This is the editor’s personal, subjective view of the convention.
The Forum type used on the cover was bought at the convention auction and was once owned by Helm Spink. Forum was cut for Monotype by Goudy in 1911. Forum is modeled after the Roman capitals carved in monuments such as Trajan’s Column erected about 113 A.D.
“IT WAS A GOOD convention,” I said to Bill and Tillie Haywood as we were sitting in the hotel lobby on 4 July, the day after the convention ended.
“They’re all good,” said Bill. “Did you ever hear of a bad convention?”
The second reason for cliches is that they are true. But I did feel that this convention was an exceptionally good one. Each convention has its own characteristics that are perhaps mostly a result of the physical surroundings. At Cincinnati it seemed unusually easy to find convention attendees at any time that one wanted to go to breakfast or dinner or just to have a chat. In spite of the huge size of the hotel, we seemed to have been well concentrated.
One of the prime pleasures of any convention is meeting people with whom you are acquainted from their journals or their writing. From the June bundle I learned that finally I would have a chance to meet J. Hill Hamon. We talked all too briefly, but it doesn’t take one long to have a glad feeling that one has met J. Hill.
It’s always nice to meet new members such as Charles Lewis, Sandy Burns, and Harold Sterne; and one hopes he will see them at future conventions. New member George Stallings is already an established fixture in the bundle.
Unquestionably the outstanding feature of the business meetings was the election session. I had never attended a convention at which every election went to three or four ballots. What at most conventions is a routine affair, here took all day. I’m not sure why this happened. It is the first time since I’ve been attending conventions that there was serious competition for the presidency. Sheldon Wesson did well in the absentee voting and held a good number of convention votes even after announcing from the podium that he did not want to be elected. I think it took four ballots for Clarence Prowell to amass the required majority to win the presidency.
Dick Fleming and Gale Sheldon conducted vigorous anti-campaigns for the position of recorder. Each made a very strong speech in favor of the other, so even this election required a number of ballots.
The election of the executive judges was marked by a bit of floor controversy over the decision of the judge of the elections, Bill Boys, to give each voter three ballots on which to vote rather than having three votes written on one ballot. This clearly allowed a person to vote three times for one candidate rather than one time for three candidates. Though this is a recognized voting procedure and is not forbidden by the constitution, I’m pretty sure Bill intended only to make it easy to count the votes. I believe it was an unwise decision in that it departed from precedence and also meant that absentee voters voted by one system while the convention voted by another.
Amendments 1 and 3 carried easily while amendment 2 failed. On the floor of the convention, it was claimed that the proposed amendment 2 did not limit the voting period of the convention attendee, and thus implied that attending one convention would make one eligible to vote forever after. In any case the amendment was going to fail. The absentee vote was 16 to 14 against the amendment. The floor vote totaled 30 or 31 so that only 4 convention votes would have been enough to defeat the amendment; I knew for sure of that many.
The convention again adopted a resolution asking the official editor to publish the constitution in the National Amateur. The convention’s request was ignored in the past year. For that matter the official editor ignored the constitutional requirement that the full membership list be published in the June issue.
The convention adjourned without proposing an amendment for next year’s ballot, the first time this has happened since I started attending conventions. Some amendments were vaguely suggested on the floor, but no one came forth to present an actual amendment to the committee. There seems to be some misunderstanding of the function of this committee. It is not charged with originating or proposing amendments. The committee meets to receive members’ proposed amendments and to recommend to the convention which of them should be placed on the ballot.
At Kennewick Ann Vrooman volunteered to write to recent NAPA dropouts to try to find out why they had dropped their membership. I think it is fair to say that little came of this in spite of Ann’s valiant effort in writing 53 letters. Only 11 replied and of those only 2 agreed that the activity requirement was a reason for dropping. Her report prompted a good deal of discussion on the floor. I suggested that the recurring refrain from inactive members is the expression of guilt for their inactivity and that, while I think activity should be encouraged, we should not try to make people feel guilty when activity is not a requirement for membership.
Briefly stated, I think if we want activity as a requirement for membership then we can change the requirements. As it is, we are bound to attract a certain number of people for whom NAPA is a minor interest. At present we invite them into the organization and then berate them for not fulfilling an unwritten requirement. Activity requirements for membership would pose many problems of equity and fairness.
It has always been popular to poke fun at the convention floor discussions, and I guess there are good reasons beyond the fact that everyone likes easy targets. Someone said it reminded him of a faculty meeting in that everything was discussed discursively at great length and nothing decided. And of course it has always been impossible to keep a group discussion coherent and focused. No one has written as well about NAPA floor discussions as Verle Heljeson who admired them as one might a ballet or a well-played baseball game.
This year I was very much aware of how badly the session could impress new members and visitors who might become members. They must think we are out of our minds to sit through such meetings much less to revel in them as some of us do.
At lunch time I had a discussion with a member who was thoroughly disenchanted with our organization. His basic complaint was that from the quality of the printing in the bundle he doubted the capability of the members of the organization to appreciate the fine printing that he had planned to do when he had become a member. I agreed with him that we are not an organization of fine printers and told him I do not know of any national organization of fine printers.
Most of the fine printers that I know would not consider printing 400 copies of something for free national distribution. So this member is right in his complaint. Certainly there are people in NAPA who know almost everything there is to know about printing and who certainly can appreciate fine printing – Russ Paxton, Ron Ruble, Glenn Engebretsen, Harold Segal, Ralph Babcock, Rich Hopkins – to name a few, but it is surely true that the bundle is not a collection of fine printing or, for that matter, of fine writing. I believe this member stayed only for one day. I’m fairly sure he was not inspired by listening to the floor discussion to like NAPA any better.
Nevertheless, I feel the meetings must be defended. They are the only chance that many members have to orally express their opinions on subjects of importance to NAPA and they are entitled to speak them without regard for the entertainment value to members or visitors of these opinions.
Every once in a while I am surprised at the opinions expressed, and this year I was actually shocked at some of the attitudes about bundle postage. The discussion arose because Harold Segal had expressed concern about the expenditures of the past year and was appointed to a committee to recommend budgets for the various activities for this year. In the discussion of the report of this committee, I claimed that only the cost of the National Amateur was under our control – that we could not control the postage costs of the mailing bureau which is the other large expense of NAPA.
Sheldon Wesson took the floor to point out that my statement was not true. He correctly maintained that we could go back to the system of having publishers support, or partially support, the mailing bureau. His argument went like this: With the cost of paper, ink, type, and everything associated with publishing gone sky high, a publisher would hardly notice an additional $2 fee to the mailing bureau each time he sends in a journal to be distributed.
I have mixed feelings to say the least, about this conclusion. I would prefer the statement to be: If anyone is vain enough and dumb enough to bear the present costs, do you think an additional $2 would stop him? But what surprised me more than Wesson’s statement was that there was support on the floor for this idea. We were told that distribution is part of publishing and that a publisher should expect to pay distribution costs. This seems to me to ignore that real-world publishers expect some financial return from their distribution – not a complete loss.
I knew, as was pointed out, that historically publishers did support the mailing bureau, and it was mentioned that the organization had excess funds. I can see how a mailing bureau would start out that way, but I had rather thought it was like the case of the not-so-bright man who claimed that a wheelbarrow was no good because it simply added to the load and didn’t even have convenient handles for carrying. After being shown that he was supposed to push it, he had no difficulty in seeing that it was a good idea.
If publishers were asked to bear more of the cost of the distribution, should not writers have the same burden? In our topsy-turvy amateur publishing world, why should not a writer pay for the assuagement of his vanity if a publisher must do so?
What would be the effect of these charges on activity? A very attractive option for publishers would be to reduce their press runs to 100, or so, and mail their journals directly to other publishers and forgo bundle distribution. A few people in the organization already distribute their journals outside the bundle, and I’m sure the number would rise.
I think this whole notion should be quickly buried and forgotten – it’s an idea whose time has gone. If we require more money, I suggest we raise the dues for everyone – not just for the publishers. In the whole discussion about finances, the obvious possibility of raising the annual dues was not mentioned. Yet if Wesson’s argument has any validity, we can apply it here. The convention banquet now costs more than the annual dues.
Missing from the convention were the Moitorets. We never get to see them except at conventions and feel the lack when they are not present. Vic’s calm good sense is always needed in the convention sessions. And it is handy that you never have to ask twice, often not even once, for the benefit of Vic’s opinion.
One who should have been at the convention to gather his strokes is Henry Jolly. I don’t know how many comments I heard about his printing of the past year. Just now, he is the only printer in the bundle who really shows his enjoyment of printing. I hope that people are writing him about his journals and offering him enough encouragement that he will continue his innovative and striking printing.
We can attest that people do carefully and minutely read the bundle. That little note in Garret Grouch #37 linking Dave and Melody seems to have been read by almost everyone, and we were constantly explaining that the wedding was to happen in August, and that Bill Boys was coming from Ohio to marry them. The presence of the Williamses, the Boyses, the Segals, and the Ficks at the wedding emphasized that the romance had NAPA origins and also the major role in our lives of our NAPA-based friendships.
Hand set in Goudy’s Deepdene. Display type is Forum. Text stock (alas and inexplicably) is mixed offset and Hammermill Bond. Edited and published by Jake Warner who printed 480 copies on a 10 x 15 C & P at the Boxwood Press, Greenbelt, MD 20770.