Harold Segal, Publisher, Linwood, Pa.
I am publishing this letter without Babcock’s permission because he told me in previous letters that he had no intention of replying to the scurrilous attacks made by Haggerty and Smith until he rendered his annual report at the convention, and because I feel the members should have a chance to view both sides of the question before they cast their proxy ballots. After reading the opinion of such a level-headed thinker as James Morton, little more need be said.
(Signed) HAROLD SEGAL
May 22, 1935
How’s that Herring Gull of yours coming along? Remember, only 24 more days to get out that fourth issue so it can be considered for the editorial laureateship.
But for Pete’s sake, don’t go spattering umbrage all over the landscape on account of Hadley’s May Boys’ Herald. With this 40 page Rooster partly done and partly still in press I haven’t time to pick his paper to pieces, but it’s literally honeycombed with flaws and half-truths selected and molded to substantiate his arguments. According to him I’m a liar, a laureate-thief, and a presidential-prospect killer. You better look out for who you associate with, fella; I’m a dangerous man.
Regarding that postal of May 2, it was sent out in the spirit of fun, and there is no lie involved – as you will see upon careful re-reading. As a practical joke it is certainly no more serious than the one perpetrated by Ed Cole and others in 1906 (and not confessed till 12 years later) when they circulated a paper telling of the death of Doc Swift, who was (and still is; I was up to see him the other day) still alive. Haggerty promptly called by bluff – and in no uncertain terms, but lookit all the free publicity I got. I sent the postal to just 39 members – active editors or politically-minded amateurs. But old Vee Bee (I got a new monicker for him – Old Thirty Years’ Experience. Wait, here’s a better one: Dear Voice of Experience – if they don’t sue us for plaigerism – hope that’s right; my dictionary isn’t handy) cicularized the whole membership for me – at a cost of about four bucks postage to him. That’s what I call scotch campaigning. 39¢ for $4 worth.
Old Louie Kempner did a sky-rocket act when he saw the Boys’ Herald. I got 6¼ pages of hot stuff – anti-Smith (mebbe that should be Aunty Smith) in the first mail thereafter, and 6 more in the next mail. It seems that Smith only partially quoted him because Kempner wrote that he definitely favored me for Official Editor and that when we had had a long visit for about two weeks prior to the Fossil reunion he had made some remarks which might be conceived as a proffered nomination. Maybe some of the other ex-prexies were also quoted as misleadingly.
Hadley left himself wide open, and I only wish I had the time to reply. He yaps about my not paying attention to recruiting, but the copy for the June National Amateur shows that I proposed the second highest number of recruits this year – 6, and that Hadley is third with only half that number. He also accuses me of changing the copy for the official organ – which is perfectly true. If the members knew how big the hand I’d had in the last three issues of the National Amateur they’d certainly be mighty surprised. I held the forms open till the last minute and revised the reports of the Secretary-Treasurer so that the members might get up-to-date information, instead of month or six-weeks old reports as they’ve been getting for the past couple of years.
I believe I suggested the running of the constitution – and secured the linotyped forms from Haggerty, made the corrections, and thus saved the Association a lot of money in not having to have the whole thing reset. The list of new recruits and their addresses, the list of officers, the membership list, and the presidential message were all correct within two or three days of the time I sent the NA to Bradley. Then there’s the various news items – not to forget the news supplement of four pages to the September NA – which didn’t cost the association a cent. I chopped $15 off my price for the December NA – as a donation to the official organ fund, and the Association paid less than half the NRA Code printing price for that issue. In fact, the 35 pages I’ve printed have cost the NAPA an average of $3.30 a page, as compared to $4.20 per for your own volume and $5.60 for Bonnell’s.
I suggested running part of Nixon’s History in this June NA, copied and proofed the first two chapters (no easy matter), and recently suggested increasing the issue from 16 to 19 or maybe 20 pages in order to include all the copy at hand and not omit any of it. If Smith saw this he’d probably say I was slinging mud at Bradley, but since he won’t, I mention it to show that Chet and I have co-operated rather closely – in spite of our several radical differences of opinion. Far be it from me to sling mud at the fellow who is making possible my trip to Oakland. (Did I tell you I planned to leave by bus about the middle of June?)
Chet’s a good fellow, but another year or two of experience won’t hurt him any. Boy, I’ve certainly learned a lot of hard lessons this year. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that I’m developing a sense of humor as a result. Surprising how much a guy can accomplish by bluffing; I think mebbe I ought to learn to play poker. Perhaps I can find some more good strategy.
Anyhow, I’ll be seein’ yuh on June 2, and in the meantime, be good. Oh yeh, almost forgot your last question. Sure. If association wants to elect me Official Editor, that’s OK with me. I was rather itching for a whack at the job last year, but things seemed opportune to grab the big show, so… Hymie wants a large OO, and I reckon I can give him as big and good a one as any since Cook’s behemoth (another $3.46 word for you). But there’re no hard feelings either way between us whether Maggy or I win; she’s a great sport and we know each other well enough to talk turkey to each other. You should meet her some time.
And don’t call me a great necker again, or I’ll add to my criminal record by committing mayhem on you when I come down. I’m a native of Great Neck – in one of the last of the Republican strongholds – Nassau County.
Yours till I find a good thirty-four cent linotype – then you can go scratch. June the second it is.
May 21, 1935
James F. Morton
Paterson, N. J.
Now that the extremists have been heard, it is time for a moderate view. Time is short; so I send this to you, hoping that you can secure its appearance… within the next few weeks…. By the time this can appear, the campaign will be in its closing days; and the votes will be all in, or on their way, with the minds of all about made up. So it will then be a good time for spreading oil on the waters, and turning to peace activities.
Hastily but fraternally,
(Signed) JAMES F. MORTON
Why These Hot Words?
by James F. Morton
It seems my cue for pronouncement on the issue of the now famous Babcock postcard. It amused me to find my friends Vincent Haggerty and Edwin Hadley Smith falling into so obvious a trap, and registering a righteous indignation over what they should have laughed off as a good publicity stroke. Their sense of humor seems to have lessened with the years.
Of course, none of us authorized Ralph Babcock to quote us on behalf of his candidacy (whether actual or merely provocative) for the official editorship; nor does his card say that we did so. It states that after talking with us he decided to launch the same, and nothing more. Naturally, the reader would assume that our promised support was implied; and our youthful president knew that we would all deny it. If he had been seriously intending to deceive, he would have reserved this stroke till the last minute, too late for our repudiation. His early bringing it forth was to accomplish just what has happened.
I had no talk with him about his own or other candidacies, except some casual comment on the way things seemed to be going as to the presidency, with no discussion of my personal attitude. I made up my mind long ago to leave politics in the hands of the boys who represent present-day amateur journalism, and have not committed myself to any candidate for any office, nor declared against any. My single vote will be the full extent of my participation in the political contest this year.
However, I do recall that in our talk Mr. Babcock spoke of the need of stirring up more interest by the show of a real fight; and his card was obviously designed to effect just that end. The scheme has worked beautifully, in “drawing” just the fire which it was intended to incite: and we already have two publications as a consequence, which would not otherwise have appeared, as well as the beginning of an exciting controversy. Whether the Babcock candidacy is intended to be seriously published or not, makes little difference. We have just what he wanted in the form of a fight, which means more activity; and that is what the National needs, and why the “apple of discord” was thrown among us at just this time.
The only danger is that the joke may be carried too far, and that Mr. Babcock may be enmeshed in his own snare by being led to over-violent language in retaliation against the austere ire of his severe censors. His intentions were excellent; and his method was at least analogous to just the sort of thing that would have appealed to his critics in their younger days. Now if only he and they will only recall some over-heated epithets, and see the amusing side of the affair, all will be well.
I am afraid that Mr Haggerty’s sternness is partly due to his partisanship for his protege, Mr. Trainor. The latter is a loyal and sincere amateur, but over-inclined to take some things too seriously, and to look on the darker side. While his failure to see things in the right perspective, and to stick to the colors cheerfully even if dissatisfied with some personal matters, was not to be commended, it did not deserve the severe condemnation that would have been implied in findings against him by the executive judges.
None the less, some blame attached to him, and partly, at least, warranted the attacks on him. If his purposes were honest, so were those of his opponents; and the technical ultra-constitutionalism of President Babcock, if not wise in every instance, was unquestionably motivated by a desire to make headway against difficulties that were hampering the growth of the National, and to cut his way through red tape that was checking progress. He has made his mistakes; but on the whole he has done extremely well. We of the older generation must learn to let the boys of today learn something by trial and error, just as we did ourselves. The National is in a wholesome condition today; and only loyalty and good morale are needed to keep it so.