Goss Press Salvaged for Latvia: Newspaper Ad Bureau's Uldis Grava Leads Drive to Have Indianapolis Newspapers' 1958 Press Dismantled and Shipped Abroad
Kerwin, Ann Marie, Editor & Publisher
Goss press salvaged for Latvia
Indianapolis Newspapers Inc. had plans to replace their 1958 Goss Mark I letterpress with updated equipment. The fate of the press was to be broken up and sold for scrap, since there is no U.S. market for such a press.
Instead of ending up on the scrap pile, it was dismantled and shipped to Riga, Latvia, where it will be used to publish newspapers for Latvians and other Eastern Europeans.
It all started back on Jan. 2, 1990, when renegade Soviet troops took over the central Press House. All the presses in Latvia are located in one building owned by the government. The democratic publications' employees refused to work under those conditions and walked out.
"It wasn't really so much an act of bravery as it was practical, because they would have been forced to publish what the troops wanted," said Uldis Grava, vice president with the Newspaper Advertising Bureau and one of the founders of the Latvian Freedom Foundation in Rockville, Md.
This caused a major crisis because the only other printing facilities available were some small rural presses. These were capable of printing essentially just flyers. Thus a possibility was seen in using the presses that were to be junked for the Latvians.
"It's one thing to go in with a hammer and destroy a press and another to go in and dismantle it screw by screw," said Grava.
The cost to dismantle the press was approximately $250,000. Another $1 million was needed to transport the press to Riga, by way of Richmond, Va., and Antwerp, Belgium. The cost to rebuild was about $400,000.
The Latvian Freedom Foundation helped raise some of the money for the shipping. Other monies came from various companies and organizations in Latvia which saw the investment opportunity.
Not only can the presses produce newspapers for Latvia, but also print for other Eastern European countries, which all need presses.
"This is something that will create jobs and competition," said Grava.
So the press was dismantled and shipped to its new home where it joined some other presses bought from Sweden.
A subway repair shop was found to house the presses. The shop had never actually been used. Latvia had been taken over by the Soviet Union after World War II. The threat to the existence of Latvia as a country was not the Communist regime so much as the decision by the Soviet Union to send Russian nationals into Latvia to drive out any Western orientation, Grava said. Thirty to 40 percent of the Latvian population became Russian nationals. Riga, the capital city, was bursting at the seams, so the Soviets decided to build a subway to expand the city limits. Many protests took place opposing the subway, he said. …