The desire to write and express one’s thoughts, or to create a pleasingly printed leaflet, comes naturally to many individuals.
Even some who pursue journalism or printing professionally like to dabble in the realm of Amateur Journalism as well.
Long before school journalism was organized under the Columbia Scholastic Press supervision, eager young editors, writers and printers had been creating journals or small papers or magazines; scribbling essays, plotting short stories, or purling poetry, for the sheer pleasure of accomplishment and sharing with fellow writers and printers. Comparison and co-operation in group activity provided added attraction.
Oldest and largest organized amateur journalist group in the United States, the National Amateur Press Association since 1876 each year has attracted about two to three hundred such writers and printers who produce a wide variety of amateur journals ranging from tiny “thumbnails” done on 3×5 handpresses, mimeographed or hectographed broadsides, four-page 5×7 leaflets, to 24-page or more deluxe covered booklets.
Some of us kids may see more white hairs in our shaving mirrors these days, but the springtime enthusiasm that comes with each new issue still returns.
The Bishop’s Question
by G. Wallace Tibbetts
There comes a time in the life of every organization when it is necessary to examine the operation to ascertain facts and figures.
I propose that we have an audit of our program of growth.
I am not critical, but if you think I am – why not suggest some other way to increase our membership?
(1) Are you satisfied that our membership rolls are large enough?
(2) Would you like to see additions to our list of active members?
(3) Have you made any real effort to get any new members this year?
(4) Why not?
(5) Have you suggested to the Recruiter or to any other official of the NAPA any plan or program designed to increase more activity in obtaining young writers to join our Association?
(6) Can we afford to advertise? Yes or No?
(7) If “Yes” then how? When? And Where? If “No” why not?
(8) Do we need more printers?
(9) Would you donate any finances to assist? Or any other substantial assistance?
(10) Do you care one way or another? This is the most important question.
* * * *
A relatively small hobby group orbiting in a plane apart from the strife of modern business, the National Amateur Press Association has touched – and illuminated – many lives in the generations since its founding at the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876.
NAPA has the devotion of scores like the Spinks, Moitorets, Wessons, and Keffers, whose marriages blossomed from contact of kindred spirits.
NAPA has been the playground of talented writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Edna Hyde McDonald, Ernest A. Edkins, and Burton Crane.
NAPA has been a forming ground for successful professionals who still love to dabble in the hobby of writing and printing, like Ed Cole, Harold Segal, Rolfe Castleman, Milt Grady.
Of the many events and crises in NAPA’s nearly nine decades of existence, few surpass the tribute of ex-president Alma Weixelbaum, whose surprising gift of endowment to NAPA introduced us to the federal revenooers and required revision on our constitution.
With this issue we urge adoption of the new constitution, fully realizing that no previous set of rules ever satisfied everyone. (Witness the hundred proposed changes every couple of decades!)
Life on the Frontier
by Kelly Janes
The suburb is our frontier,
Where a guy can get lost
Though six other families
Are in hollering distance.
Here the Good Humor man
Is our circuit rider,
And the postman
Our Indian scout.
Is a long line of fear.
We fear the natives
Whom we have dispossessed.
We even fear one another.
Who knows? My next-door neighbor
May turn out to be a Jew,
And just beyond him
A Negro passing for white.
So when we are home
We huddle each in his own house,
And watch television.
* Written about 1958, and obviously dated, the following sketch in a series on NAPA ex-prexies provides interesting contrast to a recent National Amateur.
by Ralph Babcock
Longtime service in NAPA appointive and elective offices won presidential honors for Alma “Rusty” Weixelbaum, another of the Springfield women led in by Williametta in 1938. Hers soon became one of the score of familiar convention faces lending continuity to post-war NAPA.
After attending all NAPA conventions 1941-54, she was elected at her 15th: Denver 1955, receiving only 8 of the 59 proxies voted. A 26-vote convention block settled outcome of an apathetic affair in which one of the four leaders received over 12 proxies.
Miss Weixelbaum was first a poet. She published mimeo’d papers Star Gazing 1939-41, 15 quarterly issues of Rusty’s Comet, and later Pro and Con with Guy Miller. A second book of her poems was printed by Spink, and she won poetry laureate 1943, declaring she “learned more from long friendly detailed letters from Edkins than she ever could have from textbooks.”
As official Mailer 1941-42 she mimeo’d the 8×14 Mailer monthly report, served as Secretary 1942-43, Critics Chairman 1945, History 1948.
With Paxton re-elected Editor, and Vondy continuing as Secretary, Rusty’s presidential year doodled along as mild as the president, until Rusty decreed free mailing (again) of all papers in official bundles after January, jolting the NAPA treasury for $115 in six months.
Not in the best of health (an eye-cataract operation impending) Rusty published no papers and little else than official messages. She was unable to attend the Minneapolis gathering ending her term.
* A fair enough appraisal but with sarcastic undertones. It is true that Rusty is an example of the pink tea poets who join and stay with the National because of the friendship, socializing, etc., and she does not own a press or print. But the association’s printers take her dues money, and people like her help assure a steady core of convention attendees that is a help to the poor locals having responsibility for the convention.
If this is to be published in her lifetime I feel this would hurt her since she is very sensitive, particularly where the National is concerned.
I am not defending either her poetry (which is pretty bad) or her administration (she should have been elected earlier when she was in better health) but simply outlining how this impresses me.
Since the printers have pretty much permitted poets, writers, and hangers-on to take over politics and administrative channels of the NAPA perhaps we should give some credit to people like Rusty who use some of their time and money to go to conventions, etc. – L. V. Heljeson
After a Death
by Helen E. Middleton
The little house is dark tonight,
The chimney cold; the door is locked.
A slanting rain falls through the trees
And in the garden where we walked.
No more will friendship greet me here
With outstretched hands and eager smile,
A pleasant oasis of love
To cheer me for a little while.
I turn in sorrow, take my leave
To face the world of things-that-are,
When, through warm tears, I catch a glimpse
(Midst tattered clouds) of one pure start.
by Louise Weibert Sutton
Fair are the ways of April:
The orchard paths disclose
More petals than the garden,
More perfume than the rose,
More music than an organ,
More beauty than a smile,
More loveliness than summer
Strewn down some further mile!
The small bright winds of April,
Like sun-winged birds that ply
Blue arches of the morning
Into great vaults of sky,
Sing, till their stirring voices
Call forth the peach and pear,
And blossoms scent the tresses
Of April’s golden hair!
Step forth to petaled April!
(No more dull fireside hours!)
Come out, in paths of sunshine,
To a world knee-deep in flowers!
* Credit most contributions in this issue to hard-working NAPA Manuscript Manager: Mrs. Lea Palmer of charming Victoria, B.C. Many thanks!
by Evert J. Volkersz
She was beautiful. I had never seen her so radiant, so luxuriously happy. This was her evening, her entrance into life with its independence, living achievement, and responsibility.
Dressed in a light blue ballerina length gown, white heels, her hair done exquisitely, everything complimented her fine features and accented her fair skin. She deported herself like a confident young woman, unconsciously aware of the significance of her prom. This was her farewell to the world of childhood. I was the lucky escort, uncomfortably dressed in borrowed tuxedo slacks, white dinner jacket and trimmings. However, all this discomfort vanished on her appearance.
Hard to tell who was the prouder, her mother or she. Her father was celebrating as usual, though with more gusto and added spirits tonight.
We dined during sunset while overlooking the Sound. The exultant rays played on her eager face. The seafood was delectable, but we hardly noticed it – she was too intent on living, and I was too intent on her. What we talked about, I don’t remember. It is difficult to recall whether we spoke at all. Were these the usual inanities of love birds, or the serious conversation of lovers? Fortunately, I shall never know.
Dinner floated. Darkness fell. We experienced a feeling of fulfillment, a zest for life neither one of us ever felt before. We were glad to be there, seeing the ships passing on their courses, to and from the locks. Dreams of travel, of other worlds, of a universe at our beck and call.
We went to the prom. The whirl of beauty and gaiety altered the ordinary ballroom into a festive dreamcastle. She was the most beautiful, the only one there. Chatter, laughter, soft dancing music drifted over us as we danced, and danced, and danced. It was a fairy tale come true. She made me a prince, she was the princess, and nothing would blemish us, ever. She may have hummed in my ears, possibly there were a lot of sweet-nothings exchanged, but I can not tell, I do not remember such unimportant detail now.
We floated on the dance floor, sat, and watched others in their mutual solitudes, quipped with friends equally inebriated with the spirits of life. Yes, this was unforgettable, and life was to go on like this, forever. Was there any reason why it should not? Was not the whole world ours, and were we not its deliverers? Did we not own the secrets of love, did not the commingling fragrance of her exquisite perfume and my boutonniere announce our entrance, our answer?
The strains of the music ended, but they could not really have, our melody and harmony knew no end. We must have followed the crowds similarly dazed by the majesty of the occasion.
What followed? Did we drive around, did we talk, did we meet others? Hazy memories remind me of some talk, with friends, serious and happy. “Where are you going?” and “What are you going to do?” and “I am going to Europe this summer,” and “Jobs are difficult to come by,” and “We’ll be married next month, and all of you guys will have to come.”
What did we say? Did we have plans, prospects? Who needed any, it seemed terribly petty. We had one another. Did we hold hands, did we kiss? I suppose we did, with the most honest intents and promises. But there was nothing awkward about it; was not this ours to behold?
An end must have come to this dream, this immersion in the attractive forces of life. It was difficult to let her go home, and yet so easy. We kissed a last time that evening, a last embrace; it could not stop just then, it had to go on.
She went in, and I drifted off in my spaceship.
A Butterfly Called Day
by Louise Weibert Sutton
The sun has risen in the sky
Like some great golden butterfly
Which at the noon rests gleaming wings
Above a flowered world that sings;
And when the day has gone to rest,
It wings its way into the west,
Toward templed gardens old as man,
– The far-off beauties of Japan!
by Louise Weibert Sutton
Like sun-touched silk, the April day
Shimmers with green and amber,
While breeze-stirred vines their tendrils sway
Up every arch they clamber.
Sky-mounting birds on golden wings
Sweep to the morning calling;
Each, with his own nest-building, brings
Music – through petals falling.
Over pint peach-boughs, beauty-graced,
Blue bits of sky, now showing,
Smile above purple violets, laced
Out in the green grass blowing.
Jade filigree of Spring-crochet,
Softly the great trees veiling,
Shade earthly hills, perfumed today
Where scented winds are trailing.
How can That Strand Immortal bear
One sweeter grove, (or gay hill)
Which lends its prospect half so fair
As this enchanted April?
If we, at last, must leave behind
All these, for joys supernal,
Grant us, Dear Lord, Love’s paths to find
Into more Spring – eternal!
I’d Rather Be Wrong
by Elizabeth Butt
One play on Broadway during a recent season was entitled “Stop the world, I want to get on.” There are any number of ways in which I’m out of step with the universe, but the most frequently noted one is headlines.
It isn’t that I don’t understand headlines. As a former newspaper editor [So it was a high school weekly; the fact remains.] I have written headlines, all kinds from streamers to sub-heads. The problems arising from lengthy names, space limitations, need for clarity, etc., are reasonably familiar to me. Yet, when reading a newspaper headline, if it is possible to misinterpret it, I do. Since few English words have one, single, exclusive meaning, it is sometimes surprising how different the subject of the article is from what I expect. Or hope.
For example, my eye wanders over a page of the morning paper as I sip coffee, talk to my husband, leap up for warm toast, glance out of the window to admire the blooms next door. This is all possible? Yes, for I wear glasses, so have four eyes.
Oh, let us concentrate. Here is a story that seems to be about the ear-plugs available at the United Nations that enable one to listen to simultaneous speed translations. Headline reads “U.N. PLUGS DISARMING.” Disarming? Convenient, I’d say, or useful. I suppose they do disarm when a foreign delegate seems to be shouting ferocious criticisms, while the translator smooths out the gutturals, sibilances and sneezes to relay a happier meaning. Turns out the old boy is praising motherhood, and free milk for school lunches in his obscure country, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. As these thoughts jiggle through my mind, I read the story, which explains the U.N. is in favor of doing away with arms – the kind used in warfare.
Again “RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL PASSED BY SENATE.” I knew some folk claim railroads are an out-moded form of transportation, but must they be retired? By the Senate?
“RIGHT-TO-WORK LAW ON BOOKS IN WYOMING.” Great place for writers, evidently, if that state feels it necessary to pass a law that there exists the right to work on books. Did someone question it after reading some of the modern output?
“RADIO STATION SUES AUDIENCE RATING FIRM.” The audience must have rated the firm low. How can a station sue an audience? The legal problems would be beyond imagination.
“FAIR GROUP NEEDS $60,000.” Beauty comes high?
“EDUCATION SYSTEM NEED TAX CHANGE.” We don’t get enough change when paying taxes to do the education system much good.
“SWAN ENTERS INNOCENT PLEA IN JP COURT.” Was it a black swan, or a white, I wonder. Shucks, just a man with that name.
Second thoughts, coming with the second cup of coffee, usually tend toward proper understanding. But my own little world before my little mind was awakened is often more fascinating that reality. And a lot more cheerful. Should I be content with it? Any number can play this game. Headlines, anyone?
by Lisa Stillman Mackey
Proud of my young eyes,
I used to fling their sight across the dark
And count the smallest stars
In the Pleiades.
Now, even the moon is blurred
And the dense Pleiades
Merge and dance and dazzle
As if in mockery.
These dulled eyes saw
Clear in a blaze of midnight
Who Would Ever Guess?
By Veda Burnaugh Collins
I think I liked my life the best when larger than a mouse
Yet smaller than I am today I shared my parents’ house
I like it best because I roamed not always to the will
Of those in charge, but to my joy and joy I’m knowing still.
It’s quite alright to age and be a Grandma, yet I know
I liked life best those days I spent in mischief long ago.
I must have been a sorry trial to older folk but they
Endured me, not expecting much but trouble night and day.
I’m glad my past is not as prim, as dull as toast and tea
For when I savor it it is all honey, believe me.
by Louise Weibert Sutton
Knee-deep in Summer I walked the broad meadows;
Life was all sunshine,
Earth was all green;
Dreamily in its warmth stood the pond-willow,
Shading the dragon-flies’ silky blue sheen!
And, ankle-deep, through the gay hues of Autumn,
I walked while leaves fell
In golden delight;
Earth was all woodsmoke… crickets and pumpkins,
Hoosier-moons silvering cornshocks by night.
Then down the snow-ermined roadsides I wandered…
Earth snapped of Winter,
Earth was all cold;
Yet from the windows the bright firelight glimmered,
Warmth for a season grown gracefully old.
When Spring returned to the lands lost in lilacs,
Lanes lined with daffodils,
Row upon row,
May called me forth to the fragrance of apple-boughs,
Lifting their burdens of scented pink snow.
Earth lured my footsteps throughout her dear seasons,
Life was all wonder,
I was all youth;
Morning and evening each brought some new beauty,
Struck me with wonder, and taught me their truth.
Now, though the years slow my feet on such journeys,
Recalls every hill,
Knee-deep in Summer, or through golden woodlands,
Where spirit revels in loveliness, still!
Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes
by S. Louise Rayle
Long ago, according to Indian legend, a great forest fire in Wisconsin forced all of the animals to seek safety in Lake Michigan. Among the animals were a mother bear and her two cubs who attempted to swim across the big lake to the Michigan shore. They were nearly exhausted when they sighted the high bluffs ahead, and it was all the old bear could do to muster strength to drag herself up onto the sandy shore, her cubs following her. But the little cubs never reached land. The Great Spirit caused two small green islands, North and South Manitou, to spring up to mark the spots where the cubs perished. The mother bear still lies there on the shore waiting for her cubs, and the high sandy bluffs, overlooking Lake Michigan to the west, Glen Lakes to the east, and high wooded hills to the south, are known as The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.
This area, long maintained as a state park and enjoyed by thousands of both area and non-area residents yearly, is included in the area the U.S. Dept. of Interior would secure to set aside as a National Seashore Recreation Area. Since this area includes a number of inland lakes along with highly developed resort properties and businesses – over 1600 in all – and since there are two other State parks already there, also to be included, the area residents are quite indignant. The proposed park would, unless provisions to protect them are provided, take away a large portion of their tax base, as well as taking away their most important attraction, the quiet peaceful atmosphere, the roads winding through the wooded hills and valleys, and the clear star-studded sky, undimmed by neon lights.
This is just explanatory to the following:
The Sleeping Bear Awakes
For centuries the Old Bear slept
On the shore, unmolested,
People romping on her rearing back
Without fear, anxiety,
Enjoying unrestricted freedom –
Marveling at God’s works.
Now she awakes!
She roars her disapproval
At human cruelness:
Sacrificing decades of work;
Trampling people’s lives;
Tearing at their souls.
And for what?
For the feeble excuse of preserving an area –
By our State.
An area already preserved.
by Nona D. Spath
Paul Allen is my half-brother. My widowed mother married Paul’s father when I was three and when I was four Paul was born. My stepfather was willing to adopt me, but my mother wanted me to bear my father’s name. Paul and I grew to manhood with different surnames, although we were as close as brothers could be.
Being older, it was my duty to care for Paul and he repaid my willingness with a happy acceptance. Paul was by nature a joyous person, who expected the world to smile and offer gifts. While in Grade School Paul’s bicycle was stolen and I gave him mine and was repaid by his gleeful acceptance. This was the pattern through adolescence.
We were together until I entered college at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Paul was studying at Northwestern University, near our home in Chicago. But I was able to spend many weekends at home and Paul and I kept our close relationship, although he wasn’t much good at letter-writing.
I met Helen Dupre during my last year at Ann Arbor. She was a serious girl, with dark brooding eyes beneath heavy brown. She was almost oriental in appearance and her charming personality attracted every one. Helen and I became friends and attended concerts and lectures together. I felt Helen loved me, but I did not want to bind myself to any one then. After graduation I secured a position in Ohio, but wrote often to Helen.
When I had been in Ohio a few months Paul wrote about a college girl in whom he was interested, whose home was near Chicago. He was certain this was real love and wanted me to meet Debby. In another letter he took two pages to tell of her charm and said he felt sure she loved him.
Paul’s letters stirred something within me and I began to think more about Helen. I felt I loved her and resolved to see her and declare my devotion. I decided to make a trip to Chicago, see Paul and then go to Ann Arbor and visit Helen. I wired Paul to expect me on a certain day.
Paul met me at the airport and said we would meet Debby at a hotel in downtown Chicago. Paul talked continually of her charm and acted like a man deeply in love. At the hotel Paul explained we were to meet Debby in the lounge on the second floor. As we neared the lounge Paul asked me to wait while he ran down a short flight of stairs to get cigarettes. As I waited, a young woman came towards the lounge and I recognized Helen. I grasped her arm and said with excitement,
“What are you doing here?”
At that exact moment Paul came running up the steps and he grasped the girl’s other arm, saying,
“Oh, Debby, how are you?”
I thought he was going to kiss her, but we all stood with bewilderment on our faces. Finally the girl gasped,
“Do you two know each other?”
“Know each other,” Paul exploded, “We’re brothers.”
“But his name is Weyland,” answered the girl.
“We are half-brothers,” Paul said.
Finally I recovered my breath and asked,
“Why does he call you Debby?”
“I am Helen Deborah and Paul likes to call me Debby,” was the reply.
Suddenly a great anger shook me. I said, stiffly,
“I’ll leave you two alone.”
I rushed to the street, hailed a taxi, drove to the airport and caught a plane for Ohio.
Was I in love with Helen? Just now I cannot visualize her as my sister-in-law and I have accepted a position in the far West. Paul’s happiness is superlative, but I do not want to see the joyous acceptance.
by Austin West
By love I am captivated,
By a shining silver swallow;
My heart is brimming,
My head goes swimming;
But who, I ask, can follow
This shining silver swallow!
by Lisa Stillman Mackey
A day of quickened air,
Crisp, brilliant with sun,
Unfolding infinities of blue.
Breath lifts the lungs
And comes forth chill and clean.
After the long fogs
That have held me groping with blind hands
On trails half-guessed,
I am stunned with light.
The mountain is so near!
I stretch out by hand – and see,
My touch is there!
by Florence G. Mann
Fame is a vagrant blast of wind
That perversely lifts whome’er it will
To giddy unsuspected heights
For waiting spotlight’s heady thrill.
Though Fame is fickle, her favor brief,
The few exalted moments live
To lend a glow to other days
And joy in cherished memories give.
And Left Part of Himself
by Ralph Babcock
A month has passed since that world-shaking weekend of activity and inactivity following murder of a President of the United States.
Mesmerizing TV coverage of the consequent amazing outpouring of grief and sympathy may soon be forgotten. It was truly a tremendous emotional binge – a magnificent panoply of shocked and sorrowing people wading around in the mire of regret over assassination of a young and vigorous leader. All triggered by a quick “young punk with a $12 mail order gun” – and a warped mind.
How sad to contemplate: the ease of training a boy to kill; the difficulty of training a mind to think.
We heard many tragic eulogies of JFK “reminding men of what they might be.”
One of the finest was the special BBC program “This is the Week That Was” denying any suggestion that “we can put off our responsibilities on one elected scapegoat.”
How applicable to so many fields – not just world leadership, national policies; but also neighborhood life – and even our hobby and club activities.
“A man passed our way… and left part of himself.”
Have I – have you… today?
Food For Thought
by R. A. Harry
Strength comes by wrestling;
Knowledge by observing;
Wisdom by thinking;
Character by struggling;
Peace of mind by faith.
This, then , becomes #37 of a series started in 1935 – after a memorable bus trip from Pittsburgh to Oakland, California and back – by editor Ralph Babcock, Pottersville, New Jersey 07979.