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A Few of His Favorite Things -- Cagle

January 2001
Say goodbye to 2001. Good riddance is more appropriate.

One would be hard pressed to find many good things to say about the now-concluding year, other than that it's almost over. The economy gave our industry a swift, and unneeded, kick in the pants. Companies took down their shingle at an alarming rate. Bankruptcy was relatively commonplace. Dotcoms backslashed their way out the door, or were quietly sold and dissolved for scrap metal.

Then, with many people at PRINT 01, our nation was slammed down by, essentially, a faceless monster. Thousands of people died because of one man's delusional take on life.

Anguish
The morning news greets us with daily reports about Anthrax cases discovered in post offices and at our nation's capitol. An entire generation has learned to view life through a somewhat suspicious eye, much like those who lived through Pearl Harbor and the Cuban missile crises.

And now, as the holiday season moves into full gear and we look longingly and optimistically toward 2002, it is perhaps only fitting that we conclude the year with one last piece of bad news. Before you go, 2001, we have for you ...

An obituary.

Ernest A. "Ernie" Lindner died of heart failure at his home in Glendale, CA, on October 3. He was 79.

Ernie Lindner, as some of you may know, lived an extraordinary life, one that seemed to gain momentum year after year. Three days before his death, Ernie had returned home from a 1,700-mile trip through Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Austria as a member of a vintage car club. His transportation mode of choice: a 1929 Model A touring car.

But the man with the late-19th century vintage handlebar mustache garnered industry distinction not for his passion for travel or automobiles, but for his love and appreciation of vintage printing equipment. In fact, Lindner, along with Dave Jacobson, established the International Printing Museum in 1988, now located in Carson, CA, which houses the Ernest A. Lindner Collection of Antique Printing Machinery.

Ernie got a taste of printing at an early age as his father, August, and uncle, Ernest, started E.G. Lindner Co. The brothers sold and rebuilt printing equipment and specialized in rehabbing Linotype machines. Young Ernie joined the fold as an apprentice machinist and soon began his printing equipment collection.

Although he left the printing field periodically—trying his hand at selling industrial hardware, book-ended by two stints in the service, where he flew 17 combat missions in World War II and 66 more in Korea—his love for printing machines didn't dwindle.

Among the pieces he has amassed over the years: an 1850 Imperial press hiding in the basement of a tobacconist's shop in England. He discovered an 1875 Grasshopper hand-powered news press in a run-down print shop in Calico, AR, and most recently he acquired a tough-to-find 1840 Columbian hand press, found in the basement of a print shop in India.

One of his most beloved pieces was a Potter press, which has been displayed at the Smithsonian and is currently on display at a Los Angeles Times facility. The Potter was one of the first presses to churn out that newspaper.

When he wasn't adding to his impressive laundry list of printing hardware, Ernie Lindner was busying himself with hobbies and pastimes most of us only dream of undertaking. His vast array of traveling experience includes a 10-year stint with a gas-balloon racing team, which flew over Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Australia and the United States. His adventurous spirit landed Ernie a spot as the national vice president of the Family Motor Coach Association, with his crowning glory a conversion of Gene Autry's tour bus into a motor home.

Prior to his 1,700-mile trip, he joined an expedition to the North Pole at the tender age of 70. Two years later, he ventured to the South Pole. Did he rest in that one-year interim? Pretty much, as he only co-piloted a MIG jet over Moscow.

Eternal Gifts
Services were held for Ernie Lindner at the same church in which he married the love of his life, Harriet, more than 55 years ago. He is survived by his wife and their daughter Kris, along with several grandchildren. Essentially, he lived his life all over the world, without ever really leaving home.

While some people spend a lifetime accumulating wealth, it is clear that Ernie Lindner spent a lifetime collecting memories and stoking the fires of his many passions, including printing presses. In founding the museum, Ernie has left something for everyone to enjoy, even those who didn't know the man.

"Ernie's passion for printing and its history has been so evident in the collection of antique presses he built over his lifetime, a collection which remains unsurpassed in the world," noted Mark Barbour, curator of the International Printing Museum, in a letter announcing Lindner's passing. "The Lindner collection and the Printing Museum are a testament to his legacy within the industry."

Certainly in living such a full and active life, Ernie Lindner is someone who earned the right to rest in peace.

This column is celebrating its first birthday, and I'd like to thank all of you who contributed thoughts, suggestions and words of encouragement. Have a happy and safe holiday season, and here's hoping that 2002 will bring you much good fortune.

--BY ERIK CAGLE
 

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