Ink And Blood Do Mix: In Memory Of J.T. Sarantakos
I am a son of a printer. My father spent his entire working life in the industry.
Born in 1933, John "J.T." Sarantakos was a depression era child who never forgot the difficult lessons he learned growing up. I guess you could classify him as street smart and street tough.
He started in the newspaper business, took a coffee break for the Korean War, went to college and then spent 40-plus years printing. A laborer, educator and manager best describe his printing career.
I don't believe he ever once regretted his choice of careers. Even with the rapid advances in technology, he never faltered in his push for excellence. Simply stated, he loved his work. In fact, at the time of his death on September 4, 2002, he was still working as director of Printing Services at Central Missouri State University.
I don't think he would have had it any other way.
From A Different Era
While I share my fathers' drive and love of the industry, I would retire tomorrow if I could. That can probably be chalked up to the differences between someone from the depression era and a baby boomer.
In the printing process it is true that ink and water do not mix. In life, blood is most certainly thicker than water. I believe the two concepts can be combined and the result is that ink and blood do mix.
Over the years I have met numerous sons and daughters of printers. Many have followed in a relative's footstep. Almost to a person they remember fondly the time they spent as kids in a print shop.
My own memories revolve around a Linotype and indentured servitude. It was the mid 1960s, and my brother Mark and I were enlisted to help in dad's print shop. Most of our help was associated with goofing around and not working. So it didn't take too many "if you don't work, you don't eat" lectures for us to get the picture. Sometimes life lessons are pretty tough. I only made that mistake three times, my brother only once. I guess he was a lot smarter than me.
The second lesson was "what you hear at work, stays at work." For obvious reasons, this was a critical lesson. I was a much faster learner on this one. In a related lesson, I was told that you never draw to an inside straight. Again an obvious call for the experienced card player, but it was a tough lesson, and I'm not sure it has ever sunk in. Other ideas about work ethic and doing a job right, somehow managed to find their way into my head. These are lessons too many kids miss out on in today's world.
A Good Career Choice
It was clear that ink was in my blood and I realized my future would somehow be connected to the printing industry. I followed the same path as my dad. Working, teaching and managing the printing process turned out to be a pretty good career choice.
Other than just being my dad, J.T. Sarantakos was my mentor and friend. We spent numerous afternoons on the phone bouncing ideas back and forth. As I got older, my ideas somehow got better. A father's approval is always something we look for. In my case, it was a constant reminder for me to do my best.
Over the past weeks, I have had several people tell me that J.T. had given them input on problems they were having or just some ideas over the years. Each has stated that dad was almost always right. Heck, when I was growing up, I thought he was always wrong. Go figure.
For those of you who have lost parents, you understand the profound sadness. For those of you who are lucky enough to still have your parents, there is no way to prepare yourself.
I will miss my dad for more than just the blood connection. I will miss him for the ink connection equally as much.
An endowed scholarship has been established in J.T. Sarantakos' name to promote student development in the graphic arts industry. Contributions can be sent in his name to the Central Missouri State University Foundation, Warrensburg, MO 64093.