Note to non-NAPA readers:
This issue is shop talk, you would probably do well to forgo reading it (except the bottom of page 8). The National Amateur Press Association is about to celebrate its centennial and more attention may be devoted to amateur journalism in future issues.
Two Centennial-Year Proposals
MY GROWING APPRECIATION, year by year, of the National Amateur Press Association convinces me that the newer members do not have as much interest in the history of the organization and therefore not as much feeling for the Centennial Year as do the senior members. At a mere five and a half years of membership, I realize I must be included among the new members. After all, there is a member who was president of NAPA before I was born, which wasn’t yesterday. That member is, of course, Anthony Moitoret.
Alf Babcock recently celebrated forty years of membership. Forty years! Anything less than two or three decades means you are a newcomer.
Fortunately the NAPA absorbs new members so completely that they need not feel like junior members. I used to deprecate the current tendency to elect most of the officers from the most junior members. Now I’m not so sure this is bad practice. It certainly prevents newcomers from feeling excluded or oppressed by the older members.
With that prelude, I propose that for one year, this coming year, the following:
1. Elect a senior member to be President for the Centennial Year.
The presidency for which such bitter battles used to be fought is now frequently presented to a member who is, by the standards given above, a newcomer. I am not advocating a permanent change in this policy (no windmill fighter am I), but it does seem fitting that the organization be presided over by a senior member in its Centennial Year.
The president should not only be a senior member but one who is thought to embody the character and spirit of NAPA, one whom the organization would be proud to have as its representative, for instance. For in spite of our great variety of disparate interests, the common theme of devotion to aj and to NAPA are uniting factors.
All that is required to carry out this proposal is a willing, qualified candidate. I’m working on that.
My second proposal is:
2. Appoint honorary officers to parallel the elective officers for the Centennial Year.
These officers would be selected by seniority. That is, the honorary president would be the present member who served earliest as president, the VP would be the present member who served earliest in that position, etc. A person who had seniority in two or more offices would be permitted to choose his honorary office from those.
These officers would be listed through the year in The National Amateur with the dates of original tenure.
This would demonstrate the age and continuity of the organization in a manner appropriate to the occasion.
This proposal does not require any constitutional action. The authority exists. It might be well if the convention requested and authorized the president to make such appointments. I shall certainly consider introducing such a resolution if I do not hear convincing arguments why this proposal should not be carried out.
AT THE LAST CONVENTION I was interviewed by a reporter from the San-Diego Union. She was quick and bright and easily understood the mechanics of our hobby, we were in the pressroom where one could demonstrate, and she could accept, probably from journalistic experience, that people do many strange things and call them hobbies.
She then started probing with questions like, “Do you, at your meetings, have professional printers lecture to you?” I explained that it was unlikely that a professional printer would know something that some of our members, some of whom are professionals, would not know. “Do you have workshops?” she asked. I told her that we sometimes did, that we had demonstrations and discussions of the mechanics of printing and of techniques for writing but that these things were merely incidental to the convention.
“What do you do?” she asked. I told her we had a series of business meetings, elected officers, and so on, for the coming year. She was not satisfied, and I had not even become aware of what was bothering her. Finally she asked bluntly, “Well, what is the purpose of your convention?”
I was caught by surprise, one might say stunned, by the question. Obviously so many people didn’t travel so many thousands of miles at such an expense for no purpose. We certainly didn’t go to all that trouble and expense to hear our officers read their predictable reports, or to be told we are barely solvent for another year. Surely we didn’t do this to argue minuscule, hair-splitting constitutional questions. What was the purpose? What could it be? I frantically ransacked my empty brain.
Finally, Vic Moitoret, who was overhearing the interview, said, “It’s a family reunion. That’s what it is, a family reunion.”
I would never have thought to say it, but he was clearly and obviously right. The reporter may have been a little surprised but, at last, she had an answer to her question, she understood the purpose of a family reunion.
It is, after all, the only answer that fits the facts. Vic Moitoret must have continued to think about his statement, because he elaborated on it somewhat at the banquet.
I think Verle Heljeson saw the conventions in a different light although he would also have agreed with Vic’s statement. I think he saw the convention as an art form. His description of the Marietta Convention gave it the flavor of a ritual drama or, perhaps, a ballet. Just as familiarity with the score may amplify one’s pleasure in listening to music, so did Verle’s intimate knowledge of the people of the history, and the constitution of NAPA enhance his capability to enjoy the convention. His pleasure at the discursiveness of the convention’s floor discussion is evident in his article. He was not, you understand, laughing at the members but, rather, admiring their consistency as one might an anticipated, but skillfully executed, leap in a ballet.
The impression of a ritual ceremony is enhanced by the fact that the order of business prescribed in the constitution assures a basic similarity and familiarity in each of our conventions.
I have come to admire the sagacity of scheduling the business meetings as they are. They provide a strong but comfortable framework for the convention. On the other hand, few sessions are so important that a member would hesitate to take time out for a discussion in the hall or for a cool one with a friend in the bar. It is a remarkably good arrangement.
The development of an addiction to conventions seems to be rapid and inevitable. When Dave, Leah, and I attended the Marietta Convention, our first, we enjoyed the experience and particularly enjoyed meeting so many people whose names we already knew, but I believe it was our second convention that hooked us. It was close by, at Natural Bridge, so we had no thought of missing it. Had St. Pete been our second convention I’m not sure I would have been willing to drive so far to attend. But by that time I had a feeling of discomfort at the thought of a convention going on and me not there. When you get that feeling, it’s too late, you are an addict.
There is a distinct feeling that each convention is better than the last. This seems to stem from the combination of knowing more people beforehand and continually meeting new ones you had been hoping to meet.
On our way home from our first convention, Dave asked, “How come everyone is so nice?”
We discussed this at length and decided that people at such a convention are probably at their very best. They are where they want to be, doing what they want to do, and they’re not in a situation in which their livelihood depends upon impressing others with their abilities or with their importance. They are instead in a situation in which they can afford to be open, honest, and friendly with people whom they already know by their works or in person, and they take advantage of this opportunity. In our “image” conscious society, this is a rare luxury, and it may be the major attraction of the convention. And of the hobby.
I would not have understood or believed Vic’s statement at my first convention and might have been dubious about it at my second. But as Keith Gray says in Original Entry No. 14, “Each year the relationship becomes closer, warmer and ever more like family.” After my fourth, I have no doubt that “family reunion” is the simple truth.
See you in Cleveland.
WHEN I WAS an amateur photographer, one of the things I learned was: No matter how impossibly stupid a mistake looks, sooner or later you will make it.
I have remarked previously, as did J. Hill Hamon in his “Double Exposure,” NA, June 1973, about the similarities of printing and photography. One thing is sure, both have an inherent reservoir for an infinity of stupid mistakes.
Let me give you an example. I set out an empty galley on the bank, turn to the stone, lift a 5 x 7 page of type, turn and place it in the galley on top of a composing stick which my wife has placed in the galley while my back was turned.
That was only the last of a series of blunders committed while printing Boxwooder 64. The first was discovered while folding. A sheet with pages 3 and 10 on one side had pages 4 and 9 upside down on the other side. A quick check showed that the type from 3 and 10 had been distributed, but 4 and 9 were still in galleys. A count showed 24 spoiled sheets. So it was determined that by paring the reserve copies to near zero, there would be enough for the bundle. So folding continued and the type for pages 4 and 9 was distributed.
While I was stapling the covers on, up popped an upside-down page 4 and 9. A fearful count revealed 25 more spoiled sheets. So back to the case to reset pages 3 and 10 and 4 and 9. While resetting, two major typos were discovered. So, OK, reprint all of them. But wait, 135 were already stapled and taking staples out is a major disaster. So compromise and reprint all the rest.
The Sulgrave Text used in Boxwooder 64 turned out to be, unexpectedly, a very difficult paper for me to print on. I didn’t print it very well the first time, the second time I simply could not, in about three hours, get the makeready organized to print decently. The second evening, I finally got an acceptable print and started my press run. Halfway through the run, a portion which had been printing properly lightened up, so I had to stop and redo the makeready. (This has only happened a few times, I do not understand the cause of it.)
I really don’t mind distributing type, what I do mind is rereading the material I have by then reread to the point of nausea. Especially if it is my own writing, I begin to wonder how I could have written such dreck. Distributing type the second time is about four times as bad.
So Boxwooder 64 exists in two major varieties, with and without the two typos, and very likely in minor varieties such as upside down pages 3 and 10, both a corrected and an upside down sheet, or the sheet completely missing.
Anyway, I’m glad No. 64 is out of my sight.
Merry Christmas to Everyone (even Phred Liddle)
Hand set in Deepdene. Display type is Univers 55, except Christmas greeting which is Goudy Text. Inks are Van Son 40904 Black, Ivy, and Red Pepper. Paper is a 60-lb. offset stock. Published by Jake Warner and 450 copies printed by him on a 10 x 15 C & P.
The Boxwood Press
Greenbelt, Maryland 20770