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Printed Spasmodically for the Amusement of One Ralph Babcock

Suddenly I Feel Old

July 4th, 1949! Can it be nearly 19 years since those “boy printers” joined the National Amateur Press Association – 16 years since Harold Segal, George Trainer, and I helped pep up the 1933 New York NAPA gathering with a printed daily convention paper that drew newspaper write-ups and even a picture in the New York Herald-Tribune? Sixteen years… Suddenly I feel old!

Yet the fun and pleasure of creating a new publication (even tho only a small four-pager) is still there. Many of the mature members who masterminded that New York City meeting, alas, are no longer with us. (Will Murphy, Doc Swift, Jim Morton, Vincent Haggerty, Hadley Smith – to mention a few.) The National Amateur Press Association, however, is still alive and functioning, proving that the hobby of Amateur Journalism is still attractive and enjoyable as it was in 1876 before the invention of the linotype and monotype machines, before typewriters and mimeographs, before the varitype and multilith, before Ditto duplicators, before the widespread use of offset printing.

On the sunny side of the Iron Curtain people still write: for money, for pleasure, or from crusading fervor. In this day of $5 and $7 hour rates for professional printing, some die-hard dilettantes prefer to handset type at a cost to themselves of less than a beer and the idle hours they might otherwise spend broiling in the sun in futile pursuit of a silly little golfball, or madly burning up hi-test gasoline squealing around corners in a hurry to get nowhere, or sitting in the dark chomping popcorn and watching someone else’s wife (just whose, in Hollywood, is often difficult to say) flutter around the silver screen in or out of a bathing suit – or the barest minimum equivalent thereof.

Suddenly I feel old. Yet not fossilized enough that I cannot enjoy tossing lead slivers together and poring over those first proofs. As long as that thrill remains there will be Weaker Moments.

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Paper and Type

Last year, in preparation for a heavy publication schedule, our Scarlet Cockerel Press acquired a noble supply of 7×10 book paper and considerable type. At that time we had no idea mid-1949 would find us 1500 miles away working in Kansas. When the change was made there was not time to pack all this wealth of assets; some 200 to 300 pounds of type were hastily and ruthlessly junked.

Now our good brother has agreed to pack and sell some of the remaining types and whatever paper he has no immediate need for. (We sent him 63# in May and barely dented the stockpile.)

If you’re interested in good type or paper write Al Babcock for details. (Cranford, N. J.) But don’t expect to pick up any Centaur, Times Roman, or Granjon. Those go with me – even if it’s to Tokyo and back!

Does Your Dog Have “Coffee-Nerves?”

Who mentioned “coffee-nerves?” The way my dear spouse guzzles coffee sometimes worries me. She’s one of the open-one-eye-in-the-morning-and-growl-for-coffee-species – fetch a cup quick m’lad ‘fore your head’s bitten off! Not that we hold against a cup o’ java anytime. Nothing like coffee-call along about 9:30 a.m. or 10:30, and 3:30 or 4:30 p.m., as well as 9:30 or 10 at night.

The navy transport that took us to Hawaii turned us green. Not mal-de-mer – just envy. Bloody navy with their coffeepots in every compartment! And coffee on tap at any hour! Make a note – next francas, we sign up for the navy. Of course, after the army finally learned how to make a decent cup of coffee, and we’d finally gained enough rank to justify a semi-official “inspection trip” to the messhall about ten o’clock for coffee-and… life had its moments.

But the thing that gets us is Ruth’s dog, a cute little brown Boxer female just a year old. That fool hound loves coffee too! She’ll watch Ruth intently, eyeing the path of the cup from saucer to mouth and back until her anxiety reaches a state where she rears up on her hind legs, forepaws gesticulating “com’ on, bud – give!” and whines – for coffee. She’s no damn good as a watch-dog – is nearly as barkless as a skinless frankfurter or a dumb Bensaji – but she’ll whine for coffee. (Just like her mistress in the morning!)

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Please Use This Address

You’ll make the postman and everyone else happier if you’ll address all letters and amateur papers to me at Topeka, Kansas. Thanks.

People named John Jones or Sam Cohen or Bill Smith probably never experience a shock when given the wrong hotel key or mail, when they bump into another character who stiffens, bugs his eyes, jacks up his nose, and postulates, “Egad sir! There must be some mistake. I am John Jones!” (Or Sam Cohen, or Bill Smith.) Since early diaperhood they have been conditioned to meeting many other Jones boys and Cohen kids and Smith brats – all named John, Sam, or Bill.

Wasn’t it Ripley who pointed out the frustrated papa who tried to individualize his son by christening him Willie 5/8 Smith. (Or perhaps “Pop” was suspicious of the little bastard.)

Any normal citizen named Victor Moitoret, or Helm Spink, or Hyman Bradofsky, or Ralph Babcock, tho, is apt to require about two days to a week for recuperation after discovering another party by the same name.

Babcock is not a particularly common family name, altho we’ve had plenty of time during the ten generations who’ve lived in America. During my army interlude confused postal clerks “introduced” me to two more Ralph Babcocks. Adding my late father, and the lively four-year-old RWB3 who bears the same “handle” (even tho he answers to “Punkin” or “Pinkie”) engenders a vague feeling of overcrowdedness. And now, to discover in Kansas another R. W. Babcock – well known as a college dean! His name is Rodney, tho.

Some joy-killer once told me that RWB was the most common grouping of initials ending in B. I’m beginning to agree. [We’ll omit SOB from this study.]

One consolation – no friend will ever mistake me for a college dean.

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