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Resulting from Helm Spink’s Visit to the Hatbox

How to Edit Semi-Blank Pages

Current National Amateurs will stand out among the last score of volumes by reason of their covers if nothing else. Blessed with multilith facilities in the office where she works, Sesta has clothed our pedestrian official reports with such eye-catching composite pictures of amateur journalists as the association has never seen before. That’s something we never dared dream of: The National Amateur with a “rotogravure” section.

After such a pleasant innovation we’re disappointed when Sesta bogs down and sobs, “The dragon, How-to-do-so-Much-on-so-Little, is again breathing down the neck of the Official Editor.” Shucks, sister – your common everyday editorial tools, the blue pencil and the layout dummy, can readily slay that dragon.

Common fallacy rates official organs by size: 24 pages – fine issue; only 12 pages – stinks! How wrong and how stupid! The criterion is not quantity of pages; what goes into those pages – or better, what trash is omitted – is what counts.

Apparently every official editor’s first thought is, “How can I get more money for more pages? Who can I bamboozle into a donation?” Rarely does he consider, “How can I get the most into the NA? How can I give the Association the most for its money?”

1. We don’t have to use expensive coated paper; regular EF will do. The illustrations could be done on the cover, saving the cost of engravings as well: $7.34 for two in September.

2. The wind whistles around those drafty ideal margins we adopted two years ago when Crane printed the NA himself and price per page didn’t matter. But today we pay $4 to $6 a page with 41 percent of the page blank margins! If we can’t reduce the type size to 8 pt. (which would allow almost fifty percent more words per page – and for many years in the 1930’s we did use 8 pt. regularly) at least lengthen the line to 17 picas, omit running heads, and add ten lines per column. Smarter to pay another dollar for additional composition per page than $6 per new page.

3. We lost 15 lines in the list of officers because someone did not edit the officers names and addresses to fit one line. The list appears quarterly; hence, 60 lines wasted during the year. The Dec. ‘46 NA wasted 27 blank lines between the Critics paragraphs – 180 words unprinted. And why wasn’t that two page Secretarial report whittled down to a column – especially with the Membership List in this issue duplicating the addresses?

Certainly printing costs have risen. Wages are up and paper is scarce. But instead of just whining, “Mama, you only gave me a nickel and candybars are 6¢ now,” why not squeeze our windy old official organ and see what can be done by editing it?

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First 1947 Boston amateur activity seems to stem from stimulating over-the-coffee discussions at the Cole menage. Last week (Jan. 19) Bernice McCarthy was guest there; this week (26th) found Spink the card drawing Coles, Babcocks and Harold Bessom together. Next week… Kilroy?

Conapan Spink, job-hunting once again after ten years in the same rut, tonight concluded his week-long survey of printing possibilities in the east. Three days in New York enabled him to spurn $90 a week proofreading, lunch with Cliff Laube and Vondy, bring Prexy Haywood umpteen pounds of type – which Bill then decided he didn’t want after all since he’s splurging on some Weiss, and confer politically with the NA PA Vice Prexy. In Beantown to weekend at The Hatbox he also found time to call on Tim Thrift and visit the Coles. After seeing the sights and investigating cost of moving his press Helm thinks he’ll probably take another job in Cleveland. He mentioned seeing a small offset press which averages 24,000 letterhead-size impressions per hour from a web of paper. Just the thing for Literary Newsette.

With her background it is no wonder Vondy McDonald turned out such an interesting synthesis of the Newark affair in The Wag. We long for more such literate and thinking papers.

There is sad news about Watertown Standpipe which was scattered around way before Christmas. Apparently some copies got lost in the wild scramble for this collectors item, and non-recipients are mad. I have no copies left so the only solution seems to be for those who want it to buy it from Alf Babcock who seems to have cornered the market. I have no copies for sale and I wouldn’t buy one on a bet. But two suckers have appeared to offer $.30 or $.55 per copy (depending on whether the regular or dual-facial-tissue version is available). How much is yours worth? Honest? You wouldn’t kid a guy would you? Maybe I should print some more.

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Dept. of Vital Statistics

In the Hadley Smith manner, the Spink-Babcock Immaterial-But-Interesting Research Bureau has brought up to date the all-important list of living conventioneers found on p. 13 Sept. ‘36 National Amateur. Their findings:

1. Felicitas Haggerty hasn’t missed a single clambake in the past eleven years.

2. Vondy missed only one train in that period, thus placing herself neck and neck (interesting situation) with Prof. Cole for the title of more persistent hotel supporter (21 conventions).

3. Felicitas is third, tied with Charley Heins and Pop Mellinger (17 each).

4. A. M. Adams has attended 15, and Spink (who has missed only two hotel bars in the last eleven years) rates seventh with 14 conventions.

5. Wills and Heath 12, Amanda Thrift 11, Parker and Kleiner 10.

6. Goff, Sawyer, Lynch, Thomson, Tim Thrift, Nita Smith, in that order each with 9.

7. Townsend, Pearl Morton, and RWB wind up the top 21 living conventioneers with 8 shindigs apiece.

No one yet has matched Jim Morton’s total of 24, nor Doc Swift’s and Vincent Haggerty’s 22. NAPA conventions would certainly seem to be fun to keep people traveling far and near over two decades just to sleep in a hotel room for three days.

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