Mike B and I were both science nuts in the eighth grade. We wanted to do something with that interest, so it seemed a natural to get into the publishing business. After all, I had a typewriter and Hectograph, and Mike had the keen business sense necessary to run a magazine.
So, what’s a Hectograph you ask? It was the cheapest copy machine in the world. The first step to creating a publication was to type it using a special carbon paper. To make copies, we first placed the carbon copy face down on a tray full of a Jell-O like substance. After just a few minutes you would peel off the paper and there would be a mirror image of the page in the gel. Then, just place a clean sheet of paper on the gel, let it sit for another few minutes and voilà! A printed page. The carbon paper was available in colors, and easily made twenty or thirty copies. Blogging, 1960s style. (You may not have noticed that typographical errors are permanent in this process.)
I was in charge of editorial content, layout, art, and typing the magazine. That’s where I learned to type. I bought a Learn Touch Typewriting in Four Hours book, probably at Woolworth’s, or maybe at the office supply store. That skill is still worthwhile.
My typewriter was an ancient Underwood Upright. What a mechanical monster, thousands of moving parts and the longest key stroke you can imagine. Apparently my budding engineering mindset was emerging, as I loved that machine. Fortunately, I was smart enough to not take it apart. I did know the typewriter repair guy at Cal’s Office Supply. Watching him work on an upright typewriter or mechanical adding machine was enough to keep my tools away from my typewriter. I own two typewriters today, a non-functional upright and a portable which works fine, thank you.
Since Mike was the publicist, he talked to the people at the Jamestown Sun and got us featured in the local newspaper. For the second interview, I got to go with him to talk with the reporter and see the production side of the newspaper. Those were the days of hot lead Linotype machines, yet another mechanical monstrosity. They made the typewriter seem amateurish by comparison. The article was a success and helped us sell several more subscriptions.
We published a half-dozen or so issues, but it was a lot of work, and the attention span of eighth graders wasn’t very long. We also weren’t very good on the business side, as the price of a six issue subscription barely paid for one issues worth of supplies.
One important source for articles was Science News magazine, found in the library. I would read the articles, summarize them and create articles for the Analyst. It’s interesting how we would summarize articles from a digest-type of magazine, eh! I continued to subscribe to Science News until just a few years ago, when we figured out that far too many magazines were coming into the house every day. That’s another post, watch for it, or let me know if you’d like to see it sooner.
Mike was a self-proclaimed author so he would usually write a short story for a feature. My forte was the science based fact articles, such as a series on the planets. As I recall, with the four or five issues we never got beyond the earth and the moon. The few times that I tried to write fiction it didn’t work well. Our friend Randy C. wrote a couple of stories, too. I don’t recall if he got paid, or if this was a vanity contribution to the cause. He’s a friend on Facebook, maybe he remembers? We did try to get others interested in writing something for the magazine. What self-respecting Junior High kid would write an essay that wasn’t necessary to pass eighth grade English? So we didn’t get much material.
Here I am, almost fifty years later, still writing, and the only pay is the satisfaction of writing and publishing it myself. WordPress is fun, but nothing like a Hectograph!