I was recruited for the NPL at the 1996 Stamford tournament by (I believe in this order) Ditto, Sunshine. Also, when I had not yet taken the plunge, Brian Olewnick reminded my of my resolve at the Bang on a Can music festival in New York. Another important factor was seeing the February 1996 Enigma open to Xemu's “Connect the Dots” cryptic.
Source: Letter from Wampahoofus, 1990's, updated 2007.
First Issue: no date.
I recruited Voks (the only person ever to invite me to a bar/bat mitzvah) at the tournament held at the Ethical Culture building in White Plains. Jon Dark was my brother-in-law, and the only member of his generation of my wife's family who enjoyed words as games.
The name “Wampahoofus” comes from a hiking trail on the south side of Mt. Mansfield1), the highest point in Vermont. Many years and pounds ago, I managed to hike the entire Long Trail, which traverses the state from north to south. The Wampahoofus trail was named so by the Long Trail Patrol, because a rock formation thereon was thought to resemble the profile of a sidehill Wampahoofus. This also relates to my puzzling interests, since one of the most fascinating Sunday New York Times crosswords I encountered, in the days when my mother commandeered this puzzle, was a Farrar-edited masterpiece whose themewords were various European folk monsters, including a gyascutus, which lived on the sides of hills and ate children. I would have to think “Wampahoofus” is a variant of that. Subsequently I have realized that that word fits the march theme from the last movement of Mahler's 6th Symphony.