By Kaylie Ractliffe
Sixty-six years after working his first shift at the Falls City Journal, Ron Dodds is still going strong.
Dodds began his career at the age of 11, when he and his twin brother became carriers for the Journal in 1952.
“I remember that first day, it was cold and rainy, and it must have been fall because there were leaves everywhere,” Dodds said.
Throughout the years, Dodds’ duties have ranged from delivering papers to melting lead for typesetting. Now, Dodds works for the Journal on a part-time basis, proofreading articles and preparing papers for mail delivery. He has also played a significant role in the Journal’s move to its new location at 1709 Stone St., which will be completed by May 1. Dodds has spent many hours in recent weeks hauling desks, chairs, file cabinets, archived files and other furniture and equipment with the help of his brother.
Dodds also assisted with the Journal’s move to Harlan Street in 1957. Previously, the paper operated from 108 E. 16th St., which now houses Mane Attraction beauty salon.
“There was a lot more to move back then,” Dodds said. “We had to take out a window and we got a big crane and lifted [equipment] out [from the upper level].”
Dodds became a shop foreman in 1988, around the same time he says he saw the biggest changes to newspaper operations. According to Dodds, the Journal changed its printing process to offset, a quicker and easier method that produces higher-quality images than the previously-used letterpress printing, in the mid-1980s. Dodds says the letterpress used molten lead typesetting.
“We had a big pot with a gas burner underneath it, and we poured [the lead] into iron bowls,” Dodds said.
Throughout his time melting lead and doing other physically demanding tasks for the newspaper operations, Dodds says he has never been injured.
“I’ve gotten a couple of smashed fingers every once in a while, but nothing big,” Dodds said.
Dodds says he has taken an occasional vacation, but Nikki McKim says that in the nearly ten years she has worked with Dodds, he has never been absent for the production of a paper.
“Besides Ron being one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I have also never met anyone more devoted to their job,” McKim said.
Once the Journal has moved into its new building on Stone Street, Dodds says the best part will be the warmer temperature. The current Harlan Street building contains a large warehouse that is not heated in the winter months because it is no longer used, which brings cool air into the office space. Dodds also says the layout of the new building will make his mailing job easier.