Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wayzgoose Bound!

When I was a kid, our family vacation was often a trip to the annual printers’ convention, or Wayzgoose. And what fun it was! My sister and I learned about printing, and met wonderful people in the process.

By the 1960’s my father Gary Hantke had joined the Amalgamated Printers Association, or “APA”, a group of hobby letterpress printers from around the country. 1961 was the first convention in Chicago. I remember my dad and his printer friend Emerson Wulling boarding the Burlington Northern train to attend. My sister and I were little enough to cry when Dad left.

By the time the 1964 Munster, Indiana convention rolled around, the printers’ convention had become our summer family outing. Dad loaded down the Mercury station wagon with type for sale. When the back end sagged, he moved type onto the floor of the back seat. My sister and I rode surrounded by piles of type next to the station wagon doors and on the hump between us. This made restroom stops at gas stations a challenge, but after awhile we got pretty good at vaulting over the piles of type to get in and out of the car.

In 1964 the APA printers’ convention was called a “picnic” by many. Wayzgoose, a historic term for an outing given by the master printer for his apprentices and journeymen, was just starting to be used. The Munster Wayzgoose took place at a strip motel across the street from a farmer’s market. Rows of rooms surrounded an open grassy area where the convention took place. Printers drove their cars onto the grass and unloaded them. There was no formal agenda. People talked shop and bought and sold type and equipment from the back of their cars. Ward Schori ran a type setting contest, and John Boulette dressed up as a clown to entertain the kids. Meetings were held outside, with mosquitoes in heavy attendance. The hosts provided Sunday picnic lunch for everyone. I still remember Elsie Boyd’s delicious potato salad.

For us kids there were other things to do. My sister and I went to the farmer’s market with printer Lillian Worley and bought a watermelon. We cut it open and sat on the curb eating it, laughing as Lillian taught us how to spit watermelon seeds. We had fun visiting Blanche Duerr, wife of printer Emerson Duerr, too. Blanche was a grandmother in her seventies then, but lively and full of fun. My mother, sister and I all learned to dance the Charleston in a motel room in Munster, following Blanche’s enthusiastic lead.

For over a decade, my family loaded up the car and went to the “Goose”. Once the swap meet started, my mother, sister, and I combed the tables. Often we’d see a great cut to show Dad. Mom would get terrific deals − people gave her ink, type, and cuts. She knew good stuff and could spot it quickly. We kids had our share of “finds”, too.

Today I still remember riding in our overloaded station wagon, looking forward to all the fun we were going to have at the Wayzgoose. Today my husband Bob and I look forward to the same thing. What a great weekend, talking printing, meeting people, seeing old friends, swapping type and cuts. This time of year it’s wonderful to be Wayzgoose bound!

Program from the first 1961 APA Wayzgoose in Chicago. The illustration was printed letterpress, using rule and bits of border.

Activities at the Chicago Wayzgoose in 1961.

Banner for a car antenna, from the 1964 Munster Wayzgoose.

Luke Cory kidding with John Boulette (Jo Bo the Clown) at the 1964 Munster Wayzgoose.


  1. That sounds like a fun event. You were lucky to have been able to go along with your parents and been part of the action. How fun to learn the Charleston! Sounds like a great group of people.

  2. It was (and is)a great group of people. Hobby printers are some of the nicest folks around. And it was fun to learn the Charleston -- for a grandma Blanche Duerr could really move!