The Story of the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association

By Boyd Holtan

Part Five: The aba newsletter 

The glue that has helped hold the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association together is the ABA Newsletter. The need of a newsletter was recognized at the organizational meeting to provide information to members on upcoming events, past events, blacksmithing tips, and other items of interest to members. Since the dues were only $3.00, the publication had to be a small, so a newsletter was suggested.

The first ABA Newsletter was distributed shortly after the organizational meeting. President Pete Minier edited and wrote most of the first newsletter that was sent out in January 1979. Boyd Holtan arranged to have it printed and Joe Costello mailed it to the members. The next edition, March 1979, included the Constitution and By-laws of the organization as well as a listing of the members at that time. It also reported on the very first ABA Hammer-In at George Nichols' shop and announced another to be held at Glenn Horr's.

Pete Minier continued as editor with editions in June, August, and December 1979. In 1980, the editions were: March (this edition had the picture of the table made by the Jim Wallace workshop on the cover.), June, September, and December. In 1981, we had three editions: January, March, and August. Peteís last edition was January 1982 (This issue has Peter Ross on the cover with lots of welding sparks.) Rachel Dindrich assisted Pete with editing and typing. Boyd Holtan maintained the membership records and took care of the mailing.

The ABA hosted the national conference of the Artists Blacksmiths Association of North America (ABANA) on May 19-23, 1982, at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center. Much hard work went into the conference and the ABA suffered from a "member burnout."

At the conference, ABANAís board elected Pete Minier to the editorship of the Anvil's Ring. No other ABA news1etters were published for the rest of 1982. Frank Bordo Jr. then took over the editorship from Pete for the January 1983 edition. Frank also arranged for the printing, and Boyd did the mailing to the members. Frank also did the editions in April and August 1983, and April 1984. His last issue had the pictures from the Chambersburg Engineering and National Cathedral trips.

After the attempts to Babbitt the bearings in Horse Schlesinger's power hammer and load his trailer for his move to California, Bob Askren took over the editorship with an issue in June 1984. Bob arranged for the printing in Pittsburgh while Boyd continued to do the mailing. Bob continued with editions in September and December 1984. (This issue had the photo of the door at Heinz Chapel, University of Pittsburgh.) In 1985, he did the March and June issues (The photo of the side-draft forge built at Cedar Lakes is on the cover and the account of its construction is inside.) Bob Askren also wrote the article about the forgeís construction for the Anvil's Ring. And there were issues published in September and December.

The March 1986 issue noted Pete Minier's death. Editions were published in June and September of that year. With the December 1986 issue, Paul Lacy III took over the editorship and described the ABA trip to the Yellin Shop in Philadelphia. This edition also started the arrangement for printing by A.G. Halldin Company of Indiana, Pa. This company duplicated school newspapers, and we fit ours into that format. Each page was photographed and reduced slightly before printing, so there was more information on the page. That helped to make for clearer photographs in the following issues. Paul sent the master pages to Halldin and they would ship the printed copies to Boyd for distribution. Paul continued editing with assistance from Linda Lacy with issues in April, July, September, and December 1987 (described Dan Boone's workshop at Cedar Lakes). The 1988 issues were in May and September. In 1989, he edited January and his last issue in July (reported on the Peter Ross workshop at Cedar Lakes).

Jeff Harris became editor with the September 1989 issue. Jeff continued with issues in November 1989, and February, July, and November 1990. In 1991, he did the March, May, and August issues. In 1992, Jeff edited January, March (reported Joe Sendecky's death), June, and September. His last issues were January and April 1993. Bill Mullens then became editor and completed issues in June, September and December 1993. In 1994, he edited the March, June and September editions (reported Bob Elliott's ring chosen one of the six for the ABANA grille). Billís last issue was January 1995.

The next editor was Gilbert Watkins who edited issues in April, July, September, and December 1995; March, June, September, and December 1996; and March, June, and September 1997. When Gil asked to be replaced, Jeff Harris, who had edited the newsletter for the longest previous period, agreed to serve a second term and edit the newsletter.

Boyd Holtan continues to mail the newsletters to the members. At the present time, there are about 60 other blacksmith groups, plus four in Canada and one each in Australia and New Zealand that exchange newsletters with the ABA.

Mack Miles of the State Cultural Center contributed the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association masthead when Pete Minier did the first edition.