Pages of History

The newsletter of the Naturist Education Foundation and the Naturist Action Committee.

Volume 1, Number 8.  August 2020.

Busy Summer

Doug Hickok, NAC Board Member
After a Spring season of everything closed and locked down, the Naturist Action Committee is back in action with three different naturist issues on the East coast.  Although a majority of this month's publication is NEF related, it's safe to say a vast majority of the work we've been doing is NAC related.  Of course, NAC does its best work behind the scenes, so I can't go into the details here.  But you could certainly help us out with a donation!  (That is, if you're able to -- We totally understand the financial situation many find themselves in due to the pandemic.)

We appreciate the many individuals who contacted us about the naturist threats/issues going on, and we thank them for being our "eyes and ears" and sometimes our "boots on the ground" during situations like these.  As always, the best results come when everyone is working together and staying focused on the end goal.

Piloting Full-Text Search

Doug Hickok, NEFRL Director
NEFRL has a large magazine list.  We also have a process to let researchers request articles, called a "Research Request".  (The form is on the main library page.)  But how does a researcher know what, exactly, to request?

The American Nudist Research Library (ANRL) and the Western Nudist Research Library (WNRL), both Nudist Library Consortium partners of NEFRL, have this figured out.  After spending numerous years scanning their collections, they can make use of Adobe software to keyword search whatever group of magazines they would like.

However, there are three very specific limitations for researchers.  First, they must travel to one of the library locations, which can be expensive.  Second, they need to enter the nudist resort that houses the library, which often involves background checks, a requirement to be clothes-free, and grounds fees.  And third, these searches can take a very long time.  Paul, at ANRL, mentioned a full search of the collection can take 8 hours as it searches through over a terabyte of content.  Limiting to one specific publication series can still take an hour.  The researcher may need to spend a few days on-site to obtain what they are looking for.  An alternative is to work with library staff and have them run the search queries for you.  I've done this to find things for a researcher.  (See "Sully Leopold: A Short Success Story", N magazine 39.2 page 67.)

For keyword searches in general, ANRL and WNRL currently have the best service.  However, NEFRL is piloting a simple new approach.

Imagine being able to sit in your comfy office chair, or lounge on the couch with your smartphone, and be able to quickly keyword search naturist magazines from the privacy of your own home.  See which ones mention your favorite author, or see which ones mention your local nude beach.  Is your hometown mentioned for some reason?  Maybe you can find a trip report of that naturist spot you'd like to visit?

We're proud to announce this capability, but it comes with a rather significant limitation of covering less than 1% of our collection.  NEFRL currently has digitized versions of the periodicals Clothed With The Sun and Nude & Natural, from the beginning up to 32.4 (2013).  (This was generously provided by our consortium partner, ANRL.)  As we get more content digitized, we'll be expanding the search capabilities.

While scanning the paper magazines, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is performed to translate the picture into text.  This certainly isn't an exact science, as you'll see when you try out some search queries.  But it can point you in the right direction for which magazines you may want to see.  Then, file a "Research Request" and you could be reading the article(s) within a couple days, courtesy of NEFRL.

Give this new tool a try on our Search page.

Treasures of the Library

Doug Hickok, NEFRL Director
As I continue to highlight some "Other Stuff" items, this next set is rather puzzling.  As always, the things I talk about in this column are available for "digital loan" if you have a NEF library ID.  Membership is free and this page talks about how it works.

Part of the "other100" group is a German cartoon puzzle with lots of nudists on the ski slopes.  It should have 200 pieces, and to be honest, I never counted them.  I never spent the time assembling the puzzle to photograph the result.  If anyone is bored at home, loves puzzles, and is willing to help out with this important library task, please contact me!

Another item I puzzled over was a papercraft set (part of "other100").  All made of paper, obviously, this set comes with a guy and a girl who look exactly the same except for their hair style.  There's a sign that says "Nudist Beach" with an arrow.  As is typical with those going to the nude beach, three sets of sandals and a pair of shoes are included.  As for beach recreation, the crafter must think we spend our time blowing bubbles and catching bugs in jars.  If that's not strange enough, both the guy and the girl have two different swimsuits to choose from.

Even more puzzling than the items above is a card deck for a magic trick (other105).  It's introduced as "R. W. Hull's Nudist or Mental Photography Deck".  It comes with two different routines, and one of them describes a young salesman that goes to a nudist camp to sell playing cards.  Many puns appear in this routine.  It's unlikely this trick was ever performed in the nude, but perhaps someone will consider that a challenge.

Speaking of card decks, my personal preference is "other106" with a cheesy pinup gal on each card.  It may not qualify as being "nudist", but it has more nudity than the other card deck.  Some are on beaches, at pools, and at other outdoor locations that could perhaps be nudist venues.  Miss six of spades is posing in a busted window, which is certainly unique.

[Editor's NoteWe still have boxes available!  Send your order in soon!]

Lee Baxandall: The University of Wisconsin-Madison Years

Shannon Lewis, NAC and NEF Area Representative

In 1952, an Oshkosh high school senior named Lee Baxandall was named Outstanding Wisconsin Teenager for his work in organizing area youth while a member of the Boy Scouts of America.  Scouting remained important to Lee well into his adult life.  He was an Eagle Scout, and he went on to receive the prestigious Golden Palm Award in 1955.  He helped to supervise the Twin Lakes Reservation, where he expanded the nature studies program and occasionally put on magic shows for the Scouts.  Years of Scouting helped to hone Lee’s leadership skills.  It also introduced him to an activity that would later prove to be very important in his life: skinny dipping.

Lee Baxandall entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall of 1953, following in the footsteps of his father Raymond, who had graduated from the University in 1924.  Upon graduation, Raymond began working for the Dean W. Greer Company, which produced and printed educational materials.  He became a partner and eventually took ownership in March 1956, renaming it The Baxandall Company.  Lee inherited the company from his father in 1970, and it later became a critical site for the free beaches movement, serving as the Free Beaches Document Center beginning in 1976. The first edition of Free Beaches newspaper was published in June of that year.  Lee also published Green Mountain Quarterly out of The Baxandall Company, beginning in November 1975, with the magazine’s somewhat controversial Green Mountain Quarterly: The Skinny Dipping Issue reaching readers in August 1976.  Green Mountain Quarterly became the template for Clothed With The Sun, and later Nude & Natural.

Like his father, Lee served on the editorial staff of The Octopus, a UW-Madison satirical student magazine that was published from 1920 to 1959.  Briefly resurrected in the late eighties, it’s sometimes cited as an influence for another famous Wisconsin humor publication, The Onion, which UW-Madison students Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson founded in 1988.

Interestingly, the theme of the November 1923 issue of The Octopus, edited by Raymond Baxandall, is “physical culture,” a term that American nudist pioneer Kurt Barthel would use six years later when he organized the American League for Physical Culture, the first nudist organization in the United States.  

For the February 1954 issue of The Octopus, Lee wrote an essay entitled “One Whole Generation of Jelly Fish.”  The story depicts the Lincoln statue that sits atop the university’s Bascom Hill as a walking, talking, thinking fellow that eyes the young coeds while fondly recalling an incident in 1893 when six of “his favorite” students unbolted the statue and sent him toppling down the hill.  “In the old days, the students had had more life in them.  A generation of jellyfish they were now.”  Lee’s anthropomorphized Lincoln statue goes on to complain, “The best they had done in recent years was to daub him red on May Day.”  

Was this humorous essay a bit of foreshadowing to Lee’s later years of activism, his admiration for Franz Kafka, Wilhelm Reicht, Bertolt Brecht, admiration which was often fleshed out in passionate essays in progressive journals like The Drama Review, Liberation and Studies on the Left, alongside such writers as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman?  Certainly by his senior year, Baxandall had developed a strong interest in the works of German playwright Bertolt Brecht.  The November 1, 1957 Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported “The successful two-night run of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the University of Wisconsin’s Play Circle Theater… has been attributed to Lee Baxandall, son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Baxandall.”  Eight years later, Lee translated The Mother by Bertolt Brecht for Grove Press.

As a UW-Madison senior in 1957, Lee Baxandall penned an article in New Ideas called “Why Johnny Doesn’t Think”  in which he asserts, “We are taught to memorize, rather than think.  Our thinking is done for us; we are spoon-fed our knowledge and opinions in thrice-weekly installments.”  He goes on to say, “Many professors are lazy, dogmatic and even a bit frightened; they would rather be aped than chance being made a monkey of.”

Lee graduated from UW-Madison with a baccalaureate in 1957 and a master's degree just one year later, and was recognized by the university for being a member of the Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Cadet Sergeant First Class of the campus ROTC, as well as editor of both New Ideas and The Octopus.

Lee Baxandall’s passion for writing and social activism would continue to grow and evolve in the coming years, as would his passion for skinny dipping.

Publication Policy

Doug Hickok, Pages of History Editor

This publication's primary intent is to communicate newsworthy items from the Naturist Action Committee, the Naturist Education Foundation, and the NEF Research Library on a monthly basis.  All board members are encouraged to contribute, and their contributions take top priority for publication.

We would like to welcome NAC and NEF Area Representatives as well for newsletter contributions.  If you're an Area Representative with something interesting to talk about going on in your area, an interesting research project you'd like to share, or anything else you feel might fit in here, we'd be happy to consider publishing it.  Even if your NOT an Area Representative yet, but a reader of our newsletter, we may still consider it.

Authors and creators will always retain their copyright for both text and photos.  If you read the fine print, there are some other publishers that state "Material accepted for publication becomes the property of [us]".  We're not like that.  We'll be happy to run articles after they've been published elsewhere, as long as they fit in appropriately here, and we will never claim your hard work as "our property".  (You must submit your original draft though, not one that's been edited by a publisher.)  We do claim copyright on the newsletter editing and layout, which actually helps content creators since we can both get involved if infringement happens.  There are no strict rules for formatting or length, and we're not picky about "first publication rights", so your historical works may still be of interest and worth another look.

We look forward to seeing your contributions!

Assembled and published for NEF and NAC by Doug Hickok,

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