NORMAN — As The Norman Transcript celebrates its 125th anniversary, two longtime Transcript employees took a look back at how the newspaper industry has changed since they’ve worked there.
Press foreman John Orth, the employee who has worked at the newspaper the longest, began working at The Transcript delivering newspapers in 1969. His mother worked on the city desk at the time and helped him get his foot in the door.
“I think all of my in-laws worked here at one time or another,” Orth said, in addition to his mom’s employment.
Orth threw newspapers throughout high school, shifting to the mail room afterward and then starting in the press room in 1975. His official hire date is 1978 because he said he quit for about six months, but he still remembers the old letterpress used to print The Transcript.
“You had a bunch of 600 degree lead pots,” Orth said. “It was pretty hot up there.”
Some of the things Orth remembers about those lead pots is being able to lick your finger and stick it down into the lead without it burning just because of that small amount of moisture. He also remembered hopping around after lead would pop out and get inside his shoe.
“If you threw some old type in the lead pot with some water on it, it would splash or splatter out, because of the reaction of the heat and moisture,” he said, adding that it got into his shoe twice when he was still new.
While he did have the chance to take different career paths with two other companies, Orth said he went back to The Transcript because he was comfortable there.
“I knew what I was doing,” he said. “(It was) something I was familiar with.”
Orth eventually worked his way to the top as press foreman after the previous foreman died in 1981. While the press works a little differently today, it has been a good change and makes his job easier, he said.