A Personal Memorial Day Remembrance

by | May 29, 2017

Today in the United States we are celebrating Memorial Day, a federal holiday to remember people who died while serving in the armed forces. There are parades, visits to military cemeteries, and enough people grilling in their backyards to create smog inversions nationwide.

Also, it’s the official start of the summer season here.

While respecting the debt we owe to those who serve to protect the rest of us, I’ve been thinking of my own remembrances today, and the many people who are gone now, but who provided me with powerful help, who educated and helped sustain me throughout my own journey in book publishing.

So this is who I’m giving thanks for today.

Roy Friedlander—Of course, it starts with my dad, who was also a veteran of World War II combat in Europe. Roy taught me a lot of what I know about letterpress printing, about organizing your work area, about taking the care that high quality work demands. And how to be a human being while doing it.

Felix Morrow—My publishing mentor, who showed me how to think on a much larger scale than I had ever experienced before, who taught me about book clubs, and who became for me a model of active aging by staying vital and engaged into his 80s.

Michael Hoffman—Publisher of photography books and periodicals at Aperture, Michael hired me as his Director of Production and handed me $1 million worth of books to produce. He taught me how traditional publishing works, and showed through his intelligence and good will how to deal with even the most high-maintenance artists.

Ernie Lindner—An avid collector of printing equipment, Ernie took me on an epic trip to Britain to buy antique hand printing presses. Ernie’s knowledge, enthusiasm, and dedication to the history of printing technology showed me how much we owe to the past.

Nicholas Jenson—Okay, Jenson lived in the 16th century, so he wasn’t really a mentor of mine, but I fell in love with his graceful yet powerful Roman typeface and, when it came time to design our own font, my friend Alan Sanders and I picked his design as our ideal model.

Dan Poynter—Dan passed away in 2015, but he left behind tens of thousands of published authors—including me—who owe a lot of the credit for publishing our own books to the rational, step-by-step process that Dan pioneered in his classic Self-Publishing Manual. When I finally started meeting Dan at industry events, I found him to be as informed, amusing, and generous as he was in print.

Hermann Zapf—Zapf also passed away in 2015, but leaves behind many of the most-used typeface designs of all time. Beyond that, Zapf had a real appreciation for the artistic possibilities of typography, and when I use Optima, Palatino, Melior, or one of his other faces, I appreciate the incredible care and artistry that went into these designs.

Well, there are some of my remembrances from my own professional journey. Click the links to find out more about any of these folks.

Feel free to share with us who or what you’re remembering today.

Or, just head back to the barbecue and I’ll see you on Wednesday.

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    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Lyn, I loved your article and learned a lot about Memorial Day, too!

      • Lyn Horner

        Thank you, Joel. I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

  1. Dale Archibald

    Joel, a friend sent me your Remembrances, and it spurred me to remember those who got me involved in the infotainment industry. I still freelance today, after first being published as a writer in 1970.
    My grandfather, Charles, a longtime printer and editor, whose 1917 Underwood typewriter was my first experience of putting thoughts on that forbidding white surface, paper.
    My father, Dale, who was a journeyman printer that took the family from one end of Calif. to another, working for newspapers and printing companies for years.
    Tom (whose last name I don’t remember at the moment), publisher and editor of the Penny Press in Santa Cruz, Calif., who hired a 15-year-old h.s. junior to pour lead from a bubbling cauldron into molds for pigs to lower slowly into the maw of a Linotype machine, then let him run the Linotype as well.
    Mr. Hanson, my printing teacher in Santa Cruz.
    Dr. Scott, the journalism professor at West Valley College, Campbell, Calif.
    And various and sundry other editors that helped me become the inkstained wretch I am today.
    Thanks for the memories.

    • Dale Archibald

      Looked up Tom from Santa Cruz. His name was McHugh, and much of his writing is available, apparently. I may look him up to see what he had to say. I know the county sheriff seemed to always be tossing him into jail for things he wrote. (That’s my memory, and I’m sticking to it.)

    • Joel Friedlander

      Those are some great memories, Dale, thanks for sharing them.

  2. Wendy Raebeck

    Dearest Joel, This tribute touched me so personally because my own darling father passed away a couple of days ago, at 95. This weekend has been a heartfelt time with the big gang he left behind. “I thought Charlie would never die,” is what several people have said to us. His greatness was so constant, so remarkable that he seemed to have risen above trifles like death. And he might have even overcome his final two-day ordeal if left to his own ‘font,’ but hospitals and fear and tests and drugs are another font that didn’t fit his story. But after such a long and exceptional life, we could let him go. Here’s to the greatest of the greatest generation.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for your beautiful remembrance, Wendy, and condolences on your loss.

  3. Anil

    Beautiful. In the midst of all info-laden emails, this message made me stop and reflect.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for reading, Anil. Have a great day.


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