One day last week Ray and I were proofreading a lesson from the early 1900s called “Inventions Around the World.” In a section about communication inventions, such as telephones, radios, and movies, we have a paragraph about the linotype machine.
I doubt many of you have heard of linotype machines. I wouldn’t have either if I were not the daughter-in-law of a linotype operator. We even have a framed picture of a linotype machine in our RAK (that’s the room above the kitchen for you newer readers) — with Ray’s daddy using it, of course. Here it is (and I put it in the lesson, too, even though we had already included it in another curriculum. It is just so special and appropriate).
We are so used to new inventions all the time — today they are called product launches — that we are a bit immune to innovations. Just because its inventor doesn’t roll off our tongues like Johannes Gutenberg and Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison doesn’t mean that Ottmar Mergenthaler, the inventor of the linotype machine, isn’t important. Gutenberg helped printers be able to move letters around so that they could make printed pages faster. Mergenthaler figured out how to set a whole line of type — thus the name Lin-o-type for his machine. I know that doesn’t seem so cool when we can hit a button and watch a whole stack of printed pages quickly emerge from our printers, but back in the day a whole line of type was much faster than one letter at a time.
Well, anyway, this really isn’t a history lesson. It’s an encouragement. When I read:
Ottmar Mergenthaler was born in Germany and came to live in the United States. In 1884 he developed a machine that set a line of metal letters when the operator pressed the appropriate keys on a keyboard . . .
Ray said, “How many times have I heard my daddy mention Ottmar Mergenthaler?” Well, I have to tell you that even I was surprised. You see, I never knew that Ottmar Mergenthaler was on the tip of anybody’s tongue, even Ray’s daddy, the linotype operator.
However, year after year Ray heard his daddy say Ottmar Mergenthaler and his little boy remembered it. I really doubt he said it even once a month, but he said it enough that Ray remembered.
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. It’s so important. Your children get repetition all the time. You repeatedly fix their meals. You repeatedly wash their clothes. You repeatedly smile at them. You repeatedly teach them. You repeatedly show them love in countless little ways and big ways.
By sticking with your job day after day and week after week and year after year, you are giving them Ottmar Mergenthaler moments. There is something very powerful in being who you are and doing what you do and loving how you love. I’m so proud of you — even if your name is never on the tip of lots of people’s tongues, like Gutenberg, Bell, and Edison are. You will always be on the tip of your children’s tongues and someday they will say, “_______________! How many times have I heard my mama mention ____________.” Good job, Mama.
As I have shared with you so many times before from Deuteronomy, God’s way of teaching works.
“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul
and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand,
and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall teach them to your sons,
talking of them when you sit in your house
and when you walk along the road
and when you lie down and when you rise up.