With its usual pertinence to AJ affairs, Campane 29 once featured eight pages from Verle Heljeson on “The Agony of Agenda.” That was a dozen years ago, near the 25th anniversary of “boy printer” Segal’s election as NAPA president. Even at 18, Harold Segal was a capable editor and competent printer, already having won NAPA editorial laureate for his 3½ x 6” monthly Sea Gull (printed page by page in solid 8 pt. type on a 3×5 Kelsey handpress).
Normally, 1900 words in the popular 5×7 size amateur paper would make a bloated, deadly-looking thesis. Segal broke the monotony of so many solid pages of 10 point by inserting an editorial comment every two pages. These added comments (in 8 pt., set off by huge 18 pica braces – the sole, restrained, decorative motif) gave a slight lilt, a visual come-on, to the long article.
Not that Heljeson needs assistance for readability. This master of the neat phrase, the proper word, the editorial blue pencil, focused attention on the turgid trivia all-too-frequently dominating NAPA convention business sessions. Heljeson suggested more use of the informal discussion, workshop, clinic, or seminar.
When annual gatherings lack a focal point such as cooperating to print a convention paper, or a stimulating participation feature like Williametta’s Question and Answer Round Table on Ajay Problems at Portland, then worrywarts will trot out parliamentary tricks for another red tape waltz.
If our officers would submit annual reports in mimeo form (or half a dozen carbon copies) for spare-time pass-around and perusal, then convention-goers could devote more time to critiques or workshops rather than the routine reading of reports. –RB
The 54th Scarlet Cockerel
Published spasmodically in behalf of amateur journalism and the National Amateur Press Association by Ralph Babcock
Memorandum From Marietta
by L. Verle Heljeson
AN AIRLINE is not the shortest distance between two such points as Washington, D.C. and Marietta, Ohio. My flight that July morning involved plane changes at Roanoke, Virginia and Charleston, West Virginia before a mid-afternoon landing at the Parkersburg/Marietta airport.
Traveling on a pre-convention Thursday, I didn’t expect to encounter any other amateur journalists, nor did I. However, I remembers my 1952 flight from Philadelphia to Roanoke, when a portly gentleman in business attire but with the benign and executive air of a bishop, deplaned to take the air at each stop. At Roanoke I found he was G. Wallace Tibbetts, attending his first convention, and later known in the amateur press as “The Bishop.”
President Gillick’s selection of Marietta as a convention site created some uncertainties. Except for Frederick, Maryland in 1966, we had not met – at least in my years of convention attendance – in a non-metropolitan area. I was reassured when I checked in at the Lafayette Motor Hotel, found its lobby as colorful and attractive as shown in the brochure, and was taken to a second-floor, corner room overlooking the river. At Des Moines 1964 I also had a corner room, but just as a good party was beginning one evening, the desk telephoned another guest’s complaint. Since then I’ve been known to Emerson Duerr and others as St. Verle the Evicted. At Marietta, however, my occupancy of the corner room was uneventful, and the glimpses of occasional barge and pleasure boat traffic, most enjoyable.
That evening The Dramery’s U-shaped bar was a cozy place to have a drink, while listening – English pub-like – to the locals’ conversation. Then an excellent dinner in the Gun Room. Later I found there was a Captain’s Corner in the diningroom, and a Captain’s Lounge next to The Gramery, each inviting rather than intimidating except, perhaps, to those targeted by Cap Ferrat.
I always wonder which member I will see first at a convention. Friday morning Kelly Janes stopped to say hello when he left the diningroom as I was beginning my breakfast, and Marge and Jamie Clelland came in as I was finishing it. Fresh from the St. Louis Wayzgoose, and a return through scenic Kentucky, the Clellands are a delightful couple, first met at Ann Arbor in 1968. They illustrate the remarkable self-renewal of the National: inevitable attrition removes such persons as Vondy, Cole, and Spink, but the Clellands and others materialize to ensure our organizational continuation.
Friday there was time for shopping and I was fortunate when Jamie gave me a ride back from the State store in the warm afternoon. Then, after another trip to the A&P I met the Segals, similarly sack laden, at the hotel entrance.
For many years Bob Dunlap was one of my first contacts on the pre-convention opening night. Not having heard from him, I called the desk at 7:00 p.m. to ask if he was registered. He was not, and if I had no sense of foreboding then it came later when John Gillick told of Bob’s June 28 heart attack.
Not long afterwards the telephone range and it was Tom Whitbread. Drinks with Tom and the Segals followed, and then dinner with them and Tony Moitoret in the General Putnam Room, a smaller, more intimate place off the main diningroom. Then to the caucus where many people already had arrived – Ohioans, the Virginia “bloc,” and some from the Far West.
If these preliminaries seem tedious they are deliberately so, because I’m always fascinated as a convention slowly takes shape, individuals coming on scene one by one and ready to play some part, as if in repertory.
President Gillick said, in announcing the printing laureates, “The new members are coming on.” There was further evidence of this as newer members, or those attending their first convention, participated in the business sessions and other activities. Despite this welcome infusion of new blood, the sessions were the usual drone of reports and old business masquerading as new. The Executive Judges had only had to give the President advice – or concurrence – on some routine matters during the year. Consequently, the atmosphere was less electric than at Grand Rapids in 1960 or at Cleveland in 1963, and order – if not law, and good humor, prevailed.
Three discussions, of the laureate system, postage for officers, and bundle quality, sparked some interest.
As a President. I experienced the cliffhanging June days hoping the Laureate Judges’ decisions would arrive in time for the convention. Changes that would relax such deadlines are desirable. Disturbing, however, was the proposal to have all bundle material automatically considered for laureate, as is done in other smaller, and perhaps less discriminating, associations. Equally disturbing was the attempt to superimpose another official, a Laureate Coordinator, upon the existing hierarchy of laureate legmen: the Recorder, Bureau of Critics, and the President.
There was a lot of talk about the laureate system’s mechanics; none whatever about its ethics. On at least two occasions reprints have won laureates. This year a “re-worked” sonnet won the poetry laureate. When first printed in the NA, criticism of this poem was invited and presumably such comments influenced the revision. Should then the award have gone to an individual? The initial version was published in March 1968, so the nit-pickers among us might also question the revision’s eligibility for a 1971 award.
As V. Moitoret writes in the March 1971 NA, “there is nothing to prevent the re-entry of a poem, story, or art work whether it has won or not, except the creator’s own conscience.” Therefore, individual members must do their own policing. The Recorder and President, working against deadlines, cannot do it, nor the Judges – most of them external to the Association – and who rightfully assume that only eligible material is cleared to them for judging.
Equally serious are the occasional errors in entry classification. In 1968 Mrs. Veda Burnaugh Collins understandably was upset when her sketch, obviously “Miscellaneous Prose,” was awarded an Honorable Mention as “Fiction.” (Apparently the piece was classified and entered without her knowledge.) Now, in 1971, J. Ed Newman’s exotic series labeled “Belated Veep Report,” receives Honorable Mention under the “Fiction” category. Fiction, no; fantasy, yes.
Proud of its status as both a free and amateur press, the NAPA often approaches the characteristics of a vanity press. A benign attitude towards reprints and revisions, and the blurring of classification lines, is contributory.
At National business sessions even the most simple discussions divide, octopus-like, in all directions. What began as a routine mention of the transfer of Librarian responsibilities from Sheldon Wesson to Marge Clelland, eventually turned into a proposal to reimburse all officers for postage. Except for the Secretary-Treasurer’s fixed expenses, the NAPA wisely has resisted allowing other officers postage, altho ever since Fred Eichin was Vice President the matter has been perennially agitated.
Anyone accepting an office in the National accepts a concurrent financial obligation. Of course we heard at Marietta that without postage reimbursement, teenagers would be kept from holding office. Contemporary teenagers are notably solvent if not affluent, but unfortunately they are used as reverse whipping boys when adults want to keep expenses up and dues down.
Harold Segal’s resolution to exclude from the bundle items not meeting the Constitutional prescription for an amateur journal, included the phrase “printed trivia or ephemera.” This touched off a most interesting colloquy. Ron Ruble, robust and authoritative, said that strict construction of “ephemera” might exclude everything from the bundle, and cited a certain book as his source.
This discussion was both fascinating and informative. I do not believe, however, that the resolution will have any lasting effect. The Portland 1954 convention passed a similar resolution, but 17 years later we are going through the same thing again, even though the Constitution definition of an amateur journal has since been strengthened. Also, unfortunately, other associations tolerate, if they do not encourage, bundle circulation of trivia, printed and otherwise.
Glen Engebretson has observed that the NAPA does not have any “techniques for educating the newcomers.” As in the case of laureate entries, the policing – or reform – must come from the members themselves. Without any special indoctrination, Engebretsen’s Galley West, and the Warner team’s The Boxwooder, have shown from the beginning that their publishers know how to produce quality journals. It is doubtful that any intra-Association training techniques could supply the perception and good taste not already there.
The “hearings” conducted by Chairman Harold Segal and his Committee on Constitutional Amendments avoided the random discussions which often dominate general sessions. Such sprawling forums as the one on officers’ postage might be avoided in the future by determining, early on, what subjects warrant attention. Then, small groups designated by the presiding officer could set up State Department-type working luncheons to formulate the pros and cons for summary to the convention.
The diversified erudition within the National is always impressive. Kelly Janes said, during the debate on postage, that a factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was that eventually it became too expensive for the individual to hold government office. John Gillick supplied the ancient roots of the word “ephemera,” and then Tom Whitbread quoted Dr. Johnson’s statement about the length of time it takes for an item to acquire significance.
As I look back at the annual agony of the group convention picture I think, “Never again,” but of course I was there when the photographer arranged and rearranged us before the huge wheel in the lobby, reminiscent – like much of the Lafayette’s décor – of river steamer days. But pre-banquet black and white pictures can’t portray effectively such attractive people as Mrs. Ron Ruble, in glistening white, a beautifully-jeweled comb in her hair; Hazel Segal in flowing chiffon the color of Puerto Rico’s flamboyante tree; and Louise Lincoln in Hawaii-inspired scarlet cotton printed with white flowers.
Toastmaster Margeson’s banquet program was commendably concise: Laureate awards by President Gillick and talks by Marge Clelland and Harold Segal, both obviously forewarned and well-prepared. The Margesons as a team also were very efficient co-Chairmen. When Tony Moitoret, dean of amateur journalists, called attention at the opening session to the absence of the customary American flag, a flag appeared, Aladdin-like, in seconds.
Conventions are notable for meeting individuals for the first time. J. Ed Newman, lean, low-keyed, was quietly effective in floor talk and is a consummate politician. Young David Warner, enthusiastic and aware, performed ably in the convention pressroom and in business sessions. At one point in the deliberations he said, “I think we are getting out of order here.” This, his first convention, marks him as another example of the Nationals’ surprising resilience. The Warners from Maryland, and the Tuckermans from Florida, are examples of family groups attending and adding much to the convention.
In the December 1970 NA, R. Babcock asks: “Must the site always be a city?” Lest Marietta, a successful experiment, be considered an unqualified “No,” let us remember that although the town of Marietta itself is not unusual, the Lafayette Motor Hotel is. Its physical facilities and hotel services compare favorably with those of big city establishments. Its diningrooms were large and well-staffed and, except for Sunday night, open late enough for even the most cosmopolitan of amateur journalists. The Dramery and the adjacent lounge pleased those liking libations.
Retirement allows pre- and post-convention margins, so on Tuesday, with the whole day before me, I could say goodbye to those departing. Sesta’s dogs, a duo in Ann Arbor, were a troika in Marietta. Saying goodbye to Sesta and Kermit, and to Tony Moitoret who was riding with them to Zanesville, I confirmed previous incidental intelligence that while dogs generally ride in the back seat of the car, they are rotated one by one to the front seat to enjoy its better airconditioning.
Dr. Johnson, quoted by Dr. Whitbread, would have made a great amateur journalist. As the convention closed, I could imagine him talking about the National’s long history, while quaffing his ale in the Captain’s Lounge, and then saying to Boswell: “Sir, the wonder is not that the National Amateur Press Association has continued to exist so that it now approaches its centennial, but that it exists at all.”
* * * *
The full moon shone brightly as I rose to prepare for that jaunt to VAPA’s Fall frolic at Jim Walczak’s home just outside Washington, D.C. Surging south along Jersey and Delaware turnpikes in a tempo soon beyond 60 – and even the 70 mph permissible on US 695 and Capitol Beltway…. Beyond Andrews Field exits (vaguely recalled from bygone visits near Navy Hydrographic area) peeling off at Exit 37S for Oxon Hill and a neat brick home in woods on a hill – overlooking the Potomac!
Among four dozen adults & offspring engulfing Jim & Franziska Walczak I first met other VAPA stalwarts & NAPA honors winners Quick Carlson, Alan Wheeler, Jake & Dave Warner, as well as Mary Brunori, Clarence Prowell, Bob & Louise Williams and Joe Bradburn. This time south Virginia and Ohio contingents were missing.
Guarded outside by an enormous white rabbit (and pregnant friend) Jim’s picturesque Afton Press deserves description (with snapshots) in The National Amateur, offering choice of handpress, 8×12 or inoperative 10×15, and a marvelous automatic-inking Vandercook proofpress. Suggestions of his other interests (wood engraving, marbling paper, a brass belt buckle cast from his 36 pt. Plymouth capitals – and a nearby huge 10” Delta bench saw with carbide blade) left us drooling over his rackfull of large old wood type.
After completing the usual VAPA Trails – plus another page for the “Tramp Printer” issue of SC… homeward bound… beyond midnite… struggling north along much less congested roads… realizing that driving 550 miles in 23 hours is most too much for this aging enthusiast… who recovered Sunday to paint our refurbished lavatory. Now, papering…
L. Verle Heljeson
93rd NAPA President
by Ralph Babcock
FROM A South Dakota farm L. Verle Heljeson left home in 1933 for the U.S. Forest Service which thereafter kept him on the move: to Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, D.C.
Following editorial posts in high school and poems in South Dakota Magazine, he edited a bus company monthly magazine in 1927, joined UAPA, and left it for NAPA in 1934. From 1927-30 he co-published Commentator with L. V. Geringer, continuing it alone till 1933.
Upon his return from three years in Puerto Rico he found at last in Philadelphia “the proper, orderly atmosphere in which to write.” His 1948 apartment was convenient to chats with the Segals, and visits from Whitbread. Such gatherings diverted him from intentions of freelance writing and soon he was involved in AJ as far as his work (requiring frequent fiscal field inspection trips throughout the U.S.) would allow.
Enjoying the friendly fellowship and verbal play of AJ gatherings – APC, AAPA, NAPA and Fossils – he missed only four of the 22 NAPA conventions from 1949-71. Often he presided as convivial host at memorable after-hours hospitality sessions in his convention room.
He served well on the Critics Bureau 1949 and was elected Vice President 1950 on The Team slate. Whitbread recognized the “sure judgment of literary merits, and acute perception of personalities and trends, of this dignified meticulous bachelor who quickly inspires respect and claims only two dislikes: ‘corn’ and exercise.”
Heljeson edited the remarkable 32 page Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Booklet (printed by Segal) for the 1951 Philadelphia convention. He withdrew as presidential candidate in ‘51 when Vic Moitoret’s impending sea duty was deferred.
Spink credited Heljeson’s 1953-54 volume of The National Amateur (which Verle periodically visited Great Neck to oversee and put to press) one of the best. Like Rusty, during his 1958 presidential term he did not publish a paper. His own Memorandum appeared only four times (‘42, ‘43, ‘46, ‘48).
He was honored with an unusual four consecutive terms as NAPA Executive Judge 1959-62.
His perceptive and entertaining convention reports, and outstanding profiles of Whitbread and Vondy were contributed to leading papers. Heljeson won the 1958 Essay Laureate.
A regular attendant also of The Fossils reunions over a dozen years, he was chosen Fossils president 1961; and was unexpectedly drafted as AAPA president 1970, thus becoming the only National member subsequently so accepted by “that other” AJ organization.
Retired from 35 years in the Forest Service, Verle’s last year found him coordinating our Centennial celebration proposals. Police broke open his bachelor apartment in Washington to discover his solitary death at 62 late in June 1972. Verle was sadly missed at Natural Bridge, which brought him the 1971 History Laureate, and would have been his 22nd NAPA convention.
Cup Running Over
by Kelly Janes
IT WAS too big a house for the Andersons. They could not afford to build a smaller one, though, for the senior Andersons were dependent on their junior, and these old-time patriarchal mansions are hard to sell. Two years before, when Henry Anderson had married Hazel Powers, he had simply brought her into his parental home and begun paying twice as much rent as before. He could afford more rent, but he and Hazel together could not afford to build.
Hazel from the start had preferred her father-in-law, Samuel, to her mother-in-law, Eliza, who had never borne a daughter, nor had a woman with her in the kitchen except a few house guests. The younger Andersons’ wedded life was no knock-down-and-drag-out between the two wives; yet it was a strain on both of them. The older woman was now beginning to stay in bed late and go to bed early; and there were other symptoms.
“Hadn’t we better get Mama to the doctor?” asked Henry at breakfast on Monday. “She wouldn’t even go to church yesterday.”
Samuel shook his head, “Eliza is as well as she ever was. She has only calmed down to a speed more proper to middle age. I myself take longer than I used to in walking the six blocks to church. She will attend next Sunday, she tells me. She does like to sing hymns, even the unusual hymns the new choir director has been choosing.”
“We’ll take her to Dr. Mitchell, nevertheless, and make sure,” responded Henry.
Next day at the doctor’s office the physician and his nurse gave Eliza a few routine tests. Then Dr. Mitchell advised with her in his smaller consultation room.
“What is worrying you, Lizzie, old girl? It’s your daughter-in-law, isn’t it? Can’t you stay out of the kitchen? Must you count the pots and pans, night and morning, as well as the cups Hazel has broken the handles from?”
“It’s because I’ve been staying out of the kitchen, in my bedroom, that she’s brought me in to see you. What else is there for me except the kitchen and the bedroom?”
“You have more than two choices. Aristotle is long deceased. Isn’t there something which you can do in your room or out of it and still be out of the kitchen?”
“What else do I know how to do except cook? I can’t cut and fit clothes as Ma could, I never learned to enjoy reading like Pa, I hate moonpitchers, radio and TV, and I never was a woman to dig up plants and plant them somewhere else.”
“Darning socks? Writing letters? Visiting old-time playmates? Can’t you call on your other son?”
“Ben as good as kicked me out of his house, last time I was there. Maybe it was to prove to his wife by hating me that he loved her.”
“All right, if I must I can give you something to make you sleep longer.”
Dr. Mitchell scribbled a prescription, handed it to her, and signaled the nurse to assign the next patient.
Fourteen months afterward came Eliza Anderson’s funeral. On this occasion she had singing enough for once, from better trained voices than hers.
Henry by this time was drawing more wages at the bank, although Hazel had at last quit being a teller. They might have been willing to move to a smaller house if the funeral expense had not been so heavy. Samuel moped for nearly ten days, then began to perk up.
“King David,” he explained, “mourned his first son by Bathsheba only until the boy was ready for burial. So far as the record goes, he never mourned the death of Abigail, who had meant so much to him.”
“What do you mean, ‘meant so much’?” asked Henry. “I don’t recall one word of scripture about David and Abigail’s wedded life.”
“Tut, tut, didn’t you ever read the psalm in which David speaks of having a table spread before him in his enemies’ presence, followed by his cup running over? And wasn’t it half to please Abigail that he wrote the most Davidic of all the Psalms? For wasn’t it she who brought him all that food? And was there ever anybody more inimical to David than Abigail’s first husband?”
“You’re a better Bible student than I,” Henry admitted as he rose to go to the bank.
Samuel soon got over the notion that he was too young to join a Golden Age club, nor did he any longer scorn the game of Beano. In the brief space of seven weeks he wooed and won a fellow member – not too difficult a task, widows being more numerous than widowers. Still, the two did put off marriage until a year and a day after Eliza’s death.
Mrs. Doris Anderson was two years older than her new husband, but her wrinkles were of the right kind, smiling wrinkles, not frowning wrinkles. When her daughters, in the pattern of inexperienced youth, had objected to her marrying a second time, she, long tempered in the wars and the depressions, told them off neatly.
“I am of no use to either of you, and I’m still planning to care for my grandchildren. Besides, by day or by night I prefer a man to any number of women.”
Grandma Doris was one of what had once been named by Gert Stein the lost generation; she knew all the answers. At her wedding to Samuel she was dressed conventionally enough except for a plunging neckline; but after the ceremony she puckered her lips to three men besides her new husband.
“It’s just as well to have an ace or two up my sleeve,” she remarked aloud as man and wife left hurriedly for Niagara Falls, a second trip for both of them.
At their return the new member of the family pitched in and dusted the furniture as it had never been dusted in all four years of her stepchildren’s marriage. She entered the kitchen only upon invitation. Afternoons, she usually was at one of her daughters’ homes, cuddling up to grandsons and granddaughters.
In three months the Henry Andersons began having children in close formation, and the second Mrs. Samuel Anderson helped care for them. She taught her husband anew how to change diapers, and three years after her wedding she herself gave birth to a son.
“Menopausal pregnancy is nothing new in my family,” she apologized the other day to Hazel. “One of my grandmothers kept on having babies till she was sixty-seven, and I’m not quite that old yet. But Grandma had never heard of birth control, natural or artificial. Now that at last I have a son, I promise you that I’ll have no more babies, or that anyway I’ll try like hell not to.”
Even so, their house is none too big now for the Anderson family. Instead of moving out of his father’s house, as once he had hankered after doing, Henry Anderson is having it thoroughly renovated and two rooms added, one at each side. In consideration of this improvement to the property, Samuel will no longer accept rent from his son.
* * * *
Once upon a time a lengthy manuscript was submitted here. When finally – after several years of the easy-set 11 pt. Wayside format – we resurrected this smaller 9 Times Roman (from 1951 Fossil and 1953-54 National Amateur pages) to cope with LVH’s even lengthier Marietta report, and actually set KJ’s opus as well – the latter advised it already had appeared. Moral: Don’t leave your authors on the hook eight years!
by Helen E. Middleton
What can make a happy day?
A neighbor’s lilting song,
Fresh laundry stirring on the line,
The sense that you belong
To this great world of humankind;
A daughter’s silken hair
To glint beneath your careful brush,
A favorite rocking chair,
A kitten purring in the sun,
A small joke from your boy,
A little piece of coffee cake
To nibble and enjoy.
Your garden thriving past your hopes,
Geraniums on the sill,
The perfume of an errant wind
Blown from some lovely hill.
A phone call from a trusted friend,
A letter in the mail,
The way your love can quickly soothe
The baby’s fretful wail.
A table spread to greet your man
With flowered chinaware,
The children hurrying in to taste
The simple, hearty fare.
A little walk as dusk comes down,
A cooling, sighing breeze,
A hand you love close in your own
And starlight through the trees.
You do not need a miser’s wealth
Flung out in bright array,
These gentle things that warm you heart –
These make a happy day.
One Last Reverie
by Ralph Babcock
BOB TELSCHOW’S death in 1951 was no surprise. For eight years Bob had been indulging a weak heart. But even that could not choke the flow of papers from his hobby press. “ENERGY is the different between a live wire and a dead wire” was his Live Wire motto.
Bob Telschow constantly was buying and selling presses and type. If anyone ever had printers ink fever, he did. Oft-told bits of his life story indicate his frustration in choice of life work.
Born in 1879 in Pomerania, Germany, his parents emigrated to New York when he was three. One Christmas he received a toy press. In 1891, age 13, he wrote many stories and essays – one winning a $5 prize from the New York Sunday World. To learn printing he attended Avenue C Working Boys’ Club at night twice a week – for two years!
Upon graduation from grammar school he tried to get work as a printer’s “devil” but no one wanted such a frail appearing lad. At 15, ready to start on his own as editor-printer-publisher, parental disfavor (and a small apartment) caused him to sell his assembled equipment. So he learned Morse code and became a “brass-pounder” in 1894, the heyday of telegraphy. Telschow progressed from operating to testing and later to supervisory positions with Postal Telegraph and Western Union, finally retiring in 1943.
His marriage to Anna Marie Heisler, of Paterson, 1900, was blessed with two boys and two girls from 1902 to 1916. Again acquiring a printing outfit, he printed three issues of Telschow’s Magazine (1902). After writing for trade telegraphy publications 1914-17, he turned his energy to farming and poultry-raising after the war – continuing to commute to New York for a full workday week.
Organized AJ first met him through My Pal, 24 page bi-monthly of 21 semi-professional 4½ x 6½ issues 1932-34. It proved Bob a diligent printer (if not a brilliant editor) but won no great response from AJ due perhaps to mail-order and stamp collecting flavor. Advertising rates and the listed subscription price of 50 cents he stated “help pay paper and postage bills. No profit is made or expected.” After pounding out 17 issues on a 6×10 Pilot handpress Bob achieved further distinction by acquiring the largest press in any amateur printshop: a 14×22 C&P run by a one h.p. motor. This could print 8 pages at a time, but the slim sparetime printer found handling such a heavy chase too much, and soon sold his entire outfit.
His first convention was that in New York, in 1933. Bob and his camera became a feature of local AJ gatherings. Mrs. Telschow’s lack of enthusiasm for amateur journalism never seemed to deter Bob. His factual reports of Amateur Printers Club and other meetings, and unpretentious acknowledgment of papers received, were features of his papers.
Telschow claimed 124 stories and articles written between 1932-43. “At a fair average of five hours per page (type composition and distribution, presswork, assembling, stapling, addressing and mailing) 47 issues of 931 pages represent 4655 hours or 582 eight-hour days spent on the mechanical side of the hobby alone, not including editing or writing material. Proving that an individual does not hesitate at tremendous sacrifice for his hobby.”
Reverie won the 1940-41 NAPA editorial laureate, at the same time Telschow was chosen president of the National Amateur Press Association. Prior to that Bob had never held any office among amateur journalists.
A phrase Vondy once applied to Vincent B. Haggerty sums up Bob Telschow, too: “He had no deckle edges.”
In his year as NAPA President 61-year-old Bob Telschow worked hard, characteristically. “He received 608 letters on AJ, wrote 911, and mailed 76 bundles to prospective members; devoted 450 hours to editing, printing and publishing Reverie.” At that time his paper was a 16-24 pp. quarterly 5×7.
In December 1941 Reverie 15 announced: “My mind is made up. My labors as an amateur editor, publisher and printer are over forever with this issue.”
The following May issue 16 appeared.
June ‘45 he signed off No. 22: “Regretfully I must announce this is the final number.”
After that came the 14 issues of Live Wire and the last six of Reverie.
During two decades Telschow wrote for, handset and printed at least 73 issues under titles such as: My Pal, Pleasant Moments, Fireside Chat, Keep Smiling (a 50 page “book”), Live Wire, Florida Sun, Reverie. He may be recalled chiefly for Reverie.
This comment is from the first Reverie, January 1938: “The chief purpose of a hobby is to afford relaxation and interest in life apart from the daily grind of earning a living. A hobby acts as a stabilizer. No matter how exacting your occupation, your hobby opens up a new world completely apart from pettiness, hardship, and monotony. In a pursuit dear to your heart may be found fascination and contentment, peace, comfort and enjoyment. Such reward is all you expect; your hobby is followed for sheer love, and not for money…. My hobby is amateur journalism, which consists of writing stories, poems, or other literary material for small papers or magazines circulated free of charge among other similarly interested. The most interesting amateur publications usually are also printed personally by their publisher (who is also editor and chief contributor). It is good clean fun, and has distinct educational value.”
In his own words, “AJ keeps me perpetually happy. I like to print. Self-expression is better than self-repression.”
Cheers greeted his brief appearance the last day of the NA PA Diamond Jubilee convention in 1951 – a pleasant surprise to all, tho a calculated risk on his part – indicative of his interest in and devotion to amateur journalism.
December 1951 brought Reverie No. 28, a 20 page masterpiece – one of Bob’s best efforts. Touched up with red and green type ornaments, including articles by George A. Thomson and Verle Heljeson, poetry, Viola Payne’s fine story “The Red Geranium,” and Bob’s chatty pages entitled “Reveries of an Amateur Editor,” Telschow indeed “conveyed season’s good wishes as sincerely as a fancy card could,” but Rowena Moitoret’s lines “For You to Remember” were prophetic: “When I die, remember only this:… I do not want your sentimental sighs,… But go home; search on some forgotten shelf. You’ll find my book.”
Thoughts in Rebuttal
by Ralph Babcock
THAT OUR official organ has “detoured” lately from the “utilitarian” issues of 1880 is true. Then, its appearance every other month (until 1930) offered a prime news medium – especially prior to the mimeo sheet era; and when every other paper was privately mailed to a small selected active audience at one or two cents apiece: there being no monthly mailing bundles nor NAPA Mailing Bureau.
Every year we recruit 30 to 60 new members – and lose half a hundred who fail to renew. No puffery of new member thumbnails by zealous Vice Presidents has changed that. Nor have huge six page O.O. segments devoted to Membership Roster, Secretary listings, and Recorder’s tabulation of monthly bundle statistics proved stimulating enough to alter it.
We might as well just continually reprint our frequently amended constitution.
And try to show “what it’s all about” by displaying reprints of our laureate winners, and by reviewing some of our outstanding papers thru the decades: Aonian, Tryout, Swift’s Weekly, Californian, Cemetery Rabbit; even APC News and Literary Newsette.
Today NAPA and its official organ need PERSONALITY – and if some deplore the puffery of sketches such as recent pre-demise “obituaries” of Weaker Moments Babcock and Official Printer Paxton, they should remember that neither The Fossil nor any other current paper can offer such space.
Any Bureau of Critics efforts depend entirely on two factors: the caliber of the Critics, and the material appearing for consideration. This decade our bundles are notably lacking in 12 to 24 page papers such as Masaka, Alf’s Cat, Spectator, Feather Duster, Siamese Standpipe, Virginian, which flurried in pre- and post- WW II years – the majority of them privately mailed! How, then, can we expect bountiful Critic reports on flocks of flimsy 4-pagers?
The “right to know” will not devolve on Mr. Average Dues-Payer thru any plethoric organ pages. Like the proverbial iceberg (90 percent out of sight below the surface) far more action and business is transacted by correspondence (private and official) than ever reflects in the NA. Only by serving as a key officer and taking a lead in AJ activity can one begin to know what really goes on in the NAPA.
This no one denies: The National Amateur is not typical of amateur publishing. Thru our dues and its editor’s efforts it is the cumulative cooperative achievement no one of us individually can afford or accomplish in our average handset, handprinted 5×8 Kelsey fashion.
In its recent format ($18 per page) The National Amateur is expensive. The last five 100-page volumes – each costing far beyond our total annual dues income – are (like the free mailing bundles) possible only because of the $800 annual Rusty Trust subsidy.
Yet if we are to recognize our coming 100th anniversary and grandiosely celebrate our Centennial with a suitable publication or O.O. volume of notable size, then the next three basic official organ volumes will have to be cut back in size (perhaps to 16 pagers) to save funds for such a Centennial super-effort.
May these pages ever serve as pleasant reminder of the fellowship and studied diligence of our friend
who shared our fun in the realm of Amateur Journalism
THE SCARLET COCKEREL
Of this 54th issue, handset in Times Roman and proofed on a hand-inked Chicago sign press: 400 copies multilithed September ‘72. Ralph Babcock, Tuxedo, N.Y. 10987.