Personal Narratives

An important part of the effort to compile and save information related to mimeographs and other duplicating methods is the knowledge and experience that can best be expressed in personal stories. The people who used these machines are growing older, and if they don’t share these stories with others, we’ll lose not only the skills that could’ve been transmitted or tips passed on, but also simply the descriptions and details of the era and activities with which we’re concerned.

This section will collect mimeo-related personal stories and reflections. If you’d like to submit your own, please leave a comment with a valid email address (will not be published) so I can contact you if I have questions that might help elucidate your experience. Submissions aren’t guaranteed to be published here (they have to be relevant and family-friendly, so keep that in mind), and they may be edited for clarity or length, but don’t let that stop you. C’mon, let’s converse about duplicators; tell us what you remember and what you’d like to share.

Jeff Schalles, fanzine creator, printer, and founder of the facebook Mimeograph Users Group left the following story here at M. R. one day. A little historical documentation personal-narrative-style:

A while ago I was contacted by a researcher working for National Geographic Magazine. She was looking for material for an article on mimeo and ditto printing of the Greenwich Village Beat poets and writers scene and poetry chapbook creaters of the 1950’s.

I responded by suggesting she contact the late Lee Hoffman concerning the gatherings in her Greenwich Village apartment, where musicians like Dave Van Ronk and the poets, writers, musicians, and other local Beats, would jam all night. Lee had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and taped many of the parties.

Lee also had a mimeograph and produced Science Fiction fanzines, including the long-running “Science Fiction Five Yearly” published every five years until Lee died sometime in the early 21st Century. The print runs were short and there are few copies of SF Five Yearly around. Geri Sullivan and I edited and mimeo’d two of the later issues for Lee. Harlan Ellison had a long-running serial in every issue and never missed a deadline until Lee’s death finally ended the run of Science Fiction Five Yearly.

The Geographic researcher was only interested in “The Mimeograph Revolution” and its beginnings. Her response to my suggestion that she contact Lee, who was by then living in Florida, was that there was… absolutely, positively, no connection between the Beats and Science Fiction Fandom. She was very rude to me, and obviously had no interest and little knowledge of SF Fandom. I just sighed and stopped corresponding with her. I blame Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of National Geographic for hiring an idiot like her.

I’m of the opinion that SF fan mimeographers like Ted White, who had a small basement mimeograph print shop in the Village, had something to do with teaching the Beats how to use the technology. The Geographic researcher insisted that was impossible, and that SF Fandom was just a bunch of teenage amateurs amounting to nothing.

I’ve asked around to see if any of Lee’s party tapes survived, but no one ever got back to me, so I suspect they were tossed in a dumpster.

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Mimeograph Revival