Writer's Bulletin is published bimonthly to encourage correspondence among members of Writer's Correspondence Club. Membership, $1.00 per year, Lola Couden, Editor. P.O. Box 12A, Capistrano Beach, California
Number 11 May - June 1955
1891 - DOUG COUDEN - 1955
YOUR EDITOR left us March 25th, one day after his 64th birthday. He was a
veteran of the first World War and was laid to rest with full military
services in the National Cemetery at Point Loma. This spot overlooks San
Diego Bay and City with the mountains as background on one side and the
blue Pacific on the other. It is called one of the four most famous views
in the world. Doug had been ill for over two years with cancer, but kept
cheerful and fighting until almost the and. As his strength failed, the
Bulletin was his one great interests. He enjoyed your letters more than
I can tell you. He edited the No - 10 issue and dictated the scribblings
and notes to me. It was his hope that the bulletin and club would live
and grow. I have consulted several members and they advise me to carry on
along the lines Doug had planned. but it is really up to all the members.
If you give me the help and support you gave him, I think I can do it as
I worked very closely with him. I know that he'd ask for no greater
reward than to have W.B. continue to grow and help some of the writers
along the way. God bless you all for the many hours of happiness you gave
- Lola Couden
To write a memorial issue of the juggler's Bulletin on Doug Couden is easy for Doug was as much a part of the Bulletin as we were, but to have to write one is difficult - we miss having at hand his letters of advice, encouragement, and material.
We first knew of Doug through his manuscripts on juggling which he published around 1921 and which were still being sold by Thayer's Magic Studio around 1933 when we first started in juggling. In 1937 we tried to promote a page for jugglers in one of the Magic magazines but nothing ever came of it and the idea rested until 1944 when we decided to do something about a sheet for and about jugglers. We corresponded and talked to a few jugglers about the idea but the only one that offered any real encouragement was Doug- but that was all it took to get started.
>From the first issue in October 1944 to the 52nd and last regular issue in September 1949, Doug never failed to have material as well as suggestions and ideas on hand. His writings appeared in all but two or three issues and not in them only because we made special issues out of them and didn't use any contributions.
In issue # 5, Feb. 1945, Doug started a regular column titled " A Juggler in the Stix" which ran until he replaced it with a shorter column called "Stuff and Things" which started in issue # 25, October, 1946. To encourage other writers, Doug turned this column over to guest writers in issue # 36. Doug was always encouraging other jugglers to contribute to the Bulletin and he introduced Jug Juggleson in issue # 21, June. 1946 Jug continued his correspondence with Doug's prodding to the last issue. Betty Gorham, Neal Suddard, John Alexander, Frank Dean, Spud Roberts, Russell Torello, Arthur Mann, and Bob Blau were some of Doug's guest writers.
Rod Hoatlin, Doug's partner around 1912,writes:
"I have included the single picture for the sake of the artists' tools and not the artist. The batcn at the left, the spinning plate on the middle shelf of the table and the five balls on top of table were Doug's when he and I formed the Grant-LeRoy team.
Two brief stories that will be of interest to jugglers come to mind. The club on the far left in picture wore out during practice. Being a thrifty team (a necessity, not a virtue) we wound the club with cord, and covered it with canvas so you can imagine that it was ungainly.
When we started out (and we had been together about three weeks when these pictures were taken around 1912) we were a six-club team. But one club became so badly damaged that we had to discard it and fill in with one of the balls. So perhaps we were the only six-club-passing team in existence using five clubs and a ball. I still have these five clubs- merely for show as I never use this set.
Doug took the black face roles. We were together for the better part of three years. Then we lost track of each other completely until about three years ago when I ran across his name in the I.J.A. Letter. I wrote to him and we corresponded quite a little after that until his letters stopped. I did not see the notice in the I.J.A. newsletter so, of course, did not know the reason. I would like to extend through you my sympathies to his wife, Lola."
While ideas, routines, and information were always a part of Doug's columns, it was in issue # 34 to 36 that he wrote up his complete routine with staffs and plate. He titled this "Stuffs with Staffs".
Starting in issue # 37 he wrote "What's Wrong with Juggling" and in issues 39 to 44 he wrote a column called "Something to Think About". These articles were really editorials and while we never collaborated on them we found that they so nearly expressed our way of thinking that we enjoyed publishing them as much as his other material. In issues 49 and 50 we ran Doug's "School Sketch Ideas".
After the Bulletin monthly closed shop, Doug wrote for each of the three annuals we published. In the 1950 Annual Doug wrote "Juggling Techniques" in which he carried the imaginary amateur Juggler, Paul Johnson, through the steps necessary to bring his presentation to professional standards. A great deal of thought and work went into this feature article and while it was aimed mainly at helping the beginner, it contained a good summary and reminder for professionals. In the 1951 annual, Doug covered the important subject of "Publicity for Performers" with a special slant toward "free publicity". In the 1952 Annual Doug wrote a juggling sketch based on "Fun in the Kitchen" which was an elaboration of the routine he and Lola used in their shows which they called "Fun in a Lunch Room". Doug had the rough outlines for several more feature articles had there been any more Annuals.
In addition to the tremendous amount of writing of Juggling material, Doug wrote a good deal for trailer magazines, carried on a large correspondence and in the last few years he edited the "Writer's Bulletin" which is capably being carried on by his wife, Lola.
We met Doug and Lola in person only three times, once in Evansville, Indiana where we stopped off after the Jug get-together in Pittsburgh in 1947 and twice in Tulsa, but we always felt we knew each other far better than that through correspondence. All through the years of editing the Bulletin, Doug wrote almost weekly, providing two typewritten pages of ideas comments and gentle chiding in addition to his regular contributions. The following are a few excerpts from a tremendously interesting file of letters. As early as August of 1944 we were discussing such things as a Jugglers' Organization, Conventions, etc. that came into being in 1947.
August 21, 1944
"Glad to hear you are considering the club. Juggler's Club of America sounds something like club jugglers. Might be wise to plan to start with a little info. at firs, just a sheet, which could be enlarged upon later".
September 18, 1944
"Am looking forward to the first convention of the jugglers club with an all jugglers show! I guess it would be as interesting to jugglers as magic shows are to magicians. I think it would be o.k. to get club started yourself if you think it is advisable, until such a time as there could be a meeting to elect officers etc. I think a juggling club would have to depend on amateurs mostly as magic clubs do. Might be a good idea to sign up others such as baton spinners, hoop rollers, or anyone doing anything at all pertaining to juggling".
December 7, 1944
"I for one would like to see the starting of a jugglers organization and kicking in dues to keep up this good work. Most jugglers are making pretty good money and I do not think $5.00 a year dues to start would be too much. Why not get behind this idea and let's hear what others think of the idea. Of course, later plans could be made for the first national convention to get together, elect officers, etc. and put the organization on a business like basis. The International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists, with less than 300 members, is well organized but their official organ does not compare with the Jugs Bull".
July 25, 1945
"Some of Ricton's props would be museum pieces. Understand he used golf balls with thumb tacks for studding! I do not think there are any 8 x 10's in existence. He did not use photos as we do for booking and advertising - just depended on a pre-view before the show to sell kids - gab was all he used.
August 17, 1946
"I know I've made enemies in writing my column but I don't mind if it's for the advancement of juggling. But you may lose subscribers because there is too much Doug Couden in the Bulletin. Seems like others should take a crack at it and I'm sure it would be a refreshing change to many readers to have less of my stuff in.-------I have always felt that including Magic in bulletin has been one strike against you from the start. Although I have done magic, for some reason I can't very well explain, I have an antipathy towards same. Probably because they get in our hair in our biz".
October 6, 1947
"Your biggest stumbling block is performers which you spell perfromers. Another thing, is "Collins'" correct? For my dough I'd make it Collins's. You editors!".
To be candid, old sock, I think jugs don't know anything about Juggling, main reason why they don't write. Other reason is just plain illiteracy. As Chute once said, most pros spend so much time practicing they neglected their education- just read the comics. Forgot to tell you not to enlarge J.B. as Mr. Juggleson is planning to spring with a big mag called Jug Juggleson's Juggling Journal, so lay off !".
March 7, 1951
More than 20 years ago I went all through that phase of trying to sell jugglers instructions, ran small display ads in Billboard. Sold a lot, but not much per ad, so it was never a real money maker. Personally, I think you are wasting time trying to sell jugglers anything. You found that out in the old Bulletin. Now I am not belittling your efforts without offering something else with better prospects. My idea is to sell writers. Now there is a big field.
April 8, 1951
"Have you done enough to warrant putting out future annuals? Hope so. Trouble is, with limited sales, you have to get a good price for same to come out ahead. This will burn a lot of jugs as they figure you are just trying to get rich quick!".
September 30, 1953
"Been in V.A. hospital 3 weeks and get operation this Friday so wish me luck, pal. Now an ed, in bed. Will use some of your material in your letters, Thanks".
"Be sure to keep us informed about Roger, Inc. How's the pecan acres. About all I can do is type the dummy for Writer's Bulletin. Lola writes most of the letters. We have had a large cabana built along the side of our trailer as we are 'done Rovin'"
Left: Bert Hansen, Doug Couden 1949
Above: Doug & Lola -Part of their school show
JUG JUGGLESON'S LETTER
Dear Roger. Me and Marie just learnt of Dougs passing so I'm burying the hatchet for you reporting I was dead in one of your bulls, and writing you a few things I got on my mind while they are hot. This guy Doug knew talent when he sawit and he seldom changed them letters I wrote for him to send you for the Jugs Bull. Doug was one Jug in a million that appreciate all them good new ideas I put in my letters such as my own exclusive routine with the cannon ball and my socko plate biz. Never heard no good words from other pros - guess they are all too busy trying to copy that new act where the jug throws all them saucers and cups on his dome. That's the trouble - a jug has something good and everyone wants to copy it That's where me and Marie got one up on 'em. You got my permission to print this letter in that special issue you say you are doing in Dougs memory and as a special bonus me and Marie decided to tell you about our new socko finish to the act. Doug would have appreciated this as he and Lola worked with their dog too. Well we do all our sensational act and got the yokels with their mouths open and then I go into my 9 ball shower and then reverse em and for the climax let them shower into a little stand that is covered with a long drape to the floor only the last ball dont hit the stand and falls on floor and starts rolling away when whammo from under the drape comes our trained wiener hound, grabs the ball and brings it to me and I arch it over hitting the stand perfect, This lays them out cold Rog and when they comes to they applauds like I done 15 cups and saucers to dome only this stuff is original with me and Marie. Well Rog dont take no wooden nickels and tell Lola if she needs any help with the Writers Bulletin to call on me and Marie and we'll pep it up like we done for the Jugs Bull. So long pal, Jug.