Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 2

The IJA Newsletter

Passed Like a Hot Potato

Five years after the "Juggler's Bulletin" began publication, and a few short months before it ceased, the IJA began publishing its own "Newsletter," and thus began 32 years of uninterrupted service to the juggling community.

The reasons for launching a second publication while Roger Montandon's "Bulletin" was still the official organ of the IJA were complex. A few reasons were touched upon in discussing the demise of the "Bulletin." Primarily, the IJA needed a more frequent and newsier vehicle to sustain membership interest and conduct the business of the organization.

The two complemented the other and it was thought there was little reason why both could not serve jugglers simultaneously, although events proved otherwise. The first issue of the "Newsletter," sent to members in the summer of 1949 inaugurated itself with the words:

Hello Jugglers:

At the Annual Business meeting held during the Convention in Jamestown, New York, it was decided to publish a monthly Newsletter to supplement the Jugglers' Bulletin published by Roger Montandon. This newsletter will carry mainly news items of interest to fellow members, and it is hoped that members may keep in touch with each other through its (their) current routes or playing dates, so that other members of the IJA can visit them.

The "Newsletter" contained mostly news of juggling sessions, visits among members, dates and places of working jugglers, notices of sick and convalescing members, address changes, obituaries, IJA business, announcements of conventions and officer reports. After the "Bulletin" stopped publication, more regular columns were added by former "Bulletin" contributors. It also contained cartoons, bad puns, hand-drawn designs and generally carried a very informal style, like reading someone else's mail.

There was no set format to the "Newsletter," so it often changed with editorship. Some issues bore no date and the numbering of issues changed frequently. The cover design was often hand-drawn to depict seasonal themes. The "Newsletter" was actually renamed "Juggler's News" in August and September of 1951.

In the mid 1950's the mimeograph stencils were cut with an old typewriter that struck too lightly and whose a's, o's and e's were filled with dirt. Occasionally, it was produced with justified right margins. In later years, it was mimeographed on colored paper. Length of each issue depended on contributions and editors' time. In 1964 it reached 20 pages, but quickly fell back to 10 or less. In 1975 and 1976, it was folded, and toward the end was printed on glossy paper. There were stretches when it was sporadic, skipping months and arriving months late.

Like a hot potato, editorship changed hands nearly every year and sometimes went begging. No one wanted the job at the 1952 convention, including a previous editor, Oliver Helmrich, so Oliver's wife Ruth "consented to take over until such time as a permanent editor is found." The following year, still no one volunteered so the job was split among Stu Raynolds, who served as temporary editor, Ruth Jennings, who pounded out the copy on her kitchen table, and Harry Lind, who mailed it.

Ruth Jennings continued in her capacity for several years, and it is important to note with thanks the great contribution made to the "Newsletter" by her and other wives of IJA members.

The lack of continuity in editorship was both a blessing and a curse. The "Newsletter" changed focus with each editor, and news of fellow jugglers often was biased toward the editor's circle of friends - not out of malfeasance, but simply because the "Newsletter" depended so heavily on hearing from members, and editors more often than not heard from their own friends.

Nevertheless, by frequent changes, the "Newsletter" covered all the interests of the IJA. There were a few lengthy tenures of editors, however. Some of the prominent editors were, Vin Carey and Lou Meyer (whose joint editorship and juggling act went by the name of the Vinlou brothers), Stu Raynolds, Lane Blumenthal, Larry Weeks, Danny Rees, Roger Dollarhide and Hovey Burgess. Finally, in 1979, Bill Giduz brought continuity to the office.

It is a tribute to the selflessness of the editors, particularly in the early years, that research for this article was made difficult by the constant lack of mention in the "Newsletter" itself of who the editor was. And in 1954 when $100 was appropriated at the convention for payment to the editors, they spent it on an addressograph for mailing the "Newsletter." Another editor offered to donate a mimeograph machine.

Other examples abound, not the least of which was the time and headache involved in gathering, typing, and getting out the news.

It was Harry Lind's idea, in order to relieve the burden on editors, to enlist several "official reporters" to gather news and contribute features. Among them were Violet Carlson Beahan, Bill Dunham, Jack Greene, John Loksa, Marty Lynch, Frank Mastbrook, Bill Talent and Carl Thorson. There was a proliferation of alliteration in the columns: "Stuff from Studley" by Studley Foster; "Best from Betty" by Betty Gorham; and "Boston Briefs" by Bert Hanley.

The quality of the reporting was outstanding, and it is difficult to believe that any performing juggler escaped the attention of these reporters, whether they were members or not. The quality of the features increased as well, with nice historical pieces, reports on the newest in juggling apparatus, and details of the conventions.

International members contributed greatly, notably Max Koch's wonderfully received reports from post-war Germany and later reports from Karl-Heinz Ziethen in Germany and Lindsey Lesley in Scotland. After a few years of only sporadically published photographs (often the money required for this added expense was donated by an interested member) more pictures began to appear under the editorship of Roger Dollarhide, along with more how-to articles. The "Newsletter" hit its stride in the years before "Juggler's World."

Although the lot of the editors was not always a happy one, it was they and their "Newsletter" that kept the young IJA together during difficult years, sustained it during the lean years and pumped it full of enthusiasm as it grew.

The IJA Newsletter / Index, Vol. 39, No. 2 / jis@juggling.org
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