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To My Grandpa
He was one of the good ones
My grandpa got a job at The Monticello Express when he was a junior in high school.
Around 1954, Johnny Jones was looking for someone to sweep floors, wash the windows, and learn the basics of being a printer. At the time, my grandpa, Bob Goodyear, was on the basketball team. He wasn’t getting much playing time, and after talking with his coach, he decided he’d take the job.
From then on, he led a lifetime of hard work, service, kindness, and dedication to his family.
My grandpa passed away this weekend after a battle with kidney cancer. He was 85 years old, a husband, a father of three, a grandfather of 12, and a great-grandfather of 11. He ran a newspaper for decades, served his community, found friendship wherever he went, and loved his family fiercely.
From the moment my grandpa took a job at the Monticello Express, he fell in love with the world of news publishing. He approached the job with excitement and curiosity. The newspaper industry was rapidly transforming at that point. He learned quickly, honed his skills, and grew The Monticello Express to the community pillar it still is today, a paper that has survived the intense industry contraction we’ve seen over the last few decades.
A few years ago, I helped my grandpa put together a book detailing his life story. We spent hours together, talking about his life as I wrote down every memory that shaped him into the dedicated man he was. Here are a few excerpts from that project that detail his experiences publishing a newspaper as technology revolutionized news:
When I first began learning how to print newspapers, we used letterpress printing. For headlines, we hand set each letter. The other parts of the newspaper were made with a linotype machine. One of my jobs was to take the type and throw it into a led pot to be melted and reused for the next paper. I would also take the letters we still needed and set it into a California Type Case. I also learned how to cast mats. These were a piece of asbestos that I would pour hot melted led into, which would then harden and be used to print on the letter press. I eventually learned how to run the letterpress. We had a snapper, which was a hand fed press, and also a Little Giant. Being a printer was easy for me, and I was much better at it than I am at the desktop publishing we use today.
In the fall of 1956, I attended the University of Iowa for one semester. I took a newspaper production course under Henry Africa, and I learned to use a linotype machine. When a new foreman, Bob Harlan, came to the Express in 1958, we switched to offset printing and I operated a Model 32 Linotype machine. Emma Stadtmueller operated a Model 8 Linotype machine right next to me. We set all the type for the newspaper, with me doing ads and her doing the news. In 1958, we got rid of my linotype machine and received compugraphic machines. We would type on a keyboard that would punch tape, and the punched tape would be run through the compugraphic machine that would set the news matter. We had filmotype machines for the headlines and larger type. This was still a one letter at a time deal.
Eventually, we got a Comp IV, which set the bigger type using a keyboard. You could just sit there and type, but you’d have to change the sizes. We then bought a big process camera and the pieces of each page were done by hand. You’d cut the sections, wax it, and paste it up on the sheet of paper. You would take the paste up to the camera and shoot the negative of that page. Then we’d make sure there was no flaws in the negative, take that and lay it on top of a metal plate, and you’d put the plate on the press. That is what you’d print from.
We started printing offset with a Harris S7L press. They had to knock a hole in the wall to get it into the building due to its large size. We still have an 18 by 24-inch Solna Offset Printing Press that works on the same principle.
When we printed letterpress, there was a big letterpress that printed four big, broad sheet pages at the same time. These were 36 by 48 inch sheets. Independence bought a Web Offset Press, and we started printing our newspaper with them. We then printed with Guttenburg, then Maquoketa Web Press, then in Calmar, and currently with the Quad City Times…I was named shop foreman in 1965. At that point, I oversaw the production of the paper and did the estimating and pricing of printing jobs. We started publishing the Publishers Idea Exchange, which was a national advertising service. We eventually bought this publication. We also printed Ad Master Layout Sheets and pasteup sheets, which we sold to newspapers all over the country.
My grandpa was the biggest cheerleader of my writing. He shared all of my work and never let a moment pass without telling me that he was proud of me. This was a man who spent decades in the newspaper industry, read thousands upon thousands of pieces of writing, served on the board of the Iowa Newspaper Association, and was an avid reader for most of his life. And he saw the value in what I had to say, believing that I am special.
But that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from my grandpa: he knew how to make you feel special. He was there at every sporting event, every musical performance, every awards ceremony. He made sure to see us before homecoming and prom, he traveled the state of Iowa to take any of his nine grandchildren out to dinner, and he always slipped you a little “walk around” money as he hugged you goodbye. It wasn’t just his kids and grandkids that felt this love. He was in the crowd cheering on his great nieces and nephews, kept up on my best friend’s life, cherished his nights laughing with his brothers-in-law. One sentence kept coming up throughout his visitation and funeral: “He was one of the good ones.” He really, really was.
The last time my grandpa texted me, he complimented a recent column I had written. I detailed a really nice and inspiring conversation with Dr. Jackie Thompson, and he loved it.
I felt like you were enjoying yourself as you were writing it.
I really was, Grandpa. You always see the joy in each and every one of us. We’ll miss you forever.
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