2002 AAPA Convention:

The 2002 American Amateur Press Association convention was held at the Lodge and Conference Center in Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton, Illinois.

There are two sets of convention photos available on-line:

Here is the full report on the convention, taken from the September 2002 American Amateur Journalist:

We Gather in Grafton

by Leland M. Hawes, Jr.

TWENTY-TWO MEMBERS and 11 guests attended AAPA's 2002 convention at a beautiful site overlooking the Illinois River August 1-3. Before it was over, seven of the guests had become members.

Although attendance was somewhat slimmer than that of most recent conventions, those who came to the Pere Marquette Lodge and Convention Center at Grafton, Illinois, found plenty of fellowship and a program with a varied theme

Hosts Schuyler and Johanna Shipley had planned well, and they led delegates at an energetic pace throughout. The tone was informal and relaxed, ideal for a crowd ranging in age from 13 to the 80s.

The theme centered around free expression in printed form, as embodied by editor Elijah Lovejoy, who lost his life (and his presses) fighting against slavery in nearby Alton in 1837.

We heard his story told by a remarkable reenactor, saw his memorial in the Alton cemetery, touched a part of his press recovered from the Mississippi River and heard his life extolled in a banquet speech.

Lovejoy, a passing reference in journalism textbooks, loomed large at this gathering of amateur journalists.

But hobby interests were not neglected, either. From first-hand officers' reports to last-minute laureate results, the state of the association was updated.

Long-time member Bruce Smith injected a bit of AAPA history with his recounting of the first convention in Chicago in 1938, supplemented by Harold Smolin's written recollections. The two represented half the total attendance at that initial get-together.

Probably the high point of the Pere Marquette confab in terms of participatory interest was a session on marbling paper. Expert Curtis Finley enlisted volunteers who produced magnificent swirls of color within minutes of hearing his instructions.

A close second came with the Saturday afternoon auction, when the ``Sky Shipley Show'' demonstrated anew the AAPA president's talent to draw laughs as well as high bids. More than $1,200 was raised to cover convention expenses and add a windfall to the treasury.

Starting promptly at 9 a.m. Friday in the Marquette Room of the Lodge, President Shipley set the tone for the convention by tossing a pair of socks to first-timer Susan Petrone, who had left hers at home.

``This is a full-service convention,'' he announced.

Sky then launched into his presidential report, saying, ``Things are running pretty smoothly.'' With the naming of Manuscript Manager Robert Dobson to serve as Printing and Publishing Manager as well, he said, ``All positions are filled.''

He took special note of the job Joe Dymit has been doing, printing the monthly mailing envelopes.

Shipley recounted his hopes for an on-line membership directory updated regularly for computer users. He said it had turned into a ``giant can of worms'' and is not yet open to the general membership. He said it had become controversial because of questions of Internet security.

He warned delegates he had learned nothing from the laureate committee and didn't know what had happened. (But a late call during the Saturday night banquet brought forth the results.)

Shipley also announced the ``second annual AAPA limerick contest,'' with anyone attending eligible to enter. Jack Scott and Lee Hawes offered to serve as judges.

The president then read greetings from George Hamilton in Austria urging members to ``consider the future of the hobby'' by developing closer ties to the National Amateur Press Association. Also from NAPA President Fred Gage in Maine a message extending ``a warm hand of cooperation'' and suggested a joint opposition to postal rate increases.

Les Boyer added e-mail greetings from Al Fick in Pennsylvania.

Boyer then took the floor as First Vice President to present a careful analysis of membership data supposedly ``prepared by the president of Enron and audited by Arthur Andersen, Inc.''

He passed out spread-sheets showing AAPA membership, as of May, at its lowest since 1982, with 306 members. The high was reached in September 1992 with 379 members.

Boyer noted that Dave Tribby, AAPA's Internet guru, had recruited 85 members since the Web-site was set up in 1995. That accomplishment almost equaled the recruits of all other members, 95.

The first vice president also reported seeing an issue of Boy's Life recently. He suggested an advertisement in that magazine might be helpful in attracting younger prospects, as it did in years past.

``It takes a lot of recruiting just to tread water (in numbers of members),'' Boyer concluded.

Second Vice President Len Carrick told of sending background questionnaires to new members for material that can go into introductory write-ups in the official organ. ``I get a lot of charge when they put something into the bundle,'' he said.

Secretary-Treasurer Guy Miller gave late membership figures even lower than those cited by Boyer, only 301 on the rolls, 35 of whom were family members. But he was already aware convention recruits would boost those numbers.

The fiscal year had started last October 1 with $7,510 in AAPA's coffers. As of July 31, the treasury had $8,062.26.

Miller broke down mailing costs to compare bulk, overseas and first-class bundle expenses.

Sheryl Nelms sent a lively, written report describing her monthly routine stuffing and mailing AAPA's bundles. And it brought her an offer by a member to treat her to the Vietnamese dinner which climaxes her regimen.

Fred Liddle described himself as a ``recycled'' official editor since this is his seventh term in that position. He contrasted his earlier dealings with the late printer Russell Paxton with his current electronic editing with Linda Donaldson.

``The most joyful and frustrating'' part of the job nowadays is getting people to write critical reviews for AAJ, he said. ``Don't say no to requests,'' he pleaded.

Manuscript Manager Robert Dobson said he had been warned by the previous occupant, Joe Gardner, that the job required a lot of arm-twisting. Although letters to newcomers produced no results, he said he has received manuscripts from Jim Lamanna, Sheryl Nelms and T.J. Ray. And their material has been placed, so his file is currently empty.

Board Chairman Lee Hawes said directors are currently wrestling with the on-line membership directory. Two members thus far have requested their names not be listed because of the dangers of ``scamming and spamming'' (unwanted messages from strangers).

The board is seeking input from other members pro and con. Essentially the proposal involves listing members' e-mail addresses on the AAPA Web-page, available only by password given to members by the secretary-treasurer.

Hawes also told of the revision of rates for back issues of American Amateur Journalist in the Official Organ Exchange, which he operates. Copies are available for $1 for issues back to 1940 (issues from 1937-1940 go for $5).

Friday morning's session then heard Bruce Smith's account of planning and putting on AAPA's first convention--in 1938 in Chicago. Harold Smolin and Smith were 1938 delegates, as were Robert Kunde and Jim Francis, both now deceased.

The morning was rounded out by the appearance of Jim Hetrich, who played the role of Elijah Lovejoy, telling of his troubles espousing the anti-slavery cause in a decidedly hostile setting in Alton, Illinois, in 1937.

Wearing a period frock coat with a ruffled shirt, ``Lovejoy'' said he felt called upon to stand fast against the mobs that sought to thwart the publication of his newspaper by dumping his presses into the Mississippi River.

Hetrich wound up by telling how Lovejoy was killed by a blast from a double-barreled shotgun and was buried on his 35th birthday, November 9, 1837.

After a lunch break, Friday afternoon's 98 degree temperature did not deter the tour of area historical sights by convention delegates.

The first stop took them to a stone cross on the road between Grafton and Alton, marking the spot where the French priest, Pere Marquette, landed first on the Illinois River. Nearby, an artist's replica represented the ``Piasa Bird'' originally carved or painted on a bluff by the Indians. Camera buffs kept busy at this point.

Then the caravan stopped briefly at the daily Alton Telegraph, where a section of one of Lovejoy's printing presses is on display. Although thrown into the Mississippi River in 1837, it was not recovered until 1915 by a milling company.

Another Alton stop, the Koenig Art and Historical Museum, gave members a chance to see printing artifacts and an 1890s era home in air-conditioned comfort. Not surprisingly, Elijah Lovejoy was on pictorial display in the printshop basement.

Upstairs, J. Hill Hamon gave an impromptu concert on a living-room piano. His performance of Robert Schumann's ``Traumeri'' produced plenty of applause.

From there, delegates traveled to the Alton cemetery, where a 146-foot tall monument--the tallest in the state--commemorates Lovejoy's life. One of the inscriptions declares the martyred editor ``made the first armed resistance to the aggressions of the slave power in America.''

Last stop of the afternoon, a Chinese buffet restaurant in Alton, continued the tradition begun by sorely missed Charlie Bush. Nobody went hungry! In fact, the profusion of choices made decision-making difficult.

After-dinner conversations went on into the night at the hospitality room maintained by Sky and Johanna. It should be noted that these sessions--as always--gave us an opportunity to know each other better.

The only deterrent? Fatigue seemed to set in earlier than in AAPA conventions in the 1940s and '50s. While those confabs seldom broke up before ``the wee small hours of the morning,'' ours began to wind down by 10 p.m.

Saturday morning brought introductions of several members of the St. Louis Letterpress Society--Melanie Daniels and Bob and Carole Mullen--all of whom later joined the AAPA.

It should be pointed out that Carole Mullen is the daughter of the late Gary Hantke, who printed the Grape Vine for the AAPA in 1939-1940.

Shirley Simpson, co-publisher of The Precipice, came to the session on marbling appropriately wearing a blouse that appeared to be a marbled print.

Speaker Curtis Finley said he had taken up marbling 23 years ago as a ``helpmate to printing.'' He also called it ``an ancillary.'' The kind he demonstrated was called ``Turkish Marbling'' because it's done ``with nothing on it.'' He explained, ``everybody else uses alum.''

Finley uses three basic colors: yellow ochre, red ochre and Prussian blue.

Good humored and witty, he blended the non-oil paints skillfully and soon had audience members eager to try their hands at the endeavor. First in line: Susan Petrone, followed by Sam Jero, our youngest delegate (13).

The morning passed quickly as dozens of colorful designs emerged for drying.

Following a grilled chicken Caesar salad in the Piasa Room, the stage was set for Saturday afternoon excitement at the auction.

There were offbeat items offered (dental tools?) along with valuable equipment that sold at bargain prices. A set of Egmont initials went for $58 after auctioneer Shipley announced, ``You can't find these at Walgreen's.''

A 1912 machinery catalog from American Type Foundry went for $45.

At one point in the spirited bidding, Les Boyer called out, ``Let me know when I'm bidding against myself!''

And a gold stamping outfit brought all the way from Houston by the Boyers went to Melanie Daniels for $160.

Johanna Shipley served as convention photographer after local professionals proved to be tied up at Saturday night weddings. A timer enabled her to join the crowd in the picture.

The Rev. Robert Tabscott of St. Louis had good reason to be the keynote speaker at the banquet. He's president of the local Elijah Lovejoy Society--and an impassioned advocate of more recognition for Lovejoy.

He said Lovejoy was a member of ``arguably one of the most distinguished families of Maine,'' the youngest of eight children and a graduate of Maine's Colby College. He was taught by ``people of Jeffersonian persuasion'' who influenced him to go west.

Lovejoy walked from Maine to Missouri, where he was engaged to run a school. But he became ``deeply involved in the social climate'' and brought into a newspaper. He was ``run out of St. Louis over the lynching of a black man,'' Tabscott said.

Across the Mississippi River, Alton, Illinois, reminded him of Maine and he started a newspaper there. But his anti-slavery views stirred up opposition from pro-slavery mobs who seized his presses and dumped them in the river.

Lovejoy died defending his views, and his grave was dug by a black man, the speaker recounted. His wife and child ``became pariahs,'' and not until the 1890s was a memorial completed for the martyred editor.

``To this day, they argue about Lovejoy in Alton,'' Tabscott said. The outspoken writer would have been in trouble if he were alive in Alton today, he explained, because he was opposed to gambling. (Alton has a casino alongside the river nowadays.)

At the conclusion of the talk, results of the limerick contest were announced by Jack Scott and Lee Hawes, who read aloud the winners as well as other entries.

A long-distance telephone to Fred Liddle during the banquet from L.W. Lawson in Oregon brought word of the 2002 laureate winners.

That concluded the official convention program, although a number of delegates lingered in the hospitality room after the banquet. For those who remained Sunday morning, the Lodge offered a ``bodacious'' (Sky's description) brunch.

On a personal note, I've attended more than 50 AAPA conventions since my first one in 1946. As I said after every one I've attended, ``I'm glad I was there. It was well worth attending.''


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