Volume VI, No. 4, Summer 1979
The year has disappeared, and I can hardly believe this will be my last issue. It's difficult for me to decide what to say because I have so many conflicting emotions. I know I must graduate and continue my education. But leaving Bittersweet and the many friends I've made while on the staff is extremely hard. The things I have learned in Bittersweet will be valuable in the years to come. I have had the opportunity to help direct a business. I have been able to meet many different types of people through talks and interviews. I have also learned to meet deadlines. And, of course, I've improved my writing skills.
I owe several people many thanks. The readers have made it possible to produce Bittersweet with their subscriptions and donations. People who have helped us write our stories have supplied the many valuable sources and materials needed. The staff has functioned almost perfectly, compromising when necessary. Finally, Ellen Massey, our advisor; has been a great influence over all of us. She has always encouraged us to keep striving for perfection, especially when we're about tired out. I'm grateful to each one for allowing me to be a part of Bittersweet.
We made a few blunders in the spring issue. Some might have noticed that instead of having VOL. VI on the table of contents page we had VOL. VII. Nature lovers may also have wondered what type of plant was in the spring photo essay. Well, most experts could tell you that the picture at the bottom of page 33 is an upside down bellwort! We also tried a new page design technique, and we have received several letters from confused readers who thought the printer put the magazine together wrong. Pages 50 and 51 were to fold out to continue the story on Corkery, but on some copies page 50 was caught in the staple. Many readers simply slit each of the folded in pages. You shouldn't be embarrassed if you did also because you weren't alone!
Not only do we use suggestions from readers but we also occasionally have people come in to critique our magazine to help us improve. On March 26 we were fortunate to have Steve Shinn, editor of the Missouri Alumnus, come and share some of his experiences with us, as well as give us some suggestions in magazine publication.
We have gotten several letters from readers who are renewing saying that $8.00 is too much to pay. Because we hate to lose any readers, I would like to explain more completely our reasons for this increase which we initiated in September. First of all, the original price of $6.00 set six years ago in 1973 hasn't been raised until this year. We voted each year until 1978 not to raise the price, even though the last two years we began to lose money because we were selling Bittersweet for less than it cost to produce it. Other cultural magazines similar to ours have been $8.00 a year several years before we were forced to raise our prices.
Our costs have risen, doubling and tripling in some cases, and we simply could not afford to continue at the old price of $6.00 annually since we have no other source of income except from our subscriptions and sales of single issues. Though we welcome and receive some tax-deductible donations, they make up only about one percent of our income. We are terribly sorry if this new rate causes problems, but we simply must raise our prices to continue publishing.
When we speak to different groups some questions that are frequently asked pertain to the scope of our activities. I'll briefly summarize some facts which may interest you. These numbers are from July 1978, the beginning of our fiscal year. We have conducted over fifty interviews, traveling more than 5,680 miles. We have spoken about 47 times to various groups. We have approximately 3300 subscribers in the fifty states as well as several foreign countries and in the ten month period have sold an additional 5,000 single copies on newsstands and through the mail. This will give you some idea of what we do to produce and publicize our magazine.
I'd like to wish the 1979-80 staff the best of everything in the coming year. I'm sure they will continue to learn more about and improve Bittersweet. I close one step of my education, but a very vital one, and I'm glad Bittersweet was a part of it.
Thanks much for inviting me to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you last
Monday. It was an enjoyable time for me, and I hope you found the hour worthwhile too.
Certainly, you have much to be proud of. Preserving the traditions of the Ozarks is a valuable endeavor, and the success of BITTERSWEET and BITTERSWEET COUNTRY proves the excellence of your work. You, Mrs. Massey, obviously have set a high standard for your classes to follow. And to you on the current staff: No matter what you do later in life, you can look back on your work on BITTERSWEET with pride and satisfaction.
Steve Shinn, Editor,
Dear Mrs. Massey:
This is the first fan letter I have ever written so I hope this helps you realize the enormity with
which I enjoyed BITTERSWEET COUNTRY.
It was on a request list at our St. James Library so when my name came up I brought it home and the times I wasn't reading it, my mother (who is 79) was!
I grew up on a farm south of Kirk-wood, Mo., and your book brought back memories of many happy, sad, humorous and frustrating experiences. The only segment of rural life which I missed was the country schools--hopefully you will compile a sequel? I attended a two-room school and many fond memories revolve around it. I am presently reading "Teacher, You're Almost a Lady" by Pauline Smith Pond which I heartily recommend.
We moved here from Florissant, Mo., where I was a library assistant for years so I have read a great deal and I want you to know that no other book has given me the pleasure yours has. My hope is that young people will read it and learn of the genuine heritage they have.
St. James, Missouri
ED. NOTE: We have sold a total of 3,868 hard bound copies and 20,938 soft bound as of April 1, 1979.
Last Christmas you mailed me a card with signatures of your staff. I fully intended to
acknowledge the card immediately but overlooked doing so and just recently ran across the card.
I am retired and live alone and to have a card signed by twenty-one young people lifts the morale.
About one year ago some of your staff visited with me when they were collecting material for the
article, "Full Steam Ahead". I thought the article very well done and that BITTERSWEET an
exceptional high school publication.
Again, thanks for your thoughtfulness and with sincere best wishes.
Homer C. Wright,
Dear Bittersweet Staff:
I want to compliment you on your fine magazine. Also I want to compliment Mary Schmalstig on her photography. I was at the Dogwood Trails Council Banquet Feb. 27, 1979 and saw her slide presentation. It was just beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed every one of her outdoor scenes.
ED. NOTE: Your letter has caused Mary to become even more conceited! Just kidding. Mary has done a lot of work in photography and does enjoy it immensely.
We thank the following for their donations to Bittersweet.
Warren Cook, Republic, Missouri
John Eime, St. Louis, Missouri
Don Massey, Lebanon, Missouri
Ben Nelms, Columbia, Missouri
Ruth Seevers, Osceola, Missouri
George Showalter, Potosi, Missouri
Norris Williams, Arnold, Missouri
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.