One of my earliest memories is waking up on winter mornings in Ohio, hoping to be the first person downstairs to gather the milk bottles that had been left on the front porch, right next to the morning newspaper. In winter the milkman would arrive before dawn and if we were lucky, the milk would be out on the porch long enough to freeze the top layers, causing the paper top to pop up, revealing the delicious frozen milk underneath.
I loved scooping that out with a spoon and savoring the icy treat, usually at the kitchen table, while my dad sat across from me, newspaper open in front of him, eating his soft-boiled egg.
Glass milk bottles and newspapers….they used to be on every front porch every morning.
In 2015 the milk bottles are long gone. Newspapers are less prevalent in the early morning landscapes of our front lawns as more and more of us read our news online but the industry is managing to hang in there and the news is still being printed.
In October I had the opportunity to visit the Omaha World Herald and my eyes were opened to the complicated process of newspaper production. My favorite fact? The roll of newsprint that feeds through this three-story printer is 10 miles long!
I was fascinated with the labyrinth of machines in the World Herald building and so I bring them to you in pictures. Visually, they offer you a window into the intricate story of newspaper production. However, this isn’t just an exploration of the industrial process, it’s also an exercise in finding beauty in the practical.
Eventually newspapers in physical form might go the way of the glass milk bottle as we find ourselves downloading them onto our Apple Watches but for now amazing operations like this continue to produce them and they still show up, like clockwork, on people’s lawns and front porches, on a daily basis.
And in some homes, dogs still have a job when they wake up in the morning. Even when they don’t look too excited about it!