An Anniversary Recollectioin

When Tim asked me to reminisce about my time with Access Press, I wasn’t really sure what I could write.  […]

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When Tim asked me to reminisce about my time with Access Press, I wasn’t really sure what I could write.  It seems like Access Press has just always been a part of my life.  They’ve even made me feel like an “off-site” extension.

I have been the desktop publisher for Access Press from almost day one.  I can still remember my initial meeting at the first Access Press/Smith Real Estate office, of being ushered into Bill Smith’s office by his wife, Renee, and seeing Charlie roll in minutes later.  We hit it off right away.  They were initially looking for someone to create the camera-ready copy to be sent to their printer and then to eventually teach them how to do it themselves.  I guess they gave up the idea of taking it in-house because it never came up again.  And for that I am grateful.  They quickly became and have continued to be one of my favorite clients, and have truly enriched my life.

We began long before the Internet, e-mail, and digital cameras.  Access Press was in the Midway area and I was in Minnetrista.  We put a lot of miles on cars, employed a number of couriers, and became quite creative in getting copy, cartoons, photos, and diskettes back and forth.  We didn’t have the fast faxes and modems of today.  Proof faxing was done late at night so we wouldn’t tie up the phone lines.  There are many tales of me having to track down Bill or Charlie during the evening because their fax was out of paper or had jammed.  Additionally, since the paper was tabloid size, and faxes were letter size, our faxing of proof copies usually done right under the deadline wire had some interesting results.  I remember one time when the orientation of the paper didn’t get changed to landscape (sideways) and Charlie arrived at work the morning of the deadline to find only the left corner of every half page ready for proofreading.  Or the times when the computer would hit a glitch and start re-faxing, from page one, several times and the Smiths would come to work in the morning to find an entire roll of fax paper used up and strewn around the fax machine.

Charlie enjoyed trying out new technologies and was often one of the first to employ them.  When modems became more popular, Charlie introduced me to a program called Qmodem and we felt like we had jumped light years into the “publishing of the future.”  I began to receive files over the computer ever so slowly, no high-speed modems back then and we were at last free from the front-end need for couriers.  We used to dream of the day we would eventually find a way to electronically get the final artwork to the printer!  And I am happy that Charlie did have the joy of seeing that happen before he left us.

We used to laugh at our computers at least that’s what people thought when they would walk into our offices and see us typing away and laughing at our screens.  Back in those days, we’d be connected via our computer modems and would type little quips and hellos back and forth to each other as we sent and received files often sharing little happenings of the day and causing each other to laugh out loud.  One of us would type and the other would sit there waiting as, one letter at a time, words would miraculously appear on our screen.  We felt soooo high tech!

Unfortunately, technology brought us the bad as well as the good.  I’ll never forget Charlie’s call that they had just found a virus a new term at the time on their computer, and that it was probably now on mine.  Sure enough, it was, and that explained a lot of weird things that had been happening to me for quite some time.  As I am sure you can imagine, Charlie and I were some of the first people in line for virus checkers when they were developed.  But then even time has not changed that weathering of technology gone awry.  Just recently, Laurie and Tim put in some long hours after a virus attacked the Access Press production room computer.

In fact, I think Tim and Laurie have filled some pretty large shoes quite nicely.  I must admit each time the staff would change and especially when Charlie died I was concerned about the paper and my relationship with Access Press.  I remember feeling so sad when people like Mike Sheehan, Dawn, Donna, and Jeff left to pursue other avenues we had formed such great relationships, how could the paper ever be the same!  Gratefully, each time my worries have proven to be unfounded.  I now realize Access Press is not tied to any one person or family though I am sure many of us will always think of Charlie, Bill, and Renee when we think of Access Press.  And as in the past, the relationship I now have with the current “crew” is, and has been, fun and very meaningful.  It is wonderful how Access Press just seems to continue to attract great people. 

And each month is like starting a new adventure we may have our tense moments getting copy, overcoming equipment failure, and meeting deadlines but somehow, in the end, it all comes together.  And the good times and funny moments still persist and make my work enjoyable and meaningful.  Thank you, Access Press, for weathering the hard times, helping the community stay informed, and for letting me be a part of it.

Ellen Houghton
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