SAPS: Acronym of the Suncoast Amateur Press Society, hosts of the St. Petersburg Convention.
AIR CONDITIONERS have, of late, become the bane of the conventions of the National Amateur Press Association. In Denver, 1980, we almost froze for three days because an air conditioner in the meeting room could not be regulated. The outdoor temperature was in the high 90’s. In Baltimore, 1981, the noise from an air-conditioner fan in the ceiling was the most audible part of the proceedings. This year in St. Petersburg, we sweltered in a meeting room where one of two air conditioners malfunctioned throughout the convention. At the banquet, in a different room, one of the air conditioners also failed. You may be assured that an air conditioner failure in St. Pete is a matter of some moment. The temperature and humidity closely resemble that of a sauna.
Inflexible Law of Hotels: Whatever is unsatisfactory at the beginning of a convention will remain so throughout regardless of any and all promises of the management. The underlying logic is that the hotel managers know that if they can stall for three days the complainers will go away. That’s much easier and cheaper than fixing whatever is wrong.
But do not believe that air conditioners ruined any of these conventions for most of us. Sites and surroundings, even including the stunningly beautiful Gulf beach at St. Pete, are secondary. The important thing is the people.
Missing from this convention were a number of people that we have come to expect to see – Blaine and Belle Lewis, Vic and Rowena Moitoret, Bill and Tillie Haywood to name a few. Always present are people we have not met although this time there were, I believe, only four members present that I had not met – June Newman, Lowell Adams, Robert Halbert, and John Branca. John and I discovered common ground in past dealings for painting equipment with Turnbaugh in Pennsylvania.
I barely got to speak to June and Lowell but happened to be in Robert’s company several times and discovered among many other things that he has more typecasting equipment than anyone I ever heard of – he has a barn full of Linotypes, Monotypes, Thompsons, etc., plus thousands of fonts and matrices. But Robert is more than a collector of typesetting machinery – every conversation revealed a new aspect. What is one to think of a man who collects private railroad cars, for instance? Halbert would be a fine subject for an article in the National Amateur so that more of us could become acquainted with his doings and his views. Some of us urged him to be more personal in his journal, The Herald & Democrat, which gives little evidence of the complexity of his interests or the diversity of his ideas.
I hope he attends two or three more conventions and becomes addicted to them – I believe that addiction takes over after about three. Until then one can be turned off by the apparent or real triviality of the floor discussions and by the seeming quibbling that conventions are often accused of bringing forth. What but addiction could cause Ralph Babcock to come from Washington state, Gale Sheldon and Hyman Bradofsky from California, Rhoda Werner from Utah, or George Hamilton from Austria to a convention in Florida?
They certainly didn’t come for the floor discussion which was mostly very mild this year in spite of real difference of opinions about proposed amendments. At one point Sheldon Wesson even said that for the first time he found himself and me on the same side of a question. Fred Liddle intimated that this probably meant we were simply wrong.
The election went smoothly until we got to the Executive Judges. In addition to the usual confusion over electing three people to equivalent positions, the steam-bath atmosphere evidently parboiled our brains and made the selection of judges take ballot after ballot.
Shortly after that we voted on the amendments, and I spoke, as I had planned, in opposition to the amendment to change the term of office of Executive Judges and to elect only one per year. Our difficulties in running the election made it a little hard to be very persuasive about defeating an amendment that might alleviate these difficulties. The amendment did fail to carry but only by one vote. After she took office as President, Leah appointed a committee to attempt to arrive at a practical plan to elect Executive Judges and to report the solution in the March NA. Arie Koelewyn eventually resubmitted the amendment to this year’s amendment committee, and it will be on the ballot again at Knoxville. All the proposed amendments failed except the one that will permit convention invitations and other official matter to be distributed in the bundle along with amateur papers.
The amendment on the ballot that caused the most floor discussion was the one to assess members who receive the bundle out of the country a postage fee in addition to their membership fee. I do not understand the contention made by some people that this is unfairly discriminatory since it is a fact that postage for sending the bundles to a member outside the U.S. is now about $10.20, and his dues are only $7.50 so that his dues do not even pay the postage much less any of the other expenses of the organization. However, NAPA has indicated by the vote on this amendment (27 For, 32 Against) that that is the way the membership wants it, so I, for one, have no quarrel about it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dead issue. I was glad that the amendment to require only one membership list per year in the official organ was defeated. My term as Mailer revealed to me the difficulties of maintaining a semi-accurate list of members and addresses, and I was worried about the effect of trying to update the list only once per year.
Considerable floor discussion took place concerning the proposed amendments for next year’s balloting with most of the controversy centered about the first two. In brief, proposed Amendment 1, submitted by Joe Curran, eliminates the activity requirement for voting, and Amendment 2, submitted by Harold Segal, redefines the activity requirement. Thus the amendments are contradictory, and if both passed, a puzzle would ensue.
The Amendment Committee, feeling that only one of them should be on the ballot, recommended that number 2 be accepted and number 1 be rejected, but the committee report was amended on the floor to put both on the ballot. I am strongly opposed to doing away with the activity requirement so I urge the defeat of number 1. I urge the adoption of number 2 which redefines the activity requirement in a very satisfactory way. Now, in order to vote one must either have written and had published 300 words or printed 1000 words. This requirement, though easy to fulfill, ignores art contributions and has a niggling, counting air that says that 300 words of prose are of more value than say a 200-word poem.
Amendment 2, as proposed by Harold Segal, simplifies and civilizes the requirement. It states that the activity requirement is satisfied by any contribution published in the National Amateur or in an amateur paper that is distributed through the bundle. So a published art work or a photograph would satisfy the requirement, and no difficulties over size, scale, length, or quality confuse the issue. In my view, this proposed amendment solves many practical difficulties and defines a requirement that any member with a real interest in voting could readily satisfy. I think that adoption of number 2 would be a very good thing for the organization.
Proposed Amendment 3 is simply a resubmission by Arie Koelewyn of the amendment to elect Executive Judges to three-year terms. I am mildly opposed to it, but there is clearly a good bit of support for it because it failed this year by only one vote. The only benefit I can see from the three year terms is that the election is simplified. The liabilities include the possibility that an elected judge might become inactive during such a long period of office, or the probability that we might find ourselves, because of death or resignation, with appointed rather than elected judges for much of the three-year terms.
Proposed Amendment 4, submitted by Gale Sheldon, is to provide secret balloting for absentee voters by using the two-envelope method that is now in use in many organizations. As it now stands in NAPA, a member must sign his absentee ballot. By the proposed amendment, he would sign an outer envelope, and if it was determined by the Absentee Ballot Committee that he was eligible to vote, the unsigned ballot envelope would be extracted and thenceforth there would be no way of identifying the ballot with the absentee voter. I feel this amendment should be adopted. In fact, we should have done this long ago even though there seems to be little agitation for a secret ballot. But the attenders of conventions vote by secret ballot, so certainly should the absentee voters.
The chief entertainment at the banquet was the unusually detailed remarks of the laureate judges. The remarks of the judge of the printing contest especially aroused some floor discussion and more discussion at postprandial gatherings. J. Ed Newman claimed that according to the judge the winner of the printing laureate seemed to be “the best of the worst printers.”
Sheldon Wesson took strong exception to the judge’s recommendation that type should be cleaned with typewash and a toothbrush, and I agree with Sheldon. There is a type brush made for cleaning type. It is very soft, softer than any toothbrush. I would certainly use nothing harder. But I thought the rest of the judge’s remarks were reasonable though many of his opinions were subjective. I think that judges in any kind of contest are likely to agree on which are the better submissions, but when it comes to ordering them, it becomes a matter of idiosyncrasy, and win or lose, one should remember that it could just as well have gone the other way and probably would have with another judge. I hope the Official Editor will see fit to print most of the judges’ remarks during the year. It is always interesting to see what outsiders think of our efforts.
There was an interesting floor discussion during one of the meetings on the role of the Bureau of Critics. In spite of all contrary protests, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who liked to be criticized, even constructively, even when he admits it can be beneficial, and this built-in feeling colors our attitude about what the Bureau of Critics should do. But the consensus on the floor seemed to be the sensible one that if the Bureau didn’t criticize then there was no sense in having such an office. Now and again someone wants to exclude new members from criticism, but, of course a new member of our organization may be a beginner at writing or printing, or he may just as likely be a retiree from a job in which he has done one or both for a professional lifetime.
I was tempted to suggest that in addition to the Bureau of Critics we appoint an Official Back-Slapper who, at the slightest sign of activity, writes a new member how fine his contribution is. When I was a brand-new member, J. Ed Newman was President, and every time I published something, I immediately received a post card from him saying that it was just great. I knew that he was exaggerating wildly but, all the same, his cards provided a very welcome encouragement to continue publishing.
What we all really need, of course, are analytical and thoughtful responses to our published efforts. Preferably, these responses should be published and distributed in the bundle for all to share. But anyone who depends on response for motivation will not last long in this organization.
We extend our thanks and congratulations to Jack Bond and the members of the Suncoast Amateur Press Society for a fine convention. There is a tendency to believe that the last convention attended was the best one yet. By design, or more likely by chance, conventions seem to be just the right length. One always feels regret at their end and the parting words, “See you next year at —-,” are always said with real anticipation. So:
“See you next year at Knoxville.”
1981 Laureate Winners
LAUREATE: “Home for Christmas,” Martha E. Shivvers, Boxwooder 149.
HON. MENTION: “The Long Afternoon,” Rowena A. Moitoret, Boxwooder 147.
LAUREATE: “A Tangle of Thoughts,” Carla Patsuris, Cerebrations 43.
HON. MENTION: “Journey to Yesterday,” Louise Lincoln, Kitchen Stove 59.
LAUREATE: “Little Clever-Head,” Robert S. Williams, Jr., Boxwooder 140.
HON. MENTION: “Manuela’s Doll,” Rowena A. Moitoret, Boxwooder 142.
History of Amateur Journalism
LAUREATE: “Lauren Geringer: Why He Does It,” David W. Smit, National Amateur, December 1981.
HON. MENTION: “A Visit to the Dean,” Jack Coolidge, National Amateur, June 1981.
LAUREATE: “Art for Art’s Sake”, William F. Haywood, Scribe 6
HON. MENTION: “No Excuse is No Excuse,” Jacob L. Warner, Boxwooder 144.
LAUREATE: “Fishboats at Work,” Henry J. Jolly, Reader’s Buffet 35.
HON. MENTION: Cover of September National Amateur, Jim Walczak.
LAUREATE: Jacob L. Warner, Boxwooder.
HON. MENTION: Victor A. Moitoret, Aire Sonoro
LAUREATE: Aire Sonoro, Rowena A. Moitoret.
HON. MENTION: Campane, Harold Segal.
Hand set in Deepdene; display types are Deepdene and Perpetua. Edited and published by Jake Warner who printed 460 copies on an SP-15 Vandercook; cover was printed on a C&P at the Boxwood Press, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770.