F R O N T
S T R E E T
S P Y
BY ASHLEY WAHL
Once upon a time, there was a pretty
lady poet named Emily Wismer who fell in love with a time machine. This particular time machine was a greasy tabletop Pilot press made before the First World War. The moment she saw it, her heart skipped a beat. The reason, our quirky heroine would soon discover, was that printer’s ink pumped through her veins. Imagine how Amelia Earhart felt when she saw her first plane and have some idea how Emily Wisner felt when she found her Pilot. It was love at first flight.
Not one mile from the sunbathing alligators of Greenfield Lake, Lady Pilot Letterpress prints the kind of greeting cards you might expect to receive from your trendiest friend — or possibly that cool aunt with the nose ring who never did have any children. Take the vintage image of a tandem bicycle, for example, paired with offbeat, modern-day expressions: 12
Salt • November 2013
“C’mon lady, move it!” says the Edwardian hipster pedaling behind the knockout in the high-collar blouse. Her stone-faced reply: “Tailgating bastard!” Or, three smiling hot dogs, dressed in buns and straw boater hats, dancing beneath the words “franks a lot!” Notes for tree-huggers (“My love for you is organic and cruelty-free”), public radio nerds (“Baby, let’s stay in bed and listen to some NPR”), and fans of black humor (“I just wanna punch you with gratitude”) — all created by a poet-turned-printer who finds content in the rhythmic clanking of her 1907 Chandler and Price letterpress. “I love these old machines,” says Emily, 41, breaking for a moment after thrusting down the cumbersome hand lever of an antique paper cutter. “They’re so pretty.” Plus, the wordsmith admits, the arduous labor makes her feel connected to literary history.
The Art & Soul of Wilmington
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK STEELMAN
At Lady Press Letterpress, a vintage printing and a plucky poet revive the art of sending the perfect thoughts