Each morning for seven years, I was greeted with a “Good Morning” from a kind man who sat smack dab in the middle of two others, typing away at his old Mac computer with a style all his own. Having learned to set type on a Linotype machine, he greeted the new technology of computers by installing his own twist to typing. He would still use only two fingers, but could still manage to type over 50 words per minute with those digits.
The man who sat in the middle was known as Ted. He was the youngest of the Hughes brother, three of which, owned and operated Mineral County Independent-News since purchasing the hometown paper from Jack McCloskey in the 1990’s.
A gentle soul, who was born and raised in Hawthorne, he began his career at the newspaper while still in high school and would finish his career, in the same place where he started, in his early 70’s.
Before retirement called his name, Ted worked literally from sun up to sun down at the paper. He was a master printer, running all the old machines that today sit quietly and are collecting dust. A trained ear would alert him to a skipped paper on the old “Chief”, the last press he operated before retirement.
From the backroom, you would hear him while he worked, whistling old County Western or church tunes; happy as a lark to be doing what he loved.
Friends and family from all over would stop by, daily, to visit the brothers and from the back room, you could hear Ted’s laugh. A deep, belly laugh that was contagious even if you didn’t know what the joke was. He would tell of his days as a child. The old milk cow in the front yard; fighting with his brothers and standing arm in arm with them while they defended “their block” while growing up. One of his favorite subjects to speak about was his wife Marian. Their story was a true testament to high school sweethearts. Every time he spoke of her, you could see how much he truly cared for this woman.
They spent many days together collecting rocks or scouting Nevada for elk or deer. Camping with her was luxury to him. It is there, surrounded by his bride, the sage and open sky he must have felt like a king.
Together, they shared two children who he spoke to often. Unlike children who call only when they need something, Kelli and Eric, would call their dad to just say hello. Like all father’s, he would ‘brag’ about weekend stays with Kelli or Eric. Talking about their families; children and grandchildren. He enjoyed picking up the paper on Wednesday’s and meeting with his daughter for dinner, just to catch up.
When baseball season began to warm up, Ted would fondly recall his memories of being a Little League coach for his son, watching him grow from an awkward boy who dreamed of playing in the majors to actually becoming a man who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
Ted was a devote Mormon. He was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though he had held many positions within the church, Ted did not preach the gospel upon you, but he did lead by example. Many slow days were spent in the backroom, listening to him speak about his own beliefs and how he has seen the positive changes that spirituality had upon those around him. He loved to sing with his brothers and family at church; their music brining tears to the eyes of those who listened. He talked about is calling as the bishop and how it influenced him to be caring, considerate and compassionate about others and their situations.
As a friend and employer, Ted was gracious and kind. He listened with an open mind about any situation. He was raised a gentleman, opening doors and lifting heavy boxes for women and for the years that I worked with the brothers, not one day did I ever hear an unkind word said amongst them. Regardless of their work status – at the end of the day, they were still family.
When I think of Ted, here are a few things that I remember: shooting the air pistol in the backroom (and volunteering myself to be shot); the old truck catching on fire (more than once); pow wow’s in the back room after the paper had went to bed and chasing a confused sparrow through the backroom with a fluorescent light. His laughter at each of these escapades still rings clear in my ears.
Today, the brick walls within the Independent-News are quiet. The presses no longer hum – the whistling has stopped. It is as if they know, the printer is gone.