Michael A. Sawyers
CUMBERLAND — Just shy of 44 years, Richard Goebel will end his career at the Times-News today when he retires from his job in the composing room.
In 1967, the Mount Savage resident began working at the newspaper on a part-time basis as an inserter in the mail room. In July 1969, Goebel became a printer and is retiring as the president of Typographical Union, Local 244.
“The things I remember most are the changes in the way the paper was put together, from hot type to cold type,” Goebel said, remembering that a printer could get a lap full of hot lead if a hose carrying the heated substance would come loose.
Goebel, who has always worked the night shift, said there were 65 printers when he began his employment. “It was manual labor,” he said. “The hours and the days went slowly sometimes, but the years have gone fast.”
A big challenge, Goebel explained, was to run what he called the automatic machine. Before word processors and computers, reporters would create stories with typewriters on paper. A copy boy would grab that finished product and transport it to the composing room where Goebel and others would keystroke the entire story once more.
“The thing was, there was no display to show you what you typed,” he said. “Instead there was a strip of paper or tape with different dots that meant different letters (of the alphabet). After a while you got to where you knew which dots meant which letters, but it was tricky.”
Nowadays, Goebel said, newspapers are hiring graphic artists to put the newspaper together via computer screens.
“But we were graphic artists before the term even existed,” he said of the printers of yesteryear.
Paul Siefers, composing room foreman who happens to be retiring Friday as well, said about Goebel, “He is a good employee and was a good union president for more than 25 years.”
Publisher Larry Effingham congratulated Goebel and thanked him for his service to the Times-News. “I congratulate you on your retirement and hope that your new life will be all that you hoped and worked for these many years. Your dedication to putting out a quality product each and every day will be sorely missed.”
Goebel said he will travel some in retirement and work around the house.
“I’ll probably do some volunteer work,” he said. With degrees in teaching and general arts from Allegany College of Maryland, Goebel speculates he may do some tutoring.
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at email@example.com.