The year was 1971 and I had just turned 40 years old. The Ecumenical Institute still occupied the Bethany Seminary buildings on the west side of Chicago. The subject was related to the New Social Vehicle. All the participants were to pull together stuff they had read during the year on their piece of our globe.
I don’t remember who asked me if I would tackle the print shop but I intuited that this would be a large job. I somehow reluctantly said, “Yes.” This was a first major Print Shop for a summer program. Our three kids were off to the coast of Louisiana for camp. That was a whole other event.
This Print Shop was in a small room that had originally been an office. As we started the program I had one Gestetner machine, a type of duplicating machine, to do the printing. That Summer program was in three locations across the city. At least I didn’t have to go find the stuff to print. Whatever needed printing was delivered to “my” print shop.
Later I wrote on my personal timeline that 1971 was the summer that I grew up. That job was a mess, but actually the whole summer program was incredible. I don’t think any of the tasks the groups did were what was thought up at the first of the summer. Stuff to print just kept piling up at my door constantly. I am sure that I never went to bed at night…but not even much during the day. I was bound and determined that I would achieve the printing tasks as they were asked for…but I struggled mightily to get stuff back to folks as they needed it. There were a bunch of tears mixed in the mess, but I tried hard not to let anyone see them.
As time went on I added one small printing press and then another. I think I had four or five going at once as the weeks went by. As the month moved ahead LeRoy Philbrook began to help as he hunted printing presses in shops that sold them down town. Who knew how many press places he talked with but as the month moved along we were nearly overwhelmed by the scope of the task.
We managed to have the final printing mess of a long document all to be printed at one large business floor with a variety of print presses. We were using a bunch of folks to move the pages…from the groups writing them to the presses and then back to the groups. That last day/night we were printing a huge document. As those pages were printed we had a crew take them to a large hall (at one of the colleges) where we were going to have the last event.
A crew of folks were moving printed pages to the string of tables assembled around the hall. t As folks arrived at the hall for the final session they walked around the hall and collated their own document first. Then they could go sit with their group of folks. It was somewhat chaotic, but by the time the closing session began all had assembled.
I am not sure I ever read all that was contained in that closing document. But everyone did get their own copy. I was glad to see the end of that event and I hoped I would never use a printing press again. Why I was chosen to do that task I have no idea. As I said earlier…it was definitely the summer that I grew up. Waiting until I turned forty years old to take on the world was an event.