Then Came NAPA
by Barbara Ann Messier
BRIDGETON, Maine. What a serene place for our short vacation! Just lying around doing anything or nothing. This change of environment was good for all of us: Mom, myself, three sisters (each with some of our children) and one with her husband, Jerry, while the rest of our husbands stayed home for that all-important part of life called work.
While we kept busy doing our everythings and nothings, Jerry would roam throughout Bridgeton, stopping at all the flea markets, yard sales and antique shops, making deals here and there. On one of his journeys he found a place that added greatly to my enjoyment, filling a void with fun, pleasure and work for, at this particular nook in the town, lived Austin West, poet and writer as well as antique dealer. Jerry liked to chat with him, enjoying his talk and stories, but while Jerry was more interested in the antique side of Austin’s life, he knew I’d enjoy the poetic side. After one of his visits there, he brought back a little booklet written by Austin, and shared this poetry with us.
Because of my interest in poetry, Jerry thought this would be a good place for me to visit, just to talk to this beautiful man and see what he had to say. So, on his next journey to this special spot next to a cool babbling brook surrounded by a rainbow of flowers, I met Austin West. A very gracious man, this man, Between his dealings in antiques, we had our talk of poetry. He then showed me some material and literature he had, and gave me the latest NAPA bundle he had received.
After reading through the papers in the bundle, I decided that when vacation time was over and I was back in my New Hampshire, I would apply for membership. I got that membership card and will cherish it always. It’s been good for me, even if all it accomplishes is to give me insight into myself. Every once in a while I discover a new me.
In October 1978 I began sending in manuscripts (poetry). I am a writer who writes too lengthily. Most times, even after several new draftings, with the horrible task of omitting words, lines, whole verses or changing words here and there, trying desperately to shorten the piece, I still end up with a rather lengthy piece of poetry. As an example, I wrote a poem for my brother, Jimmy, years ago when he was leaving for the Army. To the best of my knowledge, it was at least 2500 words. These were of his family’s life with him up to that time.
It seems I can only write about personal experiences of my own or of those I know and love. I have not yet tried my hand at anything other than truth, not yet putting my imagination to work for fiction. These factual poems can be shortened just so much, or they lose too much of their meaning and fall apart. Length! It could possibly lead to my downfall.
Months went by. I repeatedly sent out manuscripts. More months went by. After giving it another try and receiving no replies of any kind, with much anguish and frustration on my part, I began to wonder if NAPA was for me. Even more than that, I wondered if I had anything to offer NAPA, as I was only developing an ill-fated love affair with my mail box. I began to think my work was only meant to be written for myself and any other family members who cared to share it, which out of eight possibilities, numbered only one.
With mixed feelings, eight long months after receiving my membership card, I sent out two letters seeking advice on my work and whether I should stay with it. I was considering it a lost cause and contemplating bowing out of something I really wanted to be a part of. Then, as I mailed out the letters, Fate stepped in with perfect timing, and I received my very first acceptance: the welcome vote of confidence I needed so badly. The piece of work that was accepted was sent in to NAPA in October and only now, in May, found its place.
So, if any new members are reading this, don’t give up. If your work has not been in print yet, give it more time. I lacked the patience that is needed so much by writers – so much so that it almost resulted in a terribly wrong decision. It took a long time becoming accepted but Oh! the feeling, the elation at seeing your very own work in print! It’s a revelation in itself. There are thousands of words, but none to really describe this feeling. It gave me a push to want to do more, to get started on new material. With my first published work I now felt that I had finally become a real member of NAPA.
The members who have been in NAPA for years, with many published works, probably know of the feelings I’ve experienced. Is it always like this? I hope to find this out by having more work accepted. Keeping my work short. I haven’t as yet mastered this too well. With the help of some new friends through NAPA, I plan on trying new styles and types of writing, thus learning a little more about this hobby.
I started writing years ago, when the children were very young. A little later I found that most of my work was written when Jimmy went into the service. All I could offer in my letters was about the children: their first teeth, sitting alone, first words, first creeping, first steps, new births, etc. With Jim being young and single, I felt this was not of much interest to him, but my family was my whole life. It was truly all I had to write about.
In the hope of making my letters better received, I decided to make my “letters of poetry” to him. At that time my poems became plentiful, and could probably fill a small book. They accomplished what I wanted them to. They made my letters to Jim more interesting and something he always looked forward to. After Jim made it home safely without going through or seeing the real ugly side of war, my writing turned back to the children and my experiences. With six children to care for by then, I didn’t get to this often, but the feeling for writing stayed with me.
Now that most of the children aren’t really children any more, I have a good share of time for myself. It is so good to have found a place where an amateur can continue to write and be able to share it with others. That’s the fun part – the sharing. Work at your hobby. Have fun at your work. Don’t enter just one piece and wait for its publication. Continue to enter more work, for you’ll never know which one will be accepted. My very first piece sent in has not been accepted yet and may never be, so I’m glad I did not wait before sending in more material. Had I done so I might still be waiting for that first published work.
Happy writing to my fellow writers, and happy printing and publishing to all the rest of you. We writers sure need you. But then, without the writers, what would the printers print or the publishers publish? It’s like an ever constant circle, with all of us needing each other. After all, isn’t that what NAPA is all about?
by Sandy Burns
Convention responds to programming of ourselves
Into a prescribed mold shaped by others
Who fear their own identity and intensity
And strive to re-create a like-form in others
With pseudo-wisdom to validate their state.
Many follow that prescribed state
Fearfully playing the game without question
And exist quite successfully
Gaining measured approval as long as they
Follow the rules.
Successful… by whose standards?
Existing… for what?
A repressed soul cries out
From the pressure of self-imposed confinement.
The mold cracks from within
Exposing itself to rejection of its
But can still retain its shape
Without detection from others.
A breath of life enters and expands
The crack becomes obvious and the
Coagulating dust scatters
Leaving a drop of essence
Which is substituted with glue
And is afraid to be touched again.
In its new glued-together form
The mold sits in a protective state
Waiting for someone to appreciate the
Beauty of the pieces, melt the glue and
Let them form a new shape
Then the dust doesn’t matter anymore.
Stone-Smith Interview Reveals Some Highlights of Famous Trip
by Joseph F. Bradburn
LAST MONTH’S issue of Experiment reprinted an early account of Hal Stone’s stopover in Honolulu while on his way to the United States for a lengthy visit. The account ended just as Stone disembarked from his ship, the Ventura, and cleared Customs.
This month’s issue carries another account which has recently come to light in the A. F. Moitoret collection of amateur papers, in which Edwin Hadley Smith devotes a special issue of his journal, United Amateur, to an interview he conducted with Stone. It covers most of the period from his landing in San Francisco to his arrival in New York.
Some details of Stone’s trip to the United States were published in Experiment 20 dated February, 1979, and others may be carried in a later issue as time and space permit.
The reference to McFadden’s Physical Cultural System is quite possibly one originated by Bernarr Macfadden, who was an American magazine publisher for some years, as well as an exponent of physical activity as a key to better health.
Smith concluded his issue with this prophetic greeting: “Welcome to the States, Hal Stone! May you linger long and have a hot time!”
A Rolling Stone Strikes America
(United Amateur No. 22, February 29, 1904)
Hal (Albert) E. Stone, co-founder with Coxhead of Austral A. J. and a ten year leader, reached New York February 11. Is a black haired and mustached man of 5 feet 4, low voice and modest manner.
“Does America surprise you?” interviewed United Amateur representative. “Well,” smiled Stone, “I’ve read enough of its bigness and bustle not to be surprised. But these collections” – glancing around workshops – “are eye openers.”
“Awfully. Left parents, six brothers and sisters and many friends. But, I’ve been restless to see America and the world. And, overwork has tired me so I thought travel would be restful.”
“Seasick from Australia to California?”
“The whole 8,000 miles,” groaned Stone – recalling lost meals. “Unfortunately, amateur, church, college and other friends made me stomach banquets the day I sailed instead of dieting as I intended.”
“Seen many cities?”
“Auckland and Honolulu en route from Sydney Sept. 7 on the Ventura. From San Francisco I visited Santa Clara prune valley – I’m very fond of prunes – to see American country life. I love the country, its air, birds, vegetation, etc.”
“Meet some Frisco amateurs?”
“Lind, Morris, Kohlberg and others. Hollub entertained me at a luncheon. After stops at Ogden, Denver, Kansas City and Chicago I stayed awhile at London, Canada – between Detroit and Buffalo – to work on the Advertiser.”
“Cold in Canada?”
“Cold!” shivered Stone, involuntarily wrapping overcoat around him and stamping rubbered feet. “By Jove! It cut me in half. Australia enjoys continuous summer; thermometer registers 110 along the coast much higher in the bush – and rarely touches freezing. But in Canada it dropped 25 below zero!”
“What did you do there?”
“Set type when I didn’t sit around a red-hot stove. Why, a snowstorm drifted into my bedroom and I had to chop ice in the pitcher to wash. Great Scott! I haven’t been warm since I crossed the equator last September.”
“Isn’t New York a hot town?”
“It usually is under Tammany misgovernment. Rev. Dr. Parkhurst says it’s ‘Hell with the lid off.’”
“Your Camp-3-of- Us advocates McFadden’s Physical Culture System?”
“Yes. I taught it in college. Australs are big meat eaters despite warm climate, but for two years I’ve eaten little meat except baked rabbit, my favorite dish. I eat fruit breakfast and one cooked meal a day, at night.”
“How’s Austral A. J.?”
“Never more prosperous,” enthused Stone, displaying gold badge. “Our national association is loyally supported by many centres – clubs you call them – and meets in Melbourne in June. We have splendid workers, especially among ladies – Miss Tomamichel, for instance. In fact, I claim Austral’s A. J. statistics compared with 4,000,000 population make us even more progressive than America.”
“What is Australia’s message to American amateurs?”
“To exchange papers regularly. Every American amateur should put these papers on his exchange list:
“Ye Wayside Goose, Martin C. Brennan, Paddington, Sydney, N. S. W.;
Austral Amateur, Herbert Round, Flemington, Victoria;
Ye Kangaroo, Fred J. Cousins, Fitzroy, Tasmania;
The Microbe, Frank Wilmot, East Brunswick, Melbourne;
Waratah, Wm. H. Coxhead, Darlington, Sydney, N. S. W.;
The Nulla, Fred Conway, Pymble, N. S. W.;
and myself, Hal E. Stone, Paddington, Sydney, N. S. W., Australia.”
American Amateurs! Exchange, and regularly, with Australians. See names and addresses in this issue. Don’t expect immediate returns – Australia is 8,000 miles from California. United Amateur will practice its preaching by presenting Mr. Stone with 150 copies of this issue for distribution.
Some Remarks on the Bundle
by Joseph F. Bradburn
I was glad to see the membership decided to vote down the proposal to extend the voting franchise to all members who attend a convention. Possibly someone assumed that the question would come up again next year, however, when they printed in the second convention issue that the next “contention” would be held in Denver. Watch out, Elaine Peck and President Clarence Prowell!
Phil Parr surprised me with Aspect Inquirer No. 8 (a) in this bundle. I had just been reading the other version of this issue, which includes a multi-colored reproduction of a painting of Eastbourne Beach. The original version was limited because of difficulties encountered in the pressrun, including a motor pulley which disintegrated.
APC News emanates this month from the shop of George W. Trainer, indicating that the press has recovered from the injuries inflicted upon it by the movers several months ago. It reports that Edwin Hadley Smith, while he was devoting himself to collecting and arranging his amateur papers, subsisted on a diet of roast camel’s hump, marinated in oil, lemon juice and spices. I had always understood that Edwin Hadley Smith was a vegetarian, but perhaps it was after living on this diet that he swore off meat for life.
Louise Lincoln devotes two pages of Kitchen Stove 53 to poems expressing her sympathy to Alf Babcock following the loss of his wife Helen. Her gift for writing light verse does not obscure her talent for achieving a serious note when she wants to, as she does in these moving lines.
Jake Warner continues his remarkable record of an issue printed every month he has been a member of the association, including several periods in which he was also holding office. This month he carries an account of someone else’s experiences with many fine wines both in Europe and America. The quality of the writing sustains interest in what might otherwise be a somewhat dull subject.
Larry Switzer in The Challenge is maintaining a rather elaborate display of the work of some of our most prolific poets. Louise Weibert Sutton, Helen Middleton Amos, Stella Craft Tremble, Dorothy Harrington MacAulay and Ruby Quillman are featured in this 19th number.
Ray Albert wrote me at 4:55 a. m. to tell me that he has more Ray’s Scraps under way, to provoke readers’ comments.
Bill Haywood in Just Our Type defends himself for the various points of criticism he leveled against The National Amateur of recent months. Ralph Babcock admits he would have preferred to act otherwise in some respects, such as devoting more space to official criticism, but was limited by the amount of material available.
I would like to cast my vote for keeping the membership list in the December and June issues of the official organ, as the Constitution now specifies. In writing various members and prospective members, I find myself referring to the list quite often, and it would be cumbersome to have to go back to the list, if published annually, and then trace it forward, through the subsequent Secretary’s reports, to determine if someone has changed residence.
FIVE HUNDRED COPIES of this amateur journal are being printed, featuring some material from the NAPA Manuscript Bureau. To satisfy postal requirements, be it noted that this journal is distributed to members of the National Amateur Press Association through the monthly bundle. Other copies may be sent first or third class by the publisher-member, who is Joseph F. Bradburn, La Plata, Md. 20646. This journal is handset, printed and published by the above.