At 85 years old, Paul Neiers has lived an interesting life with a variety of careers — drafted military service, cemetery work, running his own establishment called “The Hub,” and being a New York Life salesman from 1960 until the 2010s.
Before any of this, however, he worked at the Cascade Pioneer newspaper as a typesetter.
“We had a great big press that was the original press,” said Neiers. “Then we also had two small presses. My friend Carl would run the presses, and Al Fickle, who lived with us for years until he died, would always help me put things away. Carl, Al, and I were the only people that could run the presses. Nobody else could touch it. I was there probably two or three years. I was only 12 when I started down there.”
The job was not without its potential dangers, Neiers recalls.
“Most of it was putting the lead pieces in the right place and running the big press. That always scared me, but cause it was so big, and if you made a bad step, you would have fallen right into the press. I’ll always remember that. Al Fickle was the one who told me what I could and couldn’t do, so there weren’t any problems.”
With his job at the newspaper, Neiers developed some interesting skills, such as learning how to read upside-down from setting type. He had access to the paper archives, allowing him to develop a knowledge of local history from his research.
“I used to look up stuff for the newspaper,” he said. “Every now and then, I’d have to go down there and look up something for somebody.”
This semi-exclusive access to a part of Cascade’s historical records fed into an already-existing love that Neiers had for history.
“I’ve always been into history, even in high school,” he said. “I loved history and geography. They were more important to me than some of the other stuff I had to take.”
Neiers’ time at the newspaper ended when he was drafted into the army.
“When I left for the army, Carl took over everything at that point, and everything was in the same place when I came back from the service years later,” said Neiers.
Neiers went on to develop a reputation as Cascade’s “defacto historian,” his knowledge of local history being further fueled by his job at the cemetery, where he had access to the maps, records of who was buried in the grounds and his ability to help people find specific plots.