Out of the Bathtub
by Helen Vivarttas Wesson
KLUNK, KLUNK! Gary Hantke’s tape started with the familiar sound of his press galloping away. If you think we are Rip Van Winkles, note that Fossil Gary admits that his recent “Biography of a Basement Printer” was his first effort since the 1940 Grapevines! “How newspapers were ever set before the days of the linotypes….” he mused.
“I’ve got literally a bathtub full of type,” Gary wrote more than two years ago, in describing the old professional shop that he’d bought up for hobby purposes. That remark, amplified by letters and tape-recorded conversations, led to the cover of this issue – my suggestion that he sample for us every face in his shop. Gary shipped 375 two years ago, and we blushingly admit that they have lain idle all this time.
Through the tape-recorder, we took a lively tour of Gary’s basement, joined by Dr. Emerson Wulling, also a Fossil. There is the 50-year-old 8×12 Chandler and Price, then the length of a long lead away, there are five stands of 20 cases which contain most of his most-used type. In one passageway is a cabinet with metal furniture and other materials, and two 20-case racks and a 30-case rack for seldom-used types. Cutter is a 25-inch Peerless Gem. Flat-bed proof press. Type enough to set ’til Doomsday….
Caslon bold from 10 to 36 point. Caslon Open in 12 different sizes. Wonderful Tiffany italics. Goudy old style not much used. “Century does have the advantage that I have a lot of it.” Wedding Text 6 to 36 point. A series of Cheltenham, including condensed. “Chelt is coming back into style now; even Life is using it.” Gothics; scripts – more than any commercial shop in town: 19 faces, 12 to 48 point. Parson. Duplicate cases of extras! Wood type, 3-line to 15-line. Series of Franklin Gothic. “Franklin can have it back if he wants it!” Oddball fonts like Schwabacher. Antique faces.
Over a glass of beer, Gary and Doc Wulling discussed the professor’s collection of typographical specimens, including a page from the original Gutenberg Bible, and more recent acquisition from Gutenberg’s Catholicon, equally old. Wulling teaches English literature and composition at Wisconsin State College. He took a post-graduate course in printing at Harvard but is “strictly a hobbyist,” though he sometimes uses his collection to illustrate his course on the “History of Printing.”
“Most of my activity,” Gary said, “will be confined to printing things that interest me particularly.” Our philosophy completely. “I don’t like to print the works of others. I prefer to print my own writings.” At this juncture, Doc Wulling laughed; and you could almost hear Gary grin, “He was my English teacher.”
Gary is primarily interested in amateur printing methods, shops and adventures. He is considering a booklet on the use of color. We print for fun; “why not put in a few extra hours at the press” for color runs?
Wulling has a partial font of the original Centaur. He never tires of Bulmer, likes Caslon. An admirer of Goudy, he likes Goudy’s later faces more than the old.
Gary said he wanted to experiment with printed designs impressed from the surface of fabric, as we did in SS 39. “My wife put her foot down on my tearing up the drapes to print with.” (We didn’t have that problem – a fire did it for us.)
We also met (on tape) the Hantke family: Wife Ruth, who approves of Gary’s nights in the basement, Karen, then seven, and one-year-old Nancy. Karen was thrilled to talk to friends at the far end of the earth. “But how do you keep from falling off?” she asked.
QUOTE and UNQUOTE
We always knew that having children would some day, somehow, pay off. Now we know. Our two sons are now the type-distribution department of this printery. At an allowance-supplementing 100 yen (27.78 cents) a page, it is a bargain, even in this land of supposedly low wages. Sheldon is philosophical about the slave-wage: “If we didn’t get the 100 yen, we’d have to do it for nothing anyway.”
Ian MacDonald, a Scot-Australian friend, was helping David, then 8, with his pounds-shillings-pence homework. Later Mommy remarked, “Wasn’t Ian nice to help you? He treats you just like an uncle would.”
David, reared abroad: “What’s an uncle?”
Helen was scolding Shel when he broke her up: “You sound like a banshee playing the piccolo.”
Our Cool Car Pool
by Sheldon C. Wesson
FOLKS IN THE STATES pity us expatriates because we cannot enjoy American living and American institutions. It will give them some comfort to know that we have preserved one cherished American institution, the school car-pool.
At first the Wesson station-wagon was always tearing about, carting children in all directions. Then several families in the neighborhood had children nearing school age, one family moved in with two candidates, and one family transferred a child to our Yokohama International School. The time seemed ripe to convoke a Car Pool.
The idea was delightedly accepted in the friendly atmosphere of Holiday cocktail parties, so I grasped the opportunity by the throat and invited the parents of five families to the inaugural meeting of the Asahi-dai Car Pool and Child Transportation Association, so named because we all lived here on Asahi-dai (Rising Sun Heights).
Three of the families were American, one British, one a British-American alliance. With drinks distributed, we got along fine without an interpreter.
The project almost bogged down in an excess of cooperative spirit. The morning run to school is the least desirable: It usually involves husbands who must be at the office on time, and who fret violently while small legs refuse to fit into snowsuits. Nonetheless, Leila Farmer said she’d just as soon haul the kids in the morning, because she had to drive Hugh to the office if she wanted the car anyhow. Helen Dodwell said she had to take Ben to the station earlier, and so was up and around by school-time anyway. Sue Carroll said Jim took one car and left her the other, and her cook could drive, so she would be glad to relieve us all of the morning chore. Jean Osborne said Sam went to work in the company car, so she had the family car, and anyhow her Carol was a bit shy in the new neighborhood and wanted to ride to school in her own car at least for a while. I insisted that I take the morning run because, being a newspaperman with a 14-hour time advantage over New York, I had to have some definite reason for getting up early or I might lie slug-a-bed and waste the morning’s (quiet) working hours when the children were at school, and then have to work at night to catch up, and nuts to that.
It developed that only Leila and I had to take the morning run: She to capture the family car, and I because I am often up in Tokyo or working around Yokohama in the afternoons and couldn’t be tied down to a return-from-school run.
So the first crisis passed; and after that the schedule worked out smoothly. Thus:
Leila Farmer drove the four older children to the grade school every morning and I drove the six smaller ones to the nursery and kindergarten departments. Except one week when Leila’s car was having its semi-annual dent-removal job, and she had been lent an MG which would take only two, so she carried her own two, including her boy Guy whom I would normally haul. Mrs. Osborne took Mrs. Farmer’s morning run for the other three older children who wouldn’t fit in the MG that week only to help Leila out.
So I took the six little ones in the morning except that week when I only had five. That is, I’d expected only five because Carol was shy and wouldn’t ride in my car. But Carol changed her mind; and Guy was riding with his mother in the MG. So I did have five, but not the five I had expected to have.
Mrs. Carroll called for all the little ones who finished nursery school at 11:45, three of them. Sue also waited for Carol, who had school in the afternoon but came home for lunch, while the others all had lunch in school. Sometimes Alan Dodwell liked to come home for lunch, and so she picked him up, too. On those days, Helen Dodwell would take the two back to school at 1, if her Alan had come home. Otherwise Jean Osborne took her Carol back. If both Alan and Carol tended to come home regularly, they would alternate day-and-day.
However, Helen Dodwell’s regular portion of the Pool was the 2:45 back-from-school run, when she brought five children home, but not always. She had Guy, Alan and Carol every day at that time, and my David on Mondays and Wednesdays, because he was too young to take French. On the other three days David came home at 3:45. Helen brought Stephen Osborne home on Tuesdays and Thursdays, unless he decided to take French on those days, which would mean he would come home at 3:45 every day. On Fridays, Helen brought home only three, since both Stephen and David stayed until 3:45.
Jean Osborne’s regular trip was at 3:45, when she brought home her own Stephen (except, as noted previously, Tuesdays and Thursdays, when he came home with Helen at 2:45, unless they subsequently decided he should take French). She also brought home my David, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when he finished at 2:45. She could always depend on Wylie Farmer and my Sheldon, who always finished at 3:45. She could always depend on them, that is, except on Wednesdays, when they had dancing lessons down at the Yacht Club.
So, on alternate Wednesdays, Leila Farmer and I (or Helen, my wife Helen, not Helen Dodwell) took our two children from school to dancing lessons. When we did, we also picked up Barbara Newman (who did not figure elsewhere in our car pool because she went to a different school). Then Ed Newman brought the three home from dancing lessons on his way back from the office at 5:30. Except when he was out of town, and Gert Newman couldn’t leave the baby or couldn’t get the office car. Then the three came home with the Davis boys or Avon Shaw, who also went to different schools, and so did not figure in any other phase of this car pool.
Then, notwithstanding any other provisions of this arrangement, on Cub Scout Den Meeting days, David, Sheldon and Stephen stayed at school for them. Only Wylie Farmer had to come home on Girl Scout days, because they met on the other side of town.
It sure is a great thing – that good old American institution, the car pool. It makes life so simple.
View from the Swing
by Helen Vivarttas Wesson
The sun strews diamonds on the rippling bay
… like stars preening in a mirror
…and Out of Limbo
MOST OF THE COPY in this issue has been “on the hook” for three to five years. It has taken the excitement of the American Amateur Press Association’s Silver Spur, in its 25th year, to draw a little blood from the Standpipe Editorial Board. We hope that the energy of the Silver Spur group will also stir up activity in the AAPA. (This Standpipe is mailed through the AAPA bundle, though we normally mail privately.)
The July issue of The Fossil carried a history of the AAPA’s first 25 years, a fine job of easy-reading copy by Lee Hawes, chief of the Silver Spur committee.
Helen joined AAPA in 1938 and Wes in 1941. As we look back, it is hard to realize that the association was so young in those days. In just the first few years of its existence, it developed a drive and energy which, to us newcomers in the early years, made it seem like a full-blown, full-grown functioning organization.
Helen has been president of AAPA twice (was its first girl member and first girl president) and Wes has been official editor for two terms. Our contacts with A APA have sometimes been stimulating, sometimes heartbreaking, never dull.
BRITISH CO-OP : Ispaventure, brief visits to 20 members of the International Small Printers’ Association, each contributing a folio of essays, art-work or shop talk.
AS THE EARLIER pages of this Standpipe were being set, young Sheldon watched his father at work and, after a lifetime (13½ years) of contact with the hobby in his home, asked simply, “Dad, how did you learn to be a printer?” The answer came almost automatically: “At APC meetings.”
In this hobby we learn by watching and doing; and the casual conversation around the shop, during production of an APC News, can be itself an education to the aspiring beginner.
This year the Amateur Printers Club marks 30 years of life, a history to be recounted in detail by Ralph Babcock in the October Fossil. More power and long years to our favorite batch of friends, the APC
MR. EDITOR’S ajay activity for three years has been confined almost entirely to editing The Fossil, of which he is now approaching completion of a five-year volume. Otherwise, we have spent many hours sorting, cataloguing and assembling for binding our collection of amateur journals. There are now over 300 matching volumes – a fairly complete record of the last 30 years, a good representation back to the turn of the century, and a sprinkling of the earlier years.
Mrs. Editor remarks without urging that bridge, too, robs time from the printshop; but at least we have not succumbed to the horrors of TV.
SHARP-EYED printers will have already noted from the inking and back-up variations that this is printed one page at a time. The old 7 x 11 just will not take a full two-page form any more.
We hope to put out one or two more issues between now and next May, when we have our triennial home leave. We will visit Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Bombay, Karachi, Aden, Suez and Naples by ship, with a tour inland to the Pyramids en route. Then we plan a month or so in Italy and Switzerland, followed by another ship from Genoa to New York via Mediterranean ports. Late in the Summer, some ajays will inevitably find us knocking at their doors.
Helen and Sheldon Wesson