This is for all of you who went to school when there were still cloakrooms.  "Time outs" weren't called that, but were spent in the cloakroom.  Many a first kiss occurred in the cloakroom.  Discipline came at the end of a board, and parents quite often repeated the action when they heard about it.

But, this story is about neither of the above, I was just trying to set the scene.  Do you remember the slightly smelly, purple lettered, hand outs?  That was long before every school had a copy machine, because that was before copy machines.  Any way, on a recent visit to H. C. "Mac" and Grace McMullin, I asked Mac about those.  Here is his written response:



By H. C. "Mac" McMullin,
Teacher, Principal. Superintendent,
Picher-Cardin School System
District 15

The instructions for creating Hectograph copies are as follows:

1.  Obtain a shallow wood or metal pan a little larger than the sheet of paper you plan to use.  (A cookie pan is best.)  It should have sides about a half inch tall.

2.  Obtain a can of Hectograph gelatin from a school supplier.  Place the can in a pan of hot water to turn the gelatin into a liquid.

3.  After leveling the pan as best you can, pour the gel into the pan.  Allow to cool to harden.

4.  Use a Hectograph pencil or Hectograph ribbon in a typewriter to write on a regular sheet of paper.  Be sure to bear down to make a bold print.

5.  Moisten the gel and press the master sheet on the gel being careful to have no wrinkles.  Make sure to press firmly in order to transfer the original to the gel, then remove the master copy.

6.  Apply a blank sheet of paper to the gel, making sure it has full contact with no air bubbles.  Remove that sheet and whatever was on the master will be printed on it.

About 50 good copies can be made.  When the copies become faint, you have to start over.  Clean the gel with a moist cloth or sponge.  The gel can be used until it gets too much purple in it.  Then throw it out and start from step one.

Each job had to be made one copy at a time by hand.  It was a slow process, but it was better than having to write out each page.

Hectograph Uses:

1.  Duplicate Homework sheets
2. Copy test sheets
3.  Copy art work
4. Send letters and progress reports to parents.
5.  Make bulletins

The gel could be used many times and was easy and simple to replace.  The Hectograph was a great help to teachers.


We have about three acres between our "yard" and the north property line.  I have done very little to it or for it in the 28 years we have lived here.  I've been cleaning it up during the better weather this winter.  Now, on March 27, 2009, it's in the forties, and sprinkling rain, with a promise of snow tonight and tomorrow.  I decided it was a good time to do a little writing, and Mr. Mac's Hectograph story brought up some memories that I'll share.

My printing career started at PHS, in Journalism class.  We put out the "Chat Pile" school news(?) paper.  We all took turns running the "press", typing, (manual typewriters) and reporting.  The "press" was a A. B. Dick duplicator, with the ink contained in the drum, to which we attached "plates".  The plates were of an onionskin type material which we typed on, using no ribbon.  This made an impression through the plate which allowed ink to transfer through the plate to paper.  My short senior year, we would take pictures to Dan Hensley's in Miami, and he would make up "patches" of the pictures, which we would insert into our plates, and print pictures for the first time (at school) in the Chat Pile.  The duplicator was hand cranked, and of course, much better and faster than the Hectograph.

After I returned from the Navy in 1965, I went to work at B. F. Goodrich. 

In the early seventies, we had bought a spirit duplicator at a sale, and printed up several things.  An address book for our citizens band radio club, price lists for our CB business, etc.  It worked much like the Hectograph principal , but was a hand cranked machine.  We bought "plates" from a local print shop and typed or wrote on them.  The plate contained the "ink" just like the Hectograph "plate".  We could get purple, which lasted longer, or we could get black, which was much more professional looking, but wore out quicker.

In 1985, we started thinking about a different way to make a living. (at that time, the plant closing had not been announced)  We bought a few machines to get into the printing business, and learned from scratch the offset printing process.  Our first press was a 10X15, 1250 Multilith (chute delivery), and I'm glad no one was around to see us when we first tried to print with it.  Of course, the guy we bought it from came over and gave us about thirty minutes on how to make plates and run the press.  After that, we were on our own.  We wondered many days whether we had made a huge mistake.

It didn't take long to realize that printing one page at a time, even though we could print at a good rate, wasn't going to support us.  About that time, we found out that the plant was closing, so we invested in a better press, a 11X17 1250w Multilith. (Chain Delivery)  With this press, we could print two 8 1/2 X 11 sheets at once. (Actually, printed one 11X17 sheet, then cut into two sheets)  Boy, this was great!  We doubled out output immediately!

Of course, after the plant closed and prices went higher, but our output didn't increase much, we had to look for better equipment.  After much soul searching, and saving money, we went to Kansas City (the trip home in the huge rental truck is a story all by itself) and bought a new (to us) platemaker and a Davidson 702P high speed press with roll converter.  Sheet fed, it will print on stock up to 15"X18", one sided or two sided.  Yes, it actually can print on both sides at the same time.  Using the roll converter, it uses rolls of paper, 17" wide by 42" tall.  The roll converter cuts the 17" paper to whatever length you want, (usually 11 inches) prints both sides, and if you desire, slits the printed 11"X17" sheet into two 8 1/2"X11" sheets, thereby producing four pages at a time.  Here's what the business end looks like, up close.

Of course, when you print books, which is our specialty, you have to collate the pages into books.  Most people never think about that aspect of our business.  Most print shops around here lay the printed pages in stacks on a table, then walk around the table, gathering the pages one at a time to make their pamphlets or books.  I figured out real quick that that method wouldn't work for us, so I invented a carousel which would hold 109 books at a time.  By constructing another tower, you could sit in a chair, remove pages one at a time from a tower, creating a "signature" of 24 pages, and insert it into the carousel.  It was still a slow process, but it beat what everyone else was doing.  I then found a Multilith collator that attached to an old Multilith press, and set that contraption beside the carousel.  Of course, after a while,  I had to cut out all the unnecessary parts of the "feeder" press, and cross wire the the whole mess, so that after 100 sheets went into the collator, the feeder would quit feeding that sheet.  The collator will hold about 50 sheets per bin, so you can collate 100+ pages, 100 times, then transfer them to the carousel, and start the next 100 pages.  It sounds more complicated than it is, but it sure puts books together in a hurry.  Compared to the walk around the table, it's light speed!

Pamphlets were another problem.  Originally, we bought a folder, folded the sheets, hand collated them, then stitched them together, and trimmed them.  Another time/labor saving machine we purchased was our Bourg!  This timesaver collates up to 11"X17" sheets, stitches them, then folds them.  Of course, it adjusts down to collate and fold smaller sheets.  But, we still have to hand trim them.

All in all, printing primarily genealogy and history has been good to us.  I've learned a lot about copyrights, and the abuse of them.  It's hard to believe it all started at PHS, printing the Chat Pile!  We haven't done bad.  We've printed books from authors all over the states, and even Europe and Japan!  I guess that qualifies us as an international company.  Not bad, considering where I came from.  We've printed many a newsletter, pamphlet, coloring book, calendar, card and letterhead.  Early on, we obtained a toll free phone number (when long distance cost a bunch) and have sold books all over the world.  Our daughter, who works with us, created and maintains our website, and my wife and daughter speak at genealogical and historical meetings all over.