Dreams of My Father

November 15, 2009 at 2:32 am (Uncategorized)

Motive VWM cover

Once upon a time, the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Correction published a small magazine entitled, Motive.  The magazine’s purpose was to publicize what was going on in the agency.  Surprisingly, there is some worthwhile content in these issues, particularly for the historian.  I was fortunate to acquire a small stash of them nearly 30 years ago which I made use of when writing Central Ohio’s Historic Prisons.

What made the publication of Motive and similar ventures possible was the use of prison labor and printing presses.  In fact, there was a time when the print shop at the Ohio State Reformatory printed not only Motive, but many college catalogs, various leaflets for state departments, and even souvenir booklets.  The quality was fairly high for the time and the cost was relatively cheap.

Now, the gentleman holding a slide rule on the cover of this particular issue of Motive was my father, Virgil Meyers.  Despite never having attended college, he was a talented draftsman who eventually worked his way into a job as a civil engineer.  He had started out as a boy of 11 driving water trucks for the Ohio Department of Transportation.  Later, he worked at state garages in Sidney and Delaware, moved onto Lockbourne Air Force Base following World War II, then retired into a job in private industry.

My father was a remarkably talented man who could have done many things if given the opportunity.  However, when he received a job offer from Walt Disney in 1938, just after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, he turned it down.  The country had yet to emerge from the Great Depression and he didn’t think it was wise to give up a good job with ODOT to take a gamble on making cartoons.  Instead, he wound up designing prisons.

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