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Published by Southern California Members of
National Amateur Press Association

An Art Bureau for NAPA?
by Gale Sheldon

More and better graphic arts in the amateur press is the latest proposal to come from Columbus. The art work in the papers has not often been noted for its outstanding quality. Bob Coppin’s work excels among the artistic endeavors. Jack Coolidge has made significant contributions. But others do not come to mind.

President Boys thinks we need a concerted effort to aid and abet the development and publication of artistic creations. And maybe we do. Quality art work has always had a place in the amateur press. Many a journal and its material have been improved by quality illustrations.

Perhaps we should be reminded, however, that the essence of our hobby is its quality writing, its literature. Even the typography, much as we tout it and discuss it and fawn over it, is a secondary though necessary adjunct of our purpose; the creation and perpetuation of a literature. Frederick Folger Thomas, printer and editor of Far Afield, understood this. “…it is writing that affords the highest aims and the most durably significant of all the opportunities of amateur journalism…. I refer to verse, short fiction, criticism, essays, in those unfenced fields, the humanities: in short, to Amateur Letters.” Amateur journalism must not be inhospitable to Amateur Letters if it will long survive, Thomas wrote.

Improving the artistic handiwork of ajay is a worthy objective, and if an art bureau will help, let’s have one. Quality art work, as well as fine printing and typography will enhance our literature.

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Call Me Madame “X”
by Ann Vrooman

In many ways I compare the feelings of an ex-editor in NAPA with those of an ex-addict in the even “dreamier” world of drugs. The editor has as many visions as the addict and neither is ever really fulfilled.

The withdrawal symptoms are brutal. Turning off has such finality. Only then do you come to know how “turned on” you were. Don’t believe that the tremor ever dies entirely. It keeps coming back every time your bundle is delivered. Oh those voices you hear in your own little padded cell – late in the night. Out of your private vacuum you come wondering, hoping, believing you’re ready now to breathe in the ideas of all the others. That’s when you find that your “Insiders Club” is really an “Outsiders Club.” Gone is the monkey on your back. You’d settle for one big growl from a hairy old ape. Who wants to live with only echoes from out his own tin box?

The scars you carry prove you “were there.” Your arm is still sore. Four beautiful wild trips you took – from cover to cover – on four occasions: September, December, March, and glorious June, the end-all month. So, you blew your mind! Okey, You won’t ever have to use your needle again. Better still, you won’t need one more fix. You kicked the habit. And here’s where the ex-editor has it over the ex-addict; what you did was LEGAL.

How do you like those apples?

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Telling It Like It Was
by Thor Willat

I am writing this aboard a chartered Pan American plane, flying over Greenland, on our way to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. We left Warsaw, Poland this afternoon; reporters, photographers, and support crew, who make up about one half of the press corp assigned to President Nixon, now returning from his trip to Austria, Russia, Iran, and Poland.

The mood is relaxed, with ties loose, laughter, and an occasional typewriter punching out “follow-up” stories. Now behind us by a few hours, the furious pace of a presidential trip – the straining for information – keeping up with the schedule – hurrying and waiting. The consuming attention to details, credentials, equipment, transportation – the frantic jockeying for position. Reporters straining to hear every word, and photographers alert to every picture possibility. The “still men” trying for that one picture that tells the whole story, and the “movie men” working for a series of “takes” long enough for a TV news show. A thousand things that must be considered if their information is to be correct and on time for a waiting world.

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Covering the President sounds glamorous. True, one gets to travel and be with important people, but the pace and hours are staggering on a trip like this. Red eyes, frayed nerves, wrinkled clothes, gulped and sporadic meals, misplaced baggage, in addition to unbelievable security problems and language difficulties. But now, half-way through the long ten and a half hour flight from Warsaw to Washington, I reflect on the past two weeks, recalling my assignments – inside the Kremlin, photographing Mr. Nixon and top Soviet officials – the performance of “Swan Lake” at the “Bolshi,” tired and loaded down with heavy motion picture equipment, but so moved by the dancing music in that historic setting, fatigue and problems were forgotten – then there was beautiful Salzburg, a city existing before the discovery of America – and working in busy, oil-rich Tehran, at two of the Shah’s numerous palaces – finally, none of us will forget the thousands of cheering people that lined our motorcade route through Warsaw.

The sounds of other languages lingers in my mind – new odors, new foods, new sights – the universal similarity of all peoples – their needs and hopes. All this, and much more, add up to an exceptional experience that makes it all worthwhile. June 1, 1972.

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Evening Watch
by C. Otto Strandberg

Last night, sitting in our patio, I watched the beautiful California sunset. I marveled at the myriads of finely drawn brilliant shades of colors exquisitely blending with each other. The many delicate hues of red. From the deep Scarlet to Fireball re: Rubine to Rhodamine to warm red. Then the great master artist changed to a delicate shade of orange which, growing paler, gradually blended with the Blue of the distant Pacific sky.

Then, as the sun slid over the far horizon, it seemed to flare up momentarily as if to bid me a sad farewell as it continued on its rounds to spread warmth and happiness to faraway lands on the other side of the world.

My mind, filled with the spectacular beauty of this phenomenon, brought back memories of a similar incident that occurred in another time, in another country. I recall the freezing cold winter evening, standing in the front yard of our home, I was watching a spectacular show of northern lights. Our home was located on the banks of the wide and beautiful, sometimes violent Ljusne River, now running cold and silent beneath a blanket of ice two feet thick.

Those brilliant lights, following the river were only a few hundred feet above. They made a sharp, crackling sound as they traveled with unbelievable speed through the natural barrier of frozen air. As a boy I liked to think they were the guardians of the sky; with the aid of the brilliant lights they kept a watchful eye on the wild and rugged countryside.

I was so absorbed, so fascinated by those great white ships, manned by laughing, singing, courageous soldiers of fortune, on a mission of great danger and adventure, I did not notice my mother, returning from a shopping trip in town, walking into the yard until she spoke.

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She did not reprimand me for standing outside in that cold. She wasn’t afraid I’d catch pneumonia, nor freeze to death if I stayed out much longer. Instead she smilingly told me she had bought me something at the store.

“What did you get, mother?” I asked in excited anticipation.

“I got you a book, son,” she smiled.

“A book?!!” I exclaimed. “A book for me?” I could hardly believe this happy turn of events.

“That’s right, son.” she laughed at my burst of enthusiasm. “It’s a book I think you’ll just love.”

“Come on, let’s go in,” I grabbed her hand. “I want to see it.”

By the time we got inside I was so anxious to see the book I could hardly take my coat and gloves off before I tore the wrapper off. In moments I was reading the thrilling story. Lost to the world. Mother proved to be so right. I can honestly say I really loved that precious gift. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

It was indeed a happy ending to my evening watch.

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Waiting for Lefty
by Gale Sheldon

My first composing stick was actually a stick. It was made from part of a Wisconsin cheese box and some scraps of wood. A small bolt was tightened with a screwdriver to clamp it securely at the needed spot. This was my only composing stick for fifteen years and it still works well.

Sometime before I was given a battered composing stick of stainless steel, I tried to persuade my wife to set some type. She actually set one line for a little four-page paper in 1956. But it was not without difficulty. Aside from all the usual problems of a neophyte type slinger, Ruth had an additional handicap. She is left-handed. Have you ever watched a southpaw set type in a standard composing stick? It’s pitiful.

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The solution came to mind quickly. What she needs is a left-handed composing stick! I went to work with bits of wood, a piece of hardboard, and a power saw. The result was an accurate composing stick, but done in reverse so it could be readily grasped in the right hand. I eagerly showed the fruits of my handiwork to my wife and she admired it politely. She might try it some time.

It has now gathered dust for many years in a cubbyhole beside the 3 by 5 Kelsey. She never got around to using it. I have not given up hope. Perhaps someday out of the ranks of the amateur press may come a southpaw printer to join one of our rollicking printing pow-pows. I can see his eyes light up as the lead slivers click into that specially designed stick. It’s just waiting for Lefty.

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Earn a Dime to Save a Penny!
by Dick Baughman

That isn’t the way the old saying went – “A penny saved is a penny earned” – but then, in the old days people were not plagued by inflation or progressive income taxes.

Today the average workingman is in the 25% federal tax bracket and his state will charge about 4-5% so there goes 3 cents of our dime. Then social security takes its share, so there goes almost another cent. We still have about 6 cents left for inflation to eat up. At an average 5% annual inflation rate we can expect our 6 cents to shrink to 3 cents in 10 years. At the end of 20 years it will be worth zero cents in original buying power – but then old people don’t need too many things and besides, they are no longer productive so perhaps inflation is better than the plague or “A” bomb. At least they can starve to death gracefully, rather than die disastrously.

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Designed, hand-set and printed by Frank M. Cushing at his Garden View Press in Tusin, Calif. As his contribution to NAPA-WEST. Printed in U.S.A.

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