Frederick Howard is among the longtime employees of the Baltimore Times Newspaper Group. Howard began working for the paper in 1989. At age 87, the soft-spoken Howard, serves as Director of Operations and is still going just as strong as the paper. One has only to watch him carry out his daily duties, which include determining the number of pages going in each paper, dummying pages, ad layout, and working with the printers regarding page positions to know that he is as passionate about the publication as he is about his craft.
Baltimore Times Publisher Joy Brambles credits employees like him for helping the newspaper to reach its 20th anniversary milestone. Howard, who is affectionately called “Mr. Freddie” fondly recalls his early years with the publication.
“I came to the Baltimore Times when they were on North Avenue and the paper was being pasted on a drafting board,” recalled Howard. “The complete paper was pasted and sent to the printer in page form. From there, it evolved into being done electronically. What a growth. The industry has changed so much so suddenly. However, Joy Bramble is very open-minded to change and making sure that things work.”
Howard said he was attracted to the paper’s theme, Positive stories about positive people!’
“I really liked the ‘Positive stories about positive people!’ concept that Joy started,” said Howard. “You hear about so much crime in other newspapers. I thought it was about time that someone starting printing positive stories about the nice things people were doing.”
He added, “It’s a challenge to be able to follow the program with all the temptation of the public nowadays. But Joy has stuck with her ‘Positive stories about positive people’ concept, and not gotten involved in the politics of it all. I really believe that has contributed in a big way to the paper’s success.”
A native of Baltimore County, Howard has seen the evolution of the printing industry.
“Printers have ink in their blood, and can’t get it out,” he said with a chuckle. “You meet a different challenge everyday, and the industry has changed over the years – particularly, with the advent of computers. The old presses had metal plates that weighed 35 or 40 pounds. Now you can put four pages on one plate and pick it up with one hand.”
He added, “I also like the challenges of the newspaper world. Once that’s in your blood, it’s hard to get rid of it. I appreciate very much that Joy gave me the opportunity to continue working in this field. She gave me the opportunity to continue doing something I love doing.”
Just like the presses, Howard plans to keep going.
“I plan on doing this as long as I can,” he said. “The person that got me interested in printing was my high school teacher. I liked the old printing presses. I also enjoyed printing tickets and other things. I also became impressed with linotype machine and setting the type.”
According to Howard, he went on to attend Hampton Institute. A 1949 graduate, he majored in printing.
“During my last year at Hampton, I worked at the Norfolk Journal & Guide, and at various workshops in Hampton, VA. From there, I went to work for the AFRO, where I worked for 40 years. The AFRO’s Sam Lacy and Carl Murphy had a great influence on my life, and also contributed to my interest in this business. John Murphy, III who also worked for The AFRO is also a good friend of mines.”
Howard said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is that it affords him the opportunity to do just as his high school teacher did many years ago – spark flames of interest in youngsters. He often takes time to talk to youngsters about his job at the Baltimore Times.
“I’m so proud of the kids because most of them turned out fine,” he said proudly. “One is working at a print office, and another is a head pressman at The Washington Times. Many of them come back and thank me. The influence I have had on young people makes me very feel really good.”
Howard is also proud of The Baltimore Times Newspaper Group’s 20th anniversary.
“The 20th anniversary of the paper symbolizes that people are still interested in reading newspapers, and that newspapers will continue to exist,” said Howard. “To see the papers continue to grow and thrive is great. People have accepted the papers, and love reading the community news.”
Commenting on Bramble’s success, Howard added, “You go girl!”
Note: This story was reprinted in memory of Frederick Howard