Published spasmodically in behalf of amateur journalism and the National Amateur Press Association by Ralph Babcock.
A Letter from Uncle Ernie Edkins
Jan. 22nd. 1938.
[Hard to Read]
“May it be an encouragement to produce something besides their dues. Personally, I cannot see what they get out of NAPA if they do no writing or printing.” – Bessie Barnes
Alf’s “Old Stuff”
Brother Alf Babcock has published another book: Old Stuff. This is a 205 page compendium of a dozen old amateur papers or articles Alf liked well enough to hand-set and reprint (in the favored 5×7 page size) with a great lathering of heads and subheads to show 205 antique typefaces he has bought or reproduced in zinc or rubber.
Only 75 copies were printed – quite enough to satisfy any compulsive amateur printer without boring to disgust from seeming endless handfeeding or handfolding (and hand binding) that make an irksome chore of 300-or-more copy multi-sheet editions adequate for full gratis distribution or semi-commercial ventures.
If APB sells two or three score copies, it would hardly approach the cold cost of his zinc cuts and old type fonts. Mark this, then, as another great labor of love.
Alf dedicated Old Stuff to Burton Crane whose enthusiasm and openhanded neighborliness did much to cultivate Alf’s passion for AJ and printing.
Old Stuff again proves APB the frenetic typesetter unable to sit still more than ten minutes beyond mealtime. In his opinion: opera, circus, and baseball games are no dang good unless you also can set half a page or more of type while glimpsing such goings-on.
Many of the antique type reproductions are pretty sloppy – although some designs are interesting. Reprinting the phony miniature March 1948 National Amateur was well worthwhile. It still carries unusual gobs of humor – as well as innumerable barbs. Most of the 205 pages will bear re-reading a couple times more.
To re-quote Crane: “But the secret of living is to waste time amusingly.”
For Quicker Pages
Intertype has just demonstrated its new electronic typesetter (for magazines and books) capable of producing 20 type characters per second. That’s 22 newspaper lines per minute, or 22,000 ems an hour.
According to Printing News, key to this speed is a light source flashing on and off in one-millionth of a second, exposing characters on a glass disc spinning past a camera lens at 70 miles per hour. Shades of Gutenberg and Tryout Smith! 70 mph! Even the biggest Wesson APC rumble never got that worked up!
Harris Intertype invested $2 million in research to make this gadget and will be happy to sell two-part installations for $70,000 or so after June 1964.
Since this is a bit more than Ray Albert can raise in a month by mowing lawns, we doubt whether he or Russ Paxton will abandon their present way of life.
Weaker Moments Babcock, however, appears to be busily involved peddling his surplus type. Can it be…?
Drawn by Fred W. Goudy at Hingham, Mass., about 1902, this design: “Caslon Revised” was sold to Clarence Marder, of ATF Co. (at Chicago). No mats were cut for this, probably because the Foundry at New York was already committed to make the revised version later known as Caslon No. 540.
When I found this original drawing in old papers thrown out of ATF matrix vault at Elizabeth in 1952, I had it photocopied as above the submitted copies to the National Board on Printing Type Faces for consideration as a new face to be made by the Foundry. No hint was given as to its origin. Only one of the twelve members of the Board had a kind word for it. – SLW
Greetings to a Friend
by C. Raymond Beran
What is a friend? I will tell you. It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with him. He seems to ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. He does not want you to be better or worse. When you are with him, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, so long as it is genuinely you. He understands contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With him you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities and, in opening them up to him, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of his loyalty. He understands. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse him, neglect him, tolerate him. Best of all, you can keep still with him. It makes no matter. He likes you. He is like fire that purges the bone. He understands. He understands. You can weep with him, sin with him, laugh with him, pray with him. Through it all (and underneath) he sees, knows, and loves you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you can be yourself.
Set by Steve L. Watts
Our Barn – Renovation: An Early “Concept”
You laugh like running water, like a rill
That makes its way meandering through a maze
Of mossy stones. The stir of strident days
Can never move it. There the air is still
And moist with liquid leisure. On the hill
The raddled ranks of tiger lilies blaze
But there a thrush sings emerald airs and stays
To savor once again his final trill.
I like to get up mornings when the world is fresh and clean,
When the trees and grass and bushes wear a very special green
When my feet against the silver make a dark, exploring path
And the daisies and the buttercups are glowing from their bath.
The sun comes up so shyly you can almost hear him say
That he doesn’t want to scare the dewy freshness all away.
The world has had its face washed and the sandman’s dust is gone
From the Blackeyed Susan’s eyelids in the magic of the dawn.
by Ernest A. Edkins
Sing me a song in a minor key, a song in a tender strain,
Like the soft caress of a muted wind that follows the wake of rain;
Sad with the burden of fleeting joys and their heritage of pain.
Sing me a song of my younger days, when life was a gallant show –
(How like the firelight on the wall dim memories come and go!) –
Sing me a song of the vanished years, for my heart doth overflow.
Softly the groping prelude sounds, evoked on the organ keys:
I have known doubts as bitter, yes, and sadly uncertain as these,
Caught in the moated music bar that lingers adown the breeze.
Louder the prelude’s muffled thunder as it crashes into the theme –
Losing itself as a turbulent brook is lost in the tide of the stream –
So the old hopes and aims grew bravely out of a troubled dream.
Hark! The divine clear voice responds to the passionate music’s woe,
And my eyes are heavy with unshed tears, and the shadows darker grow –
That those who bravely fought and fell, the victory may not know.
Where are the leaders of that lost time, whose harvest others reap?
Shoulder to shoulder they fought like gods, and now in an iron sleep
Like gods they rest, where lichened stones their lonely vigil keep.
YOUTH is not a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over love of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty more than in a boy of twenty.
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.
Whether seventy or sixteen, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and the starlike things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what next, and the joy and the game of life.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
In the central place of your heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.
When the wires are all down and all the central place of your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then are you grown old indeed, and may God have mercy on your soul!
The Lawless Heart
by Steve L. Watts
Dull trade hath bound me to its grip
And never shall I be free,
Yet I dream of the deck of a pirate ship
In the roll of the open sea;
I dream of the pennant dread and black
That flies at the mast always
As we swoop along on the merchants track
In the sting of the flying spray.
Oh, I am a law-abiding chap
Yet deep in my heart I’d be
A buccaneer in a scarlet cap
And a terror of the sea;
As lawless and ruthless a bandit brute
As history ever knew
Roaming the seas in search of loot
At the head of an evil crew.
Oh, here at home I am meek and mild,
A man with a family;
Yet I dream of deeds that are dark and wild
And of red, red fights at sea;
And under my breath I softly hum
A tune from a pirate song,
And my throat grows parched for pirate rum
For I have been dry so long.
My life is ordered and shaped and bound
And kept to its rule and line
But my thoughts can wander
The whole world round
And my dreams – my dreams
So the old tales hold me
In their grip
And I hungrily long to be
A pirate chief in a low black ship
In the roll of the open sea.
From the Scrap Bag
by Dora Hepner Moitoret
During this vacation, I have cleaned house. Out of the attic have come boxes tucked away for keeping, and every one of them has been cleared. Old manuscripts have been discarded, some few old poems with worthiness have been revised; scrap books have been completed. It is a nice, neat feeling, a starting place for a fresh endeavor.
The interesting thing was the box of poetic scraps, words, couplets, ideas, which were scribbled on all sorts of paper, fly-leaves of books, shopping lists, bills, backs of envelopes, anything that was at hand when the words came. Some of them were written in 1912, 1915, 1916; I can recognize the papers on which they were written. Those were sentimental days, days when writing was done in Capital Letters and everything was Big and Bright and Beautiful and The Dream was the thing. We all had motto calendars on our walls, we had ideals of goodness and wrote about God, for it was fashionable in literary circles to think of God and goodness in those days. I must have been in such a mood when I wrote:
I have dreamed a great dream,
Lo, I stood in Heaven
Free to wander as I chose
All among the treasures.
I must have been awakened right there, for I never got any further. On the same page I find the line,
Higher than a hill is,
Higher than a mountain.
And, in a trusting mood,
I closed the door and turned the key,
To hear what God might say to me.
In another mood, I seem to have become entangled in the use of words without purpose, the fallacy of many who write.
You are Life, you are Strength, you are all you desire
You are swift flowing water, you are flaming white fire
You are power to conquer, you are swift to the race
You are Light, you are Truth, you are first in each place.
“Lasting laughter” must have struck me as something worth while.
He twirled the propeller,
He tried to compel her
To think him a feller
More brave than the rest.
Evidently I didn’t make a complete hero out of him, for he dies a-borning.
My thoughts go out like eager hands
Unto my Lord,
Bearing my pleading prayers.
Then the clean dawn with quiet feet
Came slowly down the dirty street
And blessed the dirty houses there
With touch of rose and lavender.
It was a nice thought anyway. “Tongues of flame that tell the secrets of the log” was a good poetic thought. “The true poem is the poet’s mind.” I have a feeling that was a class note, and not original; I’m not that good. Words I thought interesting: Cyme, flat flower cluster; cyprian, wanton, relating to Venus; damasse, white on white porcelain; cornuted, honored; contrar. Must have been looking up something in the “c”s.
Such tender things we held within our hands,
A tiny kitten, or a little son –
A lifetime or a heart.
The old moon rests, and draws
A pale shutter over her light.
In bright mid-afternoon,
With grey hair showing,
Lies the aged moon.
This sky is not a color but a depth.
Heads of wild grass at seedtime, and of heather,
Remind me, Autumn is Spring’s mother
Each day as new love comes to bless
I find old bitterness grows less.
Why do the flags fly, mother,
Why is the bunting hung?
Why are the people marching?
Why have the bells been rung?
Answer it when you have time, and you’ll tell the story of returned soldiers probably. On the end of a bridge tally is this,
And there so much of loveliness was laid
Across my heart that all my grief was stayed.
“Rich remembered faces” “the little lovelit places” “All the harps of happiness in heaven” “the radiant whiteness of my heart’s holy fire.” What was trying to get through to me there from the cosmic strata? I didn’t capture it.
A mist across the evening star, and I was very lonely.
On a scrap dated 1914, this suggestion that might have been made into a brief rhyme: “Nature, weeping because she had no ring. The sun caught all the colors and set them in a rainbow – a ring with a promise.” You can have it, it’s too flat for me. Here’s an inner sanctum for you,
Deathness and damp, a grey mist rising,
Shrouding the stagnant stream.
Bury it deep. Better this, “After a night of storm when the dawn strikes silver.”
The wind brings a glow to the dying embers,
And my dead love stirs, as the heart remembers.
Higher than a hill is,
Higher than a mountain.
Doesn’t mean a thing does it, just an easy use of words. “Spiny, scentless things” – those were in Carmel, and later were the suggestion for a poem of which I have been proud. “A foreverness of friendship” – nice thought. “I hear such unexpected things when listening with my heart.” “The timid soul that shrinks from loud events, may hear the falling leaf.” “She placed her bowl of copper where the sunlight played” – glad she did, that’s a good place for it.
The slender feather of the moon
Was writing on the sky.
Not bad. “The world was washed with a whiteness, the sun was a silver sheet.” “Laughter is here, but no languor.”
The candles have a lovely flame,
Lovely name, lovely name
Round russet robins on the grass,
Like fallen apples,
Sweet with song.
The Quackendoodle is a most peculiar sort of bird
The likes of which I’ve never seen and seldom ever heard.
I lay my little lines across the page to trace
A pattern delicate as Duchess lace.
“Little boys go down lonely roads” “They are the blessed, the blind.” “And leave a little loveliness alive.” That last was to be a blast at the hunter.
There are dozens of early poems, none of them good, but each with a good thought in the background. Writing without discipline can be nothing more than effusion. But writing down the words as they come into the mind, letting them lie, and picking them up later, may prove that here and there the field has nurtured a seed and a worthy plant may be produced. Anyway, here are my scratchings. Reading them, you may know me a little better too.
An excerpt from a projected booklet on the Life and Writings of Steve L. Watts
Facing a gurgling branch on the lower edge of a 110 acre homestead 85 miles west of Washington, D.C., near the Front Royal end of famous Skyline Drive, stands Skyline Bend Farm.
Peace, a huge measure of privacy, and modest expense are the outstanding blessings of this refurbished three-quarter century old farm dwelling which has served as the Watts home since 1948.
Here is the simple life, crowned by a 15-mile sunset view across the valley below, with wooded green slopes on three sides reminder that visitors and neighbors are more likely to be bird or animal than human: raucous daybreak quartets of whippoorwills and crows, curious rabbits and deer, the too-frequent surprise of snakes, an occasional bear, and nightly visits of summer gnats.
Here on the western slope of Blue Ridge, precisely 2.0 miles above a small four-corners called Browntown, Virginia road Rt. 634 ends. Before the National Park Service claimed the adjoining area for Shenandoah National Park and closed the road above to public use, it formerly wound up the mountainside to Jenkins Gap (elevation 2398). Back in colonial days this was the main route from Shenandoah Valley and Warren County back over the hill to Little Washington and Culpepper. Afoot, one can still follow that deteriorating roadbed, climbing the mile direct map distance in a scramble that makes one wonder how loaded wagons ever traversed the thousand foot 10% rise up two miles of logging road.
Eight years of unceasing hard labor developed Skyline Bend from a rundown upcountry dwelling with only woodstoves; thru electricity, to central oil heat and comfortable indoor plumbing; delightfully divorced from TV and telephone – until but recently.
Only constant effort keeps Heavenwood trees and undergrowth from creeping back to reclaim the two acres laboriously hand-cleared of rocks and tumbledown outbuilding clutter, wheelbarrow-filled, and power-mowed to rolling green lawn.
Water siphoned from the never-failing spring encourages a small vegetable garden and clumps of flowers: iris, peonies, roses, and the like. Of bygone farming efforts (sheep and grain) only a chestnut log barn plus a few old apple, cherry, and black walnut trees remain.
In the normal quiet of that remote home, burbling water tumbling down the rocky bed of Smith Creek toward Gooney Run provides a pleasant constant melody. Frequent thunderstorms swell the volume substantially; and in Spring run-offs or a hurricane aftermath rocks the size of basketballs are flung along down by the force of frantic roaring water reaching up towards the car-wide bridge over it.
Eleven miles from Front Royal (nearest shopping area) along an adventurous route of nearly 90 curves, this retreat (nicknamed Boondockerschloss for its moat-like bridge approach) was a back-breaking, dollar-saving godsend when a niggardly $43 monthly pension end-rewarded 25 years of service to a cynical corporation. Later, accumulated duty repaid other years in military service with retired benefits of a Major; and age 65 brought Social Security stipends.
And so, “independent as a hog on ice” in retirement, Steve Watts roosted there on the rock for over a decade, contentedly doing just what he darn well pleased.
That Time of Year
by Burton Crane
Deck the hall with boughs of holly.
If you fancy mistletoe
Add a little anti-hist
To your Christmas shopping list,
Just to make the cold germs go.
Good King Wenceslas looked out
And it is well he thought to,
For in the Christmas shopping scramble
A man who’s but one life to gamble
Indubitably ought to.
Silent Night is never silent,
Which is contradictory.
It is such a steady diet
That the blessed boon of quiet
Is a growing rarity.
God rest ye, merry gentlemen.
God rest your ladies dear,
For after all the Christmas fuss
Even the most dynamic cuss
Can rest for half a year.
So Merry Christmas once again
From us and ours to you-uns.
And may the New Year see success
And every kind of happiness
Attend you and your doin’s.
When I was a lad there was, one Christmas, a tremendous and dazzling tree at one end of the long dining room. The north windows looked out upon a great expanse of snow, as wide as all the world to me, and all the world was wonderful to one so young as I. There later was a Christmas when we were very merry over nothing at all, unless it was that we were all together and young and gay at heart. Friends dropped in, before I ever knew of Christmas cheer in liquid form, and we laughed a good deal though I cannot tell you why. Relatives came too, or we spent the holiday with them, renewing family ties and speaking fondly of those others who had died and whom we loved. There have been other Christmases with friends who warmed my heart, lovely and charming and understanding friends whom I seemed always to have known. Recalling them, remembering the happiness, the merriment, the affection, the delight, I am sure the world is really quite as wonderful as I once imagined it to be when I was a lad. – Helm C. Spink
O devine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
Set by Helm Spink in Brodie’s 9 pt. Caxton Black
Farewell to Rural Pottersville
No happier than this cockalorum are we at quitting the peace, privacy and spacious living afforded in the old barn rebuilt into “Cockspurr II.” But the brutal price of over four hours commutation, added to the eternal projects of upkeep, improvement and landscape manicuring, leaves all too little time and money for “living” in these dwindling years. With these fragments of past and future SC issues, so ends the rural dabbling on our Press At the sign of The Scarlet Cockerel and leaden slivers. Number 42: 200 copies dated November 1967.