Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 27, 2010

The "correct" place!

Shortly after arriving at work two weeks ago, husband Art called. He had heard on the radio it was International Lefthanders Day, and wanted me to remind him to tell daughter Katie, who is a lefty.

So it was somewhat ironic that later in the day while looking through some old K-State journalism department materials, that I came across a magazine called "Lefty." Over the years, I've read a number of articles about what it's like to be left-handed in a world made for right-handed folks. Most contain a bunch of random facts such as:

*About 13 percent of the world's population is thought to be left-handed, although there are wide geographical variations.
* During the 1600s, people thought lefthanders were witches and warlocks.
*Sinistrophobia is the fear of left-handedness or things on the left side.
*The Anglo-French term senestre, signifying "on the left," gave us the word sinister, meaning "singularly evil or productive of evil" or "presaging ill fortune or trouble."
*Gauche is a French word that means "to or on the left hand." But Americans have come to use it to describe someone "lacking social experience or grace, awkward, not tactful."
* Lefties are also called "southpaws." The term was coined in baseball to describe a left-handed pitcher.

But what was the thin magazine with a green cover doing in the department's archives?

It billed itself as "The official publication of Lefthanders International." It was Vol. 1, No. 1 and the date was May/June 1975. Interesting! How often does a person get to see the very first issue of a magazine?

My curiosity was piqued when I opened the cover and discovered the editor/publisher was Dean Campbell, a Manhattan businessman!

I guessed the Manhattan connection was probably part of the reason it had been saved.

Then I came across a letter tucked inside its pages. It was dated July 15, 1975 and written by Walter Bunge, the department head.

Dean Campbell, local Budweiser distributor, has started an organization called Lefthanders International. In this connection, he has begun a magazine called Lefty. The first issue just came out and he's aiming at bi-monthly publication.

Bunge went on to explain that Campbell was looking for a journalism student or two to write articles for the magazine.

At the end of the letter, someone had written in long-hand (and with tongue firmly in cheek), "Does the student have to be left-handed? Or own a left-handed typewriter?"

After going through the magazine and reading about left-handed golfers and businesses that catered to lefties, I became curious about what prompted Campbell to publish the magazine. After a few phone calls, I was able to locate Dean at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Although he devoted 17 years to it, Campbell is no longer active in Lefthanders International. He said he wishes that e-mail and the Internet had been available at the time he started it in the 1970s because he had to depend on the phone and mail to field inquiries from people and to update subscriptions to the magazine.

He chose Friday, Aug. 13, 1976 as the first International Lefthanders Day to dispel some of the negative connotations of being left-handed.

"It seems that in the Bible, for example, that the good guys always sat to the right, whereas the bad guys sat on the left," he said.

"It also seems that lefties are left out of things," he said. "When we wrote articles in the magazine, we tried to use the word 'correct,' rather than 'right.'"

Over the years he was involved with the organization, Campbell appeared on "Good Morning America," "The Today Show" and "Tonight" with Johnny Carson. He said former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole from Kansas served on his board of directors for awhile as did K-State football coach Vince Gibson.

Eventually, Campbell decided to quit his involvement with the publication as it just became too time consuming.

But "it was lots of fun and worthwhile," he said, "and it had a serious side to it, too."

For instance, the group was instrumental in ensuring that tools and equipment be made available for left-handed people - not only to make them more productive, but also for safety reasons.

So now I know why that thin green magazine was 'left" in that stack of materials I was going through - it was the "correct" place for it to be!

Left: Issue of "Lefty" found in the department's archives; center: Campbell admiring his left hand in the magazine's first issue; right: Katie demonstrating the "correct" way to use a needle-nose pliers.

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