From the October 2009 issue of The Fossil
Friend Alvin Fick once observed that for Harold Segal NAPA "is the polestar of his life" and assigned to him the title "Mr. NAPA." That title Harold earned without contest during his 79 years of devoted service to the little world of amateur journalism. Harold was active in the several organizations of the hobby, including AAPA, APA, and The Fossils. But, in the end, the National Amateur Press Association was his first and lasting love; and if he had his druthers, he would not have chosen to cast a shadow over NAPA convention festivities at Parkersburg by passing from us as he did on its closing day July 18.
Ajay history has already placed Harold in the top echelons of both literary and graphic arts mastery. Evidence of these can be traced back to his NAPA affiliation in 1930 with his initial issues of Good Timers' Club News which after 10 numbers took on the more familiar title of The Sea Gull. The latter title ran through 47 issues, each of which consisted of 12 pages plus cover, printed one page up on Harold's 5x8 Kelsey. But his monuments remain his 255 issues of Campane, his activity in the Amateur Printers Club (APC), and the 127 numbers of the famous (some insist on "notorious") Shampane (Shambler / Campane), an "all stops out" collaboration between Harold and his forever friend Al Fick.
Harold joined The Fossils at the NAPA Boston Convention in 1959. When at Greenbelt in 1994 he was presented the prestigious Gold Composing Stick Award from the hands of long-time friend Victor Moitoret, Harold delighted those assembled by recounting a "lapse" on the part of the presenter in that Vic and he had made a "sacred pact" in the early '50's that, if Harold would take it upon himself to join The Fossils, Vic would speedily join the next day. Harold declared that he had carried out his part of the bargain, but Moitoret had reneged (the joke: Vic had joined a few years before Harold). In any case, Harold had the pleasure of returning a courtesy when he handed Victor Moitoret his Gold Composing Stick Award during the 100th anniversary luncheon of The Fossils at Lexington in 2004. While, on the subject of awards, during the administration of Fossil President Merry Harris (1990-94), Harold received the 1990 Russell L. Paxton Memorial Award for Service to Amateur Journalism.
Harold proved to be an active member of The Fossils, both at the annual meetings and on committee work, namely in 1965 as a member of the NAPA library committee whose assignment was to work with Fossil Stan Oliner to move the Library of Amateur Journalism from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to Stan's home in Grand Junction, CO for a year of evaluation. Harold also served as 2nd vice president for the year 1966-67 and was a candidate for Official Editor of The Fossil the following year. Matilda Haywood was elected. Harold dropped his membership sometime in 1968.
But Harold's major contribution to The Fossils might have been his feature article in the 1964 autumn issue of the Official Organ, "Is There a Place for the Fossils Today?" Harold's conclusion: "If we are to lie back, discuss the old days over and over, we are dead, only waiting to be carried away. If we are able to rise, seek means in some fatherly fashion to promote more activity and higher standards in present active organizations, then we are on our way to revitalization and purposefulness." Interestingly enough, in the face of declining memberships and the rise of the E-journal, this question of identity, presented to The Fossils in 1964, is the very one that AAPA and especially NAPA should be grappling with today.
The letter came from Ken Faig: I want to invite you, if you are able, to submit a few words of recollection of Harold Segal. Of course I would care to remember one of my earliest hobby contacts and later one of my most admired friends in the fascinating world of amateur journalism. But where to begin...
Harold and I met for the first time I believe at a meeting of the revived Amateur Printers Club at Vincent Haggerty's home in Jersey City in early 1941. There he extended an invitation to drive to Cleveland in his new Chevrolet for the upcoming NAPA convention along with Burton Crane, Robert Telschow and Sheldon Wesson.
Preliminary to the trip, we were put up at the Segal home in Philadelphia and shown royal treatment by Harold's family. Wesson, all 6 feet 3 inches of him, required a chair extension to his cot. Telschow and I shared a bed. He must have suffered insomnia as he kept me awake for hours recalling long past restaurant dinners featuring lamb chops that he had enjoyed. The Segal home was on a streetcar route and at regular intervals throughout the night the rod leading from the trolley to the vertical electric line would spark and sizzle. In the morning the Segals wanted to know how we had slept. They were so used to the racket of the streetcars that it didn't bother them.
Almost as soon as we arrived in Cleveland Helm Spink appeared with the key to Warren Brodie's retirement office and well-equipped print-shop. They immediately set to work on the convention daily, The Moving Finger, and I can attest that Wesson, Segal, Crane and Spink barely slept for three days.
In the spring of 1942 Harold was already off to the wars and unable to attend a glorious reunion of old timers at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. There Edwin Hadley Smith led me to a bent over octogenarian and introduced Evan Reed Riale who as Secretary of the Philadelphia Amateur Press Club had issued an invitation to the amateur journalists of the Northeast to gather in the Quaker City over the 4th of July 1876 to celebrate the Centennial of American Independence. And equally important, at least in our little world, to organize the National Amateur Press Association. Shaking Riale's hand made me feel that I was shaking hands with history.
A few years later in London during the war I told Harold about Riale and he said he had met the man a decade earlier when he was eighteen and President of the NAPA. And he also recalled meeting George W. Bertron, another of the Philadelphia boy printers who had been present at the birth of the NAPA.
When Harold returned from the Second World War he had fifteen years of hobby activity behind him and could easily have retired into Fossildom. But amateur journalism was his life and he was just getting started. In the next six plus decades he set a record for convention attendance, helped to host uncounted meetings of the Amateur Printers Club at his home, published Campane on a regular schedule, later teamed with Al FIck to publish a spoof journal Shampane using the pseudonym Harvin Figal, and in his spare time held NAPA office top to bottom several times over and was honored with innumerable Laureate Awards. He was also a gentle critic and mentor to many a novice publisher in matters grammatical and typographic.
Harold Segal was a member of the NAPA for 79 years, claimed he wasn't ready yet to become a Fossil. When letterpress printing became a physical burden he reluctantly parted with his beloved Pearl press and switched to desktop publishing in his later years when that was the only way he could remain active. He was around for more than half the life of the association and even predicted its demise as a result of changes in its appeal to the present generation. Let us hope that he will prove to be wrong.
I have a fantasy of Harold arriving at the place that awaits us all, looking around until he came to a room with an endless line of computers and passing them by until he reached a distant corner where, under a coat of dust, he found a Pearl press. In short order he tracked down Sheldon Wesson, Burton Crane, Victor Moitoret and the Babcock brothers, Alf and Ralph. They cleaned and lubricated Pearl, washed down the type, and soon were happily at work on the first issue of the Celestial Amateur Printers Club paper, Pi in the Sky. This was Heaven indeed!
I first me Harold Segal at the 1957 Washington, D.C. convention, including a brief stay with both Harold and Hazel after the convention. Several New Year's APC meetings pop into my memory as I remember seeing Nita Gerner Smith for the last time. A rider to a Virginia APC meeting in Segal's car along with Nancy and David. Gussie Segal knew what amateur journalism meant to Harold as she helped check in convention goers year after year. Vic Moitoret would probably nudge my memory re Harold's disdain of the hyphen in his typesetting. It is -30- for Harold, but not for the incredible output he managed to produce in his 79 years with us.
Segal, Harold, July 18, 2009, of Wyncote, PA. Husband of Gussie (nee Kofsky) Segal. Father of Nancy Segal (Steven Metzger), David Segal and Wendy Segal (Lynwood Fessler). Brother of Charlotte Harris. Grandfather of Alyssandra (Scott) Holmes and Brayden Fessler. Great grandfather of Kale Holmes. Harold was an active member of the National Amateur Press Assoc. Graveside services, Mon. 2:30 P.M., King David Mem. Park (Sec. R), Bensalem, PA. The family will return to the late residence. Contributions can be made to the NAPA, c/o William Boys, 6507 Westland Dr., Knoxville, TN 37919 or the International Printing Museum, c/o Mark Barbour, 315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson, CA 90745. Platt Mem. Chapels.