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A vintage newspaper press keeps rolling. Music helps

Reeve Musica Cieloazul Moreau is the Vineyard Gazette's new in-house press operator. Call him Music.

Physical newspapers are a vanishing breed. In our region, the survivors are often printed out-of-state, and rely on trucks and airplanes to return them for local delivery. But the Vineyard Gazette still churns out its weeklies in-house, in the basement of its Edgartown offices, continuing a tradition stretching back 177 years.

In all that time, Gazette staff say, the paper has never missed an issue. Recently, the responsibility of making sure that streak continues unbroken transferred to a chatty, muscular guy named Music.

“You're always chasing your tail trying to get it perfect,” Music, 27, hollers above the clacking rumble of the printing press. “I’ve always been super-mechanically inclined, doing stuff with cars, doing stuff with machines, just taking things apart.”

Music—full name Reeve Musica Cieloazul Moreau—runs a lawn-care business six days a week. But he lights up like a kid as he darts in and out of the press machine's cavities, with one eye on ink levels and another on the rollers. As a teenager he swept the floors here and stacked newspapers. But he longed for the day when he could take over the old lime-green machine himself. It came last month.

“He’s really about as perfect a fit as you can get,” says former operator Jeremy Smith, who trained Music and left after 20 years to focus on his own landscaping business. “People who are mechanically inclined are very hard to find, especially in an affluent area like Martha’s Vineyard.”

The Gazette has printed onsite since May 14, 1846, with the exception of three months in 1975 when the paper transitioned from a metal letterpress to the Goss Community offset press. It stands as wide and tall as a train car and lurches to life when Music throws the switch.

Jane Seagrave, The Gazette's publisher, says having Music onsite is essential to running one of the region's oldest newspapers.

“The guy has transformed, he’s become a leader,” Seagrave says. “Part of our whole identity is to embrace the history of the island while reporting on what’s happening today.”

Listen to Music's story, and the rumble-and-clacking of the press, in the audio above.

Sam Houghton contributed to producing this piece.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.