Allen Altvater

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     The vast volume of materials published by Allen for the Sebring Historical Society are a priceless asset to the society as well as the community at large. It is not difficult to see how future generations will benefit from the recollections of the early pioneers who settled in this beautiful area of central Florida, which is commonly referred to as the “heartland.”

     As a child, I can recall “Papa” (Allen) setting the type on the multigraph drum in the garage attic of his lakeshore home. The patience and skill that he had in preparing the small printing press took his careful and undivided attention... of which I’m sure my presence did not contribute in any positive way. From a child’s perspective, the setting of type was a very boring event; however, once it was set and the printing began, the smell of printers ink and the characteristic sound that was made with each page being passed through the machine brought a spark of life into that dimly lit attic room.

     During the 1970’s, with the shoreline of Lake Jackson receded and record low water levels, the old boathouse was converted into an office and Papa’s hobby moved from the attic out toward the lake. Many of my summers as a youth were spent in that lake with Papa faithfully working in the boathouse on some of his many projects - setting the type, printing the pages, then unsetting the type, etc.

     Although I knew my grandfather to be a busy man, I never fully understood the importance of the work that he was doing. Because of his labors, today we have Historical Society Bulletins and numerous collections of historical materials at our disposal. Through these documents we can know of the hardships and accomplishments of the families that settled here in the heartland.

     The purpose of republishing these works today is much the same as days gone by. It is important to understand our past and to remember the accomplishments of those who have come and gone before us. It is important to give due credit where credit is due. The techniques have changed, with the advent of computers and desktop publishing, the process of publishing makes easier the task of spell-checking, etc. But as we republish, care will be taken not to change the grammar in which Papa used to transmit his thoughts and recollections to the printed page. So spell check we will, but grammar correction we’ll not. And lastly, how useful it would be to have indexes of people, places, and subjects. So, as these works are “computerized,” the finishing touch will be to add references at the end to aid the reader in finding content related to specific events and historical figures.

Allen C. Altvater, III

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