DEDICATED TO the Silver Grays among the active and inactive amateur journalists of today, and written, printed and published as a gesture to the past and as a labor of love for an old cause, by Tim Thrift and Amanda Thrift, Winchester, Massachusetts.
Thirty Years After
FOR ten years – from 1900 to 1910 – amateur journalism and the National Amateur Press Association meant a great deal to us. Through it we made many cherished friends, had many happy hours, met our wife, secured our first substantial job. So for a decade in our life this hobby was a very helpful one.
Then in April, 1910, we published the farewell issue of our magazine, The Lucky Dog, and dropped our amateur activities. We were at the point where new interests were developing; we had our way to make in the world; we had become a “man of family”.
And we never resumed our activity, despite the importunings of others through the years to do so. For to us it seemed that this was a good long chapter in our life which properly was closed. Our play days in amateuria were over.
But now, in the mellowing years of life, we salute the fraternity again. Not to resume where we left off – for in the meanwhile we’ve acquired new hobbies that occupy our spare time – but as a gesture to the past, as one might pen a reminiscent note to an old friend ere the curtain falls and ere the heart no longer stirs with memories.
The amateur journalism that comes to our notice today is not the amateur journalism we knew. Gone are most of the artistic amateur printers who turned out papers that are collectors’ items. In our time, such papers as Kendall’s Torpedo, Ziegler’s Synthetique, Irving SinClair’s Cartoons, Brodie’s Random Amateur and Troglodyte and Lind’s Pagan, to name a few of them; and Dey’s Villa de Laura Times, Chiles’ Rising Age, Steinberg’s Dilettante and Brubaker’s Ink Drops, just as we were starting in and were the inspiration for our own typographical efforts.
We are not surprised. The decline had set in before we ceased our activities, and save for an occasional publication through the intervening years, there has been no evidence of a renaissance. Craftsmanship is practically dead in amateur printing, insofar as amateur journalism is concerned, and the reasons are rather obvious. They were obvious in our time and the years have not changed them.
As may have been gathered, our interest in amateur journalism was a printer-journalist interest. If we had not been able to get out a magazine which we printed ourself; if we had had to be content only with contributing to the journals of others or in taking an interest in the political affairs of the NAPA, doubtless our part in the amateur world of our day would have been very small.
But from a boy up printing always fascinated us. While in our teens we sold a cherished stamp collection in order to acquire a little 3 x 5 Kelsey hand press. And with this to whet our appetite for “the art preservative of all arts” our destiny was set.
With this meager outfit we started our Lucky Dog; became a “printer’s devil” in a local job printing shop; turned naturally to publishing and advertising and finally arrived at our life-long work – the business of advertising. That amateur journalism helped us attain our goal is evident. The experience we gained in printing and editing our little magazine unquestionably materially helped in shaping our business career.
In fact, it was The Lucky Dog that got us our first real advertising job. We had applied, along with many others, for the position of “Editor of House Magazines” in the advertising department of a large manufacturing concern. All we had to offer as evidence of our qualifications was a file of our little magazine. The man who hired us – still living and a highly-regarded friend – told us it was this exhibit that decided the matter. But to this day we think it was the printing and not the text that “sold” him, for our writing style was lush in those adolescent days, to say the least.
We were amused recently to learn that one of the present-day amateurs had the idea, until he heard us relate – at the Boston convention several years ago – some of our experiences, that we had plenty of money and so it was not surprising we could get out an expensive magazine. He little suspected, as may some others, that we almost starved for the sake of the Dog.
Our peak salary during the time the finest issues were published was $18.00 a week. And while money went further in those days than it does today, it was quite a trick to pay living expenses out of that amount and publish as pretentious a paper as The Lucky Dog. But that the sacrifices were not in vain was demonstrated later, when we applied for the advertising job, as already related.
– And Old, Familiar Scenes and Faces
Uncanny, as we look back now over thirty years, how long-forgotten scenes and faces come to remind us of the past.
Swift, Heins, Ahlhauser, Smith, Campbell, Lind, Murphy, Wills and a host of others – some gone, some lost knowledge of.
With many others we have kept in touch.
Brodie, in Florida in winter and at Cleveland and Conesus Lake in summer, we hear from occasionally. How well we remember our first trip to Cleveland and the week-end on his yacht, “The Dreamer”. How we’d enjoy a good old-time talk with him again at 480 The Arcade or in the Olive Street Print Shop – which, alas, is no more!
Mentioning Brodie reminds us of the old Cleveland group – probably, in their day, without peer for amateur activity – practically all publishing papers.
Feather is now nationally-known as a writer and syndicate house organ publisher.
Fingulin is editor of a shoe repair shop trade paper in St. Louis.
Ziegler, so far as we know, still is in the printing business in Cleveland.
Loveman, the poet what was a poet, we are told has a book-shop in New York.
Of the others we’ve lost sight….
And then there’s Edkins. When we ceased publishing The Lucky Dog he was associate editor. We’ve heard from him, at intervals, through the three decades, and even had the pleasure of visiting with him. When he renewed his activity several years ago we warned him, but he was sure that in this age things would be different. They weren’t. The present generation crucified his efforts, as has always happened in amateur journalism when an intellectual has tried to fraternize with those unable to comprehend him.
That amateur journalism is not essentially juvenile journalism is something that again recognized will help to restore the National to old-time prestige and make possible a more seasoned conduct of its affairs. Until this recognition comes old-timers would do well to remain just old-timers, regardless of their desire to help the cause.
Ernie enthusiastically and sincerely tried to stir things up and bring back some of the old-time amateur spirit, but we judge from surface indications that it was “love’s labor lost”.
We could say “we told you so” – but won’t.
Alas, The Boston Gang is No More!
How we used to dislike that “Boston Gang”, not really knowing them and having ingrained that sectional “East is East and West is West”, and, while using different geographical references, feeling with Kipling that “never the twain shall meet”. But as we now look back we can’t see that the Boston amateurs ever did anything very vicious to us.
In fact, one of them paid us the high compliment of imitating our efforts, even to the type face we used and the title of one of our publications, The Black Book, without our appreciating that we were being subjected to the sincerest form of flattery.
Eddie Cole – for he’s the defendant in the foregoing – has turned out to be, since thirty-years have passed away and we now know him as a neighbor (only a few miles away), nothing like we so bitterly wrote of him in those days. We’ve had the great pleasure of breaking bread with him and his charming wife and daughter, and of realizing how mistaken our old prejudice.
Writing of Cole reminds us that little did we suspect in those days that we would ever become one of the detested New England group. And yet, here in Winchester, Mass., Fate has placed us and we are quite happy about it. So “the wheel of fortune spins and where it stops nobody knows,” to quote Major Bowes.
“When You See a Head Hit It!”
From 1902 to 1905 a paper was published called The Shillalah. It caused a great deal of interest and many were the conjectures as to its perpetrator, for it was anonymous. Its slogan was “When you see a head hit it!” and lived up to it by taking many amateurs and amateur affairs for a lively “gas-house Irish” ride.
We were accused, as were several others, of being the editor of The Shillalah. We were not guilty. But in the years we were out of active amateur affairs we did learn, in a peculiar way, who was responsible, taxed the person with the charge and secured a complete confession.
So far as we are concerned, our promise made then not to expose the culprit will be kept. The Shillalah is ancient history and means little to present-day amateurs. During its life it cracked a good many heads that needed cracking and it might do some good today if it were resurrected.
That the perpetrator of The Shillalah was not exposed when he was active rather surprises us now as we look over old issues and see so plainly the many marks of identification.
Recognition Where Recognition is Due
By all odds, in our estimation, the one amateur of our time, and of all time, who has done more for amateur journalism than any other is Edwin Hadley Smith.
We may have made sacrifices to publish The Lucky Dog, but Edwin Hadley gave practically all of his life and substance for many years to his library idea, and it is fortunate for the fraternity that amateur journalism so bewitched one man that he was willing to make the sacrifices he did to preserve its history.
It is fitting that there should be at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia a monument (his collection) to the unselfish labor of Edwin Hadley Smith. It is soley through his efforts that there exists in a permanent place such a wonderful historical record of amateur journalism.
We haven’t seen Edwin Hadley for many years, but across the miles, in this reminiscence issue, we salute him as the amateur of all amateurs of our knowledge who served the cause most unselfishly and best.
Something About This Issue
When we were planning this reminiscence issue of The Lucky Dog we debated whether or not we would modernize it typographically or design it as though it were a number just following our last of thirty years ago. We decided on the latter because we just couldn’t find in our later experience any reason to reject our old style.
The cover plates are the same as were used for our June, 1904, issue, although we had some trouble with them, due to corrosion and warping. The type face and its set-up is practically the same as used for our issues from 1905 to 1907. We say “practically” because the original face was 11pt. Wayside Roman, now obtainable only when cast to order. Instead, we are using Scotch Roman, which is, we suspect, Wayside under another name.
For those who are interested, the cover stock is Worthy Coronet, Brick, 100 lb., and the text pages, Worthy Georgian.
It is interesting to us, that adopting our format and typography of more than thirty years ago has not made this reminiscence issue old-fashioned. This issue is in good taste and style today, proving that when printing follows correct principles it is not dated.
Yours for “Auld Lang Syne”
– Tim Thrift.
VERY vivid is my memory of about the first amateur personality I met – Sam Steinberg – and then inseparable with him in those far-off days – Walter Chiles.
Sam was a man of action, a worker, yet a dreamer. Walter was an aristocrat, gentle-mannered.
Then Linden Dey, the quiet but persistent; and many other local Chicago members, perhaps not so well known nationally.
Ross Clarke, the idealist and poet. Callaway, the amateur actor, through whose leadership our local club put on some really good (?) shows to raise money for one Chicago convention. (Callaway is now the head of Callaway Associates, a Boston advertising agency. – Ed.)
Then our own “Occasional Pressers”! What a foursome that was! – Jennie Irene Maloney, “Maisie” McLaughlin, Marie Stowe and the writer.
The present-day movie adjectives certainly described us. Yes, indeed – “colossal” – “dynamic” – “super-glamourous”! Ask the boys who knew us when!
Our keenest interest, believe it or not, was amateur journalism. Witness: Jeannie married that ace of publishers and printers, Frank Austin Kendall. “Maisie” married blond Gene Seymour who afterwards made considerable money. Marie came to an early end – died mysteriously and tragically in the far west. And, as is generally known, I picked off the editor of The Lucky Dog.
Our local club in Chicago was very active, with daily conferences of the “Occasional Pressers” besides. We were closely affiliated with the Milwaukee Amateur Press Club and had get-togethers frequently during the year.
Milwaukee had that bon vivant, William Ahlhauser; witty Eddie Daas; silent, handsome, sleepy Ebert, and of course others whose names now escape me.
At the Chicago convention, in our heyday, we met, lo! the fabulous Thiele; Bertha York Grant; E. St. Elmo Lewis; Foster Gilroy, and – the indefatigable Edwin Hadley Smith!
I confess to complete bewilderment in the presence of all those personalities; utter amazement at the “gift of gab” each seemed to have. I guess I was merely “among those present” – listening, marveling, entirely won over to the cause. Those were the golden days of amateur journalism. After the convention was over all we “Occasional Pressers” thought about and dreamed of was the next convention. Anyway, we went to Cleveland and there Fate decided my future – but I did not dream so at the time. There we met that grand amateur, Warren J. Brodie, and Tim Thrift, and many others. It was quite a meeting.
As soon as we got home, Jennie and I got together and planned to go to the Philadelphia convention. I think we had little else in our minds except how we could manage to finance the trip.
By this time “Maisie,” I think, had married Eugene Seymour and poor Marie had gone beyond, so the “Occasional Pressers” were reduced to two. However, Jennie alone was so vivacious that she was a whole gang in herself – such vitality, such wit! – and I will never forget the laughter that bubbled from her constantly. She was inexhaustible and irrepressible. Despite this, the “Occasional Pressers” were no more talked of, or I thought remembered, until a few years ago in Boston when Ed. Suhre mentioned them.
Amateur activities were paramount in my life in those days – and they were happy ones. The friendships made have endured, many of them, and I am indeed grateful to all those I met. It really was an education; the pleasant memories linger and I am certain will never fade, not even if I live to be a great grandmother!
Besides our local activities and get-togethers, it seemed there was a constant stream of out-of-town amateurs. I particularly enjoyed the visits of Anthony Wills – a young man keen beyond his years, his passing was a great loss. We also had E. St. Elmo Lewis in town often. His business brought him several times a year, and we had many delightful, and to me inspiring, dinners together. I also recall Sam DeHayn, with his great gift of words, and more words. He was good company. One’s thoughts could drift, as one was left slightly dazed by his steady flow of ideas and what-not.
In our local group, Carl Hegert and his sister were valued and popular members. He wrote plays (we produced one at the Studebaker Theatre and it wasn’t half bad) and she composed music, some quite well-known at that time. I recall how I learned to bang away on the piano at her “San Jacinta March”. All-in-all, we were a generally congenial group, each of us with enough spirit to speak our mind and fight verbally – stimulating and interesting.
In those days there were few outside diversions. We had no respectable movies and no cocktail lounges; no “jitter bugs”, and none of us had much money. But we managed to live keenly and were never bored. Amateur journalism in those days meant a normal and ever-fresh interest for the expression of youth.
Another member, Lee Chase, stands out in my memory. He was very young when he first joined, but looked and acted much older. I recall, with a smile, how, no matter who chose to escort me home after a meeting, Lee always went along too, feeling, no doubt, that I needed his “big brother” chaperonage!
For a brief time a young man named Kelley and his sister also joined us; both high-class entertaining youngsters, but their interest did not endure. I believe they moved away.
Last, but by no means least, were Robinson and Hal Bixby – both older men, especially “Bix”, as everyone affectionately called him. Robbie had another hobby – photography. He picked me up for a willing model. Mrs. Robinson was a fine woman (they both became Christian Science readers) and their little girl was a darling.
Then, of course, there was “Pop” Mellinger, whose wife certainly understood her husband’s hobbies and was always having the crowd for “spreads”. Some great times we had at their hospitable home.
Also Barnard, a handsome chap, well educated and charming. He also, I understand, went into Christian Science, in an executive position.
I really believe that Chicago group was about the finest and most earnest ever to flourish over such a long period of time.
There was a cute girl who came from St. Louis, She was called “Tommy” (for her surname, Tomlinson). She attended the Chicago convention and made a big hit, especially with Rasmussen (later known as Bretholl), for they married and are living in one of the Carolinas, I believe.
Vida Coombs was another member. She was odd and we never knew much about her. She went to the Cleveland convention with us and was generally liked.
The Philadelphia convention in 1906, which Jennie and I attended, proved somewhat distressing, due to the uncalled-for schemes of an “opposition group” which included, as I remember, Seymour and Bretholl.
At this meeting we met the famous Boston group. I recall Mrs. Miniter and Edward Cole particularly. Now, so many years after, it is most pleasant to renew the friendship with Edward and to know his lively family.
Ethel Johnson Myers was another outstanding amateur. Her wit and sense of humor are still as keen as in those far-off younger days.
I can remember on and on, piece-meal, as I have here, but I’ve spilled enough for my allotted pages, so – finis!
This special issue has been set by hand and printed, a page at a time, on a 7×11 foot power press. The frontispiece is off-set printed and is not our work. All cuts used are from old issues.