VALLEY POP CONTENT: An interview with Beverly Kohn
Beverly Kohn looks at the framed printed copy of "The Wallace Miner," recalling a time when she would refer to the owners as "Nana and PomPom."
Photo by JOSH McDONALD
Staff Reporter | November 28, 2022 2:44 PM
Man intends one thing, fate another. A proverb that can be traced as far back as 43 B.C. and still rings true today.
Beverly Kohn had a plan for her life, and yet fate or God, had another plan.
About a month ago, Kohn came into the Shoshone News-Press office with a gift. A small yet heavy cardboard box filled with metal printing stamps, Kohn immediately knew what they were.
You see, Kohn spent time at Lewis and Clark State College taking six months of courses, learning how to develop film, collate the papers in the proper order, and clean and maintain the photo offset press.
“I loved every minute of it. I was enthralled with the whole process,” said Kohn.
Offset printing is still a widely used printing technique where the inked image is transferred or “offset” from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.
Printing is a relatively safe profession yet the printing press machinery can pose several potential hazards, most often when those operating the machinery and keeping students safe and minimizing injuries was of utmost importance
“I always kept my hair back,” explained Kohn, touching her own hair at the memory. “They had a big old, long piece of hair that had been pulled out of someone’s scalp taped up on the wall. To show you to keep your hair back.”
That didn’t scare off Kohn too badly, as she recalled the fond memories and all the fun she had while taking the courses.
“We laughed, we joked, it was quite the process and it was so fun.”
She had intended to pursue printing as career, but fate had other plans.
It was recommended to Kohn that she go to a bigger city like Portland or Seattle but she had a five-year old daughter whose needs she decided to put above her own. Also, the Silver Valley is her home.
She tried to get a job in the local printing industry, but there were some major obstacles that prevented her from doing so.
Although she knew the process of printing and had learned it in school, she had not completed her courses so she did not have her official degree.
Two of the major printing companies in the area, the Kellogg Evening News and the Wallace Miner – both which were fully established at the time – turned her down.
According to Kohn, the jobs paid well and people who had them tended to stick with them until they either retired or died.
So again, it was either pursue her passion or stay close to home and family.
Again, she chose her family.
Although she didn’t work for the Wallace Miner, she has fond memories of the owners.
“They were like Nana and PomPom. That’s what we would call them. Our grandparents at the time lived in Massachuetts and Texas, so they were like our Wallace grandparents.”
Because it was difficult to find work at the smaller printing facilities in the Silver Valley, Kohn spent time working in many local restaurants, walking through memory lane recalling them, “Sebastians, when it opened was named after my fiance’ who passed. It was a Chinese-American restaurant and I loved working there because she reminded me of my fiance.”
She explained the struggle of being a single parent during this time and taking waitressing and bartending jobs to support her family.
“It was so hard as a single parent. You come home exhausted, and you still need to take care of the kids there. Serving and bartending isn’t an easy job, you are always on your feet.”
And in waiting tables, there always seems to be one crab that stands out above the rest.
“I just took it, and smiled a lot,” said Kohn, “Today’s going to be better. I only had one experience and that was on Mother’s Day. A family came in, ate their food, and at the very end said they found a hair in it. I knew it wasn’t mine, but the owner bought their meal anyway. Lesson learned.”
Kohn intended to go down one path in her life, yet fate or God had another. Although she may not have her degree in printing, she has a fulfilling, proud relationship with her daughter and son, their spouses, and grandchildren and loves to take photographs of it all.
“I used to develop the pictures, but I haven’t since I left college. I still love taking pictures; my family calls me the picture taker. It’s just something I've always loved to do.”
She has lived in almost every town in the Silver Valley, eventually caring for her mom at her house in Osburn, which is where she found the printing press stamps, eventually gifting them to the Shoshone News-Press staff and sharing her incredible, selfless and generous story.