On Jan. 14, 1973, the Artesia Daily Press proudly proclaimed “Daily Press ‘Goes Offset’” following the first run of its new offset press.
In the photo above left, press man Virgil Simmons Jr. watches as the new machine performs a rapid-fire run of the day’s edition. The newspaper noted that the press was its third since James K. Green had taken the helm.
As it happened, it would also be its last.
That press proceeded to serve the Daily Press faithfully for the next 50 years until, as pictured above right, it was dismantled and removed from the building Friday, May 19.
Artesia’s daily newspaper was previously printed on a tubular-type press. The new offset machine allowed for crisper, bolder ink transfer, and its blackand-white pages smudged the fingers of generations of local readers until Thursday, April 13.
As of April 20, the Daily Press is now printed in color by the Hobbs News-Sun, and while it’s a change that is enjoyed by most, the retirement of the newspaper’s press was an historic moment — and a sad one for its longtime and former staff.
Residents are also already missing the beloved end rolls and tin plates, purchased through the decades by high school graduates packing for college, parents in search of a large supply of coloring paper for their children, farmers patching up old tin roofs, and crafters seeking that perfectly cuttable bit of metal.
Daily Press Associate Publisher Danny Scott said the press’ longevity was made all the more impressive by the fact that it had been purchased used and shipped in from California, meaning no one knew its true age. Scott estimates it printed more than 6 billion copies of the Daily Press during its tenure.
“It’s definitely sad to see it go,” Scott said. “I’m not going to miss the ink under my fingernails, but it’s still sad. I was working here as a paper boy at that time, so I was here for the last run off the old tubular press and now the last run off this one.”
It may have looked its age, and it might have given the press men heck every now and then, but we will always fondly remember our “pet dinosaur” and the countless afternoons and late nights spent watching paper after paper fly through its rollers and across the print plates before sailing, somehow neatly folded, onto the conveyor belt below.
Farewell, old friend.