in one city. Lydia was well-liked and respected by all. We received the following story when she was almost 100 years old.
I did piece work on the San Antonio Express, the Atlanta Constitution, in Galveston, and all through the South. My travels also took me west to Frisco, where I worked on the Ex and the Chron. I also held a sit on the Sacramento Bee for a time. In the north, I worked various places in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, etc.
I finally stopped traveling in No. 6, when I took a sit on the Brooklyn Eagle for 20+ years, and then on the New York Times for another 20 years. I retired eight years ago to Minnesota.
In those days, we took no nonsense from any foreman; we developed an independence that remained until the end. In Terre Haute (The Hat), when a regular laid off to put on a sub to kill overtime, the regular was forced to keep you on till he killed all his overtime. They gave me a situation so the overtime operator could go back to work. I only kept it for a short while, though, and left for the next town!
One stay in a little town in Michigan on a morning paper comes to my memory. A long, tall operator named Shorty Comfort (R.I.P.) hired me to work for him, and he indicated the round pigs that were being used, admonishing: “When you set two of these, you know your string is up.” Then before lunch he reappeared to ask if I had lunch money. I told him I had with a gracious thank you. I left that morning for the next town, so never again did I see Shorty. He had made many towns himself in his day. (Author's note: see story about Shorty Comfort in another section of this book.)
Pages by John Howells and Marion Dearman,
Copyright and all rights reserved.
hot-metal printers encouraged to send e-mail to: