Volume VIII, No. 3, Spring 1981
A sure sign of spring is a Bittersweet photographer emerging from a bright green field sprinkled with delicate wildflowers. We pop up everywhere looking for the perfect shots of typical Ozark scenery like those on the covers of this issue, and inside in our colorful springtime photo essay, "April Showers".
But our photographers aren't the only ones who know spring is here. The whole staff has acknowledged the new season by selecting new staff members to fill the vacancies provided by graduating seniors and non-returning staff members. Many times, people ask us how a student becomes a staff member, unlike other classes in which students simply enroll, staff members are carefully selected since there are only enough spaces on the staff for a limited number of students. Though we would like to accept all applicants, the staff must be small enough to allow its members to work together efficiently and to get the maximum benefit from operating on a one-to-one basis with other staff members and advisors. Just as we are involved in every aspect of publishing Bittersweet, it is only natural that staff members would also be involved in making the selection of new staff members for the following year. After all, who could be more qualified for the job than those of us who have already experienced being on the staff for the first time and can identify with the uncertainties of the applicants, as well as help them to decide if the educational opportunities offered satisfy their wants and needs.
From being a member of the selection committee during all of my three years on the staff, I've found that, even with experience, this decision never gets easier. It is definitely not a simple matter of recognizing the students with the most talent or the highest grades. The one mandatory requirement for a staff member is a great interest in the Ozarks and its people. A good staff member should also be dependable, cooperative with other staff members, and willing to devote his time and attention to helping publish Bittersweet. The selection committee is confronted with a great responsibility not only because they must decide who can contribute the most, but much more importantly, because they must decide who can benefit the most from being on the staff, since educating the staff members is the major purpose of the class. Incidentally, the same students usually qualify in both categories, for a staff member gets out of Bittersweet exactly what he puts into it. Therefore, if the committee makes a poor decision, the staff is deprived of a more dependable staff member, and another applicant is denied an opportunity to be on the staff. Taking all of these factors into consideration, the selection committee must select new staff members who will play a big part in determining the success of Bittersweet during the next few years.
Once selected, the new staffers begin taking part in every aspect of publication, from talking to people in the area to mailing each new issue to our subscribers. As the experienced staff knows and the new staff soon learns, many of these aspects do not always follow a normal routine.
Like everyone else, we have our share of coincidences. In fact, in this very issue, a whole string of them seemed to fall into place as we composed the story on buttons, page 4. Staff members visited an entire button club, talking to each of the members about the history, use, and interest of buttons and taking photos of the various buttons they had displayed on cards. Later, seeing the photograph of the sailboat picture designed with buttons, our assistant advisor, Mrs. Shotts, was reminded of a box of buttons and a pattern for a flowerpot picture given to her mother several years ago. When she brought the pattern and buttons to us the next day, we enthusiastically attempted to assemble them, but were soon defeated, since there were no instructions! A few days afterwards, while we continued to try to assemble the awkward shapes into an acceptable arrangement, Mrs. Massey recalled that back in 1974 when interviewing Doctor Ruth Seevers about her experiences as a doctor, staff members photographed a button picture hanging in her office. We immediately searched through our photography files and found the negative of Doctor Ruth's button picture, incredibly, of the exact same flowerpot design! We studied the design, and then made our own flowerpot button picture, using the provided materials and a few of our own buttons. After spending hours choosing various buttons to use and arranging them into flower petals, we could understand why these ladies in the button club were so intrigued by ordinary household buttons and were enthusiastic about sharing their hobby with us.
However, enthusiasm from the public is something we have come to expect. Nearly everywhere we go, whether to interview people in surrounding communities, or to talk to various groups, we are always warmly greeted by an attentive and inquisitive audience. In November, Mrs. Massey and staff members Todd Waterman and Lisa Goss talked to an audience younger than most--seven different eighth grade English classes at Camdenton Junior High School. They had asked us to provide them with another source of research in their study of the Ozarks, by talking to them about how we use this information in publishing a magazine.
Besides informing the Camdenton students, Todd and Lisa also gained experience in talking to other students about Bittersweet, especially since this was their very first talk. Todd commented, "We were celebrities!" Lisa added, "It was a lot of fun meeting everybody." After reading the 150 letters the eighth graders sent later thanking them, they both agreed, "I didn't expect the kids to be so interested."
Here are just a few of those letters:
I sincerely enjoyed your visit to our school. I learned that a lot of hard work and effort really pays
off. I also learned that the Ozarks has its own heritage which is unique and different from all
others. I didn't realize that BITTERSWEET is a class. I think it is an excellent idea. I wish that
Camdenton had a "Bittersweet" class.
During your presentation I realized how little we know about the Ozarks. I really liked the slides you presented and especially the ones where you were getting your information from people.
I really envy Lisa and Todd and all of the other people who get to work on BITTERSWEET! Keep up the good work!
I really enjoyed your talk and the film. I found it very interesting that you would go to so much trouble to get a picture. Thank you, and please come again.
I really enjoyed your presentation about BITTERSWEET magazine. I only wish you could have
I really learned a lot of interesting things. It's great to be able to learn how to do the things you write about. It must take an awful lot of time to prepare each issue.
The name you picked for your magazine really fits Missouri life. In my opinion it's the best life there is.
It really impresses me how you do all your photography and artwork yourselves. My mother is a photographer and I've watched her work. It looks pretty hard to me.
Thank you very much for coming. I enjoyed it a lot'
I wish I could have included every single one of the letters we received from these students. I agree with some of their remarks in that it is unfortunate that more students at other schools do not have the opportunity to be in a class similar to Bittersweet. Most of the Camdenton students definitely seem to have the enthusiasm necessary: And letters like theirs help to make it all even more worthwhile.
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.