X – Xerox…the memories

When I was in elementary school I used to go with my mom on weekends to her school (she was a teacher) and help her prepare for the week. My favorite part was playing with the Xerox machine. That’s right, photocopying…forget the mimeograph…photocopying was where it was at. I loved to press the buttons and listen paper get sucked through the machine. The paper would pile up with worksheets, and essays and tracing sheets…all warm out of the machine.

I became adept at pulling paper jams out of various machines—which was good, my mother wasn’t so good at that. Over the years, the school upgraded machines, but it was always the same smell of toner and same heat. The paper jams stayed the same, too.

Immaculately packaged Specklestone paper

There was one other thing that didn’t change…the paper. It was always that white coated 20lb paper…the same thin, smooth paper year after year after year…and 30 years later, we’re still using it. Here’s the thing, I don’t like that paper. When I turn the pages of a book, I want to feel texture and weight. I want to feel the little impression of the letters. Xerox machines…photocopiers…can’t handle that paper. They can’t handle the thickness and the texture…and, somehow, I don’t think toner would look right on really good paper.

Oddly, I get the occasional jam on my press…the ink sticks to the type and paper and the paper is pulled from the platen…sometimes, it even gets caught in the rollers. It’s a pain to get things unstuck (and an inky mess), but after all those years with the Xerox…I can handle any jam.


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