Mugel Roots

Ruth Dyar Mendenhall (1912-1989)
Mugelnoos, June 1, 1986

Dear Mugelnoos,

I hope a little history will encourage the Ski Mountaineers section to keep Mugelnoos, going in this period of transition caused by the Sierra Club's insurance problems. Mugelnoos #1 appeared on Jan. 29, 1938, as a newssheet for Ski Mountaineers only. It was the brain child of Glen Dawson, known as the Agent for Progress and Propaganda. It was an instant hit. Number 2 came out Feb. 2; #3 Feb. 9; #4, 5, and 6 very shortly. On March 15 a new member, Ruth Dyar (me) became editor with an enthusiastic staff. On that date too with #7, Mugelnoos, also became the official newssheet of the RCS. The addition was a natural, as the two sections had much the same membership. The sections' seasonal activities interlocked, but the Ski Mountaineers were busy in the summer too, building and financing ski huts, running work parties, and staging social events.

However, the early popularity of the Mugelnoos rested on other factors besides the news. Its cartoons, puns, and other forms of wit were attractions then as now. It was also unique, as being one of very earliest Club newssheets devoted to skiing and climbing in the entire country. For years the Ski Mountaineers treasurer handled the financial aspects. The publication was edited at two-week intervals by Ruth (she became a Mendenhall in 1939) until she and John left the L.A. area in the early 1940s. After that the paper came out monthly, with a different editor each month. When the Mendenhalls returned from John's war work as a structural and aircraft engineer, Ruth resumed her position as head of the Mugelnoos committee, but kept the system of revolving editors. She managed the Mugelnoos for 40 years, until she became editor of the American Alpine News in early 1978, and not long after moved to Seattle.

Partly due to the good example set by Mugelnoos, Sierra Club section newssheets, in L.A. and elsewhere, proliferated. If necessary, reorganization, new committees, new alliances, better scheduling, etc. may well solve the current problems. But surely a newssheet nearly 50 years old, which has done so much for two sections, can survive as in many past crises.

Long life and Ski Heil! Ruth D. Mendenhall

Note: The masthead above was hand drawn on mimeograph stencil each month for 50 years by the editor, at first Ruth Mendenhall and later by rotating editors. This practice ended when the Angeles Chapter asked us to please get rid of that old mimeograph machine because it was taking up too much space.

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