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In Vermont Until I Die
I CAME TO VERMONT in a hurry and of necessity had to leave my shop behind. After my mother died, I was flat broke and--living in a place where I had not worked before--could not continue in graphic design. I had a good reputation in Kalamazoo and long history with printers, suppliers, and clients. Here, nothing. So began a long period of working for others, mostly start-up, leading edge software and electronic companies. Seventy hour work weeks, high stress, etc. In 1995 came the call--the house, in whose cellar was my shop, was being sold. I agonized a bit, and then put an announcement out over the internet, maybe even through the LETPRESS list; I can't remember. I was going to sell it all. The next morning I had two or three inquiries. I panicked. Pain washed over me, and I simply couldn't do it. I racked my brains for a solution, and finally ended up borrowing $1,000, driving to Kalamazoo, renting a truck and, in one day, with three men from Manpower, hauling everything up from the cellar and out to the truck. The guillotine and the double cabinet had to be dismantled. The cabinet I reassembled in the truck so it could carry its cases properly. I think I was lucky, because I'm pretty sure the truck was massively overloaded. On the third day I arrived back here, totally exhausted. But, at least my soul was back together. Before I did the move, I had spent a week cleaning out the old horse barn, where my parents had stored various miscellany. I insulated the parts I could reach, faced the inside with rough lumber, painted the floor, and hung a proper door on it. And, that is where Fairfax Press is today. The press name was taken from Fairfax, Vermont. That was the mailing address for the farm which has been in our family since 1867--hence the title of this section of the history. I printed some case labels that fall--on the 25th Anniversary of Fairfax Press--and that was about it. Working the kind of schedule I was, I had absolutely no time and no energy. When the "getting and spending" and laying waste to my days got to be too much, and after about 6 months of study, I chucked it all and became a piano technician. The first year and a half I worked 14 hours/day 7 days a week. I took one and one-half days off in that entire time. BUT, I did make a go of it. Now, with an easier schedule and a presence in the area, I can relax a bit. Hence, my return to this list, my return to APA, my subscription to The Printer, and my membership in the American Printing History Association.

DAVID KENT, in Montana was the man who lit the fire. One day, a Saturday, I think about two or three months ago, my phone rang. David introduced himself and said he was putting together an exhibit of APA pieces and was including one of mine from 15 years ago. It was a small piece with Art Deco borders, ornaments and Newport type. We talked for quite a while and I put down the phone in a state of turmoil. All the love of type, printing, the alphabet, everything came welling up inside. My first official act was to spend money! I ordered Mac McGrew's book. I borrowed my neighbor's shop vac and began two days of menial labor. Then I spent two weeks distributing type from galleys, cleaning corroded type and rule, and generally getting all the bits and pieces in order. The down time for the press had been the up and running time for the internet. I needed @ signs and forward slashes. I got in touch with Foyal at Harold Berliner and Bill at Quaker City. I was ready to roll. My first project was, of course, my APA prop card. My second was a business card for a discerning friend of mine in the computer business. Through these projects, I learned just how much I had forgotten in the unleaded years. The prop card is printed too light, too little ink (until I realized this about two-thirds of the way through the run). I had to relearn the case, and, just generally, get the dormant synapses in the printing area of my brain to wake up. Books have always been my life's blood and I splurged to obtain The Fell Revival by Martyn Ould and Martyn Thomas, and Theo Rehak's book, Practical Typecasting. These should keep me going for a while. I also bought one complete font, and one lowercase of 12pt Gill Sans from Harold Berliner. My next purchase will be to add some more Bembo--from M&H Type where my earlier Bembo came from. I'm still searching for Union Pearl, but that will probably go on for a while. On June 2nd of this year (2001) I'm visiting John Barrett in Massachusetts. I can't make the Wayzgoose because I've bought all these books and type! Now, Fairfax Press is home, no longer needing the location tag it used to carry of "Cambridge, Massachusetts" or "Kalamazoo". It's home where it belongs and so am I.

--THE END-- Home
© 2001-2008, Clair Dunn.