Now Your Captain is “Out On A Limb”. 

Do I just drop “ETAOIN SHRDLU” and leave it be? 

Or do I continue with it?

Patti and I discussed it.

IF something interests me, perhaps, just maybe, it will interest some of you. ETAOIN SHRDLU sure interested me. So onward I proceed.

I texted Olga over in Chita.

In my text, I suggested to Olga that she NOT look at yesterday’s Post because it borders on being almost too much to decipher. IF almost all of us had never ever dealt with ETAOIN SHRDLU, how can we expect Olga to do so?

I added ETAOIN SHRDLU to my list of “Categories”. Then I “went back in time” and made yesterday’s Post Part 1 of 2. Today’s Post becomes Part 2 of 2.

In my humble opinion, for this Post to make one, small, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, whit of sense (ETAOIN SHRDLU for goodness sakes!!) you need to check yesterday’s Post. 


I know. You read yesterday’s Post and you’re still confused.

Deep breath. Onward we go.

– – – – – – – –

From Frostbite Frank.


In 1960 my 6th Grade Class took a field trip to the San Diego Union newspaper. While many of the other students were fascinated by the newsroom, with its pandemonium of reporters announcing new leads, the jangle of 50 telephones ringing at once, and the clatter of typewriters pounding out stories, I was fascinated by the Linotype machines. These behemoths of black metal and flame-heated hot-pots of liquid metal would cast letters in metal. The individual letters would be joined into bars of text, as fast as one could type! The little 2-inch bars would then fall into a column of other 2-inch bars of text to make a story in the newspaper. Did you ever wonder why newspapers make their stories in narrow columns, instead of spreading the story out into book-width lines? The fragile flexibility of the linotype bar set the standard. A long line could twist, droop, or break, but a 2-inch bar was nearly indestructible. Modern newspapers maintain the narrow columns because “well, that’s how newspapers look!”

Unlike the QWERTY keyboards of a typewriter..

I Googled it : QWERTY keyboards


Resuming with Franks text.

Unlike the QWERTY keyboards of a typewriter, the linotype machine was set up for maximum efficiency. The operator’s fingers rested on the keys for the most commonly used characters : ETAOIN SHRDLU.

The Print Editor would take a broad sheet of typed stories and read it (backwards and in metal) before setting it into the printing machine. The printing machine had rollers that accepted the broad sheets, and bent them to the curve of the rollers. Paper from giant 3,500-lb rolls would slide under or over the various printing rollers of broad sheets. Double wide, 4-page sheets, printed on both sides would dump their metal onto a conveyor that led back to the Linotype machine hot-pots, and the metal would be reused.

A cutter would separate the 4-page sheets and a collator would assemble whole sections of the newspaper, then fold them. The number of printers determined the maximum number of pages in a section. 6 printers could produce a 24-page section of a newspaper.

I have no idea how the newspaper sections were assembled into finished products, with Sections A through D or more, but eventually finished newspapers would spit out of this aggregation of complex machines working in harmony.

Stacks of newspapers 15-inches high would arrive in bundles at the loading dock, where burly men would throw them into waiting vans for distribution across the city. This process was repeated 3 times a day: The Early Edition, The Home Edition, and The Late Edition. The complexity and perfect choreography of movement of men and machines fascinated me!

I think I’ll do some research and expand this story past my 63-year-old memories.

The above words are about 50% of what Frank texted me. I opted not to include all of his second text.


Frostbite Frank : You’re a Better Man Than I, Gunga Din, Gunga Din.

– – – – – – – –

Below are just a few of the photos that Frostbite Frank has gifted us with in the past.

Surfing in Portugal. Frank was a big time, California surf boarder back in the day.

Some Smiles from Frank.

– – – – – – – –

This upcoming Monday, Frank faces major spinal surgery. A team of 3 highly skilled and world renowned surgeons will operate for 12-or so hours. I hope that my banter with Frank about ETAOIN SHRDLU has helped him, at least a little bit, get his mind off next Monday.

Yes! It was Frank who took a serious fall as he was leaving his home last Thursday for the airport to fly to California for the above surgery.

Smiles and Prayers Frank from all of us ..

Cap and Patti

2 thoughts on “JUL 15, 23 (2/3) .. FROSTBITE FRANK AND ETAOIN SHRDLU

    1. Cap Chastain Post author

      Gullible I found it absolutely fascinating to read about linotype from Frank’s journal. In fact, because of your comment, I am going to do a Part 3 that will wrap up Frank’s texts and email. Cap

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