How it All Began Part 2

Early in 1972, my cousin Sam Bianchi called to tell me of     a friend of his (Joe Rossi) that worked the night shift in his full-time position for Hall Printing, where they printed magazines and books. Joe was looking for a kid to come in  a couple of times a week to clean up his part-time printing business, Beacon Press, which he ran during the day. I    accepted the position with Joe.  I worked with Joe for a while, keeping his shop in order and learning all I could. Due to financial issues, Joe was no longer able to keep me on his payroll. I was willing to do anything I could to be around printing, so I volunteered to continue on without pay–just to be in the printing atmosphere and learn. Joe didn’t feel right about this and initially refused the offer.  So, I brought up the old hand-feed letterpress Joe had sitting idle in the corner of his shop. I explained I could use that machine for my own printing orders. I imagined I could use the press to print business cards, Christmas cards, invitations, etc. Joe explained that he didn’t actually own the press, but put me in contact with the owner who was a friend of his.  Immediately after Joe gave me the name and number. I called and asked if I could use the press. His response was “How would you like to buy the press, kid?” This reply shocked me. I hesitated to answer, because I had no idea what a machine like this was worth. My pause caused him to say, “How about a hundred dollars?” I was stunned. I agreed and asked when and where we could meet. After the paperwork was completed, I     informed Joe that I would be moving the press. He then  explained that he occasionally uses the machine and        offered me a $35.00 per month lease.

At that point on September 2, 1972, D&R Press was in business on Pulaski Road two blocks south of Addison Street in the city of Chicago.

Within a few months, Beacon Press lost its lease, forcing me to junk that press because it was not worth the cost to move it. However, I was under pressure because I had weekly printing jobs to produce. So, I rented a press from my friend and owner of Federal Typesetting which was  located at 525 S. Dearborn and just a couple of floors above Ranis Menu Printing. I was able to work at Ranis  during the day for 8 hours and then head upstairs to Federal Type to print my jobs because their second shift usually kept them operating most nights until 11pm. Unfortunately, this only lasted a few months, because Federal Typesetting Company was a union shop and the owner was told   by his employees that they would walk off the job if I      continued to operate

there. So, to avoid causing him any trouble, I finished the jobs I had to complete and departed. Thankfully,  I contracted my work with an elderly printer at Meredith Printing Company on the west side of Chicago. This gave me time to shop for and find a press in the Tradin’ Times. This press was originally part of the fleet of presses at Cuneo Press. After purchasing it, my father, David, Sr., and my friend George Spathies, helped me move it into my Dad‘s garage at 5468 W. Rice St., on the west side of Chi-cago, in the Austin neighborhood. From the middle of 1973 until April of 1976, I ran D&R Press out of my parents’   garage. In 1976, I moved the company to Printers Row at 525 S. Dearborn on the 5th floor of a seven-story building that housed printing companies and related services. I was still working for Ranis Menu Printing, which was on the first floor of this same building. During the years of 1976-1980, I continued to work full time for Ranis Menu Printing. We had a great working relationship. I would work eight hours at Ranis during the day and then go upstairs and work at D&R for 6-8 hours every night and then eight hours on Saturdays and Sundays. In 1980, the 525 S.  Dearborn building fell prey to the urban development of condos in the Printers Row district. I located the Patten Building in the South Loop. D&R moved into its new location on the 3rd floor of 161 W Harrison Street. This was a twelve-story building full of printers, binderies & graphic art supply companies, simply nothing but printing and related services. During the next 15 years at 161 W. Harrison, we grew to 10 presses with a full dark room & prepress department including typesetting and design capabilities. At one point we had 8,000 sq. feet of space. But as urban growth would have it, this building also went condo in 1995 and D&R Press was forced to move yet again to a new location. Through my old contact, Steve Ranis (Sam’s son) I learned of a printer that was looking to retire but still had a lengthy lease. I  agreed to assume the lease and take over the equipment. The shop was over 5,000 sq. feet at 329 W. 18th Street in the South Loop area.