Letterpress List No. 17: Cargo Loading

About two weeks before summer vacation, the graph paper, the pencil and the ruler would appear on the kitchen table. An odd collection of boxes and suitcases would pile up next. Soon would come the familiar clatter of the old metal roof rack being, uh, coaxed from behind all the bicycles, sporting goods and who knows what that the seven kids had piled into the shed in the past 12 months. (“Brats!” Shop Boy’s dad used to hiss that whenever we’d gotten under his skin.)

We were going to New Hampshire for a week or two, which meant piling the kids into a big red station wagon for the three-hour drive from Cranston, R.I. The only real place to fit the clothes and supplies was the roof rack.

“And this time it’s going to fit, dammit.”

Wallace St. Angelo said that every summer. He’d measure and remeasure the roof rack, carefully size up suitcases and boxes, do the math, plot it out on the graph paper, explain to my mom exactly how much would fit … then on departure day stew and swear as he packed the car and the cargo didn’t come close to matching his painstakingly formulated chart.

“Oh, Wally,” my mom, Jane, would say blithely. “I only added one little thing.”

Shop Boy was feeling his pain this weekend as he stood in the freshly painted Typecast Press studio whose dimensions he’d so carefully studied, measured and remeasured and mapped on graph paper each time Mary acquired this or that machine. (As my mom used to say, the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree. Dad also used to write these goofy little stories to make his wife laugh. Hmm.) Anyway, Shop Boy’s focus is on giving Mary as cool and pretty a studio as possible while giving us enough clearance that we’re not constantly walking into the machinery. Funky but functional.

Well, this roof rack won’t hold anything else.

So how in the world are we going to “blend in” a Heidelberg Windmill with a ton-plus, 25-square-foot-plus “presence”?

“Why don’t we just tear down the closet?” Mary asked. “That’ll make it fit.”

Because Shop Boy doesn’t want to. It’s a great place to store clean paper as well as stuff we need but don’t want to see all the time. It’s got old wires in it, so we’ll need to hire an electrician. Besides, the demolition will make a mess, and we just painted it. I’ve barely finished whining over that deal.

Mary (blithely): “Oh, Shop Boy … it’s only one more press, and it’s the last one we’ll ever need. And we can build shelves to replace the storage space we lose. You’ll love it.”


Letterpress List No. 17

True story: My mom always wanted me to write a book. Any book. Something to prove my worth. As editor, I didn’t even get my name in the paper. So one time, Shop Boy — she called me Steven — decided on a whim to write two full chapters of a novel for a writer’s conference. Got mostly nice feedback and decided to show it to my mom. “Where’s the rest of it, Steven?” she demanded. Period.

I shiver to think what she’d have thought of this goofy blog.

Anyway, Shop Boy’s dad probably won’t be reading this, either, so we can say anything we want about the guy, right? Nah, he’s been a great father. Besides, what’s not to love about an old, straight, white dude who’s just this side of a Donna Summer groupie?

With him in mind, here’s about an hour’s worth of music to rearrange the furniture by. Most songs should be available at the usual places. Disco ball optional. (Wally’s going for it.)

Hot StuffDonna Summer (Everybody sing along.)
Pretty Fly for a White Guy
the Offspring (‘Nuff said.)
GloriaLaura Brannigan (Another of Wally’s crushes. Yours, too, if you’re a guy 40 or older. Besides, it’s a great song. And yes, Mary will make fun of Shop Boy for saying so.)
A Touch Too MuchAC/DC (Always.)
FunkdafiedDa Brat (The funk, the whole funk and nothing but the funk.)
TemptedSqueeze (When it comes to crazy old machinery, Mary’s got a wandering eye.)
Funky But ChicNew York Dolls (No buts about it.)
Another Brick in the WallPink Floyd (Mary just switched the station.)
Demolition ManGrace Jones (My prediction: Closet 1, Shop Boy 0.)
Closet Chronicles Kansas (Just for the title. But this band doesn’t get enough credit.)
It’s Coming DownCake (Ditto.)
Sweating BulletsMegadeth (The walls are closing in.)
Seek and DestroyMetallica (Air guitars locked and loaded …)
The Walls Came Down —
The Call (They’d all been warned.)
You May Be Right —
Billy Joel (She usually is.)
The Logical Song
Supertramp (One, two, three, five.)
The Ruler’s Back Jay-Z (Maybe he’s got the blueprint.)

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