I’ve seldom run across a document that is so thick with interesting historical tidbits, but the low-tech mimeographed California-based fanzine called “The Fencer” is a highlight of its kind. I was fortunate to borrow a bound, complete edition of the entire run from Harold Hayes, that excellent gentleman, who hails from Pacific Fencers Club in Alameda, CA. He had been given the book by Charlie Selberg, and Charlie had been given it by Arthur Lane, who was one of the mainstays behind the publication. The Fencer ran from March of 1946 until September of 1948, and it included tournament results, club reports, stories of trips to tournaments, post-war reports on former soldiers returning to the local fencing strips, letters, opinion articles and advertisements for clubs, equipment and portrait photography. I have to assume the last was run by a fencer. Toward the end, there were even a few photographs, but mimeograph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph) reproduces pictures only very poorly.
The magazine includes writing or reference to most of the significant players on the West Coast at the time. Helene Mayer writes about the results of a Women’s Foil Open. (She won.) Ralph Faulkner writes a post-Pacific Coast Championships letter of congratulations and thanks to the Nor-Cal participants and winners, specifically referencing Hans Halberstadt, with the hope Hans will see his letter if he ever looks up from counting all the medals his fencers accumulated.
The tone of the letters and articles are unfailingly polite, sometimes funny and self-deprecating, and filled with encouragement to fencers – sometimes very specific encouragement – of any and all of the clubs in the area.
A couple of the more intriguing articles are opinion pieces written by Aldo Nadi in 1948 and I plan to include them in their entirety at some point soon. For now, I thought the following items might be of interest.
First, a pair of ads from 1948:
In the first, you see the reference to Caroline Leonetti (later Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson) who ran a modeling agency in Hollywood. She started her career as a fashion consultant and was in demand for radio and television appearances.
I do not know the particulars as to why her name was dropped from the ad for Nadi’s salle, nor even why it was included in the first place. One assumption might be that she assisted Nadi in getting his own salle after he left the Hollywood Athletic Club, where he taught for some time. Leonetti was a successful businesswoman, but the level of assistance she may have lent to Nadi is a question mark I’ll try to solve.
Above, from the June, 1948 edition, is the announcement for the Aldo Nadi Criterion. Alas, the magazine stopped publication in September, 1948, so I haven’t the results from October of that year to report on who took home the trophy.
Finally, for now, this photograph:
This was taken at the 1948 Pacific Coast Championships. Halberstadt’s fencers, both from his namesake club and San Francisco’s Olympic Club, where he also taught, did pretty well at the ’48 PCC’s. I have to assume that Nadi and Halberstadt knew one another from their earlier lives on the European fencing circuit. Halberstadt was on the bill of a 1929 fencing exhibition in Italy that included Aldo’s brother Nedo, so it seems entirely likely the two had met before each had settled into life in California, Hans in San Francisco and Aldo in Los Angeles.