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Despite changes, end product still the same

By Joe Centers • Apr 4, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Monday was the first time in more than 20 years Neil Hansberger didn’t deliver the Norwalk Reflector.

He was one of the holdouts from “the way we used to do it — the good old days.”

Back in the day, we did it all here.

We would get out our pencils and paper and take our notes. We’d come back to the office and pound out a story on the typewriter before we got a tiny little computer screen.

We would have a photographer take pictures with black-and-white film they had rolled themselves. They would come back to the darkroom and develop their film and make prints.

We’d lay out the paper using a dummy sheet. All of the copy would go back to the composition room where people would put the pages together like a puzzle on a light table.

That made for some interesting pages. Sometimes the lines were not straight. Sometimes the paragraphs were put in the wrong places. Sometimes the negatives went in backwards and the photos looked like a selfie. You could get away with it unless you had a uniform name or number in the photo.

Once we were done with that we’d make page negatives and then plates for the press.

We’d fire up the press and the papers would roll right off to a conveyor belt. The papers would roll into the mail room where the ads were inserted and then bundled.

The motor route drivers and carriers would wait for their papers.

Now, everything is done on computers with digital photos. Once the pages are done, they are sent to Sandusky where the papers are printed. They are then trucked back to Norwalk where the drivers pick them up.

We used to have carriers deliver throughout the city. Most of those routes have been eliminated and are now done by our drivers.

The one real holdout through it all was Hansberger.

He’d show up every morning (he only missed five or six days in his 20-plus years) to get his papers. He’d set off on foot and do his thing, delivering about 200 papers each day.

I followed him on his route Thursday.

We were both here about 6:30 a.m. waiting for the papers to come from Sandusky. Once he got his bundles, he loaded up his two canvas bags and took off.

Up and down the streets we went. I have long legs and am a fast walker (just ask my wife). But I could not keep up with Neal. He’d deliver his papers where needed and never look back. It was north on Foster Street to Washington Road to the Homestead Villa Senior Homes where he delivered about 24 papers (easy money).

We made our way back to Reflector where he picked up more papers.

We then hit Main Street where Neil met with many of the merchants — something he does every morning.

After we made our way through the Huron County Courthouse and the county offices, we went to Flickinger Insurance, Howard Hanna, Westaff and the barber shop.

Hansberger then crossed Main Street to hit the other side. From there he would head up Benedict Avenue to Norwood Avenue to Oak Street.

But I had seen enough. I tapped out after the barber shop. I couldn’t keep up with Hansberger.

Now he’s off to another chapter in his life working for Miller Landscape & Gardens.

And we’ll move on, just like we have done over the last number of years despite all of the changes.

What it all comes down to is no matter how we produce it or how you get it, we still have to go out and get the news, report it, write it, photograph it, video it and get it to you both in print and on the Internet.

That will never change.

* * *

We have had a couple of problems with our stories with wrong names and wrong headlines the last couple of weeks.

Those problems are on us and there are no excuses. We apologize for our mistakes and promise we will work hard to put out a better product. We will never be perfect, but we always can be better.

Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com. 

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