My First Foray Into Desktop Publishing

The early signs were there. If only I had asked questions of my friend’s mom, I might have chosen a more appropriate educational path.

My First Foray Into Desktop Publishing

The early signs were there. If only I had asked questions of my friend’s mom, I might have chosen a more appropriate educational path.

I wouldn’t know what desktop publishing even was until I had graduated from college in my early twenties.

Hostess Cupcake and Wonder Bread

My best friend when I was in grade school was a cute, tiny, curly-haired, redhead. We played together at school and after school. After school our playground wasn’t full of swing sets or merry-go-rounds, we played around and under the Hostess and Wonder Bread 18-wheeler trailers that parked behind her mom’s office and across from my grandma’s store. We played hide and seek or some other games that forced us to run and duck between the wheels and trailers. When it was too hot or raining, we pushed one another through the stockroom of the grocery store in the shopping carts or sat on cardboard and slid down the giant grocery belt that was used to unload the groceries from the trailers. We had so much fun!

The Enticing Aroma

What I loved most about this time of play was that at some point she had to go back to her mom’s office so they could go home. I always loved walking into that building after being outside for so long all hot and sweaty. The instant we opened that door, we were hit with the coldest of air and an unmistakeable aroma. That aroma was paper and ink. Her mom worked for the local newspaper. I remember seeing her clippings laid out on a tilted, gridded table. I remember her showing me the old newspapers and being fascinated by all that history that for the first time I felt I could touch. History classes were so boring and filled with people I’d never meet and places I had never been. But, these old newspapers were touchable histories of this little town!

The combination of the smell of the paper, the ink, and the window unit air conditioner blowing my hair and sweat away was heavenly. I loved the history and wanted to sit and read those papers until I had learned about everyone and everyone’s family member! I thought the page layout system was neat. Her mom likely had no idea, especially since I was too shy around adults to say much at all.

First foray into desktop publishing, editorial layout, blog post image

Read All About It

It was the summer after getting to see the old papers that my family and I took our vacation to Colorado to visit family. That trip was my first foray into desktop publishing; I laid out my first newsletter.

As I did with most of my time when I was trapped in the car, I read my Archie Comics, read the jokes aloud from my Ballpoint Banana joke book, and doodled on paper. I remember thinking there wasn’t much of a point to doodling without a goal or direction. That’s when I started laying out the front page of my newspaper. I don’t recall the big headline or name I gave the paper. Although, I suspect I named it after our hometown paper, the Centerville News–or something equally original.I wrote some story headlines and used squiggly lines for the article texts (my early version or Lorem ipsum). Where I had fun was inserting the ads. The ads were where I spent my time and creativity.


Every paper had a wedding announcement. Therefore, the families of Roy and Ann Droid announced their recent union. The “photo” was included as well, a couple of glorified stick figures. She wore a veil and held her flower bouquet. He wore glasses, like my dad.

Read more in the About section.

Car ads were a must too. One car ad was for the Long Family car. The car we were traveling in was not fun or big enough for everyone to stretch out. So, the Long Family car was pretty much a limousine. Another ad was a feature that came with the Long Family car. This feature transformed the lengthy car into a short, compact car that could fit in any parking space with ease (apparently, this was a concern of my 9-year old self). You could simply squeeze the Long Family car into a smaller car I cleverly called the Squeezador! You may know this car by its current name, the Smart car. Yes, my drawings of the Squeezador were EXACTLY like the Smart car!

Going “Public”

My family had quite a good time with my “beta” test paper. The Squeezador was and is still famous in our family. However, it remained only in the family. The next school year, I wrote my first paper for my class. My mom helped me make the copies. I did two or three issues but don’t think the content was there; writing was not a developed skill yet. I’m pretty sure the only news I knew was gossip. I do remember charging 10 cents but not sure I even took the money from anyone.

By the time I was in junior high and high school, someone else decided to start a school paper. I was not part of that one; I had been there and done that. Ha! Like my fourth grade paper, gossip dominated the news. I don’t think it lasted more than a few issues, also like my own paper.


Nowadays, newspapers are few and far between. How are we preserving our new history we are creating now that the dailies and weeklies are almost extinct for more towns and cities? With the extinction of newspapers went the extinction of most beginner jobs for kids. My husband’s first job was a paper route. Other than baby sitting and lawn care, which includes hauling hay for the rural kids, I don’t know what else kids might do these days for money.

A Regular Part of My Work Life

When I finally learned what desktop publishing was, I was already working full time learning it on the job as I went. The print shop owner was very nice and educated me with each job we had. (I think that shop is what’s now called Republic Print and Mail but am not sure if the owners are the same. I’d love to thank her one day.) We all start somewhere, and this woman, who showed me my first blue line, taught me about color separation, and walked me through preflighting kept me above water.