The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Pressman turned from owner to 'phantom'


Don McAlavy: County historian

Back in the old days when Joe Fahnert left the CNJ he went to the “Clovis Printing, Inc.” and dropped the word “Lithography” which no one understood.

Never use names in your business title that confuse the public.

Joe slowly got rid of all the extra help and built a new wooden sink in the darkroom, which has lasted to this very day.

That was Joe Fahnert’s legacy. A good wooden sink built to last. He also bought Davidson offset presses. Later the old model 14 linotype was sold. He introduced cold type, and crude typesetting machines, but they did the work.

Joe Fahnert put City Printing, Inc. on a money-making basis. He also learned how to print. His mistake, like the former owners, was to keep Don McAlavy.

By this time Don McAlavy thought he knew everything. Then one of the hired help, the offset pressman, left to work for a bigger print shop in Amarillo, in 1965.

Don was put in charge to the darkroom. He had no experience in this type of work. He was taken off the offset and letterpresses and told to use that big camera back there and make litho plates muy pronto.

This “muy pronto” for describing printing jobs, was soon called “panic printing”, whereas the customer forgot to get the job in on time to get it out on deadline, or was so inept they didn’t know anything about how long it took to print a job.

Then came the day in 1965 that David Rael came to work in the shop as a pressman. He wasn’t married at the time. He got motivation when he married the pretty Gloria Rael.

He really learned how to move once Gloria Rael came to work in the shop. She was hired away from Montgomery Ward and couldn’t have been a day older than 17 or 18.

Things started looking prettier around the print shop. The crew had to change their work clothes at least once a week and couldn’t wear their work shoes out of the press area and over the new carpet she laid in the front office.

Around this time, in 1973, Joe Fahnert sold the shop to David Rael and Don McAlavy, thinking that he had taught them enough to run this complicated business and handle the panic jobs.

But sometime around 1983, Don decided to sell his half of the business. Once the Raels were completely in charge of the shop, new equipment started arriving almost immediately and even got new bindery queens, new pressmen, but the same old man in the darkroom who growls a lot was often ill-tempered.

Don became the “Phantom of the Darkroom.”

The Phantom is now living in Florida and works his head off getting his columns to the CNJ. He’s not as mean as he used to be.


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