Cross-Word Puzzlers to Hold [10-Letter Word Meaning Meet]

Cross-Word Puzzlers to Hold [10-Letter Word Meaning Meet]

The crossword convention was coming! Lucy Jeanne Price broke the news in her May 6, 1924 syndicated column, but other journalists amplified the drumbeat in the days leading up to the May 18th convention in New York. One newspaper that gave the convention plenty of advance hype was the New York Herald Tribune.

While its crosstown rival the New York World may have first popularized the puzzle, the Herald Tribune was no slouch in the crossword department, as we've already seen. Every Sunday, their "Weekly Meeting of the Puzzle Makers" featured crossword commentary alongside that week's puzzle. The May 11th edition announced the convention, providing far more details than what Price shared in her column.

New York Herald Tribune, May 11, 1924

Here, the Herald Tribune's puzzle editor gives the news a matter-of-fact treatment. (The editor wasn't named, but it was later revealed to be Albert Buranelli. He was the younger brother of Prosper Buranelli, who collaborated with fellow World editors Margaret Petherbridge and F. Gregory Hartswick on The Cross Word Puzzle Book.) The announcement from the secretary of the convention, Dr. F. Spencer Halsey, is reproduced in full, including the proposed resolutions limiting the kinds of words appearing in crosswords.

That only dictionary words are to be used in the construction of Cross Word Puzzles. No foreign words allowed.
Abbreviations are forbidden, save such as are commonly used in speech, such as A.D., e.g., and so on.
Unfamiliar words, such as obsolete, archaic and technical words, are to be discouraged.
Prefixes and suffixes are forbidden.

The next time the Herald Tribune reported on the convention, the paper did so in much more whimsical fashion, with an article that ran on page 3 of the May 15th edition under the headline "Cross-Word Puzzlers to Hold [10-Letter Word Meaning Meet]." (One might quibble that meet is a less-than-adequate clue for convention, but it fit the headline.)

New York Herald Tribune, May 15, 1924

Despite this ostensibly being a news article, the tone is heavily satirical, complete with absurd non-sequitur crossword clues sprinkled throughout.

A Cross-Word Puzzle Convention is to be held Sunday at the Hotel Ambassador. Enthusiastic followers of tiddley-winks, jackstraws, parchesi, prisoner's base, cops and robbers, and whatever the game is that the kids play on the sidewalks with checkers have not yet announced the dates of their respective conventions.
[1. A word of twelve letters, meaning the part of a pupa-case covering the head. This has nothing to do with anything in particular, but the circumstances seem to demand something of the sort.]

Notable attendees, including Franklin P. Adams and the power couple of Ruth Hale and Heywood Broun, are subject to good-natured ridicule.

Joseph E. Austrian is chairman of the committee in charge of the riot. F. Gregory Hartswick will preside after Mr. Austrian gets through apologizing for the affair. There is a reason for F. Gregory Hartswick's conviction that cross-word puzzles are real, cross-word puzzles are earnest, and all that sort of thing. Brother Hartswick is editor of the Cross Word Puzzle Book, for which some people pay cash on delivery.
Everett Thompson will make a speech on nothing in the world less than "The Value of Cross-Word Puzzles in Forming the Dictionary Habit." Dr. Thompson is one of those canny lads, too. He is editor of Webster's International Dictionary. Try to puzzle that out.
Ruth Hale will speak on "Honor Among Cross-Word Fans." Heywood Broun will listen. The advance blurb says that Frank Adams, Neysa McMein, Alice Duer Miller and Montague Glass will be among the idle rich cheering the gladiators forward. Every one will be handed a cross-word puzzle in a sealed envelope on entering. The first solution entitles the solver to enter a championship contest to be held at a future date.

Finally, on May 16th, the tone of the Herald Tribune's coverage changed yet again, with a more high-minded masthead editorial titled "The Word Hunters."

New York Herald Tribune, May 16, 1924
From a childish diversion the cross word puzzle has grown to be an absorbing adult employment. Every Sunday morning grown-ups by the hundreds of thousands ask each other to name a word of six letters meaning "steal" or a word of twelve letters meaning "a peculiar personal characteristic." By the side of many a hearth is heard the busy plying of erasers when a well-laid verbal scheme has gone agley and an entirely new system is made necessary by a wrong start.
The proceedings of the convention will be much marked and widely noted. There are few reading Americans who do not hope in the perusal of them to pick up some baffling trisyllable for the lack of which they had to leave a puzzle partially solved back in the summer of 1921.

How far the crossword craze had come in the space of a little over a month, with editorialists expounding on the burgeoning social phenomenon.