Starting in 1914, at the age of 62, Charles W. Smith decided to
give his poor eyesight a tryout. At the urging of Howard P.
Lovecraft, he published the first issue of
It ran the course of almost 300 issues until Smith's death in 1948.
Smith first learned of printing as a hobby eight years before the
present NAPA was born, but it was not until many years later that
he learned of its existence. Before his affiliation with the
organized hobby, he and his brother published a series of assorted
titles on a 13xl9 Cottage press.
He left school at 13 to work as a stock clerk, later in a box
factory which he eventually owned. He retired because of poor
health in 1903, lived with his daughter where he fashioned a
printshop in a cellar behind a coal bin, unheated in harsh New
England winters and subject to flooding during thaws.
In 1912 he moved to Haverhill, Mass., where he luxuriated in a
10x12 den, walls covered with stamps, pictures, postcards and
material that Lovecraft called "delightful accumulations." Few
amateurs ever met him. Because of deafness he never attended NAPA
conventions, but expressed lively interest in elections and
association affairs. In later years, type and press were moved to
his bedroom.Younger members were often critical of
numerous typographical errors, but his deference was characteristic,
"Sometimes I fear the word care is not in my vocabulary and that
inattentiveness and indifference have marked me for their own.
will continue to be printed and bound in the same old way."
The same way meant typos unseen by deteriorating eyesight, the use
of newsprint stock and wallpaper covers, side stapled.
During the lean years, Tryout was the trusty "old reliable, "
printing a multitudinous number of poems, short articles and
miscellany tinged with comment. It must have been exasperating to
a careful writer to see his masterpiece with a glaring error, but
all were not aware of the condition of Smith's sight and his
The C. W. part of his name was gradually and affectionately
replaced with Tryout in unitalicized mode, and so he was addressed
until his last days in 1948.