Celebrating Lewis Mitchell’s Sixty Years at Mackenize & Harris Typefoundry

“Lewie, do we have Romanian accents?” said journeyman Kenny Howard. “Lewie, the Don Quixote caster keeps dropping characters,” said apprentice Brian Ferrett. “Lewie, the keyboard is not resetting,” said apprentice Davey Johnston. This was a typical Wednesday at M & H Type; we all wait for Wednesday, both at M & H and at Arion Press; a day of questions answered and problems solved when Lewis Mitchell comes to work.

It was in 1950, on Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12, that Lewis “Lewie” Mitchell started working at Mackenzie and Harris. Sixty years later he remains employed with M & H Type as a master casterman. On the evening of February 10, 2010, Lewie was guest of honor at a reception celebrating sixty years of service, wearing a new set of coveralls and freshly shined shoes.

The party attendees gathered in the pressroom for an evening filled with food, drinks, and conversation. Hot dogs warmed in a coffee urn . . .

. . . a well-stocked self-service bar, and many stories and acquaintances from the past and present made up the evening.

The guests included M & H customers, co-workers, and friends from the San Francisco Bay Area letterpress printing community.

In all, there were probably close to one hundred people who came to congratulate, reminisce, and see Lewie. A short program allowed Andrew Hoyem to point out the gift given by the staff to Lewie, a custom pair of coveralls screen printed with the M & H logo, and sixty years of service.

Then the floor was open to anyone who wanted to say a few words about Lewie. Among them: Othmar Peters, former owner of Mackenzie & Harris; Patrick Reagh, local letterpress printer; Sarah Songer, Arion Press bookbinder; and Monroe Postman, engineer of the Monomac computer-to-caster interface. The program concluded with an invitation for the guests to mingle in the typefoundry or bookbindery. More stories and conversation filled the rooms until the end.

Ten more years doesn’t seem out of the question; Lewie stillworks faster than the rest of us.

— Kenny Howard, M & H Type

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