Four pages would never suffice to list or credit the many papers received during our siestas on the sidelines. Enjoyable ones were set aside with intent to review or acknowledge: but the piles just grew. To lower them we offer this sheaf of comment:
ZEROING on NAPA’s claim: “Free-est press in the world” Walker Lane suspects NAPA basically is a sop for vanity. “We join to expose our amateur publications to the scrutiny of others, for benefit of our vanity. We have a yearning, and NAPA offers satisfaction.”
While NAPA members and printers are not averse to egoboo – the soft soap of recognition, comment, acknowledgments – the real satisfaction of AJ writing, printing & publishing comes from accomplishment itself, the fun of creating. We offer and share our efforts in expectation of similar offerings by other members.
“Whenever words are used, ideas creep in,” Lane adds. “People don’t [all] hold the same ideas. Conflict of ideas may produce thoughtful consideration, or logical processes. Having fought and won (or lost) a mental struggle, all involved may become richer. Illogic cannot be overcome by shrinking from conflict. I [shall] not edit distasteful elements from my writing; anyone may respond, or let them die undisturbed.”
Lane suspects “this strange snobbery of the fine printers” may cause many to ignore mere mimeographed material.
Knowledge of basic (tedious) typesetting and handpress operation often causes the plodding leaden silver mechanics to sniff in high disdain over runaway reproduction such as issue from clattering typewriter with obscene spacing and uncouth letters.
But thorough knowledge, uncompromising execution…?
We have no really fine printers, alas. A few of us strive harder than most; some take more pains than average.
Comparing our “craftsmen” to fine printing is like bracketing pizza or Hero sandwich-builders with Escoffier chefs.
Walker Lane wonders – from some printed statements – whether we propose to concern ourselves only with NAPA and its members? “Should no journal ever slip into incidentals?”
“NAPA is not all my life. There are bucolic scenes and nightmares and reflections and joyous celebrations, and all sorts of confrontations with friends and enemies. Is all that eligible?”
“Why?” Asks a Forlorn March Lion Named Daphne
REPLYING to others who expend all their energy in trying to out stare their boob-tube, pounding on bongo drums, pursuing and beating an elusive golf ball, or suavely shuffling cards or dice: Edna Hyde McDonald in a 1961 review observed, “The backbone of our hobby is the printing of amateur journals. For Fun!”
“The printers buy their accoutrements, and in basements, garages, sheds, attics – even kitchens, assemble type letter by letter, night after night, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and in between, filling clean white paper with their thoughts, and such contributions as they are fortunate enough to get from the rest of us.
“This, they stoutly maintain, is fun.
“Producing four to forty-eight pages, sometimes more, he designs his publication; covers, too; the decorations, often illustrations; reads proof; makes extra runs to add color; folds & gathers; binds, wraps & mails.”
Moit muses, “As I fumble over the typecase laboriously setting word after word, line after line, I wonder how many people find this more pleasurable than all the other things in a world offering such a wide diversity of interests.”
Fred Thomas viewed amateur printing as a diversion for occasional after-work hours. “What writer requires seven evenings a week to evolve an essay or a solid month of concentrated gehenna to perfect a sonnet?”
Outstanding among the finest papers of the last decade was Fred Thomas’ Far Afield. That he had by 1960 printed 426 pages of this remarkable annual (each issue 24 pages or more) is achievement worthy of tribute; but the consistent fine quality of contents eclipsed mere facts.
Sage editor Thomas discussed criticism (in issue 15) with some points worth quoting: “Publication is of the essence of A.J. Implicit in publication is an invitation to weigh and judge.” “In matter of praise, the experienced amateur is seldom lavish, often neglectful.” “It is for fun, not for improvement, that hobbies exist.”
Another AJ noted the pleasure and satisfaction in status change from being a cog in a machine to directing and being the whole machine and in doing a job well.
OFTEN comes the question, “What do you see – what is there – in AJ; this Amateur Journalism you dabble at?” Fair enough, skeptic. Our papers often are thin, and the participants sometimes seem “small.” But then appears a Campane, with a talented Whitbread sketching and detailing shadowy background to a face we’ve often seen but not really known: L. V. Heljeson. Tom’s researching of friend Verle’s childhood home (in “Thin Line of Blue Hills”) is a fascinating profile. Such writing repays all effort to handset, print and publish a 12-page Campane. Such papers are our reward for hobby play. Such friends repay all costs of genuine participation.
Savor Tom’s reaction: “I felt eerie. In two hours I had traversed 53 years of a friend’s life.” See how our Ph.D. works words: “When convinced he is right: his denominational roots reach rock.”
Official Editor Guy Miller said it: “Every editor must be his own censor… fathoming the tastes of those to whom his remarks are addressed.”
GLORY BE! The Fossil masthead’s new owl suggests that new Fossil editor Dow has discovered a new breed – or drastically dry-cleaned the old fellow. Only a decade ago such improvement would have beruffled the old fogeys for two or three dinners. Editor Dow also jolted the old roost with such sweeping changes that future editors may well study his 181st and 182nd Fossil issues as splendid examples of what an official publication can and should be: attractive, interesting, imaginative, concise, picturesque – and a smart get-up-and-go salesman for this hobby of ours: Amateur Journalism.
Articles such as Segal’s realistic questioning of the reasons for existence of The Fossils (and Cole’s letter of reply); Haywood’s notes on his cooperative venture, Small World, now amazingly in its 11th annual edition; Oliner’s appraisal of the truckload of junk in the EHS-Fossil Library which Franklin Institute no longer cares to dust; Victor Moitoret’s friendly recap of Life Member Charlie Russell’s other activities during decades he was merely another name on NAPA rosters; the checklist and story behind Bonnell’s longtime Christmas bookmaking projects; and Dow’s appropriate review and reproduction of some outstanding Christmas cards from our amateur printers – all make for magnificent issues surpassing even Wesson’s expansive Japanese productions.
Without intent of over-ladling the lard, Dow’s Fossil should be kept to explain AJ to friends and acquaintances. Generous reproduction therein of amateur printer’s pages convey the spirit and format more eloquently than turgid columns listing papers issued, explanations, or even the most observant Critic’s reviews. Such reproduction of a pleasing cover or pages from an outstanding paper is a lasting compliment – an appropriate kudo, for unusual accomplishment by AJ printers. (National Amateur take note.)
Progress: Easy Come, Easy Go
IN THIS ERA when an editor blithely drops $60 on one National Amateur cover, reporting $1200 total tab for his 112 page volume, it is difficult to recall the December 1949 crisis when a predecessor (facing an inadequate scant $40 treasury balance) handset seven pages in 8-point type and ran of 300 copies, page by page, on a hand-inked, hand-cranked proofpress…. Then turned to Helm Spink, of course, to add the three pages of handset membership list. (Total: 10 pages. What about those other two blank pages? Today that eloquent dig at the missing Secretary-Treasurer’s report is perhaps too subtle.)
Add comment, before packing off Notman’s Vol. 87 NA in the files:
Two most successful features of Notman’s volume we believe were his own fine capsulization of the constitution-defeating Des Moines gathering, and Vic’s substantial tribute to Harold Segal & Campane.
Creatively, most covers to our official organ are quite abominable – in design and/or execution. Notman’s quartet are no exception. They remind one of some kid whittling holes in the linoleum floor planking – of faces on the bar room floor: random outlining of indifferent snapshots blown up too much, with archaic use of Old English type for title, and simulated woodgrain in two colors which adds no charm. The only commendable point is his novel use of the new NAPA seal.
(Little wonder that the similarly impoverished creative ability of today’s average printers has sent discriminating buyers to Art Directors.)
With all his proclivity for mugging AJ’s, the wonder is that Notman didn’t illustrate his Textbook of AJ chapters, or show a page of mastheads or a clutch of varied & typical amateur papers to illustrate the Historian’s or one of the Recorder’s reports. Some of our bundle stuffers are interesting. As the old oriental said, “One see is worth 10,000 tells.”
Outstanding among papers of the last decade. One of the most colorful, most refreshing covers to grace the official organ in decades was Fr. Anderson’s scintillating silk-screened Xmas tree design for Stan Oliner’s outstanding December 1960 National Amateur.
IRWIN’s Printing Laureate findings were not objectionable. Frankly, much of WM was experimental and a bit too hasty. Most amateur papers would be improved with preliminary proofing and casual reconsideration – but who has time to double-print in a hobby that is not done for big stakes but (in all too scanty spare time) merely for personal pleasure.
The conclusion of Lindberg’s masterful Editorial Laureate report I would challenge – especially Roy’s discard of Campane as purely a trade journal, and in his general approach.
One might debate whether editorials as such count much (or should the AJ-essay cover that?); or whether everything an editor does must be considered: Can he select and enter just his two most successful issues (as our story-writers and poets may), or must we contemplate ALL his 3 or 6 or 12 issues – plus his editorship of the National Amateur, Fossil, and/or pink-toed Convention Capers as well?
Lindberg’s edict would seem to indicate that one should publish only one plus ultra top-dog work by Cole, Whitbread, Payne – and possibly Heljeson (in a pinch); and that slobs like Willametta Newsette Keffer, Alf, and Trainer – who generously print material as a service to AJ and newcomers and old wrecks (however indifferent such credentials or activity qualifications) jeopardize any hope of their laureate consideration by so doing. Nothing but our strongest moments (our most refined and revised 6th proofings) should be released – and naturally, not more than two attempts in a year. It calls for 2 issues. So if Far Afield Thomas would only get out a second issue each year, no one would have to ponder; he’d get the laureate hands down.
Add Vanishing Americana: The Chic Sale or working outhouse – status symbol of the pre-Zoning Ordinance settler which Messrs. Crane, Kohler, American Standard and the plumbers union have effectively discontinued.
Such economy models of the old faithful household “necessary” (which any dumbhead could knock together with half a day’s work) contrast sharply with our modern water-devouring colored ceramic fixtures, tile floors, and fluorescent lighting.
Midsummer Weekend Slavery
LAST SATURDAY I had to build The Appian Way – Out. (Like out to the trash burner.) SHE wanted that “unsightly” pile of white gravel in the rear of our driveway (remainder of a ruddy 5-ton half truckload of marble chips bought for the garden path) removed. So I must extend the garden path out back to the trash burner… passing thru field grass & weed growth undisturbed for 16 years. Merely to dump gravel there was futile: weeds would sprout up thru as tho fertilized. So dig I must: 4 – 5 wheelbarrow loads of weeds, clumps, & crabgrass roots. Pick & grub out innumerable rocks. Remove 2 loads of topsoil. Lay down a sheath of old aluminum press plates to discourage weed growth. Add 5 loads of old road scrapings to level off. Another layer of press plates. Then the 6 barrowloads of white gravel.
“Now,” I sez, sweat-drenched & weary, “even you can traipse out to the burner without fear of denizens of the weeds.” “Me? Never!” she gasps. “I only thought it would be easier for you in winter, and we needed to get rid of that unsightly pile in the drive.”
(At this point censors deleted certain terse Anglo-Saxonisms commonly found in all modern pocketbooks but deemed unsuitable for refined media such as this.)
Easier I could have dug a hole and buried the stuff than built such a noble Roman Road to Nowhere: The Appian Way Out.
Countersign, pencil-printed by Jeff Jennings on a sheet of graph paper and reproduced by electornic scanner on a mimeo stencil, is an experiment worthy of further pursuit, more careful planning. Three wider columns probably would have been easier to prepare (and more readable) than the four 1½” therein attempted. Carefully handwritten manuscripts from authors with individualistic handwriting, like Bill Haywood or Willametta Keffer (or the memorable Edkins or Lovecraft) could provide a pleasant and novel medium.
Several oldtimers trace their AJ beginnings to boyhood written-by-pen single copy affairs.
Helm Spink Dismisses The Ideal
THERE IS no ideal amateur paper, and never will be. You couldn’t put everything that is desirable in one paper, any more than you could put all the qualities of your many friends into one person. My best friends in amateur journalism are Vondy, Haggerty, Lovecraft, and (I hope) you. Can you see a composite person possessing the qualities of these four, with a little of Moit and Suhre and A. M. Adams and William R. Murphy thrown in?
Amateur journalists aren’t divisible into printers, prose writers, politicians, and poets. We’re human beings, patch-work style, with a little of this and a bit of that in our make-up. Some amateurs who never owned a press are more critical of the typography than those of us who earn our bread and butter in the printing plants. And we who are printers aren’t so absorbed in the printing that we can’t enjoy a paper that’s cruelly compressed between type and tympan.
It comes back to the question of personality. You can’t define an ideal person. There ain’t no such animal. Some people are delightful companions, some are dull. Why? Are all the delightful ones alike? Of course not. The only thing that’s important about an amateur paper is that it be interesting. God save us from the dullards.
APPEARANCE of each Yodler by Olive Read always affords pleasant reading. Assuredly the practice and achievement itself brings enjoyment to editor-publisher Olive Read. One of the few repetitive bright notes of this decade, Yodler adds capacity & substance to our world of flap-doodle and flimsies, as have such different vehicles as Tryout, Sea Gull, Alf’s Cat, and Cornerstone in other, almost forgotten years.
Altho many AJ papers are not of day-journal or diary type, some few do help capture moments or moods to which one can return with pleasure at later date. So, convention papers and APC News. (Various Scarlet Cockerels recall the fun of frequent evenings in the Cole cellar printery in Massachusetts, of working with Spink at the Brodie shop in Cleveland, of Sunday dashes from Fort Lewis to Seattle to run off another issue during 1942, of handsetting type in a Texas officers barracks tent 1943, in a Washington D.C. apartment 1940, after college class hours 1936.)
The Yodler (Summer ‘65) helped speed a morning session aboard the swaying train collecting commuters bound for their respective saltmines in the Big City. How nice to share the memories of Olive Read and Veda Collins – bringing pleasant fresh thoughts along this ever-changing but familiar suburban landscape. Cleo Crowl’s Costa Rican recollections – a lengthy manuscript which would seem endless to a hand-typesetter – is more interesting than some professional travel pages of Holiday or National Geographic.
The Keffer-printed Midwinter ‘65 extra of Yodler brings more of Helen Middleton’s vivid verse; and Veda Collins unusual essay on Lin Yutang: The Jade Scholar – stimulants the like of which we would enjoy many more. One thought therein: “Young men are totally unwise; raw in their knowledge” stopped me flat. A most forthright opinion, pungently presented.
For such minor blessings we purr contentedly.
by Florence G. Mann
Once in an unknown hour in ageless time,
Its choice not mine, Life came to stay with me
A little while, it did not say how long
Or whether it might warn ere it should flee.
Elusive as the wind, which none can grasp
Or even see, perverse or kind at will,
Its baffling mystery charms but e’er defies
Attempts to find the key, with human skill.
May Life its secret firmly keep, lest zest
For be-ing fade. Its challenge, gladly met,
Spurs effort, daring, struggle, will to win –
Concern o’er Life’s uncertain stay I thus forget.
Our NAPA Ex-Presidents: Charles A. A. Parker
CHARLES A. A. PARKER’s election in 1942 was a surprise. Accepting nomination from Springfield (Ohio) AJ’s without any expectation of winning, Parker nosed out Official Editor Holman 50-42 to become, at age 60, one of the NAPA’s most elderly Presidents.
A life-long Bostonian born 1882, CAAP had joined the NAPA in 1900 thru Warren J. Brodie. From 1900-11 he published his Literary Gem monthly, some years in four-page issues containing little or nothing from his own pen, some years in 8-12 page 4½x7 issues (total, about 120 issues). Nelson Morton’s editorials and contributions brought the Gem Editorial Laureate in 1904, and Honorable Mention 1905.
In 1905 Parker was elected First Vice President, in 1906 Executive Judge. Also active in the Hub Club, and President of the Interstate Association 1908, he was appointed by Mrs. Miniter NAPA Official Editor after she removed Houtain for a month-late issue in 1909. This gave CAAP a chance to practice his Parker Principles: to print only what the association itself could afford (5 issues of 8 pages each) in contrast to the then yearly competition to produce the biggest volume.
Life Member since 1910, Parker resumed activity temporarily in 1914 when he co-edited The National Post with W. Paul Cook, and edited several issues of Unter den Linden, and again in 1921 with L’Alouette, which he later ran for 13 years as a semi-pro monthly of verse. He was thrice editor of The Hub Club Quill. After another 15 year lapse, CAAP “rediscovered The Fountain of Youth” at a New England group meeting in Boston 1935 and printed three issues of Bavardage. With the congenial friendship of Will Bates Grant nearby in 1940-41, Bavardage grew from 10 pages printed on 5¼x3½ scrap to five more issues totaling 80 pages. Proving his own observation, “There’s no cure for the AJitch; the harder yer scratch it, the worse it gits” 1941-42 saw four more 5×7 issues (each 24 to 32 pages) full of Parker’s garrulous written-in-stick whimsy, and contributions from Mike White; this won the Editorial Laureate.
One hundred pages of Bavardage appeared after his election. Interim, a four page 5×7 monthly discussing amateur affairs and problems, also appeared (10 issues thru March) until heart trouble ended Parker’s activity – except for occasional contributions under his pseudonym of Sophronisba. Last three of the 19 Bavardage issues appeared 1943-44.
Parker attended 10 conventions. Once a hotel manager, he also did newspaper and free-lance writing, and for several years printed “Threads in Tapestry,” an annual anthology of verse. He published “From Under a Bushel,” a volume of poems by Edna Hyde 1924, and in 1912 a 50 page volume of Arthur Goodenough’s poems.
CAAP comment on this sketch: “To be quite frank, I’d much prefer only the first paracgraph…. My first amateur paper, The Boy’s Press, I published in the early 80’s…. The nicest compliment was in tieing me in with Brodie and Will Bates Grant.”
Parker died in 1965, ending a life membership of 55 years.
Thomas B. Whitbread
STAMP COLLECTING brought NAPA one of its youngest presidents. Thomas Bacon Whitbread joined as a result of his father’s philatelic business contact with Fossil Harry Lindquist. Tom in 1943 was hectographing The Watermark for sale to classmates, following a series of typewritten one-copy papers begun 1937.
In isolated life near a small western Massachusetts village, receipt of papers such as Crane’s Masaka and Cole’s Olympian opened a new world. Altho Whitbread senior had bought a handpress outfit, the first (April ‘44) Berkshire Breeze of Tom’s was printed by Alf Babcock. The 1944 Boston convention attracted 12-year-old Tom as special guest of the Coles.
President Turnepseed immediately appointed him Teen-Age Coordinator, which led Tom to fill several columns in Literary Newsette. He printed his first paper with type donated by Cole (BB 3, October) and left for a Maryland prep school. During vacations he printed more slight 4-page issues. BB 12 (April ‘48) sprouted to 20 pages, and had reached its 15th issue by 1949.
At Brooklyn 1949 when his idol, Cole, seemed like leader “of a stuffy, stagnant inner-circle, repressive towards youth,” Whitbread and fellow teenagers Lindberg and Hamilton (plus Wesson) mimeographed four remarkable 6-column 15”x21” St. George Daily Records wherein parliamentary and verbal defeats were salved by more permanent published cockleburrs.
At the 1950 Cleveland convention, Tom and his shadow, Roy Lindberg, mimeo’d the Daily Record from the back of his car in a hotel parking lot – rival or supplement to the Daily Worker the “oldsters” were printing daily on Spink’s press.
Such fertile imagination and youthful drive subsequently led the antic element to two phony issues of the National Amateur, and a multi-titled 20-page history of Petticoat Politicalism. His multi-nominations for offices gave Commander Moitoret conniption fits in 1952, and scuttled the Nominating Committee.
Vice President Whitbread, upon completion of ex-prexy Ralph Babcock’s term as Editor, bounded into the presidency with aid of The Team, 41-18 over Alf Babcock in 1950.
Altho busy with college at Amherst, he devoted vacations to visiting AJ members and centers, and at times jousted vigorously with “the mutual admiration penpals who basked in the convention social limelight and gloried in politicking or achieving office for themselves or friends.”
Blessed with a superb supporting staff of officers, Whitbread presided as NAPA completed its 75th year at Philadelphia’s Diamond Jubilee Convention 1951.
Lacking time for printing during college, Whitbread’s own papers (Locus – 13 issues, and Berkshire Breeze – 18) have not fulfilled the potential expected of a college instructor, Amherst graduate, and Harvard Ph.D. He contributed scholarly official criticism as well as serving as Critics Chairman 1952 and 1962. The last three of his Breeze gave promise, but his meatiest efforts were AJ prose contributions and a searching biography of Heljeson in Campane, and collaboration with Heljeson on a notable profile of Vondy in Gator Growl.
Author of commendable sonnets and verse (some later sold to Harper’s and New Yorker), this smiling, Latin-quoting poetry laureate (1949) and master of innuendo and satire was a welcome visitor at APC meetings during his frequent roving vacation trips down the Atlantic coast as far as Georgia.
Tom was Arrangements Chairman at his 9th NAPA convention, Boston ‘59; then moved to Austin as assistant professor of English at University of Texas. In 1964 on the event of publication by Harper & Row of his book of poems, “Four Infinitives,” Dr. Whitbread was routinely re-elected NAPA President. One reason given for this second term was “to add titular prestige to NAPA” during its wrangle with the Internal Revenue Service over tax liability resulting from the Rusty Trust annuity. His titular performance was not overwhelming.
A MOST UNUSUAL publication was artist Jack Coolidge’s 1965 Shots at Twelve Moons, illustrated calendar or “Almanack” combining linoleum cuts and verses done in Jack’s handpenned italic script. If only the issue had been printed in decorator color rather than funeral black!
Never in over 40 years has NAPA seen as artfully handwritten or embellished a clutch of verses, of which we liked best those for December and September:
The ragged edge of morning mist
Floats down the blue-ridged valley –
Of a shore-smashed breaker
Sliding back to sea;
Out of the white wheel of sun
Rolls into a morning-glory sky.
Cocks crow; roofs, ponds,
And breaths from nostrils stream;
A dew-drop catches all the world
In the dazzled lens of its eye.
Locus 13 (May) reported a fabulous clutch of Judges for 1965 NAPA Laureate awards. How sad that the potential grist to be culled by them hardly merits such attention. Our Ajay world is a small one, attracting too few of the talented scribblers through the American-English stronghold of free speech.
Abolish Life Membership
PERHAPS MOST CONSTRUCTIVE of the Des Moines amendments adopted at Philly is the proviso that conventions work over and approve new amendments – rather than each year wasting valuable official organ space and money on dozens of “bright ideas” that only a trio of newcomers or redtape-lovers enthuse over temporarily.
A most glaring omission from those 14 amendments is failure to eliminate new life memberships or boost the cost to at least $100.
Recognition of extra service to NAPA for the added work and effort entailed in a full year term as president is reason enough to grant some life membership – even to 20-year olds. But to clutter our mailing lists forever with any deadhead who can now spare $50 (ten year’s dues) is both absurd and a grand financial blunder.
The lean years (when NAPA scarcely could afford 8-page National Amateurs) are past. Dried-up Life Members basking under their decaying halos of once-upon-a-time authorship or editorship (two decades or so agone) are a waste. We need a vital, lively membership of active contributors and publishers – active now.
Far better to eliminate Life Memberships (except to those who’ve served NAPA a full year as president) and stipulate that mailing bundles be sent only to members active during the year.
NAPA can no longer afford bargain lifetime sideliners who do not participate.
by Helm Spink (From his 1961 Constitutionalist)
AT THE OPENING SESSION of the 1877 convention, before the National had a constitution, the president ruled that an amateur was “anyone who contributed to an amateur paper.” That ruling by John Winslow Snyder, to determine who was eligible to vote, is now being challenged. Some have proposed that we repeal the activity requirement and allow anyone to vote whose dues are paid. Obviously some thought has been given to the problem. The proposed solution looks like an easy way out. But this is like choosing slavery as the easy answer to our economic problems. It’s easy enough – and it’s the sure road to destruction of the National.
The proponents (or most of them) have neglected to ask themselves so vital questions: What is the National? What has been its history? Why is it still alive after 85 years?
NAPA is an association of amateur writers, editors, publishers, and printers. It is not an association of readers. The heart of our hobby is publishing – not printing, not writing – though of course we know that writing, printing, and publishing go together. The erroneous idea is still cherished that we were all boy printers at the start. Our first president was 21 when elected. He and his principal rival for the honor were not printers; they were writers. But we have no place in our association for readers only, unless they have earned the leisure of retirement by past performance in our hobby. Some have, and they are amateurs beyond question. Members who have contributed nothing but their dues are on probation. At the moment they are merely spectators. We send them our papers to let them see that the water is fine, to induce them to jump in and join the fun.
Some years ago it was proposed that these spectators pay higher dues, presumably on the theory that they were having all the fun while doing none of the work. Fun? You mean to tell me it’s more fun to be a spectator than to play on the team? Nonsense.
The spectators are prospective amateurs, in no way qualified to help run the association. To put them in control I believe would be disastrous, simply because the spectators are unfamiliar with the long and turbulent history of the National.
The first constitution published in the National Amateur (the 1878 constitution as amended in 1880) was a good one, similar in many of its provisions to the one we have now. But we learned by experience. In 1894 we conferred life membership on ex-presidents, and we have continued that practice almost without interruption, though it has often been questioned.
There is merit in this idea. Perhaps we have too many drones among our life members. But it occurs to me that the life members, including some inactive ones, have pulled us through every crisis, paying far more than their share of the bills.
The activity requirement for officers is almost as old as the association. Countless presidents have whipped their subordinates with this leash. But it didn’t work: it was never practical. Since 1943 the constitution has said: “Failure to fulfill this requirement may constitute reason for removal at the discretion of the president.” What wise words are “may” and “discretion.” To discard them surely would be a mistake.
The National has weathered many storms in its 85 years. It was nearly destroyed at several different times for several different reasons – in 1893 by principle, in 1896 by ambition, in 1902 and 1921 by politics, in 1928 by apathy. Each time it was saved by a few devoted servants who willingly imperiled their lives and fortunes for it because they saw clearly what it stood for.
It still stands – and it stands for intellectual freedom, a special kind of freedom that is no man’s right but every free man’s privilege – to think and to publish his thoughts, be they wise or foolish. Inseparably allied with that privilege is the right and duty of self-government.
Ours is a unique government. Other organizations proclaiming themselves to be democratic are run by dictators, by cliques by committees. Our dictators, our cliques and committees have no power, or such slight power that we may ignore it because it is short-lived. Our president temporarily has some authority, but it is restrained by the judges; the judges can be overruled by the convention; and the convention can be overruled by the subsequent judges. Even the majority is restrained by precedent and principle.
Ours is an almost ideal government for a small group of intelligent persons. But it balances precariously on the brink of disaster, as it always must in a free society. We have, however, one real advantage over other organized groups. There is no profit in amateur journalism. There is sometimes a little glory, but no perceptive person is long deceived by it. There is no profit. No mercenary person is going to stay long with us. What’s in it for him? Nothing.
The amateur stays. He can’t leave. He may of necessity be inactive for a time, but he never leaves. This is his crowd. These are the people who love freedom and willingly, even joyfully, fight to retain it. They are the most generous people in the world – with criticism and with kindness, with their time and their talent. Why? I think it may be that freedom, like love, is infinite. The more of it you give, the more of it you have.
The New York Times carried dozens of classified ads that offer 100 copies offset printed for $4. Some will retype your “job resume” (or whatever) with an electric typewriter on multilith paper plates; others accept camera-ready copy to group with other jobs on large-press combination runs. Paper plates (on which to do your own typing) cost less than 25 cents, and Gevacopy or other inexpensive copying machines can prepare a multilith master plate from your typed or paste-up copy for less than a dollar.
Seemingly, with such semi-do-it-yourself methods – happy solutions for would-be publishers among the space-pinched apartment dwellers – less than $10 should put your 8½x11 paper on the way to the the Mailing Bureau.
Handsitters and Dead Trees in the Zoo
ACTIVE INTEREST in AJ (and time available for the hobby) of many participants inevitably may increase, peak out, and wane. But shouldn’t we underscore and urge upon more members at least token activity – such as is required for voting?
Perhaps the Dunlaps and Al Lees and Lindbergs who spend $50 to $300 to attend conventions, but do nothing else, do contribute something to AJ – by way of adding landscape or bodies in the zoo.
But alas! Stark dead tree trunks seem to be overshadowing the prime object of AJ – Amateur Journalism: writing, editing, printing, publishing – be it trivia like Knerr’s Little Wonder, Rosenberger’s Leaves, APC News, Willametta’s gossipy all-encompassing LN; or noble measures of substance such as Far Afield, Campane, Spectator.
Let us not forget that any Heljeson, O’Rear, or Castleman who served NAPA intensively during a twelve-month term as president is due consideration – even tho some (as Ellis, Kunde, Matheison, and others) find it expedient to forego active participation for a time.
But how can we urge effort (and the expense) of activity upon newcomers when the fossilized impotency and immobility of half our members contradicts the declared intent and function of NAPA?
Far too large a proportion of our membership are sideliners… handsitters. The fruit of official bundles-to-all curses us to the extent that some seem to consider dues payment as bundle-buying. “I’m dropping out; I didn’t get all of my bundles.” So what did he do to deserve a bundle?
Grab a Shovel
July ‘65 NAPA bundle merits attention from publishing point of view: Here were 7 typeset leaflets (plus 4 convention-set APC News, and 3 cards); with 9 done on the ubiquitous typewriter (4 mimeo’d plus 5 offset-printed sheets); and one pencil-printed affair.
Amateur Journalism may at long last have recognized the increasing trend in commercial publishing and printing industries away from handset and linotyped printing in favor of speedier, easier, cold-type composition (typewritten, paste-up alphabets, by photographic methods, or by highly sophisticated and costly electronic computers) via lithographic duplication.
The Salt Lake group under Virginia Baker (“grab a shovel and let’s get to work”) have discovered how easy the office or church multilith duplicator will churn out copies of their typewritten efforts with a few hand-lettered headings or drawings to spark up such plain pages.
Any conventioneer or handpressman who has banged his 6×10 Kelsey, or Sigwalt, or Pilot handpress for perhaps two hours just to turn out 400 copies of his one or two pages – after spending another hour or two per page to handset the type – will go utterly bilious green at sight of the office multilith spewing forth 8½x11 sheets at 6000 per hour: 400 copies in less than 10 minutes including makeready!
But tho we drone on about boy printers, drool over aesthetic appeal of carefully spaced handset type, and utter glad cries of pure ecstasy over handfed hobby printing on handmade paper; newsprint and/or a hot mimeo can serve up some snappy AJ papers.
Notman’s Hot Line and Merlin’s Magic, presenting convention results, are good examples of utilitarian products – newsworthy, adequate, but hardly worth more effort than typewriter-mimeo.
Willametta’s 452nd Literary Newsette, more carefully planned, with varied inter-word spacing to justify the columns, packs in much more copy with an elite typewriter and gains immensely from its printed heading.
Tony’s National Recruiting Bulletin also combines a printed display type heading with readily typed body matter by mimeo.
Return of Tibbetts Cornerstone was pleasant. His long series of monthly issues provided many pages for contributors; and thereby bolstered AJ activity tremendously in past years.
The 24 page “Words Within Words” of which Dave Norton took time to print 1000 copies bears little if any relation to amateur journalism. This sort of thing shouts against free mailing.
There’s the answer to Ray Albert, et al – a negative response to any suggestion or demand for unlimited free mailing. Why should NAPA underwrite free distribution of whatever junk may be dumped on the Mailing Bureau?
Willametta’s newsy Literary Newsette and Blue Skies for Anita Kirksey, Sally O’Rear’s Velvet Shoes, Segal’s Campane, Marvin Reed’s Straight from My Heart, are different.
When such papers publish the work of half a dozen or more contributors, it is a service to the association perhaps worthy of free mailing.
The next convention might do well to adopt a policy resolution on mailing. A dollar fee for leaflets like Rays or Kitten or Hemidemisemiquavers does seem a bit exorbitant. Perhaps a token fifty cents for each 5×7 four-pager would be more appropriate, with half-price or free mailing to amateur papers which serve our NAPA amateur journalism by publishing (like Campane, LN, Spectator, and other such) substantial contributions of members other than the editor or printer.
If a publisher desires to circularize thru NAPA official bundles by paying the full cost, a 40 cent per pound fee is quite reasonable. It would cost $2 (plus envelopes or wrappers and the trouble to address same) to broadcast a minimum fifty copies of any AJ effort privately. Certainly NAPA needs some control over what goes into official bundles. It is pure idiocy for NAPA to contract free mailing of everything that may be dumped on the Mailer in return for a mere payment of dues.
Local news: Frost last nite. Our 59 cent outside thermometer (encased in a plastic shield) hangs loosely against the wall from a nailhead inserted thru a readymade hole in its backplate. Nancy pointed out a nosy fly that had crawled thru the hole and snugged down on the 40 degree marker in this private cabin. Cold outside!
Addendum on Dampened Paper
RESIDUAL curl or ripple (which usually does result from dampening and redrying paper) would be more obvious in a plain bond or smooth book paper than in the Carousel paper used in Scarlet Cockerel 36 where the natural rough felt finish of the sheet somewhat camouflaged this result.
Placing weights on piles of printed dampened sheets slip-sheeted with dry paper, or drying under clamps or in an old copy press, might minimize the more obvious warp or residual curl.
Careful prevention of sprinkled water from striking directly on sheets to be printed: covering each lift with larger bond sheets (or old waste sheets) requires all the moisture to seep thru – which is the reason for (1) separating in small lifts of a dozen to not over twenty sheets per lift, and (2) overnight seasoning.
Adequate drying of paper and ink sometimes requires a week or more delay before backing up.
Other methods of dampening may be found, of course, like dragging paper thru a tub of water and hanging from overhead lines to dry partially until the proper degree of limpness is achieved. This may not be too practical nor controllable with today’s hot air or constant heating systems. Nor with heavily filled, highly opacified modern paper much of which is no match in toughness for Ben Franklin’s more substantial glue-sized handmade paper produced from rag pulp.
Commenting on the cover illustration of issue number 38
Dorothy B. Winn can’t resist
One Small Question
What alien cockerel is this
That ornaments your cover?
I think no self-respecting hen
Would take him as her lover.
His monstrous feet and squawking mouth
Are laughable and giddy.
His iron arrogance would dash
Fond hopes of any biddy.
Sorry we can’t relay to the unknown Italian metalworker your plaint about his wrought iron cockerel: “Giovanni, you made the feet too big!”
True, he may not be every hen’s Charles Boyer, or Robert Goulet. Perhaps that lack of delicacy may derive from exposure to Nazi ruthlessness during WW II?
Artistic license endowed this 8” creature with sturdy and adequate 3-point balance to permit concentration on crowing.
So be it known that this 40th Scarlet Cockerel you have just finished issued from the typewriter of Ralph Babcock, still in the ex-barn known as “Cockspurr II” at Pottersville, New Jersey 07979, in October 1965; but was put to press in February 1967, with heads in Goudy Stout and Vanity Fair, and initials derived from proofs of old woodcuts (courtesy of VAM). 350 copies.