Macon: A Different Convention
by Rowena Autry Moitoret
HALFWAY FROM OUR HOME in Silver City to Deming, New Mexico, my husband Vic said, “I know what I forgot! This will be the first NAPA Convention I have ever attended without having my own copy of the constitution along.”
“Well, this is sure to be a different convention, then,” I said. And indeed it was.
Vic smiled almost immediately and added, “But I guess I’ve really mellowed, because I don’t seem to care very much whether they follow the rules or not.” He was quite relaxed long before we reached our daughter Jackie’s house in Las Cruces. There we found her busily scrubbing out cupboards in the house she and her husband Glen were moving out of, in order to leave them spotlessly clean for the new tenants.
Meanwhile their newly-purchased house a few blocks away was piled with books to be put on shelves. It would have been good to stay and help her get things sorted, or at least to stay and play with our granddaughters Laura and Sarah, but we had to hurry on to El Paso so that my sister Katy could accompany us to the airport and keep our car for us. I really hate to fly, but I will have to admit there is something miraculous about leaving our New Mexico home at 8:30 in the morning, and after a change of planes in Dallas and a landing in Atlanta and a 70-mile drive in a rental car, to be talking to Helen and Shep Wesson in the Hilton Hotel in Macon, Georgia, by 10:30 that night.
Already I could see that this was going to be a different kind of convention – the big round coffee table in the hospitality room was loaded with food that was really good and good for us, too. I ate grapes and nuts and a large, crisp red Delicious apple, plus homemade cookies baked by Lucy Stovall Douglas. She was dashing around energetically getting things done, but she managed to keep that table replenished all the days of the convention. She and her husband Will were both deeply involved in activities on the program and behind the scenes – I wish we had more young people with such energy in the NAPA.
Another thing that was different was the absence of the Haywoods from this gathering – health problems kept them at home in Ohio. But they were certainly there in spirit, particularly when Shep Wesson presented their slide show on the work of Hermann and Gudrun Zapf. And I did get to meet Fred Liddle, after hearing about him for years, and also little Alice Warner, who brought along her fond parents, Melody and Dave, and grandparents Jake and Leah. Relatively new members present for their first convention were Ray Winslett from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Clarence Lawing of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Thomas Patell of Syracuse, New York, with his vivacious wife Nikki (short for Veronica).
Not since the ‘81 Baltimore convention when we shared the hotel with a great number of blind people have we had such an assortment of fellow guests. This time it was a family reunion of black people named Roberts plus a statewide convention of the Rainbow Girls. The latter are a group sponsored by the Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star, and the girls were wearing formals of every color of the rainbow, even at breakfast time! We sometimes had a little trouble going up and down on the elevators, because two bouffant skirts just about filled one elevator, and these Georgia teenagers were only being typical teenagers in their desire to find their friends and gossip.
President Dick George and his wife Rusty took an incredible amount of trouble to give us an enjoyable time. Vic and I had once fed an entire convention at our home in Camp Springs, Maryland, with 79 people present, but we didn’t have a swimming pool, and spacious grounds under shady trees, and three charming young women to play the dulcimer, violin, and guitar while we ate our barbecue supper, and a good-sized bus to transport us up and down a winding entrance drive. This same bus had already taken us on a sightseeing tour earlier in the afternoon with a costumed guide (‘poet Sidney Lanier’) to show us his cottage birthplace and the incredible number of old homes with tall white columns. We were told that General Sherman had not come to Macon on his devastating march through Georgia, thus these pre-Civil War mansions were spared.
Somehow, even with all that going on, Vic and I found time to drive down to Dublin, Georgia, to see a cousin of mine whom I hadn’t seen for more than 43 years, and also to visit an old grade-school friend of mine who lives with her daughter’s family near Atlanta. Also, we had a pleasant and leisurely visit with Elaine Peck when we drove her from Macon to the Atlanta airport. Vic found two used book stores in Macon, and he located “the largest secondhand book store in the South” in Atlanta where we were spending our last night, and it was open even on the Fourth of July until 10:00 p.m.!
It seems that any NAPA convention, no matter how different, has always got to give birth to at least one unnecessary amendment to the constitution. This time we went back to one that has been debated and thrashed over before – the idea that anyone who attends a convention ought to be able to vote there, whether or not he or she has fulfilled the very minimum amount of activity we now require. I think an activity requirement is essential for people who want to vote or hold office – after all, is our association the National Amateur Press Association or is it the National Amateur Chit-Chat Society?
Just once in my many years in the association I failed to meet the activity requirement, and I could not vote, and I felt very badly about it. So I made up my mind that I wouldn’t let this happen to me again – and I never did. Any of our members can be qualified to vote with just a little bit of effort, and if they really care about our association they will make sure that they qualify to vote. Not even George William Hamilton, who usually comes from farthest away, ought to get a vote if he doesn’t write or set type or publish.
The only negative thing I could find about the Macon convention was the gray smoggy skies: I only saw a little pale sunshine and not even a star at night. People accustomed to the clear blue skies of New Mexico have a bad time on the east coast. But even our bright skies are sometimes absent – when our returning plane landed in El Paso there was lightning, thunder, and a heavy downpour. We drove away from this shower, but as we ate supper in Las Cruces with Jackie and Glen and Laura and Sarah, more dark clouds began to build up, and halfway to Silver City another cloudburst fell on us. But one good thing about a rainstorm in this dry country – you always feel glad to see it, no matter what. And Vic and I are always glad to attend an NAPA convention, no matter how different!
When Vic and I first saw the advance convention program and read that a retired Air Force Brigadier General was scheduled to be our banquet speaker, I will have to admit that we made some rather sour remarks to one another, such as: “But what on earth does he know about printing or amateur journalism?” However, Vic had a chance to buy the latest of Gen. Scott’s books (he has written 15), and by the time Vic had read a few pages of The Day I Owned the Sky his attitude was beginning to change, and by the time we heard the General speak we were completely won over – he is an authentic hero as well as an excellent speaker and writer. So, Dick, thank you for the “different” banquet speaker – we couldn’t have found a better one ourselves.
Now let’s give our printer a turn:
Makin’ History in Macon
by Victor A. Moitoret
YES, IT WAS A DIFFERENT CONVENTION that NAPA held in 1988. History was made, for this was the first time in its 112 years that the NAPA has held a convention in the State of Georgia. The Confederate States have, in fact, been distinctly slighted. The NAPA had been in existence 25 years before venturing just barely over the Mason & Dixon Line to meet in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1901. After another 51 years had passed, this national organization finally did it again, convening in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1952. We reached the border area in 1966 in Frederick, Maryland, and then penetrated a slight distance in 1972 to Natural Bridge, Virginia. At last, in 1973 the deep south was finally achieved when St. Petersburg, Florida, was the convention site.
It was Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1983, and now we have added Georgia to our roster of conventions. Still ignored to date in the Confederacy though are North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. The Yankees have taken us to New York State 15 times and to Ohio 17 times. And we have been to Massachusetts 13 times, but always to Boston; to Pennsylvania 9 times, but only to Philadelphia, the city of NAPA’s founding. Who knows? Someday the NAPA may even make it to New Mexico!
Of course, geographical spread of our sites had been influenced by the calendar: traditionally we have met on the Fourth of July, and that swayed some past decisions to avoid hot southern regions. But another way that Macon was different was that this was the fifth convention in the last 22 years where we did NOT meet on the Fourth of July, so that tradition has been cast aside. (Tinkerers might now be tempted to play with that provision in our constitution specifying that our annual convention be held in the month of July.) But Macon proved that with air conditioning, the South can rise again.
Fifty-three years since my first convention in Oakland, California, in 1935, I feel now more than ever that the real joy is found in the people, not in the business or special events. To lunch with Tom Whitbread and Lee Hawes, to breakfast with the Segals and Gale Sheldon, to chat even briefly with Doc & Sonya Davids, Roy Lindberg, Blaine & Belle Lewis, Fred Gage, Bill Boys, the Prowells, and my cousin Louise Lincoln – that’s worth the whole trip!
Aire Sonoro is edited and published for the National Amateur Press Association by Rowena A. Moitoret & printed by Vic Moitoret at The Cuniculus Press, Silver City, N. M. 88061.
This issue also goes to the BAPA and to the BPS Publishing Group.