Down-sizing is a dirty word to a pack rat

Down-sizing is a dirty word to a pack rat By Bob Karolevitz Down-sizing is a lot harder than accumulating.

Of course we had 54 years of marriage in which to amass the stuff we are now faced with getting rid of. And when one of the partners is a pack rat (me), then the project becomes even bigger.

One of the things which is bugging us (and there are many) is what to do with my letterpress printshop.

Phyllis argues that we should just junk it or give it away. But I have a sentimental attachment to the Chandler & Price press and the four or more cabinets of lead type.

After all, I have a degree in Printing & Rural Journalism; and, like Benjamin Franklin, I am a printer first. I was also a member of the International Typographical Union once, so it�s difficult to turn my back on all that.

I knew the layout of the California Job Case like I knew etoin shrdlu on the Linotype keyboard. I set thousands of ems in my trusty type stick, and I always could tell the difference between leads and slugs.

Pica poles, quoins, chases, makeup rules and pi in the hell box were words of my second language.

(You�ll have to forgive me for using terms that only another printer would understand.)

In Bellevue, WA, the press was in the basement right under the girls� room. To this day Jan and Jill can remember going to sleep to the clang-clang-clang of the ink disc whirling around. It was their lullaby.

Before we moved back to South Dakota, I sold all my wood type (which didn�t weigh much), and we hauled thousands of pounds of lead and steel back to our farm in Mission Hill in a U-Haul truck.

(Phyllis says only a Pollack would do that. She knew how to hurt a guy.)

Bringing it up to the present, however, when we move to town, our new house (which we haven�t selected yet) will probably be smaller than our present abode. It most likely won�t have room for the printshop, so it will have to go.

And then there are books � hundreds and hundreds of them. We could fill a littler house without even trying, but Phyllis has put her foot down.

�You don�t need that many,� she points out, �and besides that there�s always the library.�

The archives at South Dakota State University is taking all my correspondence and research material, so we don�t have to move that. But I�ll keep a lot of the latter for awhile, in case I want to write another book.

You wouldn�t like me to quit entirely, now would you?

Needless to say, I won�t be going to auction sales any more. On the other hand, I�m gonna miss those too-numerous-to-mention items. Phyllis won�t allow me to bring home a boxful of junk like I always could.

Come to think of it, we�ve got pails crammed with stuff I haven�t sorted yet. We�ll have to get rid of them, too.

Oh well, it will be a new experience for us. Who knows? We may like it!

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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