Pauls Valley Democrat
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
There’s a certain nostalgic element which comes naturally the longer one spends in any community and for Bruce L. Patton, vice president at Hinkle Printing of Pauls Valley, close to five decades seems to be doing the trick so far.
Necessity dictated a lot of decision making for Patton back when he first began Feb. 15, 1962 at what was then called Alexander Printing. What started out as series of circumstances, including losing his first printing job when the company he worked for in Maud went out of business and impressing his first boss Charles Alexander essentially made possible what in a matter of a couple of weeks will be 50 years.
“It wasn’t a hard decision, I needed money... they offered me money to work,” said Patton, who went from a junior in high school not having much of a chance to getting a job in town when Alexander found out he could poor pigs and redistribute type. “This is what I wanted to do,” I liked it.”
Patton, who noted how everyone had to work in his family since his mom was raising her children on her own, has seen every change to the business in it’s current location. This is from being half the size it is now, being bought by Hinkle in July 1963 to when he started working with Buddy Strickland who came in 1969 and bought the business in 1976.
In all of these years Patton has seen the very nature of the business change, which is nothing like when he at first would lay printing out letter by letter all the way to being able to do everything digitally on computers. However, even though some of the stress and late nights aren’t what they used to be, he wouldn’t exchange those experiences for anything and still enjoys handling designs for all sorts of printing projects and developing close ties with those who enter the doors.
“We’ve come to work every day to take care of the customers... meet them, make them feel like you are glad to see them,” said Patton. “Printing is a craft.”
Patton can even thank working at the spot downtown to the place where he first met his wife, Ann. At that time the other half of the building was Lynn’s Pastry and it wasn’t long after 1970 when Strickland introduced them to each other they were married.
“I met the woman who would be my wife in this building,” said Patton. “I spent my time over the last 50 years working right at this corner.”
Even during the worst of times like the oil bust in the 1980s when it took 10 years to recover, Hinkle has been a good decision for Patton and his family, which also included two sons raised and graduated here. Both sons, Monty, a a Baptist preacher in Phoenix, Arizona and the other Gene who works in Denver are a matter of pride and is all the proof he doesn’t need to go anywhere.
At 67, Patton’s slowed down a little bit, giving up some interests like fishing and wood work, though one can also tell how his passions are shared by the impressive toy car collection in his office or the way he keeps history by writing down true stories through humorous poetry. Likes good friend Kevin Stark, there’s more than can be displayed in the small office at once, though each vehicle has some kind of company logo, much like the countless business cards he’ll continue to create for as long as he’s able.
“The valley has been very good to me and my family,” said Patton. “If I were to make a change I would not have any idea what to do.”