Mark Diehl's American Crossword Puzzle Academy TreasuresNow that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is behind us—delightfully topped off by Puzzazz's free thank you gift for everyone, Bruce Leban's Jumping to Conclusions hangman riddles!—it's time to revisit the American Crossword Puzzle Academy and Hall of Fame. As I mentioned last week, I have something more on this short-lived but historic enterprise, thanks to litzer and proofreader extraordinaire Mark Diehl! After my November 21 post on the Crossword Puzzle Academy appeared, Mark wrote me that he was able to dig up the original membership solicitation flyer he'd received in 1989 from Robert Guilbert! Mark continued:
I remember paying for the membership and signing a Charter Member placard for the proposed display wall. I think the missing section of page 3 and 4 was the application form and it had a drawing of the proposed signature display wall.
I didn't attend the first and only meeting in 1990. I vaguely remember talk of a commemorative book of puzzles with pic and bio of member-contributors as a fund raising project. Don't know if this ever happened—I wasn't contacted to submit anything. Perhaps Guilbert passed away and the book never saw the light of day.I wonder if the signature wall was ever created or if the signature placards are still in existence—what a great collection of Pre-Shortziana that would be!
I've posted the four pages of the flyer on Scribd—you can see them by clicking here. The first page mentions the May 11, 1988, meeting at the Harvard Club in New York, which was attended by Frances Hansen (who stood in for Maura Jacobson), William Lutwiniak, Eugene T. Maleska, Stanley Newman, Will Shortz, Mel Taub, and Will Weng. Maura and the six male attendees became the "ad hoc Founding Board of Governors." The second page mentions British constructor ("setter") Paul Henderson, who reportedly was in touch with Guilbert about the possibility of establishing a U.K. Academy and alludes to an upcoming meeting in Britain to discuss that, along with the idea of an International Academy and Hall of Fame.
This page also lists the following nominations for the Crossword Puzzle Academy Hall of Fame: Arthur Wynne, Margaret Farrar, Prosper Buranelli, Gregory Hartswick, Jules Arensberg, Harold Bers, Jack Luzzatto, and Anne Fox. It notes that Mervin Edward Griffin (of Wheel of Fortune fame!) was "elected for induction as a Fellow."
Membership in the Crossword Puzzle Academy was $10.00; here is what it included:
Then, a few days ago, Mark wrote me again, saying he'd found another stash of Crossword Puzzle Academy papers while searching for something else. I've posted them all on Scribd—to see each one, click on its name below:
Nominating Ballot and other information
Proclamation of December 15, 1988
Report 1 (September 1989; contains the names of the original 82 members, plus 55 comments)
Report 2 (December 21, 1989; contains more comments, plus a demographic map)
Report 4 (July 1990; contains more comments)
Sketch of the wall (which you can see below in reduced form)
Report 4 also mentions the possibility of publishing a compendium of puzzles by members, which would also include a headshot and thumbnail bio of each constructor (like with the crosswords I edit for the Orange County Register's associated newspapers), to "acquaint puzzle fans with the real people behind the names as well as the identities of those who supply generic feature fare." It goes on to say that individual members might also write "a brief essay on the nature of the craft and its historical genesis."
Thanks so much, Mark, for saving these amazing treasures from the past for all these years and sending them in—they really bring the American Crossword Puzzle Academy and Hall of Fame to life! Robert Guilbert was clearly a visionary—perhaps someday his idea will be revived.