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An Index of the Official Organ: Pipe Dream or Possibility?
by Joseph F. Bradburn

IN JUNE, 1978, Vic Moitoret concluded his three-part survey of the one hundred volumes of The National Amateur. Among the highlights mentioned in that survey was a short paragraph to the effect that “the only time we’ve ever had an index to a volume was the one Oliner gave us for his Volume 83. Researchers will loudly praise the soul who first produces an overall index for the entire hundred volumes!”

At first I was inclined to dismiss Vic’s remark as mere wishful thinking, but later I became curious enough to look up Oliner’s volume and see what he had done in the way of indexing. It turned out to be only a “partial” index, however, covering just over three pages 7×10 size, two columns to a page.

After studying what Oliner had done, I tried to apply the same principles to Volume 84, edited by J. Rolfe Castleman. I ran into problems immediately, because Oliner kept his page numbers consecutive throughout his entire volume, while Castleman did not. Castleman also used segments done by various printers, so he had some pages identified by letter rather than by number. This caused me to adopt the method of using the issue number as well as the page number to identify the listing.

As I approached the end of Castleman’s volume, I found he had published a listing of features to be found in the volume, as well as a column identifying the six printers who had contributed sections to the volume. The contents were grouped under various headings, such as “convention,” “critics,” “new members,” “history” and “official reports.”

In applying the same principles Castleman used, I worked up Volumes 85 and 86 into one-page summaries, showing “convention minutes,” “photos,” “features,” “presidential messages,” “historian’s report,” “awards,” “news notes,” “editorial comment,” “official reports,” “Bureau of Critics,” “obituaries” and “new members.”

After completing this much work, I had copies made of both types of index and sent them to several members, including Willametta Keffer, Vic Moitoret and Ralph Babcock. I mentioned some possibilities, and asked for any comments or suggestions.

Ralph Babcock pointed out that, as I had done it, there was no way to identify what entries represented features or items of special interest, and which were merely brief mentions, of limited value. To answer this objection, I tried underlining the listings which would be of particular interest or value to a researcher. Besides Volume 84, I also did Volumes 93, 94, 95, 96 and 97 in various stages of completion.

Vic took my index of Volume 97 and added it to all the minor entries needed to make it complete for one number. He then retyped it with one column to each page and blank spaces for additions, spreading my three-page index out to nine pages. He said he wanted to see how much time and effort would be involved in making up a complete index. He also said, “my tendency was to want to do it, because an index is no good if it can’t be trusted to be complete, in my opinion, and for my uses.”

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Willametta offered several suggestions, based in part on an indexing she had done for the volume of The Fossil she has recently had bound. To her the ideal index would be arranged to cover the volumes of The National Amateur as she has them grouped for binding, although I don’t know if that system is uniform, by any means. That would also create more problems in identifying the page numbers.

Willametta also proposed listing the officers at the beginning of each year’s index, and mentioned several categories she thought should be included.

William Boys has offered to set the index on his Compuwriter, for printing in The National Amateur or as a separate unit. He would use 7-point Univers 55 with 56 (italic), with 1-point leading, set on 10½ picas (three columns per 7×10 inch page). Where I had used the slash mark to separate issue number and page, he would use a hyphen, and eliminate some of the unneeded repetitions, thus: Babcock, Ralph W. 1-2, 3, 10, 19*; 2-3ff, 6, 11ff*, 25; 4-2, 5, etc. The asterisk would indicate important items, rather than the underlining I had used.

From the amount of time I spent in doing the partial indexes, plus the time Vic spent to complete just one issue, it appears that it would take about two weeks work on each volume to get it right. It probably should be sent to someone else to be rechecked, which would require even more time. The next question is: Can we find that much time?

I would like to hear from NAPA members who feel that we should attempt to complete the project, at least for the 7×10 issues of the official organ. How many people would use such an index if we had it? Has anyone already done some of this work for one or more volumes, which we might copy in exchange for other volumes? How many people would pay for a set of copies of the work, if completed? Would anyone volunteer to index some volumes?

This project was begun in the belief that I would be unable to do any printing, at least for the present. However, it appears now that I can continue publishing, setting the type myself and either doing the printing myself or with the help of a friend. Should it be a paper in the monthly bundle or an index for the researchers?

I’ll be interested in reading the responses!

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by Paul Burns

LIFE IS MADE UP of inexplicable moments which only much later, it seems tend to explain themselves.

On the Third Avenue El, one rainy afternoon in the late winter of 1949, I sat opposite a burly, dark-haired young man who was reading a paperback book entitled Tales of the South Pacific, by James A. Michener. The book had come out about eight months before, and was creating quite a stir in the publishing world. Already it had been successfully transferred into the less expensive but far more widely circulated paperback edition from hardback, and recently it had been translated (at least several of its stories) into the runaway Broadway musical, South Pacific.

The way in which the young man sat hypnotically reading his book on the El that New York day fascinated me. I sensed he was a returned Pacific veteran of the Second World War, for every now and then he would smile knowingly at something he was reading, and a glint of familiarity would spark out of his eye. The moving background of the El train offered a fleeting panorama of dilapidated lower Manhattan flophouses, behind which poked from time to time some gray-smudged and aging skyscraper. A drab, violently citified environment, no doubt totally at odds with Michener’s golden-sunned, turquoise-sea description of Pacific isles.

The contrast was bitterly amusing and I smirked, as my feelings began to emulate those of the unaware reader across the El floor. The amusement died as I suddenly ruminated, with choking horror, on the kind of New York life this young dreamy veteran must be leading in reality, as opposed to the wonders ignited inside him by Michener’s words. Vast pity all at once overwhelmed me – pity for this young New Yorker and for all big-city men, whose familiarity with the freedom of high sun and wide sea and easy-going land and abundant light must be indeed limited – either to vacations, brief wartime stints or mere daydreams.

That winter in New York had been a cold, drab and defeating one for me, a new graduate from Washington, D. C.’s George Washington University. Economists were warning the entire nation that the first “recession” since before World War II was in effect, and I personally could testify to this fact. I was still unemployed after a number of New York months searching wearily for work. As I kept staring at the young man, amusement, pity and horror turned to self-distaste. I hated myself, where I was in New York, and I longed for “another island,” just as the singer longs for another one in South Pacific’s hit song, “Bali Ha’i.”

I fled the Third Avenue El as fast as I could that rainy day. Needless to say, I fled New York not too long afterward. Whatever I was, a “New York person” apparently I wasn’t.

But the meaning of that engrossed young New Yorker reading Tales of the South Pacific on a Third Avenue El on a dreary day in 1949 haunts me still.

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Wife’s Boredom
by Paul Burns

Each day it’s something different,
Each day she has me floored;
Each day it’s some new devastating problem –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day it’s some new gimmick:
A mouse, a flea that roared;
Each day it’s someone new who’s done her wrong –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day it’s some new venture:
A room, a person yet unexplored;
Each day in some exasperating way –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day it’s some new grievance,
Added to a closet full, already stored;
Each day it’s another enthusiastic plan –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day it’s some new person:
Perhaps an Australian, Chinese or Nord;
Each day it’s some fresh view of something faded –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day it’s some new outlook,
Or some old facet long ignored;
Each day it’s some fresh view of something –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day it’s some new project,
Some sudden victory to be scored;
Each day it’s bubbly wine for humdrum bottles –
Anything to keep my wife from being bored.

Each day I view it clearer,
Each day new view I see;
Each day my wife and I grow nearer
For – each day –
She keeps the day from boring me.

Point of View
by Paul Burns

Young men are quite flamboyant,
And about older men frequently complain;
But young men’s views change fast, they’re buoyant
While older men’s more unchanging views remain.

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FIVE HUNDRED COPIES of this issue are being printed for members of the National Amateur Press Association and various prospective members, plus a few friends outside the association who are interested in my work. Hand composition, printing and publishing done by Joseph F. Bradburn, La Plata, Md. 20646.

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