Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vintage Cuneo Press

Time Magazine
Mar. 5, 1945

For months, National Tea Co., sixth largest U.S. retail grocery chain, had squirmed under the critical gaze of one of its new stockholders. The critic: John F. Cuneo, cold-eyed, round-faced owner of The Cuneo Press, Inc., biggest U.S. printers as well as "angel" of Liberty and a string of other magazines.
Last fall, Stockholder Cuneo sent his own auditors poring through National's books to find out why it made only $332,000 in 1943 on sales of $92,000,000. Last month he fired off a letter to National stockholders giving his findings: bad management, antiquated...

Kokomo Perspective:

This letter was sent to us by Carol Thieke about his memories of Cuneo Press.
“Does anyone remember the old Cuneo Press?
“Ernest Cox, Tiny Sheets and I worked at General Electric before Cuneo Press.
“It started around 1948.  We helped set up presses 83 and 85 and after they got the presses together, they needed someone to run them.  Ernest and Tiny became pressmen. They worked at Cuneo until they passed away.
“There were a lot of people who worked there.  Do you remember the white sleeves they had to wear on their arms to keep paper from cutting  them.  It was during the packing of books off the presses.
“When I started working there in 1957, I was making $1.42 per hour.  I thought we were rolling in the money.  At that time Chrysler was making around $2 an hour.  Shortly after I got hired, we had a bad fire. I thought I was going to be looking for a new job, but they had to work overtime and, believe it or not, we got it all cleaned up and got the presses running.
“Did you know we had a bomb shelter there?  We had 1,000 cots, medicine and food stored in  the basement in case of fallout from an atom bomb blast.
“Mr. Vernal Baugh worked for Civil Defense then and filled some of the supplies.  He can be seen at Richard’s Restaurant at the same time we have our Cuneo Press breakfast, every fourth Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the big room.  If anyone would like to attend please call Mark Ault at 45-95245 or Carol Thieke at 883-1213.
“Back in 1957, Good Housekeeping magazine was sold for 35 cents a copy, and we printed around 7 million copies.
 “Mr. John Cuneo, owner of Cuneo Press, had contracts with John Hearst. We printed a lot of his magazines. To work at Cuneo, most people had to be journeyman pressmen and assistant pressmen. Most had to serve a four-year apprenticeship. Most jobs were skilled trades.
“When you became a pressman, you made good money. It was a good place to work. There were a lot of people who didn’t like to work there, when they had to pack books and throw mail bags back in the shipping area. That was hard work.
 “Talking about mail bags,  did you know we had the largest post office in Indiana back then, right there in the Cuneo Press building.  Cuneo took over the Pittsburgh Plate building when they closed.
“Cuneo Press was a good job until World Color came on the scene. After Cuneo died, World Color bought us out and moved everything out. What a sad day when we lost our jobs.
“We need jobs like we had back there at Cuneo and the old Steel Mill. You could always find work if you wanted to work.  Thanks for reading about Cuneo Press and a little history of a great place to work.”

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