from The Unicorn 1, April 1958
by Miriam Woodruff
The March sun warmed the flagstones of the terrace and a light wayward breeze brought with it a waft of spring as it dance across the lawn, rippling the tall grass with playful fingers. I sat idly, enveloped in the loveliness of the early afternoon, and mused on the enigma of the earth’s awakening. Also into the back of my mind crept the unwelcome thought that very soon I would begin that seemingly endless chore of the country dweller – mowing the grass.
While it may be a shame to again upset the even type style, a unique opportunity is too good to pass up. This article is being printed in the identical type, 12 point Bernhard Modern Roman, that Marion used in 1958. I purchased it from her estate.
While I was sunk in the random thoughts which are the fruits of idleness, a long sleek car nosed into the lane and my weekend neighbor Howard Crane waved and came strolling onto the terrace. Howard has always been a city dweller whose knowledge of country living is derived chiefly from book, and who can be depended upon to dispense more misinformation about matters rural than anyone I ever knew.
“Well, Mary, my dear,” he said, stretching out in a long chair, “this is really living. You were truly inspired when you chose the country life.”
“Hello, Howard, I agree. But there are flies in the amber. Look at my troubled lawn and consider that, beginning very soon, I’ll have to mow it at least once a week for the next six months. The prospect dulls one’s enjoyment just a bit.”
“Nonsense!” he said, with the firm authority of the cavedweller whose pronouncements are predicated entirely on theory. “All you nee is a sheep. I read just the other day about a family that buys a lamb each spring, tethers it on the lawn during the summer to keep the grass own, and in the fall butchers it for the freezer. Why don’t you try it?”
“My friend,” I said, “maybe you have something.” It did seem like a ridiculously simple answer, and I wondered, from the depth of my innocence, why more country folk had not adopted so obvious a solution.
We batted it around awhile and my enthusiasm grew by leaps and bounds. We agreed there was undoubtedly a snide conspiracy on the part of the mowing machine manufacturers to keep secret this painless and economical method of grass cutting, and I firmly resolved to flout them by getting a sheep at once. My mind’s eye held visions of velvety lawn with a frolicsome lamb gamboling upon it while I sat comfortably with a long cool drink.
The next morning I went to the nearest sheep farm and, assuming a knowing air, explained to the farmer that I wanted a sheep to keep the lawn cut. He gave me an odd glance which I was then too inexperienced to interpret, and led me to an enclosure full of half-grown lambs. They were certainly cunning, and I selected a four months old ewe with black face, ears and legs. I took her home and tritely named her Lambie Pie.
Lambie proved completely winsome; but even at a tender age she exhibited positive traits of character. To begin with, she was too young to do much grazing, and was not entirely weaned. This seemed no great problem, as I was an old hand at weaning kittens and puppies; but I had not reckoned with lamb’s forceful nursing technique.
I put Lambie in the middle of the lawn and watched her for a few minutes to determine how advanced she might be in fending for herself, then started for the barn to feed the cats. Halfway there, like a bolt from a crossbow came Lambie. I learned too late that it is natural for a nursing lamb to deal its poor mother a terrific wallop aimed at her udder. This is supposed to start the milk flowing and I am sure it would. But I caught it square on the derriere. Dazed, I picked myself up, and Lambie, having found me quite udderless, continued to butt me and bleat; so I deferred my errand and went back to the kitchen to warm up a pan milk.
Of course she had never learned to drink from a pan and I saw at once that I would have to resort to a bottle. I found an old beer bottle, cut the thumb from a rubber glove and punched holes in it and optimistically presented it to her. But at her first greedy suck the glove thumb pulled off, milk splattered in all directions, and Lambie butted me. Sorely tried I shoved the neck of the bottle down her throat, and after a choke or two she went to work on it like a hardened tippler.
I was able to wean her after a week or two, but not without several more butts. I learned to walk backwards when she was in the vicinity. My friends found her irresistible, but I tired of hearing them recite Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Meanwhile the grass grew luxuriantly, and Lambie did spend some of her leisure nibbling at it, this did little except to give it a motheaten appearance. I soon found she was not partial to grass with so many other comestibles within easy reach.
Her love of variety she brought blatantly to my attention when I found her one morning happily munching my roses and discovered that during the night she had sampled most of the bushes. She had also tasted a generous cross section of the vegetable garden. Needless to say I was thoroughly exasperated; but Lambie looked up at me with such innocence when I scolded her that I charged off her behavior to her extreme youth. I have never been so wrong.
To further her education an impress on her that the lawn was her objective, I bought twenty feet of chain and staked her in the middle of the grass, planning to move her from place to place as she ate her way through the increasing tangle; for by this time nothing but a power mower would have cut it.
But Lambie had other ideas. She marched in a circle around the stake until there was a deep track in the soft earth, and every our or so, after enough revolutions to have made anyone but a sheep dizzy, her chain would become wound tight around the post so I would have to drop whatever I was doing and unwind her. But each time I neared the end of my patience she would look at me with her soft sheep’s eyes and I was defeated again.
Summer ended finally and half way through I bought a power mower and cut a fine crop of hay. It was the only crop I did get, because Lambie learned to slip her chain and the hours between dark and daylight were spent eating my vegetables and flowers. I bought most of my produce that summer. Friends viewed my wrecked flower beds and sent me flowers. They consoled me with the fact that fall would soon be here and Lambie would be in the freezer.
Fall came and went. Three more falls have come and gone and spring is here again. Lambie is outside in the shrubbery, handsome and arrogant, lunching on a bridal wreath. Once a week I get out the power mower and cut the grass.
The slightly larger sheep beside her, also lunching on bridal wreath, is her son, Muggins.
But that is another story…
The Fable of the Dog Who Owned a Radio
from The Kitchen Stove 18, June 1951
by Louise Lincoln
There was once a dog who had a sympathetic master, a weatherproof doghouse, three fleas, and a radio. Every morning when he awakened, he would give the fleas a preliminary dig to remind them that they were there only because of his tolerance. Then he would turn on the radio and get the morning news broadcast. And every morning he grew more depressed until at last he went in search of his master.
“What is the trouble, my friend?” asked his master, seeing his hangdog look.
“Every morning,” replied the dog, “that news commentator says the world is going to the dogs, and I don’t want it.”
“What is the matter with the world?” asked his master, who obviously had not been listening to any broadcasts, or reading the paper for that matter.
“War and taxes!” muttered the dog. “War and taxes!”
“But those things have always been. Why should this generation be exempt from them?”
“That’s just it,” the dog retorted. “No government has ever learned to balance its budget and live within its income. So you increase taxes. People have never learned to live with one another, so they have wars. And because you humans can’t solve those problems, you try to escape from the whole mess by dumping it onto the dogs.”
“But you must admit,” argued the master, “that there are some very fine people in the world.”
“I have yet to hear of them,” the dog said bitterly. “Parents chain their children to beds because they disobey them. Children kill their parents because they can’t have the keys to the car on Saturday night. Officeholders are all corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Everybody with more than ten dollars is a dirty capitalist. Anybody with less than ten dollars is a filthy communist. Getting rich is the universal motive. Getting caught is the only disgrace. I fail to see where the good comes in.”
“I think,” his master interposed mildly, “you have been listening too much and not looking enough. The sensational always captures the spotlight. There is still much good behind the scenes.”
“Don’t be trite,’ the dog snorted. “It’s the behind scenes acclivity which focuses the spotlight and puts something in it. I maintain that if so many such events occur, and if the public relishes hearing about them to the exclusion of all else, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the public. Yon create power and use it to destroy yourselves. You give altruism lip service and glorify greed. You talk about God and glorify the devil. If you had to listen to nothing but good deeds for one day, you would be bored to death. In fact, I doubt if the supply of good deeds would last that long.”
“You are being very cynical,” the master mused.
“If you would study your Greek dictionary,” the dog replied, “you would learn that no one else had a better right to be. But even granted that there is some good left in the world, I still feel there is so much bad in it that the thought of possessing it depresses me.”
“Then let me give you a little advice and comfort,” said his master. “First, bury your radio with your beef bones. If you are not strong enough to stand current events, ignore them. It is better to be ignorant and sane than informed and crazy. Secondly, ’going to the dogs’ is only a figure of speech, so there is no possibility of your ever receiving the world.”
“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” asked the dog. Whereupon he returned to the doghouse and his three fleas. And he went on listening to his radio, because he knew whatever was said did not apply to him. However, from that time on, whenever he wakened at night, he would see a light in his master’s room. For some reason his master seemed to have developed a permanent case of insomnia. “It just goes to show you,” the dog informed his three fleas, “there must have been something in what I said after all. Someone has to worry about the world. I’m glad it’s not me!”
Moral: Escapism is a wonderful thing, but all that it settles is your nerves.
The Printer’s Apology
from The Wag 5
by Helm Spink
It is no accident that The Wag appears undated. Its subject matter places it definitely enough for our purpose, and we should prefer to have its tardiness forgotten.
Obviously it’s a leisurely publication. It may, indeed, be called archaic. But, you see, it is a relaxation medium for its publishers, allowing them a freedom for self-expression that they cannot find elsewhere.
Its senior editor may write whatever she pleases whenever she feels like writing. Its printer may set it in type as his time permits, justifying the lines to his own satisfaction, editing, and revising as he goes along. These are privileges denied to professional writers and printers. We have no deadlines and no particular space limitations. No customers may press us to complete the work so that it might produce results. No critics may impede its distribution.
Brodie said once that I was a good printer and knew it. I’m sure I could feel more content if I were a bad printer and knew that. Being a good printer seems to mean being perpetually dissatisfied. Being a craftsman means being aware of every flaw – a misspelled word, a needless comma, a broken letter, bad spacing, erratic inking, too much or too little impression, careless folding, improper trimming. If all these hurdles are made, there still remains the question of taste. Would the book have looked better set in a different type, with greater margins, on another kind of paper, in a smaller size, with more pages?
Perhaps, I like this type, these margins, this size. I could also like the result if these factors were changed. There is no absolute standard by which to judge the printing of a book. There are principles to guide the printer – and to disturb him when he eyes the results.
The conscientious craftsman knows that he will never achieve perfection. But he keeps on trying, ignoring the compliments of his friends and the irrelevant comments of his critics, hoping next time to produce a work of art.
from The Kitchen Stove 19, October 1951
by Louise Lincoln
My family tree is a striking plant,
With many an uncle and many an ant
For in spite of the years that have whirled about,
It still doesn’t have all the bugs taken out.
It’s never been pruned, so the prunes are all there,
And the deadwood sticks out through the boughs everywhere.
It is true, furthermore, it has ruined its shape
By shelt’ring the squirrel, the bat, and the ape
Which came to the branch and went on clinging to it
Like some sort of grafted, additional fru-it.
But the sap that it has is as sappy as any;
The nuts which it grows are unequaled by many.
And those there may be who make ridicule of it,
But I’m out on a limb, and doggone it! I love it.
I am told that I erred and the type face I called Goudy Old Style on page 122 is really Ronaldson. So I hope Fred will forgive me.
The Artist in a Happy Mood
from Spectator, October 1952
by George Freitag
Dear Earle: In the event that it is important to you that my name is given the proper emphasis on whatever proper syllable the fathers of my father gave to it down through the ages let me assure you that almost no one pronounces the name properly, and that I have become so accustomed to a mispronunciation that the distance my ears are from California would probably enhance the euphony, wrong or not.
You are the second person in my 38 years who has asked me how to pronounce it and now that I recall your other letters I think you have asked it two or three times without my paying any special attention. I mailed the letter day before yesterday in which I was to have answered your question but somehow it slipped my mind. First off, let me say, Earle, that I am glad you liked the first sentence of my book: that is more than one reviewer could say when it became his lot to write a report on it for an Akron, Ohio, newspaper. I do hope that you find it of some value and that your degree of estimation of my writing does not diminish once you have finished it.
My name is pronounced: FRYtag
Most of the time the ones who wish to be fashionable say FREEtag or FreTAG and sometimes Frutig or Fryberg and once in a while Freetig. Boys in my school days called me Fried-egg.
People in general seem to be afraid to say tag. EI is always pronounced as I, as you know. Dreiser is a good example. I used to abhor my name. In the grade schools the kids made all sorts of fun over the name and at home I sometimes cried myself to sleep over it. But now, after the years have fallen down and I am a man and a provider and an admirer of my father who is one of the finest, most likable gentleman I have ever met in all my life, I rather like my name and am as proud of it as I am of the man who gave it to me. My daughter, now growing up, has hinted that in school she is also ribbed for having such a peculiar name and I know that she does not like it; but I told her that because she is a woman she will some day, when she marries, get to change it. The name, alas, is wearing itself out; there are only a few left to carry it. My brother is married and has a boy, so you see how near the brink of complete oblivion the name has become for all my father’s brothers have girls except one and he never married. It may interest you to know he is Karl in the book, though of course it is all fictitious.
Happily yours, George Freitag
He Did it Himself
from Midwest Spectator 59, November 1968
by Milton Grady
When Edwin H. Randle read some of the national publicity attendant to the Des Moines NAPA convention in 1964, he immediately joined. He had a Kelsey Star press and had been “stumbling along in the dark never having heard of any of the amateur press associations.”
He soon began the production of a book, Safi Adventure, a personal recounting of his experiences with troops engaged in Patton’s Casablanca Expedition.
He wrote the book, and printed it, page by page, without the aid of professional help or counsel, fighting to get a good impression. An edition of 250 copies was prepared and further enhanced by hard covers.
The newspapers gave the project wide publicity: the unusual aspect of a General writing a book without the aid of customary ghost writers And Printing It!
The edition sold out completely in two months and orders continued to pour in. When the backlog reached 250, General Randle decided to again go to press with a new edition.
He contemplated the purchase of a good, used 10×15 Chandler & Price press to expedite publication and alleviate the pursuit of a decent impression. His wife suggested, “Why not get a new press?” (They make few wives from that sort of gold these days!)
The Kelsey Star press was sold for a substantial loss and the production of the second edition of Safi Adventure began with a brand new 10×15 C & P! There has been nothing in the long history of amateur journalism to match that exploit!
Work progressed rapidly without the maddening delays of securing good print. Experimentation with various brands of inks zeroed in on just the right one for his use.
Naturally the fanfare attendant to the first edition was now missing but favorable book reviews continued to bring in orders. An advertisement in The National Observer greatly sparked sales and now the second edition is rapidly closing out.
Very few members of the amateur press fraternity have the necessary ambition and acumen to write a book, let alone set it in type and publish it.
Every amateur journalist should have this unique volume, General Randle’s Safi Adventure, on his bookshelf. In 1968 it could have been ordered from him at $5.75 postpaid.
Sheldon Wesson and NAPA
from Siamese Sandpipe 28, May 1954
Burton Crane had confided to Sheldon Wesson in 1941 that he wished Helen Vivarttas, former President of AA PA, could get to an APC meeting, but “she’s about 35 and a nurse or something at Columbia and might not be able to attend.”
“Oh well,” stated APC Secretary Sheldon Wesson, a mere upstart of six months in the hobby, “we don’t want any old fuddy-duddies at APC meetings anyway.”
He acknowledged our introduction at the August meeting at Crane’s by lifting his left eyebrow and turning back to the imposing stone, scarcely a proper reception for Madame former AA PA President.
So I was quite surprised when little me was favored with a letter-questionnaire that Fall, gist of which was what night would I cut classes for a date? I answered that I’d cut classes for no man (certainly not for a NAP An, after all the vitriol George Henry had poured out against the rival association) but that I had a study night I was free. We went to a movie. He put his arm around the back of my seat and I bounced away to the very edge. (No National wolf is going to make passes at an AAPAn!) The arm withdrew and stayed withdrawn. I did not know that it was Wesson’s first date with a girl, and he was convinced he’d offended me, and felt as unsure of himself as only a 19-year-old can.
Things might have stalemated indefinitely, with the ajay feud between us our only mental contact, when my mother inadvertently stepped in and revealed him in the cliched true light. Briefly, she intercepted an ajay note of his and telephoned him, asking his aid to have me ostracized out of ajaydom. Troubled, Wesson phoned me at work, and on a Park Row bench I explained. I learned then that he wasn’t the brassy personality, the empty glamour boy that his National front presented. He was, indeed, as nice inside as any AAPAn I knew.
These were the years when my ajay circle were emerging from adolescence, and their horizons widened. Groveman had struck a cruel blow when he joined the National, and I had cried “Turncoat!” Haywood, having met NAPA’s Tillie Schabrucker at that memorable August 1941 APC meet, had also hopped the fence, understandably. I remained staunchly American, fighting furious feuds with Edwin Hadley Smith for his subsidized proselyting of select actives, and with Bob Holman for proselyting the Penna. Chapter of AAPA en masse. It never occurred to me, cemented in the American as I was, that my own “loyalty” would be questioned when I up and married that NAPA whippersnapper in 1943. But it was – and by G. Kay.
Pearl Harbor caught us at Wesson’s APC meet in Brooklyn. When Burton came in late with the news, in his knowledge of Japan he added:… the poor little bastards!”
At that APC meeting we did not realize, those of us who were most concerned, the full implications. (I had a boyfriend in the Officers’ Reserve and I remember wondering if he would have to go on active duty, though I did not know what that would entail.) I certainly never thought that almost everyone there – Segal, Smiths, Jacksons, Groveman, Wessons, Crane, Trainer – would be in uniform, even in combat, before we all met again.
Wesson signified that I was to out-stay the gang and a certain young lady who wanted to see him alone so I out-waited her, and in a Brooklyn candy store we drank chocolate sodas and laid plans to coedit a paper.
The title, Siamese Standpipe, was picked later – and here we are mailing out our 28th issue, a dozen years and two sons later.
One Snob-Appeal Ad
from Siamese Standpipe 27, Spring 1954
by Sheldon Wesson
Your gown is a Fath original; your hat is by Duche.
You have a custom-made car to match your hair-do, a wristwatch made for you…
and you alone!
are your panties distinctive?
Are they the really personal garment
that a woman of your taste demands?
What if the March wind should partially disrobe you?
What if the Country Club should decree a come-as-you-are party?
What would your escort think?
Would he, in disillusioned silence, sneer to himself:
“She wears the same droopy drawers
as Tilda, Wilma, Hazel and Zeloma!”
Have your panties made to fit your very own contours at
“The Home of Personalized Panties”
TOODLE OO 1975
I better call this my Holiday Greeting since it is too late to print a more conventional one.
And hang firmly onto this Cat as there are only 25 copies of it. With only 40 pages, plus front matter, to go on “Ajay Goodies” naturally I am anxious to finish it. So a Merry Christmas an a Happy 1976 from
Cranford, N. J. 07016