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Riding with the Rangers: RoJean and the round-cornered photographs

Feb 4, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

Many in the community noted the retirement announcement of RoJean Thayer from Central Wyoming College. She worked for many years in the college's public information department, primarily as a graphic designer.

Like so many people in the Riverton area, RoJean has a Ranger connection.

She worked here during an important part of Ranger history in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, when The Ranger and most Wyoming newspapers were making the transition to a more-modern, "modular" appearance, especially on page one.

One oddity from those early days of trying out pre-designed page layouts, as opposed to just piecing things together as they were completed, was the appearance of our photographs.

We had a great newspaper photographer at the time, the late Debra Friedell, so it was a good period for Ranger pictures in general.

Beyond that, however, for about five years in the 1970s it was determined by somebody that our pictures ought to have rounded corners.

The thinking at the time was that rounded corners would give the page a contemporary, stylish look that also would improve the reader's "eye flow" around the page.

Today, of course, those pages look anything but contemporary. The are forever locked into a time period that is recognizable instantly to anyone who looks at it. Back then, though, rounding corners on pictures was all the rage -- and it also was one of RoJean's daily duties.

She spent a good portion of her time here at the old Ranger Printers, which was in the basement of our offices at 421 E. Main St. (we moved Ranger Printers "upstairs" in 1996, some years after RoJean had left us to begin her job at CWC). Among the many printing-related gadgets down there in those days was an old, cast-iron machine that could round the edges of printed products.

Each day as page one was being "pasted up" (to use another outdated term of newspaper production), someone would run that day's photographs downstairs to RoJean, who would drop whatever else she was doing (and she did a lot), put each corner into the mechanism, push down the lever, and round off the photos, one corner at a time.

Most of the time we only rounded the pictures on the front page, but sometimes, if Deb Friedell had a big photo feature elsewhere in the paper, the rounded-corner treatment would be applied there too.

A check of the Ranger archives shows that we abandoned the practice sometime in 1980.

Joel Kindle, the longtime Riverton radio personality who also once worked for The Ranger and remains a regular visitor to the office to this day, remembered the device that rounded the pictures. He inquired about it not long ago, but we didn't find it in the basement, which is much less organized now than it was when RoJean worked there with Marvin Schlichenmayer, Fran Olheiser, Jim Doyle and others.

Then, just before Christmas, when I was rooting around the basement for an old photograph, I spied a lever protruding from behind a stack of old newspapers. It was the corner-rounder!

For the sake of old times, I found an old envelope, placed it on the flat surface of the gizmo, pushed down the lever.

With a satisfying munch of paper, the long-idled cutter rendered the right-angle edge of that envelope into a smooth, round corner, just as it had done so many times when RoJean Thayer was Riding with the Rangers.

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