Paper Towns :: Chapter 3
When I was a kid, my mom would take my sister and I to downtown St. Louis to pick up my stepdad from work. Sometimes--just sometimes--he would be running late, and we got to go in and explore. This was our little adventure, which often started with a stern warning that we should touch nothing because our legs and arms would be cut off. You see--my stepdad owned and operated a printing company his family had run since 1894, and the printing presses weren’t exactly upgraded to the latest safety standards. We proceeded to run around the factory, saying hello to everyone. The employees would give us samples of their work--which were the perfect fodder for crafting some amazing paper arrangements with the staplers, tape, and scissors found in every nook and cranny of the factory. One of my favorite people, Bernice, would show us how she set type, and explain how the machines operated. One time, my stepdad swung by to say that Bernice was an example of what would happen if we didn’t watch ourselves around the machines, and Bernice flashed her two missing fingers with a smile. My sister and I would gasp, and eye the printing presses with horror, as they made the hissing and grinding noises throughout the factory.
Fast forward about six years, and the printing company had been downsized and moved to a small warehouse outside of the city, where both my mom and stepdad now work. This place is known in my family as “the office,” and is still a destination on trips back home. The office is a remnant of its old glory, as the computer and printer took away much of the need for such a cumbersome craft. The printing presses are still there, but most are covered up, and only a few orders grind away on the press each day. This is where I spent my late afternoons and summers in high school, working to make some cash to buy tapes for my Walkman, and to eventually buy CDs. I was never allowed to work on the beautiful presses, as they ran in the background, but I did my share of stringing ribbons, making buttons, and anything else my parents deemed fit for my abilities. Over the years, things created at “the office” by my mom and stepdad, would show up at family events--a letterpress invitation to the family hayride, a ribbon celebrating my Grandma’s 90th birthday. I even requested my mom bring out rolls of satin ribbons, so we could run the ribbons along the tables to add color at our wedding dinner.
Fast forward many years to when my husband and I were discussing our dream of opening a brewery and what a good name would be for the company. If you look around our home, you will see books, more specifically fiction novels, lining the bookshelves. Each of these novels were handpicked by my husband. Novels. Novel Brewing Company. It sounded good, but what could I add to that story? Novel. The printed word. My childhood memories of “the office” and these beautiful printing presses--that would be my addition to the story of Novel Brewing Company. I recently went back to St. Louis, to “the office”, to discuss my vision on bringing some of the old pieces to our new business. You see, my parents are retiring, and “the office” will soon close its doors forever--the printing presses will be sold or scrapped--and I want to keep some of the family history, and bring it into this new adventure my husband and I are starting.
We hope to have one working printing press at the brewery location from the St. Louis printing company that was part of my childhood, and this time, I may even get to operate it!