Standard Deviations: Stop the presses! Get your very own press equipment
OGDEN — Hey, faithful newspaper readers! Sick and tired of the “lamestream” media? Think you could do a better job of:
• Reporting on elections?
• Covering your favorite sports teams?
• Producing these twice-weekly columns?
Or maybe you’ve just always wanted to be able to shout “Stop the presses!” — and actually have presses that could be stopped?
Well, have I ever got a deal for you.
The name James Gale may not mean anything to you, but he’s the son of none other than the late Brent Eugene Gale. Which probably doesn’t ring a bell, either, but James is also the grandson of the even later Harold Fay Gale.
And it was Harold Fay Gale who started Gale Printing Service of Ogden.
Stay with me here: So James says that, years and years and years ago, Harold Gale used to run the print shop for the old Ogden Standard-Examiner. Not the big presses that ran off the newspaper every afternoon, but the small offset presses that produced business forms and the like.
At some point, Harold Gale broke from the newspaper and started his own print shop, which operated in various locations in and around downtown Ogden.
In 1970, Harold Gale retired and Brent Gale took over the shop from his father. Brent Gale probably assumed he was going to pass the business on to his own son, James. As a child, James — now 45 years old — recalls working in his family’s print shop, cleaning the ink off the rollers in preparation for another print job.
“I still remember as a boy printing off the old perforated receipts that the carriers would leave with customers when they paid their monthly bill,” James said. “I think secretly dad always wanted me to take over the company, but I just went another route.”
That other route included 20 years as a police officer in Logan. These days, James is in a completely different career — the heating and cooling industry. Meanwhile, his father operated Gale Printing up until the early 2000s, when health issues forced him to shut down the business.
“Dad came down with a kind of degenerative hip disease that eventually took him out of the game,” James said. “It was just so painful to stand on his feet for long periods of time that he gave up the shop.”
So 14 years ago, Brent Gale placed all the equipment from his print shop into storage. James thinks the idea was to sell it, but it never happened. Then, last Dec. 31, Brent Gale passed away at age 74, and James inherited all the equipment.
“So there’s a couple of things — like the great, big paper cutter that was no longer OSHA certified — Dad took to the scrapyard,” James says. “But for the most part he still has the whole printing shop, press-wise, in storage.”
Not that this will mean much to any but the ink-stained wretches out there, but the collection includes a 1920s-era Linotype, a Ludlow, two Heidelbergs, a folding machine, light table, remelter, plate burner, perforator, stitcher, collator, intertype, jogger and plenty of other items — pretty much everything one would need to run a small, late-20th-century printing company.
“So there’s a lot of fun stuff in there,” James says.
Which brings us to the crux of the matter: James is willing to donate the whole kit and kaboodle (it’s OK; anyone interested in this type of equipment knows that outdated phrase) to a museum or historical foundation.
“I would love to be able to get it to a museum — somebody that could use it and set it up — that my kids or even my grandkids could go and see what (grand)papa did, and what equipment he used,” he says.
Initially, James put out feelers to see if anyone wanted to buy the print shop equipment. But there wasn’t much interest from potential buyers — outside the two Heidelbergs.
“My thought was, ‘You know, if that’s the only interest I have in it, I’d just as soon keep the stuff and be able to donate it,'” James said. “Because it’s not like I need the money. Some people have said, ‘I might be interested in this piece’ or ‘I might be interested in that piece,’ but it’d be really awesome if I could find somebody that would take the whole thing as a set and kind of just set up the shop as it would have been back in the day.”
So, hopefully, James finds a museum that would like to display a working print shop straight from the heyday of the printed word. And if not, I’m sure he’d be willing to consider Plan B: Selling it — as a set — to someone who wants to set up their own printing operation.
“It was all working when we put it in storage,” James says. “Obviously, after 14 years of just sitting there, I don’t know how much of it would still actually work, but it would probably be somewhat easy to get it up and going again.”
So, then. Still think “The Media” is getting it all wrong these days? Why not show us how it’s done by starting your very own daily newspaper?
And if the pay is right, I even know where you could get an award-winning columnist.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.