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Glen Otis Currey

 

Glenn Otis CURREY had a novel idea, and the courage to back it.  Now he stands near the top of the list of Muskegon Heights’ successful and progressive businessmen.  The jeers and gibes of his friends may have hurt, but they didn’t stop the onward progress that he and his “Muskegon Heights Record” made.  In this day and age, it isn’t uncommon for a farmer boy to “step up” in the world, but in the not long distant past it was quite a task.  Mr. CURREY was born on a farm in Watson Township, Allegan County, Michigan, on the 28th day of July 1881, the son of James B. and Nellie E. CURREY.  He trudged his way to the rural school from the age of six to fifteen, finishing the regularly prescribed eighth grade course.  How many miles he walked over fields, muddy roads, snowdrifts and ice in accumulating his grade school education, even he doesn’t know.  But the hundreds of weary miles, and the hundreds of long hours spent in traversing them, have paid him big dividends in later life.  At the age of fifteen he left the home fireside to seek fame and fortune in the neighboring town of Hopkins, where he entered the printing trade in the weekly newspaper office of that little commonwealth. After a year there, he hitched has wagon to a higher star, going to Grand Rapids and continuing his education and thirst for knowledge in the printing business.  After a short period in the western Michigan metropolis the travel bug bit him, and for three years he wandered through the states of north and northwest.   Chicago lured him and he worked there for some time, two years of which he spent as foreman of the Faithorn Printing Company, then, as now, one of the largest railroad printing concerns in the whole country.  During this time he continually had a staff of from sixty to seventy men under his orders.  His work at the Faithorn office came to the notice of the Shaw-Walker Company of Muskegon, and in 1901 he came to this city to work for the Shaw-Walker organization.  The company then was located in at building which stood at the corner of Western avenue where the Elks’ Temple is now located.  The printing department moved shortly after to a small building near the Union depot, and later into the building it now occupies.  Twenty years ago, in 1905, he left the Shaw-Walker employment, seeking and finding a position in the shop of the Muskegon Chronicle.  He worked in this office less than a year before he was promoted to the foremanship of the shop.  At that time the Chronicle had two linotype machines, and an old Duplex press, and only five men working in the shop.  At the end of CURREY’s sixteenth year there, the office boasted seven linotypes, a Webb Perfecting press and thirty employees.  During the time of his foremanship at the Chronicle, many great events took place.  The elections of TAFT, ROOSEVELT and WILSON, the terrible Titanic disaster and the World War were events of that period.  In 1921, ignoring the advice of his friends and co-workers, he left the Chronicle and began the publication of the Heights Record, inaugurating an idea new to western Michigan, the free distribution weekly.  Chronicle workers gave him three months to “go broke” with his new-fangled scheme, but he had the courage of his conviction, following them to advantage.  The first issue of the paper, on December 2, 1921,was published in the basement of his home, 1008 Hoyt Street, into which he moved in 1913.  They typesetting was all done by hand, as was the presswork, on an old hand press long since relegated to the curiosities of yesteryear.  On the Saturday following the first publication of the Record, he moved his newspaper “plant” into the basement of the Taylor building at Peck and Broadway.  Until February of the following year, the presswork was all done by hand, at which time a Lee cylinder press was put into operation.  The year after the installation of the press a Mergenthaler linotype machine was ordered and put in.  In 1923 three Gordon job presses were installed, making the foundation for a commercial jobwork business.  The most costly and modern machine now included in the shop equipment is the Duplex eight-page press, installed in September 1925.  The Record office was moved from the Taylor building to the basement of the new post office building across the street in July of 1925.  One of the best, if not the best, equipped weekly newspaper plants in the state of Michigan is now boasted for the Record.  CURREY was one of the organizers of the Heights Board of Trade, and since its inception has been one of the moving factors in it.  With a few other progressive businessmen, he has helped it over the rough spots and aided it in its advancement.  He was the first duly elected president of the organization, in 1921.  It was under his direction that the first annual Board of Trade picnic was held.  The picnic is now the biggest event of the year for the Trade Board.  Mr. And Mrs. CURREY have two daughters, Juanita and Elaine, both sophomores in the Muskegon Heights high school.

 

Source: “Historic Michigan”, George N. Fuller/ James L. Smith, (1925) Vol. III, pp. 143-145

Submitted by Lisa Hoffius

 

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