Looking back on the past 75 years of Paraplegia News
It was 75 years ago this month when Paraplegia News (now called PN) was born on a little press donated by the American Red Cross in the Bronx (N.Y.) VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) Hospital Occupational Therapy Department.
According to first editor John Price, the publication was Bob Bather’s brainchild. (Bather later became the third editor.) PN went on to become the official “organ” (publication) of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and still is, but at the time of PN’s creation, PVA had yet to officially form as the organization we know today.
In the first editorial in July 1946, Price wrote, “To the paraplegics throughout the country; this paper is published with the earnest desire that it will become a sounding board for the expression of your ideas and suggestions for improving our mutual welfare. To our critics: Only constructive criticism will be accepted on the first issue. On succeeding publications, we invite you to have a field day.”
Through 75 interesting years of an ever-changing world of “paraplegics” (quadriplegics were called paras back then), PN remains committed to “improving our mutual welfare.” We also continue to invite your criticisms.
As the eighth editor of PN, I want to thank my predecessors for their dedicated efforts and unwavering belief in the essential needs this publication fills. The magazine’s success can be directly attributed to their loyalty to PVA, their perseverance and their commendable editorial and publishing skills. This issue of PN is dedicated to those seven hardy souls:
- John Price, 1946–49/1955–61
- Bob Moss, 1949–52
- Bob Bather, 1952–55
- Frank MacAloon, 1961–63
- Bob Webb, 1963–78
- Cliff Crase, 1978–2007
- Richard Hoover, 2007–2017
Recently, I’ve spent a great deal of time researching the past 75 years of PN to more thoroughly understand the magazine’s evolution. It has gone up and down in page count, has changed graphically, and in some ways, even in its subject matter.
This isn’t a bad thing. To the contrary, it has shown the publication’s historical ability to redefine itself, not only to remain relevant and interesting to the reader, but to adapt to the many external factors and trends of the publishing industry.
Today’s PN is a publication that is approximately half the page count of its 1990s magazines, but its vibrant design, improved photos, graphics and overall content make it even more engaging. Price could never have imagined our digital edition, website or social media presence, but I’m sure he would be pleased with PN’s increased ability to reach an even larger audience.
I’m writing this month’s column while attending PVA’s 75th Annual Convention in Las Vegas. Much of what I’ve said was inspired by previous editor Cliff Crase’s column (The Big Five-Oh) in the July 1996 issue, which celebrated PN’s 50th birthday.
Since being appointed editor in 2017, it has been my privilege to continue publishing PN with the same spirit exhibited by my predecessors and their unwavering focus on you, the reader.
Fellas, your legacy will continue.