This is my usual subjective, biased view of the Convention. – The Editor
LOW QUANTITY and high quality characterize the Wichita Convention. The remote location relative to the habitats of AJ members and the very sparse publicity given throughout the year to the upcoming convention combined to keep the number of registrants to a bit over 30. But the attendance at business meetings and at presentations and panel discussions was proportionally quite high so that the small number of people registered was somewhat mitigated. For instance, the floor vote at the elections was about 20 to 22 which is not unusually low for recent conventions.
The complaints voiced by several people three or four years ago about the lack of activities at the conventions have been more than answered in the last two conventions. At Macon we had difficulty finding time for committee meetings, and at this convention the time allotted for business meeting was miniscule. Only the total amity of the attenders and some quietly efficient railroading by the chairman made it possible to get our business done.
Sweetness and light has for some years been the tenor of our conventions. Knoxville in 1983 seems to have been the high point of contention. In Macon and again this year no voice was raised, and the hottest election this year was for the convention site for 1991. This year, as rarely happens, the Amendments Committee received no proposed amendments for consideration for next year’s ballot and convention. It is hoped that this represents satisfaction and not rigor mortis.
Even Gale Sheldon’s major transgression of custom and propriety (putting candidates’ names on the absentee ballots) was completely disregarded and contrary to any reasonable expectation was not so much as mentioned on the convention floor.
As a result of Gale’s mistake, elections went smoothly since all results except for the amendment and the 1991 meeting site were determined by the absentee ballot. Since it appeared that the amendment (which defined convention attendance as fulfilling the activity requirement for voting) would pass, the order of the election was changed to vote on the amendment first. The passage of this amendment then enabled every member present to vote on the remaining ballots. Voters gained as a result of the amendment were only one or two, however. (This suggests that the high quality of the group was because it comprised, almost exclusively, active, hard-core, or perhaps, fanatic members.
Elected by absentee ballots and concurred in by the Convention were President: Gale Sheldon, Vice-President: John Dingman, Recorder: Bill Gordon, Official Editor: Dick Fleming, Executive Judges: David Warner, Chairman; Fred Gage; and Lauren Geringer. Knoxville was affirmed as the 1990 convention site. After four ballots Portland, Oregon, and Cincinnati, Ohio, were deadlocked for the 1991 site, and the voting was carried over to the succeeding day when the tie was easily resolved by the selection of Oklahoma City after Bob Orbach offered to serve as Chairman of the Reception Committee for 1991.
A survey of the financial affairs of the Association by the Budget Committee revealed that the fiscal situation remains healthy. Mostly this is due to less costly methods of producing The National Amateur used for the last four years. For those who have joined NAPA in the last few years, perhaps it is worthwhile to recapitulate a little financial history. In 1984 during the audit at the San Diego Convention it was discovered by Gussie Segal that through an error in our bookkeeping we were spending about $1000 per year more than our income, and we had exhausted what had been a comfortable backlog in our checking account and were endangering the Life-Member Fund which is meant to be used for emergencies only. Two years of exceeding economical production of NA’s by Dick George enabled a substantial recovery, and two subsequent years of printing at a very reasonable cost by Joe Diachenko have enabled a complete financial recovery and now allows the Association some latitude for what it may deem worthwhile spending.
The Budget Committee did, in fact, recommend, at the new President’s request, that a special $750 recruiting fund be established to be used at the President’s discretion. It is thought that the fund may be used for advertising NAPA in magazines reaching boys and girls.
As usual there were many discussions about the need for new members and what could be done about it. Last year’s Publicity Chairman, George Gray, reported success in getting several articles in magazines and papers of some considerable circulation. From an article that appeared in Arizona Coast, two enquiries and one new member were obtained. Last year it was reported by Dave Warner that an article in two computer newsletters read by 1600 people produced one recruit, and an article in a Dallas newspaper about Bob Orbach’s printing hobby produced one new member. The only reasonable conclusion is that we represent such a peculiar interest that we have to reach an inordinate number of people to find anyone that might be interested in joining our organization. This presents a problem because the cost of advertising when the rate of response may be one per hundred-thousand, or even less, becomes prohibitive. Because it is known that writing appeals to retired people, we have sometimes discussed the possibility of advertising in Modern Maturity which has a circulation of something like 26 million. But the smallest ad in this magazine costs more than $4200. We would have to acquire 280 new members from the ad to break even. What makes it worse, if we acquired that many, we would be totally swamped. What we need is about 100 additional members. If anyone knows how that might be accomplished, please tell the new Recruiting Chairman, Harold Segal.
The last successful mass recruiting resulted from Al Fick’s article in Graphic Arts Monthly in 1977 which resulted in about 120 new members. People often suggest that we should get articles into large circulation magazines, but that is very difficult to do. Advertising, though less effective, is at least possible, and suggestions of possible magazines in which to advertise might be helpful. Someone has suggested the New York Times book supplement which is also sold separately from the newspaper on a nationwide basis.
A similar discussion at Macon brought forth that most present members had been recruited one-on-one by some member and brought the recognition that this is probably the most effective method. Because I prepare the bundle mailing labels, if anyone needs a sample bundle sent to a possible recruit, all he needs to do is furnish me the name and address, and the prospective member will receive the next month’s bundle through the normal distribution.
As mentioned earlier, presentations and activities were plentiful. Whatever was lacking in organization was made up by the capabilities of the speakers. Jane Van Milligen, a very talented artist, gave an interesting talk on calligraphy, illustrated by slides and actual samples of her work. Wilma Black, of KAKE TV, discussed journalism, and Audrey Blender led a panel discussion on the Star Trek phenomenon. (I suppose you know that Star Trek fans gather by the thousands in nearly continuous conventions all across the country.) It’s not clear what that has to do with AJ, but it was interesting to hear the panel of Star Trek fans.
James Yarnell, Wichita printer, gave an informative and fascinating description of miniature book production. You probably know there are several hundred people who collect miniature books (a book less than three inches in every dimension). These collectors and a few people who buy individual books make up the market so that an attractive miniature book priced at $40 to $80 may sell up to 200 or so copies. Thus there is enough money in these books to attract printers though I believe Yarnell when he said that if he counted his labor at any reasonable rate, the books would cost twice as much to produce as the selling price. Yarnell’s obvious mastery of all the details of miniature book production made his presentation interesting even if one was not much interested in miniature books as such.
Perhaps the outstanding panel was an unscheduled one called by President pro tem Harold Segal on Sunday evening. About 18 people participated in a round-table discussion of “How I Produce My Journal” with the title interpreted in almost any way the participants wished, from editorial policy to mechanics of printing. What evolved was a wide-ranging discussion and criticism of each other’s journals as well as many practical mechanical things such as how to add ink to the press, how to clean the press, how to adjust rollers, how to use initial letters, and how to distinguish among the sizes of spacing material for your body type.
This latter was of such interest that I shall recapitulate here. When one has 3-em, 4-em, and 5-em spaces in, say, a 10 or 12-point font, there is usually little confusion among spaces when setting the type, but in distributing the type, many of us are likely to get confused occasionally and throw a space in the wrong box in the case thus creating difficulties when setting type again. Harold Segal says he sets 3-em spaces with the nick one way and 4-em with the nick the other way and that is enough to keep them straight. Few of us are as tidy with type as Harold so I will tell you my way. Before I put my 4-em spaces in use (that is my interword space), I sawed an extra nick in them. (Actually I set the spaces in a row across the bottom of a miter box and drew a hacksaw across them.) In a coffee can I mixed a thin wash of red ink and Varsol and dumped the brand-new 5-em spaces into the coffee can, then poured off the wash and dumped the spaces on newspapers to dry. The red stain will never, at least in normal usage, leave the spaces. So if a space is red, it’s 5-em, if two nicks it’s 4-em, else it’s 3-em. En quads we can all identify at a glance.
This roundtable discussion epitomized for me what a convention of amateur journalists should be – exchange of ideas on every phase of our hobby. I wish I had a recording of the discussion. With a good bit of editing, I think it would have made a good article for any of our journals.
Again this year the laureate contest entries were sufficient to have a contest in every category. Everyone should realize that this is not automatic but means that the Bureau of Critics Chairman, the Recorder, and the President, or some combination of them expended considerable effort to achieve this worthwhile result. I don’t like the additional Honorable Mentions in a couple of categories, but at least they are ranked and do not represent ties.
For the first time since I’ve been attending conventions, a daily paper was not printed. Apparently sufficient type and supplies could not be found in the Wichita area. I don’t know when anyone would have had time to print a paper, but it is always squeezed in somehow. I heard that Jeff Jennings will have one or more papers finished up (he had the inside pages already printed, in the usual manner) for the bundle. I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether we print a paper, but that was one thing unique about our conventions as far as I know.
It was a good convention. The hotel was pleasant, the facilities afforded us were adequate and comfortable, and the banquet steak was excellent.
Jeff Jennings should be commended for his considerable efforts in putting on a successful convention. He graciously volunteered to replace Kermit Schuman who was unable for reasons of health to continue as Reception Chairman, and NAPA should be grateful.
See you in Knoxville!
Laureate: Rowena A. Moitoret. “Incident in Istanbul,” Boxwooder 223.
Honorable Mention: Rowena A. Moitoret. “Lesson for a Salesman,” Boxwooder 233.
H. M. (2): Martha E. Shivvers, “Along the Pathway to Today,” Boxwooder 228.
H. M. (3): Jacob Warner, “Unbelievable Science,” Boxwooder 230.
Laureate: Jim Ruffino, Cartoons, National Amateur No. 3.
Honorable Mention: Lucy Stovall Douglas. Woodblock Print, Cover, Make It to Macon, June 1988.
Laureate: Harold Segal, Campane 132-136.
Honorable Mention: Jacob L. Warner, Boxwooder 222-233.
Laureate: William F. Haywood, Just Our Type.
Honorable Mention: Keith Gray, Alpha & Omega, Original Entry.
Laureate: Helen Middleton Amos, “The Children,” The Reviewer, September 1988.
Honorable Mention: Louise Lincoln, “War Memorial,” Kitchen Stove, July 1988.
Laureate: Marjore B. Colvin, “Sea Horses,” Boxwooder 226.
Honorable Mention: Robert Schladetzky, “Experience at Curse n’ Holler,” Notes from a Horse Doctor’s Almanac.
History of Amateur Journalism
Laureate: Ralph Babcock, “The Friendly Hermit,” Campane, July 1988.
Honorable Mention: Jacob Warner, “Macon, Georgia,” Boxwooder 229.
Laureate: Jacob L. Warner, “Untenable Pseudo-Science,” Boxwooder 231.
Honorable Mention: John H. Dingman, “A Pat on the Back,” Post-Rider Dispatch.
H. M. (2): Harold Segal, “Will the Band Play On?” Campane 133.
Hand set in Deepdene; front cover type is Bernhard Tango. Edited and published by Jake Warner who printed 390 copies on an SP-15 Vandercook. The cover was printed on a 10×15 C&P. Done at the Boxwood Press, Greenbelt, MD 20770.