James “Jimbo” Krakowiak, 56
37 years at TNI, 15 printing the Tucson Citizen
“Everyone calls me Jimbo,” says Krakowiak, who is deaf and attended the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. He worked in ASDB’s print shop as a student and discovered “that’s what I wanted to do.”
He started working for the newspaper company as an apprentice when the Citizen was located downtown and the paper was printed on a letter press with lead “plates” that weighed about 40 pounds each.
Now, the printing is done by digital computing; the aluminum plates are slim and weigh about 1 ounce. He worked the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift.
Krakowiak has been a pressroom supervisor for more than 20 years and the pressmen have learned to use sign language, gestures and facial expressions to communicate.
“He’s an awesome pressman,” said Tim Torres, who accompanied him to Detroit in 1995 to run the presses there during a strike.
Krakowiak said he’s sad the Citizen is closing.
L.G. Ward, 60
30 years at TNI, 5 printing the Citizen
“It took me 24 years to get on the Citizen and five years later, they’re taking it away from me,” Ward says. “It’s like losing a relative.”
He works the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. The Citizen was off the presses by 9 a.m., he said.
The remainder of his work day is spent printing sections of the Arizona Daily Star.
Ward started in printing working for a business forms company and got the TNI job through a softball team buddy who recruited him for the team and to TNI.
Ward said the automation of the printing system has made pressmen’s jobs much easier.
Colored inks were loaded onto the presses manually, through hoses and by the bucket. Now the inks are stored a floor below and move through hoses and onto the press.
Also, instead of the toggle switches used to adjust the paper while the presses roll, adjustments occur at the press of a button.
“You don’t just come in and figure it out in one day,” he said.
Bill Navarette, 59
40 years at TNI, 11 years printing the Citizen
Navarette started learning the printing business at Pueblo High School and worked for a local printer, printing the Arizona Daily Wildcat while he was still in high school.
He came to TNI in 1968 and had to learn to adapt to a computerized press when the newspaper moved to 4850 S. Park Ave. and a digital operation.
When the presses began to roll 35 years ago, they printed 1,000 papers a minute.
A 1-ton roll of newsprint is good for about 20,000 copies of the Tucson Citizen. Navarette moves the newsprint onto a trolley, which moves on a track to the presses and loads automatically.
“It’s like I’m losing a friend,” he said about the Citizen closing.
“It doesn’t seem possible. It won’t hit me until I won’t see it anymore.”
Tim Torres, 52
25 years at TNI, 2 years printing the Tucson Citizen
Torres remembers his first day as a printing apprentice as “nerve-wracking.”
He had “the first day jitters, like with any job you go into. You don’t want to mess up.”
Since then, Torres has worked as a press operator, foreman and supervisor.
He’s printed both the Arizona Daily Star on the night shift and the Tucson Citizen on the day shift.
Torres enjoys his co-workers.
“The people make it interesting and I have fun on the job,” he said.
Like his co-workers, he said he’s sad to see the Citizen shut down.
ex-compositor, now a dispatch driver, 37 years at TNI, on the Citizen and Arizona Daily Star
“The Citizen was an icon,” Gonzales said. “I grew up here and used to deliver it when I was in sixth or seventh grade. His after-school route near Tucson High and Roskruge Elementary schools started at around 3:30 and took him about 45 minutes.
When he started at TNI, the paper’s pages were composed with hand-set “hot” lead type and the pages had to be read upside down and backward.
Now the pages are composed on a computer screen, a negative of the page is made and transferred to an aluminum page or “plate.”
It was fun in the old days, Gonzales said.
He’ll miss the editors he worked with in the “back shop.”
“I’ve known these guys for more than 25 years. It’s gonna hurt. You grew up knowing them, joking around with them, telling them stories. The fun’s gone now.”
Gonzales said the end of the Citizen makes him wonder what’s next for him.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen to us,” he said.
Tay Bell, 49
Newspaper hawker, 10 years
Bell is an Army Special Forces veteran with a steel plate in his head from a four-wheeler accident. He would rather work than collect disability, he said.
He’s been selling the Tucson Citizen and the morning paper for 10 years at intersections in the county, north and northwest of Tucson city limits.
He’s worked for years with fellow hawkers Manuel Garcia, 53, and “Mo,” who always wore a Stetson and a crisply ironed shirt with his jeans and cowboy boots.
In March, Bell said, Mo told him he was done with selling the newspaper and going off to California to be with family.
“He has an aortic aneurysm,” Bell said. He came by to say goodbye.
The other member of their trio, Garcia, 53, used to work the same intersection at another corner.
Garcia, who had polio and whose legs are bent nearly 60 degrees, stood for seven hours a day, like they did.
But in November, Bell said, a Pima County sheriff’s deputy asked to see their IDs.
Garcia, who came to Tucson in 1990 from Mexico City, didn’t have any and the deputy called the Border Patrol, Bell said. A Border Patrol agent picked Garcia up at his bus stop and Bell presumes he was deported to Mexico. He hasn’t seen him or heard from him since.
Bell said his best tip was $165 from an older man who simply pressed the bills into his hand as he drove by, without a word.
Bell said he will be sorry to see the Citizen stop publishing.
“I’ve always been one to read the Citizen,” he said. “If I read the paper, I read the Citizen.”