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The legend of PN's editors.

Throughout the year significant snippets of historic facts from the vast archives of PN will commemorate the 60th anniversaries of Paralyzed Veterans of America and PN. Articles from the National Office will highlight the organization's numerous accomplishments. Harking back through the archives, which I am wont to do frequently, it's quite obvious that PN was the glue that kept the fledgling organization from going too far astray and possibly collapsing on various occasions. Case in point: "Mr. PVA" Harry Schweikert noted in his 1971 PN article on PVA's 25th anniversary, "Apparently, everyone was so unhappy with the 1950 convention that no minutes were recorded--at least, none can be found." And PVA got off to a shaky start in 1952 when Birmingham (California PVA)--the oldest and largest chapter--voted to withdraw from the national organization. CPVA rejoined in 1963.

But even PN experienced a sputtering start. In the same issue marking PVA's 25th anniversary, Schweikert's history of the magazine was titled "PN--Story of a Tough Childhood." John Michael Price was credited with creating PN, but he was the first one to state that the idea to start a publication came from fellow patient/veteran Bob Bather. PN is slightly older than PVA. The first issue rolled off the press on July 27, 1946, in the Bronx VA Hospital's occupational therapy department (recently renamed the James J. Peters VA Medical Center). PVA unanimously adopted the publication as its official organ during a formative meeting at Hines VA Hospital's Vaughan Unit on February 7, 1947. From that very first issue through 1953, the life and times of PN were as turbulent, controversial, and precarious as those of its parent PVA.

In 1948, Editor Price moved to downtown New York City, and the PN offices were set up at PVA National Headquarters, 99 Park Avenue, where Bob Moss began as associate editor. In 1949, Price resigned as editor, succeeded by Moss, whose wife, Lucille, was associate editor.

By 1952, editor Moss resigned, and PVA President Bill Green appointed idea-originator Bather as editor. Editor Bather published PN in his hometown, Nutley; N.J., for more than two years, missing only two issues, until he was forced to resign due to poor health. John Price came back on the scene, picking up the editor's pen in January 1955 while settled in his hometown, Stroudsberg, Penn.

Unfortunately, 1961 was a sad year for PVA and PN. Bather died in April. Price, after returning home from PVA's 15th annual convention in Miami, Fla., where he gave a productive report on PN's progress and was reappointed editor, died on July 31. PN moved back to the Garden State, to its fifth home, and PVA member Frank MacAloon published PN for two years in Fairview, N.J.

In 1963, the powers in charge of the 17th annual convention, held in sunny Miami, Fla., realized there just might be editorial talent west of the Hudson River and possibly even beyond the meandering Mississippi River. President John Farkas appointed Robert Webb as PN editor. Webb was settled down in the village of Seal Beach, Calif., just across from the placid Pacific Ocean.

The office may have moved west, but the troubles brewing in the organization continued. Editor Webb wrote in his column Cob Webs in the October 1963 PN, "Two months after the PVA convention in Miami, the rumble of battles seems to be increasing rather than decreasing. All apparently is not quiet on any front." And in his July 1964 Cob Webs, "As the 1964 convention nears, the smoke of internal skirmishes seems to hang heavier, rather than lighter.... At a sober pre-convention meeting of the PVA board of directors ... impeachment proceedings against President John Farkas were brought to a head. John Farkas did not attend the special meeting, declaring in a telegram that the proceedings were illegal and that his presence would indicate approval."

Editor Webb, a ski bum (instructor) and saloon keeper with a master's degree in English, holed up in the Colorado Rockies prior to joining the quad fraternity. He was a perfect fit for the editor's job.

With pen in hand, Webb died in April 1978, President Joe Romagnano appointed moi editor, and PN moved to Phoenix.
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Author:Crase, Cliff
Publication:PN - Paraplegia News
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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