How I joined the Lansing Journal

339

Local Voices

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.

Lansing Journal
File photo, year unknown, but Jon Huisman believes it is from the early 1950s. A second story had been added to the building by the time he began working there in 1958.
Lansing Journal
The building at Lake and William Streets that once housed the presses, offices, and staff of the Lansing Journal in the 1950s is now home to Primary Healthcare Associates. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, January 2021)

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.

(To be continued…)

Jon Huisman


Local Voices is our version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Send your submissions to The Lansing Journal with “Voices” in the subject line.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Loved the Local Voice story by John Huisman. Can’t wait to read Part II!
    My daughter Melinda and her friend/neighbor Lisa shared a paper route, delivering the Lansing Sun Journal, approximately from 1976 to 1981. I believe it was delivered twice a week. After that time, Lisa quit and my daughter Sherry took her place, and my girls continued the route for a few more years. They didn’t get rich, but they were excited to be earning their own money!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.