By: E&P Staf
After 57 years, Duane “Fifty” Miles put in his last day at the Sterling (Colo.) Journal-Advocate, having worked under at least six owners and dozens of publishers.
Fresh out of high school and before the paper’s merger with the Advocate, Miles began working in the High Plains Daily Journal‘s production department, learning flat casting and pig pouring for the Linotype machine — and everything that came after.
“I learned all of it on my own,” Miles told Journal-Advocate Regional Editor Judy Debus. “There was no schooling.”
Reporting Miles’ retirement, the Journal-Advocate noted that he also took photos high school games for the sports department in the 1960s and ’70s, and occasionally assisted in the darkroom.
“Fifty has been the main stay of Journal-Advocate production for decades. With each technological advance, Fifty taught himself the new methods and he kept his job. He grew in the profession, Journal-Advocate President and Publisher David McClain is quoted saying. “Fifty remained all the way from hot metal typesetting in the 1950s to full-page computer-to-plate process we use today. That is a pretty good indicator of his commitment to excellence.”
Platemaking from hot type meant more work, and Miles recalled occasions when it was done twice — once when he sent the lead-laden turtle down an empty elevator shaft and again when Page One of the just-printed paper was recast to include the death of President John F. Kennedy.
His paper reported that Miles spent much of his own time learning new technology by trial and error, only to have the latest technology eliminate the position he’d held for so long – most of production had been moved to the its MediaNews Group sister paper the Boulder Daily Camera.