WASHINGTON — They say they don’t make ‘em like they used to - and Barry Baumert is proof of that.
On Friday, Baumert finished up a 50-year career with the Washington Times Herald. During that time he has been one of the most important cogs in a wheel that has churned out 135,000,000 newspapers.
Baumert has been part of the Times Herald for more than one-third of the newspaper’s 145-year existence and predates the merger of the Daily Times and the Washington Herald in the early 1960s.
“I ran the last paper off the press at the Daily Herald,” said Baumert.
“When I first took the job, I thought I might work for a year and then look for something better, but I just loved the work so much I just stayed.
“My first full-time job was setting ads. It was a tough job, because it required pouring hot metal over the type. All the ads had to be set by hand.” said Baumert.
General Manager Melody Brunson has worked with Barry for 27 years.
“He has been a cornerstone. He has been the glue that holds the newspaper together many times,” said Brunson. “He is loyal and dedicated, knows his job and does it very well.
“I can’t even conceive of working in the same place 50 years. To work in one industry, let alone one place is remarkable. This is a business where changes sometimes come fast and furious. Technology has changed our industry. One the things that has made Barry special, was his ability to adapt to those changes.”
Though his 50 years in the business, Baumert has held almost every job in the production of the paper on a daily basis and has seen it change from what was essentially early 20th Century technology, to the cyber product that is now peaking over the horizon.
He start as a part-time press boy in November 1962, before becoming a union pressman at the Herald. After the merger of the two papers, he moved in to the composing department, which is the part of the paper that designs ads and manually pasted up actual pages. With the advent of technology, that department, that had as many as 10 employees when Baumert started, has been reduced to just one.
Baumert has adapted to many changes in the newspaper industry, mostly due to the adaption and changes brought forth by computers.
“It used to take all day to do a full-page grocery ad, now it can be done in about 15 minutes,” said Baumert. “It is a lot quicker with computers, but some of the most fun was when there would be about five us sitting around the stones (concrete table) setting ads,” he added.
Baumert said President Kennedy’s assassination was the biggest news story of his 50 years at the TH.
“I don’t think we had an 'Extra’ that day because it happened before we went to print.”
He said that when the newspaper received word that Washington High School’s Steve Bouchie was named Mr. Basketball, it required sending the photo to the Vincennes Sun-Commercial to be separated into color negatives, so it could be published in color.
“Having color was big for us back then,” he added.
Baumert has also seen many changes in Washington.
“Main Street has probably seen the most changes. It was Ôopen for business’ back then. There were so many stores then,” he added.
Baumert has been married for 48 years to Cathy and they have one son, B.J, who has two children, Codie and Clarissa.
“I have worked with an awful lot of good people over the years. That is what I will miss the most,” Baumert added.
Baumert said he is planning on just “coasting” for the foreseeable future.
“We love to travel. We do have a cruise planned for next year.”
Baumert was honored with a Times Herald dinner party on Thursday evening. Along with several mementos, Baumert will be honored with a named planter in front of the Times Herald’s building.