Jon Huisman, former employee of the original Lansing Journal
Sometime in my junior year at Illiana Christian High School, Glenn Smits told me of a job he had as a “flyboy” every Wednesday evening, collecting newspapers as they came off the Lansing Journal press and tying them up in bundles that were delivered by the Lansing news agency to subscribers’ homes in Lansing and surrounding areas. Smits was quitting for a better job he found. Would I be interested in replacing him? With my mom’s approval, I said yes.
At that time the Lansing Journal was located at the northeast corner of Lake and William Streets. There I worked with my friend Dennis Blom from 3:00pm to whenever we got finished, usually 7–8:00pm. Just one day a week. It was a great part-time job — $1.00 per hour.
We would (1) help the pressmen put the lead plates on the press; (2) oil the bearings on the press — usually 1–2 quarts of oil in 25 oil cups; (3) collect, count, bundle, and tie the papers with twine; (4) address 200 wrapper sheets on the addressograph; (5) roll up and glue the papers to be mailed; and (6) on the way home at 8:00pm, drop the addressed papers off at the back door of the post office. It was a great part-time job.
One Wednesday afternoon, due to printing press problems (the web kept breaking and the paper would wrap up on the ink rollers), we didn’t finish the printing of the Lansing Journal until 4:00am, and I had worked 12 3/4 hours straight. I still have my check receipt for $12.75 written out by Winnie Schoon, the comptroller.
I worked at the Journal from 1958 to 1960. After graduation from Illiana, I don’t remember what I intended to “do with my life.” College was never an option — I was not a good student and would have flunked out of any traditional college. (Although years later when I applied myself I did make the Dean’s list at Valpo University!) I was intrigued by the thought of working at International Harvester in South Chicago, and I remember going there and filling out an application, though that memory ends there.
But whatever, after graduation I was at home for a few days, The phone rang. Mr. Carl Wulfing, the owner/publisher/big cheese of the Lansing Journal, called to see why I hadn’t come to work. Apparently we had had a discussion previously about working full time at the Journal after graduation. That is, he knew it, but somehow I had forgotten it, or discounted it, or whatever. But he had expected me, wanted me, and wondered where I was! So…immediately I got over there and was employed full-time: 40 hours, $40 per week, to be a gofer, a printer’s devil, a flyboy, a bindery worker, a press washer, a scanograver operator, a general flunkie.
Wow! I had a job! No car to get there — rode my bike. I was employed, not of my own doing, but kind of accidental.
Installments from the files of Jon Huisman:
- How I joined the Lansing Journal
- Early days at the Lansing Journal
- How I became a photographer at the Lansing Journal
- How I became a photojournalist at the Lansing Journal
- How I left the Lansing Journal
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