A Hobby Magazine Published By Tim Thrift and “Freezette” Thrift at Winchester, Mass.
It Gets in the Blood
AS IT may be of interest to amateurs of the past, present and future, we propose to record in this paper some of our experiences in amateur journalism, and elsewhere, exactly as we might informally discuss them, when in a reminiscent mood, at some gathering of the clan.
We were seventeen when we entered amateur journalism. The youth of today is in many ways a rather sophisticated young man, but in our day – particularly in a small town – the average seventeener was just a gawky, bashful kid with little worldly knowledge.
Our recollection of how amateur journalism first came to our attention is hazy, but we suspect that it was through some boys’ magazine.
The first issue of our magazine, The Lucky Dog, was published in April, 1900; the second issue in July. (These issues were twenty-four pages and cover, 4 x 6 in size, printed on newsprint and butcher-paper, on a 3 x 5 Kelsey press, the frame of which cracked when a third issue was started, leaving us so broken-hearted that our bosses, where we were “deviling” in a printery, took pity on us and let us use their shop after working hours.) The subtitle of these initial issues was “An Amateur Review Of Fun, Wit And Humor.” The “fun” was ours; the “wit and humor” were cribbed.
Inasmuch as in the first issue we quoted something that was published in Quilings in 1899, we must have been conscious of amateur journalism, but it was not until our third issue, September, 1900, that any mention was made of it. In this issue we stated: “I have recently joined the National Amateur Press Association.” Elsewhere, in the same issue, these comments were made: “I have been a member of the N.A.P.A. and connected with journalism but a short time, and in that time I have kept my eyes open with the intention of writing an article on the views of a beginner, drawn from what he has seen and heard. Since the second issue of The Lucky Dog I have received numerous exchanges. Of these exchanges fifty percent were engaged in a guerrilla warfare of mud-slinging that was a disgrace to any person who pretends to be a lady or gentleman. It would seem that they publish their sheets with the sole intention of saying and charging things they would not dare say to their victim’s face.” Such were some of the impressions of a recruit of forty-three years ago.
That printing was paramount with us even in those far-off days, we quote this, from the same article: “How very few and far between are the editors who print their own papers. To be an amateur paper the entire work of your paper should be the result of your own handiwork. I print and bind every part of my magazine and find the work thoroughly enjoyable, not to mention the added pride of having attained the result by a personal effort.” And forty-three years later we feel about the same.
Our first contribution from an amateur seems to have been an essay, “Faith,” by George Julian Houtain, published in our December, 1900, issue, and, we note, entered for the U.A.P.A. essay laureateship. We will not embarrass George today by quoting from this masterpiece. Amateur magazines reviewed in this issue included: Our Boys and Girls, The Cavalier, The ‘Squito, The Magician, The Idler, The Bomb, Monarch, Dilettante, and the first issue of The National Amateur under the editorship of John M. Acee.
The first three issues of The Lucky Dog (1900) were published in Bellefontaine, Ohio, where we lived with an uncle and aunt; but when we entered Wittenberg College at Springfield, Ohio, in the fall, the Dog was taken along. Volume Two, Number One, March, 1901, was the second college issue. We note with interest this comment: “Ariel, for January, is neatly printed and carefully prepared. I like the selections called ‘Moods.’ They seem to touch responsively day-dreams of one’s own life. The editorials are enjoyable, too, and the only regret is that there are so few of them. Ariel is always welcome.” How little did we suspect then that six years later the publisher of Ariel would be our wife! And still is.
Volume Two, Number Two, of The Lucky Dog, published in June, 1901, was forty pages. Aside from many hours of hand composition, it represented 10,000 impressions on a 5 x 8 hand-power press (Kelsey). In explanation of the size, and effort, we stated: “One reason for the size of this issue is because I wished to commemorate the last days of my seventeenth year, by a little extra effort.” Little – ye gods, there’s English ancestry under-statement!
The September, 1901, issue of The Lucky Dog, closed its first chapter. It announced that it would become a professional publication and that Charles A. Harwood had been secured as Business Manager. What happened was this. We had met Harwood, who was a son of the publisher of The Springfield Gazette and employed by a local manufacturer, through our college fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. Harwood, who was in his twenties, thought we were foolish to “fool around” with The Lucky Dog as an amateur paper and offered to finance it as a professional publication. We were to do the printing and editing; he was to get the subscriptions and advertising. (We forgot what the arrangement was on profits, if any.)
The first issue under the Thrift & Harwood management appeared in December, 1901. It contained thirty-two pages of text and eight pages of advertising. The second issue appeared in February, 1902. It was the straw that broke the camel’s (our) back. To hand-set and print a magazine of this size and deliver 5,000 copies bi-monthly proved too great a task for us. We had the choice of devoting our time to publishing and forgetting that we were attending an institution of learning, or vice versa. The college won. We have never regretted, but we have often wondered what might have been.
Three more Thrift & Harwood issues were circulated – April, July and November. Two of these were printed by Harwood’s father at his Gazette plant. The enterprise then “gave up the ghost,” but it had the “makings” of something, as was illustrated when we sent a thousand copies of the first issue (without an order) to a wholesale newsdealer in New York and received a wire several days later to send a thousand more! And also by the offer, made by Mr. Crowell, who published The Woman’s Home Companion, to make a place for it in his plant – an offer we (foolishly perhaps; who knows?) turned down.
By June of the following year, 1903, we had left college and were located in Cleveland as a cub (very cub) reporter on The Cleveland Press, a job secured for us by Warren J. Brodie.
We will digress at this point to amplify the Brodic influence in our early life as an amateur journalist. It was Brodie, we believe, who replied to our original letter of inquiry regarding amateur journalism and who proposed us for membership in the National in 1900. In July, 1902, he invited us to Cleveland to spend a weekend with him on his yacht, “Dreamer.” This meeting was the beginning of a friendship that led to his efforts to get us to locate permanently in Cleveland. (The story of that weekend has been preserved in the September, 1902, issue of The Black Book; first published in April of that year to serve as our amateur paper while The Lucky Dog was on its way to professionalism. The Black Book was an all editorial paper, appearing at varying intervals. Twelve issues were published, the final one being June, 1909. The April, 1904, issue was notable for an article on “Brodie And The Print Shop.”)
Up to the time of our marriage in 1907, we saw a great of Warren. His Arcade office was conveniently located for noon-day drop-ins; and during our early years in Cleveland we roomed only a short distance from his Olive Street residence and shop and so we went there quite frequently. He was like an elder brother to us and took a great interest in our activities. We shall never forget his many kindnesses.
But to return to our narrative.
After about a year on the Press, doing labor, courts and a night beat on police, we took a job running a one-man printery for a wholesale grocery. This position attracted us because it gave us an opportunity to do some advertising work as well, and we had definitely decided some time before to make advertising our business career. It was while in this position we started (1905) the series of 5 x 7 Lucky Dogs which were our contribution to artistic amateur printing almost forty years ago. We were twenty-two years of age when we began this work and twenty-seven when we quit (1910). In that period many things happened in our amateur world. We were elected president of the association in 1905 (after having served as official editor in 1904); we were married to “Freezette” in 1907; we had a fight with several prominent members of The Fossils over the “young blood” campaign they waged so truculently, and finally ceased our publishing activity in amateur journalism with the April, 1910, issue of The Lucky Dog, an old man of twenty-seven who was too grown-up to be “playing” with boys and girls, according to those well meaning but badly misguided Fossils who had taken it upon themselves to clean out the temple of amateuria. (In the November 1909, issue of The Lucky Dog, Ernest A. Edkins beautifully flayed these “reformers” in his article, “Pythagorean Piffle.”)
While our loss of interest in amateur journalism, after a white-hot enthusiasm of ten years, was mostly due to the above mentioned drive to “give back the association to the boys and girls,” this was not the whole reason. Our business affairs had begun to prosper, we were making headway in our advertising career, and it seemed a good time to drop outside interests and concentrate on our professional work.
It is interesting to observe how our experience in amateur journalism served in the years that followed, being carried into each new connection we made.
After running the private printery for a time, we secured a job as Editor of House Organs for The Sherwin-Williams Co., the “Cover the Earth” paint and varnish people. There we edited three monthly magazines – for dealers, employees and architects. Later, with Finley, we got out The Commentator for his chain of restaurants. It was in 1910, however, when we went with The American Multigraph Sales Co. (where we stayed for sixteen years), that our real publishing career began. There we edited, for the sixteen years, a weekly sales organ called The Ginger Jar; and, during a portion of that time, another publication, a monthly, called The Layman Printer, for Multigraph users. It was also during this period that we founded, edited and published, a professional advertising magazine called The Mailbag, “A Journal of Direct-Mail Advertising.” This was started in 1917 and we published it until 1922, when it was sold to William Feather. (Afterwards sold several times and finally absorbed by another magazine.) The Mailbag was the leading publication in its field and did much to help bring direct-mail advertising to the important place it occupies today in advertising operations. The magazine had a paid circulation of 10,000 and carried a large volume of advertising. It was largely instrumental in breaking down our health at one time, as for some years we conducted its editorial work and correspondence from an office in our home (after regular business hours), and the continuous night work finally laid us low. In addition to these publishing ventures, while with the Multigraph we got out several books and series booklets, mostly designed as educational matter on direct-mail advertising. One exception was a book, “Man-To-Man,” by John Leitch, which was the first treatise on “Industrial Democracy,” and widely read in the period of the first World War. The story of its inception and development is most interesting and has never been told, but it is too long for inclusion here.
In 1926, when we left the Multigraph and Cleveland and located to Elmira, N. Y., as advertising manager of The American Sales Book Co., we again exercised our publishing proclivities and started a weekly sales organ called The Rediform Forum. We edited this for the six years of our connection.
In both The Ginger Jar and The Rediform Forum we had a column of business and sales philosophy entitled “Tim Talks.” While with the Multigraph, selections from these “Talks” were put in book form, one volume being published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. These had a fair sale for books of this class, some 7,000 of the two volumes being sold.
As we stated was our intention, we have recited these incidents in publishing during several business connections to show the influence of amateur journalism all through our business life. Of course publishing naturally fitted into our advertising activities, but the groundwork we laid in amateur journalism and in publishing The Lucky Dog and The Black Book undoubtedly helped us considerably when later ventures came along.
When we came to New England in 1934 as advertising manager of The Elliott Addressing Machine Co., Cambridge, Mass., our publishing activities ceased, as there was no acceptable place in the business for house magazines. For a while we were at a loss, until we got the happy idea of again getting a press and outfit and printing a magazine of our own. We had been out of touch with amateur journalism for so long that an amateur paper never occurred to us. What we decided to do was to continue our “Tim Talks,” but in booklet form, and send them to a group of personal and business friends. So, in 1936, we began monthly publication of a little magazine of eight pages and cover, called Tim Talks. This we continued to June, 1942, when finding that we were unable to keep away from the controversial war and political topics (sales subjects being of little interest for the duration), and feeling that our friends were not particularly interested in our “two cents’ worth” of opinion, we ceased publication.
In the meantime we had been drawn back into the influence of amateur journalism through Falward Cole, the Boston convention, and other contacts. This renewed interest prompted us to get out a “Reminiscence Issue” of The Lucky Dog in 1940, to be followed by other issues in 1941 and 1942. We doubt that we would have gone further than perhaps a yearly Dog if we had not ceased publishing our Tim Talks. The publishing void had to be filled, and, after an experiment conducted by means of a little publication, Stir, we conceived the idea of The Aonian; which with the indispensable help of Ernest A. Edkins, we expect to see through.
It so happens that this 1943 issue of The Lucky Dog is made possible because, by devoting evenings, Sundays, holidays and our vacation to The Aonian, we have gotten so far ahead of our schedule that we have several months at our disposal to do something else. And perish the thought that we should live with a complete little printing plant and see it stand mute and idle!
Printing and publishing are in our blood. We admit it and we’re not ashamed of it. In fact, we are glad that we have something creative to serve us in these days when it would be so easy to let worry and fear of the future get one down.
Whether, after our present appointed task with The Aonian is finished we shall resume publication of Tim Talks and drop our activity in amateur journalism save for an occasional Dog, perhaps – we do not know. The decision is for the future. – Tim Thrift
A Distaff Review
THAT unique little magazine, The Open Door, published by Helen Adam of Cleveland, Ohio, is a mimeographed paper that has made the most of the limitations of the process. It’s a careful job and easy on the eyes. The contents are in keeping; mostly contributed by the editor; very interesting, too. Her blank page, “What I’ve Learned About Printing,” proves Miss Adam’s sense of humor, and modesty. I hope the Door continues to “open” with bright jingles and pertinent comments….
Tulipa (May, 1943) is a new comer, four pages, published by Nellie Malkasian of Pawtucket, R. I. Three pages are devoted to a little sketch by the editor which teaches an age-old story.
… Oh, oh, bright red! The color suits the title, The Flirt, published by Eleanor C. Nelson of Evanston, Ill., and printed in the Brodie shop by Helm Spink. The September number has a nice little account of the editor’s part in the Columbus convention. It conforms to the feminine viewpoint – now, in the past, and, we are sure, in the future – by giving glimpses of what “he” did and said and “she” did and said. A very neat little paper. I enjoyed all of it….
Do-Mo-Pau-Nan, published by pretty and young Dorothey Hixon (granddaughter of ex-president Parker) of Medford, Mass., is a very readable little publication. The editor says, “I wonder what their very first paper looked like” – referring to Tim Thrift and Ernest Edkins. Well, Dorothey, page two of this issue of the Dog will tell you something about it….
Two Ems (a clever name), published and edited by Dora H. Moitoret and her young daughter, Carol, is a real delight to me. I only wish it had twenty or more pages instead of four. “Rondel.” by Carol, shows promise of the talent in her mother. To me, Dora Moitoret is a very fine poetess and a gifted prose writer. I envy her the ability to keep it up despite her many other duties. I wish I could….
Bellette, the well-known publication of Edna Hyde McDonald, is a clever compilation of various types of writing – news, personal opinions, verse, etc. It is always a treasure-house of information of interest to all amateurs. The editor writes what she pleases, and pleases those for whom she writes. Sometimes she is a little risque, but the sense of humor is dominant – a real saving grace….
The Turner Inquirer, published by Shirley E. Turner of Washington, D.C., is very well done; especially as Shirley says that she is a “youngster” in amateur journalism. Her by-line, “Published When Possible.” is good. I hope the “possible” is often.
“An Answer,” by Dan Harrington (unknown to me), is rather on the misanthropic side. The last sentence is good: “If there is anything worse.”… Rusty’s Comet, by Alma Weixelbaum of Springfield, Ohio, is so well known and widely enjoyed that any comments of mine would be anti-climax. Her September, 1943, issue has an attractive cover and shows thought and care in the mimeography work. I am no judge, of course, but what I like about any publication is, first of all, its contents, and then its readability. The reprint, “Texas – You Can Have It,” seems to express the conclusions of most of our armed forces stationed there; and, in fact, anywhere in the South. “Rusty’s” editorials are well written and to the point…
Literary Newsette, by those two live-wires, Lt. Burton Jay Smith and Willametta Turnepseed, comes often and tells “all.” It fills a real need in our association – but, please, why so much ink?… The Forrer Leaf Clover, edited by Mabel M. Forrer of Springfield, Ohio, and Michael White of Woburn, Mass., is essentially a woman’s publication, and most commendable one. The Fall Issue, 1943, contains a splendid account, both politically and socially, of the Columbus convention. Mrs. Forrer’s verses seem to “sing” along.
Burton Crane contributes “A Study By The Bureau of Critics On Short Story Technique,” a witty and informative article. Surely our short-story writers should learn a lot from it. Burton’s illustrations are particularly diverting; they excite one to want more of the story they suggest. Michael White writes his “say in his unusual inimitable style – just about covering what happened to him and how it affected him.
Mrs. Forrer’s experience as a “fisherwoman” makes me recall my fishing (I hate fishing and all water life) in the Atlantic ocean and Lake Erie. I got the fish okay, but “no sale” to eating any part of them. It’s an amusing article and well written; as are her editorials. Indeed, The Forrer Leaf Clover is a paper of which to be justly proud. (No prepositional ending, Mr. Edkins.)…
Of my own paper and yester-years. Thinking back, Ariel (mentioned elsewhere in this issue) seems such a silly name for an amateur paper. And the cover! That was drawn by a friend of my older brother; and what a thrill it was to have an exclusive, especially-drawn design for my own publication. The name, Ariel, I probably chose because, being in the midst of mythology at school, that subject had a particular appeal to me in those days. I confess to a vivid imagination – which I still have. I was quite proud of my efforts, but never satisfied. Everything that I wrote seemed wonderful in long-hand, but not so good in print. How often I was abashed and concluded that the observation made by my dramatic teacher was very true. He said, “It’s all youth. You will find an outlet and education and relief.”
The first issue proved that to me, but somehow I never did find the outlet an education, as I felt that I did not improve as time went on. But the thrill was there, and that was reward enough; with a deep satisfaction in having done the best I knew how, No one, in any enterprise, can do more. – “Freezette”
This issue was hand-set, 18 ems wide, in 11 pt. Monotype Janson, on 12 pt. body, leaded two points. The headings are 14 pt. P. T. Barnum, A. T. F. The border is Weiss 6 pt. No. 3861-2. The initials are 54 pt. electros and were designed by Maria Balle. The magazine was printed two pages up, on an 8 x 12 C. & P., New Series, press, power driven. Some operations were done on a 7 x 11 Craftsman foot-power press. The paper, secured last year, through the courtesy of the Forbes Lithograph Co., is a made-to-order 70 lb. dull coated book. The cover is a special marble paper made in America.
Designed, hand-set, printed and bound by Tim Thrift for the pleasure and satisfaction he derives from printing as a hobby.