NOTE TO NON-NAPA READERS
Again you must pardon us while we take care of internal matters. Our conventions are so long in coming and so short in duration that we have to chew on them for a bit.
Humor is not plentiful in officer or committee reports so we’re always pleased when it pops up. George Hamilton’s report on absentee ballots for the convention site said the committee had disqualified two votes: one was for Maryland which the committee felt was too indefinite, the other was for Russ Paxton which the committee felt was too definite.
Part of a convention is missing people you are accustomed to seeing at conventions; Louise and Bob Williams, for instance. Through happen-stance for the last three or four years, the first people we saw in the convention hotel was Blaine or Belle Lewis or both. They were not at Kansas City and we missed them.
This convention was so mild and peaceful that Leah says she is bereft of copy for her Rosewood Rambler, a journal that thrives on controversy.
THE LONGEST period that I have spent continuously indoors, except once while hospitalized, was during the I recent Kansas City convention. We entered the Crown Center Hotel on Friday, 1 July, at about 3 pm and did not emerge into open air until noon on 5 July. This prolonged encapsulation was due to the number of shops and restaurants in the hotel, to the apparently outdoor waterfall area off the lobby, to the high-ninety degree temperature outdoors, and to the happy fact that there was always someone to talk to in the lobby bar.
Some conventions have been notable for the ease with which groups form and talk. In discussing this in my family, we decided this depends upon subtleties that might not be noticed by a convention chairman, and indeed, if noticed, there’s probably no remedy if lacking. The convention attendees need a loafing place. At Natural Bridge you could count on finding one to several members almost anytime on the long porch on the front of the building. In the Crown Center the unenclosed bar in the middle of the lobby served the same function and served pretty good beer as well.
The very large sitting room (I’d never seen a hotel room that big.) in the suite provided for the president added to the convention by making it possible to have more people at the nightly parties. These parties are an important part of every convention, but it is seldom anyone really has adequate space to hold them in.
The constant accessibility of the press room was another contributor to the success of the convention. The press room at every convention is a focal point for conversation if not for printing.
The latter two points, a party room and an always open press room, are things a convention chairman could bargain for when settling on a hotel; the natural gathering place is probably invisible until, and unless, it emerges during the meeting and if absent, could not be supplied anyway.
After the floor fights of some recent conventions, the extreme amiability of this one is evident when the most vigorous battle was over a motion to recess, and even then the struggle concerned a half hour’s difference in the time set to reassemble. Vic Moitoret tried halfheartedly, a time or two, to provoke some battle, but it never developed, and all was sweetness, if not exactly light.
Dave presided over the convention with a firm, smooth hand and only once or twice during the elections came close to confusion. No matter how simple it looks from the floor, presiding over such a meeting is a very confusing job.
For the first time in several years we had actual elections at the convention. All the offices, except president, were contested, and instead of our usual procedure of drafting someone to serve, we were selecting from those who wished to serve. Elections have a completely different atmosphere when they are more than a rubber stamp ratification of a persuaded candidate.
Some very large organizations such as the American Geophysical Union have come to realize that nominating one candidate for each office and asking the members to vote is less than satisfying. The AGU now requires its nominating committee to supply at least two candidates for every office. Anyone in NAPA who has tried to find candidates for our offices would quail at such a requirement, but it is certainly better when a choice is available. The winner can then feel some honor in being chosen, and the losers are brought to the members’ attention for future years.
Last year in Philadelphia, Roy Lindberg protested that our frequently used motion to cast a unanimous convention vote operated to deprive the more timid members of their votes. It requires but one objection to cause the motion to fail, but Roy’s claim was that some people did not like to make the objection but still wanted to vote for someone else. I had decided to object this year to each motion that the convention cast a unanimous vote, and I did so. While this prolonged the voting, and there was some resentment at that, it was demonstrated that people permitted to write a name on a secret ballot do not vote unanimously even when they see that the result is certain. I take this to mean that Roy Lindberg was right. When NAPA elections are mere formalities, there probably is not much point in preventing a unanimous vote, but I’m not so sure that it does not, even then, give the impression of “railroading.”
Some people seemed to feel that the elections were difficult and too long this year, but I think they were the first real elections we’ve had in recent years.
The convention site is seldom strongly contested, but opposition has always developed for Kennewick, Washington, this year’s winner. The opposition is clearly based on the remoteness of Kennewick from the eastern and mid-western members. Attending any NAPA convention is expensive and adding bigger airplane fares makes it formidable and, in fact, means that many people will be unable to attend.
Jack Hageman has been very patient with his annual invitations and certainly deserved to have it finally accepted.
These were the first laureate contests held under the new rules devised largely by Bill Boys and adopted at the Philadelphia convention. At Kansas City the rules were changed so that the Chairman of the Bureau of Critics may make entries rather than will make entries. Vic Moitoret called the attention of the convention to the service Bill Boys had done us by getting the rules into the bylaws where they could be changed easily without the delay mandated by the constitutional amendment procedure. Bill Boys, in drafting these rules, had always intended that the Chairman have this option but through oversight the rules as passed made it mandatory that the Chairman enter everything he found worthy.
Did the new rules work? I think they provided a system in which every category had enough entrants to qualify as a contest, and in at least one category, art, provided a winner that would not even have been entered by its originator. I’m guessing that Clarence Prowell would not have thought of entering his abstract cover design; he probably never thought of it as art.
I happen to know that the judge who awarded it the laureate does not usually like abstract art, but he still thought this one a winner. I think this is a fine result for our new rules to achieve on their first try. We may, in future years, have more winners who through modesty or through simple failure to recognize the merit of their productions would not have entered.
Early in the convention the announcement of the imminent demise of Baltotype Foundry sparked a discussion of our activity requirements which provide no way for an offset printer or for a Linotype-using printer to meet the activity requirement as a printer since the constitution clearly says, “…handset and printed at least 1000 words…” The tenor of the floor discussion was that it is a bit anomalous to demand hand setting at a time when it is evident the type to hand set will not even be available. Someone remarked that when this statement was written into the constitution hand setting was about the only method available to the amateur. (I believe it was specifically to eliminate Linotyping, but no matter.) The amendment proposed for adoption at the Kennewick convention will make both Linotype and photo-set type eligible and by implication will then include offset printing. All this would be done by eliminating the hand-setting requirement from the constitution statement so that it would read “…printed at least 1000 words….”
I am in favor of this amendment. In fact, I’m in favor of arranging it so the “participants” are eligible to vote and that the rules for participation only require some effort to be made. Perhaps every member who attends the convention is demonstrating enough interest and participation, merely by being present, to be allowed to vote. I do find it a little disconcerting that people who are spending such quantities of time and money to attend a convention are not all eligible to vote.
Dave, however, feels that our activity requirements are instrumental in keeping up the quantity of publication and should not be relaxed to any activity not involving publication. He may be right; it’s awfully easy as it is to fulfill the activity requirement and become a voter. I certainly don’t want any reduction in publishing or writing.
At least NAPA has been wise in allowing people to remain members through long periods of inactivity. Everyone has fallow periods, and many people come back to strong activity after such a period. Some printing organizations make a serious mistake by kicking out inactive members.
I brought up the point that art activity does not satisfy activity requirements. Vic (I think) reminded the convention that we are a journalism association and not an art association. But, of course, we do have an art laureate. So the winner of one of our coveted prizes can not by the creation of the winning art entry satisfying our voting requirements that are so minimal for writers. I’m a little more sympathetic to the claim (by Bill Boys?) that it is almost impossible to define a piece of art. However, we do just that, in some fashion, for laureate entries in that category.
The real reason I would like to make it easy for members to participate is that I view activity as a generator of further interest and consequent addiction to our association.
I have never had a better illustration of diversity of opinion about a journal than at this convention. It happened that John Gillick had just told me that he thought my piece “Wail of the WASP” to be one of the best things that had ever appeared in the NAPA bundle and had left the press room just before Vic Moitoret came in. Vic said, “I want to tell you right off that your last Boxwooder, ‘Wail of the WASP,’ is the worst thing by far that you have written.” He went on to say that he had at first thought I had, as a joke, deliberately written as poorly as I could, but that Rowena had claimed, correctly in my view, that no one would set twelve pages of type for such a poor joke.
When I told Vic that several people had said they liked the story, he said, “Well, you know what to think of their judgment.” When I repeated that nearly everyone had liked it, he said, “I can tell you three that didn’t. My father didn’t like it, my wife didn’t like it, and I didn’t like it.” Later I asked Rowena about it, but, of course, she was more diplomatic than Vic and simply said, “I just thought it was not up to your usual standard.” At a party later, I got John Gillick and Vic Moitoret together and confronted them with their diverse opinions. They went to a corner to talk it over, and I’m afraid I don’t know the result. I would guess that neither of them changed his opinion.
I have found it a bit difficult to predict who would like the piece and who would not. I thought Leah would not, she often does not like my stories, but she thought it was very good.
A talk on Sunday evening by Louis G. Griffin, III, (address: Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045.) who is in charge of the Kansas Collection at the Kenneth Spencer Library, seemed, if I understood it properly, to offer considerable potential for an aj library in the future. If I understood Mr. Griffin, and I asked explicit questions, he would be happy to receive our monthly bundles, our files of aj journals, and a run of our own journal. Within months, four or so, such material would be catalogued and made available for use by anyone who visited the library.
I gather that the intent is to collect the writings, printed or in manuscript, of ordinary citizens so that researchers in the future can reconstruct the folk culture of today. The emphasis is on the writings of Kansans, but apparently our journals from all parts of the country would be welcomed.
Keith Gray, our new president, said he would immediately ask the mailing manager to add this library to our list to receive the monthly bundle.
Are there other university libraries that would welcome our publications? We could easily send the bundle to every one that has a policy similar to that of the University of Kansas library. This does not solve the problem of the collection of aj journals at the library in New York, but it certainly offers possibilities for the future. Perhaps there could be several collections of a journals around the country rather than having all our eggs in one New York basket.
I think there is a growing tendency for research libraries to collect the artifacts of everyday life, and it may be that this will painlessly provide us with the permanent, but accessible, depositories that we need to preserve our journals. And free to boot.
According to Mr. Griffith, Ernest Witte is about to present his collection of aj journals to the Spencer Library. Perhaps Ernie will give details in his All American Amateur.
NAPA’s 102nd convention was the seventh consecutive convention for Dave, Leah, and me. We are becoming more acutely aware that through these conventions our circle of friends and acquaintances is continually growing wider and deeper. The association has come to play a major role in our lives, and not one of us regrets it. Earl Bonnell told me he couldn’t say much when introducing himself at roll call because he was so happy, after missing eight conventions, to be able to attend one. He knew that I, or any other member, would understand what he was feeling.
You might be interested in an outsider’s view of our convention. A long-time friend, Johanna Stroetker, joined us on the last afternoon of the convention and attended the last business session and went to the banquet. She was captivated by the group and said she had never seen a more friendly, congenial bunch of people. “They mean it, too,” she said, “you can tell they’re sincere.” In fact Johanna liked the group so much that she is considering joining NAPA.
Our association has a history of quickly accepting people and making them feel they belong to the group. I was interested to hear Earl Bonnell’s story about his first convention. He said that he had not known a single person in the organization and had almost decided, at the hotel desk, not to stay when he was spotted by Edwin Cole who without any introductions said, “You look like one of our bunch. Go up those steps and turn right. You’ll find them all there.” Earl said he did as he was told, and in the ensuing some 35 years of aj he has never again felt like an outsider.
So the 102nd convention now exists only in our memories, in the National Amateur minutes, and in a half-dozen articles similar to this one. It was obviously a very successful convention, and we commend the reception committee chairman, Ernest Witte, whose year of effort made it so. We are lucky to have such people in our association.
Next year? Kennewick is a long way from Washington, D.C., but there’s no question in my family but that we’ll all try to make it. See you there.
Hand set in Goudy’s Deepdene. Display type is Flash. Text paper is 20-lb. mimeo and cover is index stock. Published by Jake Warner and 490 copies printed by him on a 10×15 C&P at the Boxwood Press, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770.