Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame

Whats on the menu this week

Story ID:10485
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Clovis CA USA
View Comments (2)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors
Whats on the menu this week
By Chuck Dishno

In 1968 I went to work for Fresno County Department of Education setting up and running a printing department. After a few years the work load became too much for my small staff of 5 girls and I found I was putting many hours extra time to meet my promises. Since I was salaried, I could only take off comp time. This only made matters worse and got farther behind.

The superintendent and I discussed this problem and at his suggestion I farm out my overflow. He even thought it would be a good idea if I started a small printing business of my own. I had been thinking along those lines and had the ideal spot for this venture. We lived on some acreage in near Fresno and had a barn on the property.

Within two months I had replaced the straw floor with concrete. Not a fun thing to do in the middle of July using a hand cement mixer but I got it done and by the time my press, process camera and paper cutter arrived I was ready.

I started out doing the overflow printing from various school districts in Fresno County but was soon contacted by the 30,000 member Fresno Teachers Credit Union to do all their printing. Within two years, I had outgrown my barn and built another building on my property, then ordered a large printing press that was capable of printing a sheet of paper 19x25 inches at 10,000 per hour. The name of the business was Educational Resources.

Over the next couple of years my business grew rapidly and I soon realized that I would have to give up my daytime job as I couldn’t do both. After much consideration, and with the encouragement by Roz, Roz said, “Whatever you want to do I will stand beside you all the way. I turned in my resignation and gave up my $2000 salary and for the first time in 14 years I was on my own.

I need not have worried though because as soon as my customers heard about me having more time the printing really started rolling in.

One customer who I had done some small jobs for was Universal Services, among other things, a printing broker.

One day, Art, the owner came to me and asked if I was interested in taking on some large printing jobs. He knew I had the equipment and knowhow and thought this might be right down my alley. Without knowing what it involved, I agreed to give a try.

Art and Universal Services were about to bid on the printing for an organization called Overeaters Anonymous, (OA), similar to Alcohol Anonymous but for fat people. The first job was printing 50,000 copies of a 32 page booklet explaining what OA was all about and how it worked.

This was a huge job for my little shop but I gave him a price and got the job. It involved printing 4 segments then folding them down to letter size then stapling them and bundling into packs of 25. I leased 2 table top paper folders, and bought 4 electric staplers. I then printed the booklet and my son Mike, his girlfriend and Roz did the donkey work of folding and stapling the final pieces. It was a lot of work for everyone but we made it without too many fights. I had to pay Mike and his girlfriend, but Roz and I did it as a labor of love, knowing we were building for the future.

Art was really impressed with the outcome and said there was a lot more coming down the pike. He wasn’t kidding. The next job was to print 100,000 copies of the weekly menu for the members of OA. These were 8 ½ x11printed both sides on appetizing looking colored stock and told of the week’s meals to shed those unwanted pounds. Frankly, the paper looked more appetizing than some of the entries but that is a matter of opinion. To me though all this printing meant more money to buy a high speed folding machine, one capable of folding 25,000 pieces per hour and a standing wire snitcher.

The next week Art brought in the copy for the menu. I had to order the stock, a book weight that came in cartons of 23x35 inches. This I cut down to 17½ x 22 which allowed me to print for on sheet then be converted to 8½x 11 then is folded to letter size. I still had to use the table top folders but had placed an order for the high speed folder and would have it a few weeks.

Fast forward about a month or more…
I had been printing the OA material for some time and it really kept me busy. After work at my regular job with the Fresno County Schools, I would head home, get a bite to eat then out to my print shop to continue until late at night. I didn’t mind this because I was young and saw myself building for the future. I was usually alone but Roz would come out several times to check on me and bring me cup of coffee. She also learned a few choice words as I swore at the printing press. I usually had a couple of barn cats laying around the floor too.

One evening I had an additional visitor. I was running one of the OA menus and when I looked up at the top of the press there was a 5 inch long praying mantis sitting on the light bar. He was huge and seemed to be enjoying the vibration and the warmth coming from the press. As I watched him he was facing the stream of paper traveling down feed table heading for the printing rollers.

A praying mantis is a unique insect. They have a triangular head with two large eyes and fore legs that look like they are praying. This one seemed to be mesmerized by the stream of paper as he kept swiveling his head, looking at the moving stream.

I watched him for a few minutes and to my horror, he fell off his perch and onto the stream of paper. I looked up just in time to see him “swimming” against the flow of paper but was losing ground and was soon caught up in the rollers and on to the receiving stack. I then looked at the stack of paper and saw a few sheets with black smudges along them. Apparently juice from the mantis changed the PH balance in my printing system. It cleared up in a few seconds and I made a mental note to thumb thru the stack before I converted it down to 8½x 11. A few hours later, I had finished the printing job and headed for bed.

The next day after school, my son, Mike came home and started to work on the OA job. By the time I got home he had converted it and was well into folding the menus to their final size. I remembered the praying mantis and asked him if he had seen anything of the streaked paper. He said he didn’t and we decided to let the whole matter drop. The next step was to count the folded pieces and bundle them into packs of 25. There was no easy way to do this until I made a caliper of sorts that would measure 25 pieces plus or minus one or two. As we went thru the job of bundling, we didn’t notice any damaged pieces so in our mind the job was complete. The next day I delivered it to Universal Service.

Months went by and I forgot the praying mantis episode then one day I got to wondering if anyone had run across my few smudged menus that slipped thru. I then broke out laughing at the thought of some fat lady opening one up to see what was on the menu for the week and found a squashed six inch wide praying mantis. Bon Appetite!