July 2015
Billie Silvey
used for smaller "job" printing, like bills or
flyers or envelopes.
 The ink went on the flat
disk at the top where rollers carried it over the

type below.  I'd get the paper or envelopes
from the wooden board on the right (which
would be pivoted out of the way to the right  
when the machine was in use) and slip them
into guides on the white area in the middle.  

After the press closed together to print each
copy, I'd pull the printed sheet out with my left
hand and put it on the black section at  the
front while inserting another blank sheet  or
envelope with my right.  

You had to get into the rhythm of the machine
to avoid getting your hand caught when the
two parts came together to make the

By the time I graduated from high school in
the spring of 1961, I was able to run all three
machines, though I was less skilled on the
Linotype than on the presses.  

It was more dangerous.  If you didn't get the
lines "justified" to just the right degree of
tightness, you could get a painful "squirt" of
molten lead on you!

When my high school friend Kay Harman
came to our 50th Wedding Anniversary, she
recalled that I always had black printer's ink
staining my fingers when we were in school

When he delivered the eulogy at my father’s
funeral March 9, 1985, Bruce Logue, minister
of the Greenlawn Church of Christ in
Lubbock, said:

“Cecil’s health became very bad in the mid-
sixties.  He gave up the newspaper business
and came to Lubbock Christian College to
run LCC’s Printshop.  That’s when some of
us came to know him.  He fit right in.  The
students loved him, and the teachers loved

“Cecil couldn’t retire.  Even after a new
administration came in at LCC, he continued
to work as a printer downtown.  He worked
for Parks Printing and worked up to the day
he had his last and fatal heart attack.

“To sum up his life:  Cecil was rich.  Not with
money, but with life.  He lived a rich, full,
adventurous, interesting life.  He left a rich
legacy of friends, memories and a wonderful

What more could anyone ask?   
The Shop
If I ask my granddaughter Katyana what a
printer is, she’ll tell me.  It’s the machine that
sits beside the computer and makes paper
copies of what’s on the screen.  

She won’t think of it as being a person—and
particularly not of being her grandmother.

And yet, for most of my childhood through my
graduation from high school, that was what I

There was no day care when I was growing
up.  When school
let out in the afternoon,  my
sister and I would walk the few blocks
downtown and work at my Daddy’s shop,
helping him and mother put out the  weekly
newspaper in our tiny Texas town.  

It was a family project to get the
into as many houses in our little
hometown as possible and to keep
ourselves housed and fed and feeling like
we were contributing to our community.

Daddy would write the news.  Mother would
set it into shiny rows of raised lead type
using the
Linotype machine (left).  

Running the Linotype was hot work, because
it had to be fed a continuous supply of molten
lead from the pot to the left of the machine.  In
front of the chair to the right was a keyboard
which, when pressed, sent matrices falling
into an assembly for molds to be cast into a

Daddy would take the lines and lock them  so
tightly together in forms that they could be
picked up and carried to the big
cylinder (or
flat-bed) press (above center).  They were put
onto the left-hand end of the press, and as it
operated, they would run under inked rollers.  

The large sheets of newsprint would come
around on the big cylinder, having been "fed"
into it from the sloped surface at the top of
the machine by my father, who would climb
the steps on the side to stand on the platform.

Mother or I would sit at the table on the right
to "catch" the papers as they came down,
with the columns of news printed on them.

We'd tear them apart with a string
through the doubled pages
and fold them
to the pages of the newspaper on the
counters at the front of the shop.

The paper had to be in the post office on
Thursday morning of each week, so we'd
stay up rather late most Wednesday nights
finishing them up.  

"Fat" Knox, the night watchman, and "Punk"
Guest, a man with a neurological condition,
who stayed up together most nights, would
come around and give my father a bad time
for what they called "child labor."  (I'm sure
both had real names, but I never heard them.)

I loved it.  I was working with my family.  Often
we'd sing together to stay awake.  And I was
performing an important service for our town--
writing and disseminating the news.

My machine was the little
platen press
(above right).  Called the "snapper," it was