Upon Championing the Arts
by Louis S. Brenner
“Bud” Brenner, a potential member of NAPA, is a 20-year-old resident of Portland, Oregon. Here he tears himself away from radio and phonograph to write of the “Arts.”
It is often said that there are two types of people in this world, those who do and those who do not quote from Alice in Wonderland. Because this was written in a slightly sarcastic vein, I agreed with the quotation, recalling some of the people I’ve met who continuously bring into their conversation the fact that they’ve read extensively by saying, “As (some author) says, (‘etc. ad infinitum,’)” until those who do not belong to the literati have the brilliant gems of knowledge literally coming out of their ears.
Now, it seems, being reasonably broad-minded, I must soften my criticism. Softening it to the point of using a quotation of an author generally accepted as a literary giant.
The reason I resorted to lower myself came about this way: while delving into a much unused library of the words of the Masters, I came across a passage by Ruskin. The work that contained this passage was Art and Morals and went something like this, “Life without industry is guilt, industry without art is brutality.” Being quite partial to classical music, I find it necessary to defend it in various and sundry companies. I very seldom come out on top due to the overwhelming odds in favor of the opposing factions consisting of those who consider themselves “hep to the Jive,” “reet with the feet,” ad nauseam. It struck me that what I needed for the perfect defense was a quotation illustrating my point in the argument, one written or uttered by an author whose works are generally accepted by the present reign of intelligentsia. As music of a classical nature is surely within the realm of art, I took this passage to be more than appropriate. At long last I memorized the short line, quite an undertaking for me.
The following day, with my head held high, I stepped out into the world. Bring on your hep cats… let your jitterbugs gnaw futilely at foundations of the Philharmonic. With my quotation and me on the side of Symphony, Boogy Woogy, Barrelhouse, and the Blues will be squelched under the thundering fortes of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms!
“You heard me! Turn off that jive. Ruskin says, ‘Life without industry is guilt, industry without…’ Huh? Okay, okay. Don’t get excited. Leave it on then. See if I care.”
By golly, come to think of it, that stuff ain’t so bad after all.
by Pearl T. Dunn
Here is something to think about when you wish the other fellow were different. Mrs. Dunn of St. Francis, Kansas gives some sound advice and quotes a poem to give further proof of her point.
How often do we hear, “Why don’t you do like So-and-So?” “I wish you were more like your brother?”
Do people really want likeness in each other? I think not. For if everyone copied each other we should run into real difficulties.
In the first place, there would be no zest, no spice in life. What fun would there be if all girls were just alike, or boys like peas in a pod? If everyone was a leader, who would follow?
On the other hand, what if all were followers and there were no leaders? We should be like sheep without a shepherd.
So don’t try to ape someone you admire. You can be fine and upright in your own way; have your own mannerisms, your own gaiety, your own ideas and ideals. Be original! Don’t just drift along – dare to be yourself!
If you are inclined to be a leader, all right and good; but if not, don’t let it worry you. The world needs good followers, too.
My whole point is aptly illustrated in a poem I once read about the buttercup and the robin. It seems the buttercup was envious of the daisy and wanted the robin to help her to be like this other flower. The lines I recall follow:
“Friend Robin,” said the Buttercup
“Would you mind in trying
To find a nice white frill for me,
Some day when you are flying?”
“You silly thing,” the Robin said,
“I think you must be crazy.
I’d rather be my honest self
Than any made-up Daisy!”
Stop Me If…
by Willametta Turnepseed
As one would-be humorist said, “NAPA Prexy Willametta is the most correspondenest woman I ever did see.” And through letters she has made the entrance into a.j. for all new members a most welcome one. Perhaps it’s the humor in her soul as evidenced by this piece.
If I moved into a community with a considerable foreign element, I should immediately learn their language if only to enjoy the jokes. There is something about mixed-language jokes that excite my risibilities, but the drawback is that your audience is limited. To retell the joke to a one-language listener entails too much explanation and the flavor is lost. For example, this joke which amused me at first telling, seems tedious in translation:
A newly married couple had just driven away from the minister’s house leaving a group of their friends and relatives gossiping at the church. A stranger rushed up and inquired, “Vos is loos?” (Here you are obliged to explain that when a German means “What’s up?” or “What’s wrong?” he asks, “What is loose?”)
Whereupon the minister replied, “Nothing’s loose, I just tied the knot.”
Some of course, are much simpler to retell, like this one which really happened to (or should I say “by”) a neighbor. Boys playing ball had broken his window and he rushed outside and examined the window, bewailing loudly, “Oh, oh, worser dan I t’out; broken on bot’ sides!”
While the one about the Dutchman’s fleas – “You put your finger on him and he isn’t there” – is a classic I have no doubt really happened over and over. But the one I like best is the one about the German farmer attending an auction sale with a friend who was to act as his interpreter. The farmer bid in some stock and when the cashier came around to collect, he said in German to his interpreter, “Explain to him that I haven’t any cash with me but that I can give him my personal check on the local bank. They can call the bank and find out that I have a substantial balance there.”
Whereupon the interpreter said brilliantly, “He says he’s got no five cents but his name is all right.”
Things Not Liked
by P. F. McNamee
It seems I am destined to always be observing things which I do not like. It has been so most of my life, especially in later years – last year, last month, last week, yesterday – today.
The more significant of these things which I do not like are the little inadvertences of my associates – those acquired little habits of profanity, selfishness, inconsistencies, niggardliness, disrespect for sacred things, and other apparently unconscious little habits and affectations.
No, I do not like these things and have frequently wondered why I so loathe them. Perhaps it is because of a consciousness of the sin. A veteran schoolmaster once said that many such sins are the result of a “threadbare conscience.” But I am inclined to think they are caused by society, which is becoming more secular in these days of advanced science, education, and too much of the “modernism.”
Anyway, these little habits are all wrong, a sin, if I comprehend the Scriptures, and I just do not like them.
Meet a Sandstorm or Texas Real Estate with a Wanderlust
by Viola Payne
In Kansas a sand storm is delicately referred to as a “duster.” Down here we grit our teeth and call it everything we can think of.
West Texas has always had sandstorms, but not until the last ten years have they come with such appalling viciousness. In the 20’s cotton prices were high and thousands of acres of useless red land was plowed up and planted in cotton. Now it is ready to blow away, and blow it does. Usually in March, but sometimes earlier or later. It doesn’t grow good cotton now, so share croppers dot the plowed lands, and starve.
Pretend you are standing on a hill near my home in mid-March. The mesquites are budding. A few pale leaves have opened gingerly to the warm sun. They make the cedars in the river-brakes look dark. The grass is freshly green, and three tiny, white-faced calves gallop adventurously up to you and stop, sniffing. Prickly pear looks ready to spill its heavy gold blooms. Wild blue bells and Indian-blankets fling their glowing petals over hill and gully. The sage will be fragrantly purple in a month.
“What a beautiful country,” you say.
Within an hour the sky is a dark, purplish, rolling red in the northwest. Huge clouds of sand shoot skyward, whipped and torn by a rising wind.
“What on earth?” you would be sure to ask. To any outlander the sight of a sandstorm coming would be a ghastly thing.
“Just another sandstorm.”
“Just…! Why, my Heavens, girl, it’s going to blot out the sun!”
“Of course. Let’s go back to the house and shut the windows.”
The sun strikes the sand cloud for one last time and it shows red from millions of particles of Texas earth high in the air. Then the sun is gone. We are in a darkened world where the wind shrieks. That is all I can say. Shrieks. Sand fills our eyes, cuts against our faces, halts us as we try to run. The day has darkened and I take your hand as we try to run along together, pulling, tugging, stopping to pant for breath once by a clump of gray chaparral bushes.
When we reach the house we fall in the door. The walls sway and bulge a little with the terrific wind.
“Do you think the house will go?” you ask, looking at the unsteady flimsy walls.
“It’s withstood many a sandstorm. Would you look at that?” I point fiercely to a long crack in my new kitchen wallpaper. “It’s no use trying to have anything pretty in this God-forsaken country! It’s enough to make a preacher cuss! Look outside.”
You look. But you can’t see ten rods from the window. Sand hangs around the house like a fog – fog whipped and beaten and torn and dashed into the walls. I scream at you – I have to scream to be heard. “I had a rose bush set out and some tulips were an inch high. Rose and tulips in a sandstorm! And it may last three days!”
I get a white sheet, while you watch wonderingly. I dip it in a pan of water and we wring it out. I fasten the wet sheet over the bed as I hear you spitting and coughing, and I shake my head. A person who isn’t used to sandstorms gets choked often.
“Let’s crawl in bed and read or write all day long.”
This is my Texas – fire and ice. Gentle breezes and howling sandstorms.
Dear Mrs. Fillis Gee
by Sophronisba Bavardage
To a newcomer its refreshing to read humor such as this. If there were only some amateur to publish a collection of these letters, it would be a real stimulus to the new a.j. In presenting this letter, we must rely on this quotation, “No one ever tells on Sophie! She’s quite a gal, though, and her boyfriend, C. A. A. Parker of Medford, Mass., is one of our finest humorists.”
Just a couple’ve lines to tell you about old Jim Smart. Remember him? He lives in that white cottage a-top Gallows Hill just where the Turnpike makes the bend there at the Willows. Jim’s had brain fever. Doc Sawyer said he had it in his old fool head and you know that’s the very worst place he could have it. Cousin Abdiel opines Doc must’ve been mistook because in all the seventy-odd years he’s knowed Jim he never showed no signs of having it there b’fore. ‘Twaint but last fall, says Abdiel, that Jim stood a-looking and a-drooling at the latest model of a shiney sport car at the Automobile Show. Jim went to the salesman and asked him if he sold automobiles on the installment plan. Why, yes, the salesman said, was you considering the purchase of a car? Jim cal’lated he was. And how much can you afford to pay each and every month the salesman wanted to know. Jim thought awhile and Abdiel watched Jim’s busy fingers working behind his back. Well, says Jim slowly and with considerable care, Jim, you know hates money just like Eph Coyne. I figger, says Jim, I c’n pay all of three dollars a month. Yessir, three dollars. The salesman’s eyes popped, said Abdiel, as he gasped, three dollars a month! Why at that rate it would take you all of a hundred years to pay for it. Abdiel said Jim looking longingly at the streamlined glittering model and said Jim, its wuth it, aint it? My goodness, I saw the time, first thing you know, I’ll be losing my beauty sleep. So, I beg to remain, dear Mrs. Fillis Gee, your very dear friend.
LINES Written While Typing…
O, Great Inventor, I pray of thee
To give thy time to a type-riter
That without exception brings to me
The way to evermore spell-riter
Stuff and Nonsense
The one-night One Night catches the eye for its interesting makeup, and we’d like to see more of E. Everett Evans’ articles on mimeographing. One of the lessons to be learned from this paper is to leave plenty of “white” space in mimeographing.
In Pourparler C. W. Wood asks why so many printers are scared to see more than one type-face on a page. In the case of amateurs, it’s probably the only time they can keep from being two-faced.
Because it satisfies the publishing urge, Jack Rigney is to be congratulated on Skyrocket. This is a neat, easily-read, well-made-up amateur paper. His ideas on teen-agers have real merit.
One Derek Pugsley in Amateur Observer threatens to combat the “Watch the West” slogan with “Notice the North.” We’ll be right back at him with “Observe Oregon.” Now, he mustn’t “Roast the Coast.”
Our only wish: That Willametta Turnepseed make Literary Newsette more than a sheet. Her ability should not be held back by a weekly paper.
To see Ralph Babcock in his Weaker Moments makes us look forward to new issues of Scarlet Cockerel like – or better than – those we remember ‘way back in ‘35.
How The Cemetery Rabbit was named becomes more of a mystery as Vic and Ro Moitoret keep the question alive by denying certain suggestions. The answer is simple: It’s named after one of Vic’s “dead hairs.”
Since Sesta Matheison started The Stepping Stone we had hoped to learn about more than two new amateurs in each issue. Perhaps she will be able to enlarge this fine addition to amateurdom as time goes on. It’s a great stimulus for new members to know that someone is interested in them – enough to publish a paper for their benefit.
In the first issue of La Leche, L. C. Beauvine talks about a “gentle sizzle sozzle” in the Willamette Valley. As a matter of fact, it’s strong enough to keep us Oregonians from being “drips.”
Questions: Why so much advertising in The Cheerio (Edgar C. Thompson)? Why so much poetry in The P-K Scribbler (Paxton-Keffer-Walsh)? Why only six items in the “formula for a boring paper” listed in The Hoot Owl (Ernest Pittaro)? Why so little personal comment in the Napaian (Eva Jane Clevenger)? Why don’t more printers use “a little color here and there” as in Literary Star (P. F. McNamee)? How can we reach the heights of informality, originality, and cleverness shown in Alf’s Cat (Alf Babcock)?
From the Mail
Bill Von Dreele: The Northwest is the only section of the country the Army hasn’t dragged me to, which is probably just as well. One tends to dislike any section visited while in the Army for obvious reasons, and I wouldn’t want my reactions to your part of America prejudiced. Now you take Texas – I hate Texas. I spent three months taking basic training in Camp Fannin, and positively despise the place.
Edward H. Cole: If you survive in the very helter-skelter fraternity of amateur journalists, you will undoubtedly become accustomed to papers with 1944 datelines appearing in 1946 and responses to letters coming in almost as timely fashion.
Ralph Babcock: Yes, it’ll be a long time before they have another convention as lively as that one of ‘35 in Oakland. Have attended several since then but that and the ‘36 affair in Grand Rapids still seem “tops” to me – or perhaps the novelty is wearing thin. I hope not.
Ernest M. Pittaro: Regarding the Watch the West – well – we shall see…. (Of course it is traditional for an easterner to make a crack like that – so I couldn’t disappoint you.
C. A. A. Parker: This year will round out half a century of activity as an amateur for me and don’t regret or begrudge a minute of it. In fact I owe amateur journalism more than ever I can repay.
Alf Babcock: Was glad to hear you liked the Recruit Volume of papers that I bound a couple of years ago. That is one of nine I bound up.
Victor A. Moitoret: Surely wish I could be in on that six day progressive convention – that is one of the best ideas dreamed up yet! Well, I don’t know yet where we will be come next July, so there’s still an outside chance that we might be able to “progress” with you – or at least get in on part of the meet. On the other hand, we might possibly be able to be in on the convention itself in New York – we’ll just have to wait and see what the Navy’s wishes are at that time.
Grace Phillips: Even in a hobby we should have some aim and work toward it – or so I think. It doesn’t so much matter whether or not we succeed – but we should strive.
Willametta Turnepseed: It isn’t half as much fun belonging to several associations as it is just belonging to one and expending all your effort on it.
Colophon – The “Why” of It
Published in the Interests of Amateur Journalism
The third issue of Trail Blazer was published with a Corona Portable Typewriter (elite type) cutting Mimeograph stencils with Cheviot Mimeograph paper run on a Model L Speed-o-Print.
This format is used because we want to be different… copy is double spaced for easier reading… most of the material is from the NAPA Manuscript Bureau because we felt patriotic and wanted a varied content.
Special credit is due Margaret (“Splash” – “1946”) Gimpl who operated the crank of the Speed-o-Print.
Judson W. Compton
U. S. National Bank Building