Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ted Richmond's Wilderness Library

I was looking through a book about the Ozarks I acquired recently, Ozarks Mountain Folk: These Were the Last, A Portfolio of Photographs by Townsend Godsey.

In this photo-essay on the people and region, I found a picture of something intriguing (actually, it's all intriguing!). It was a little log cabin library called Ted Richmond's Wilderness Library. Who was Ted Richmond, I wondered, and what's the story on this little library?

The book provides little in the way of biographical information about Ted Richmond, but does offer interesting anecdotes about his tenure in the hills and efforts to bring books to the rural region. Mostly, the text was a teaser that created a mystery about who Ted Richmond was, where he came from, and where he went.

The following account of Ted Richmond and his life in the Ozarks accompanies the above photos in the book:
While homesteading 160 acres of some of the wildest land in the Ozarks, Ted Richmond brought book culture to the blackills. But land speculators and promoters of mid-century made life so miserable for him because of his stand favoring conservation that he was forced to leave his beloved hills and his Wilderness Library.

Nevertheless, he left his mark on the minds of many hillfolks. The bookman, who sometimes wrote a column or verse under the name of "Twilight Ted" shared his small log cabin with his library and his goats. Seven rugged paths led to the library where hillfolk came to borrow a season's supply of good reading material.

A steady stream of books came in response to hundreds of letters from book reviewers and other booklovers throughout the United States. They supplied him with more than 25,000 books and many magazines for his library. Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of his most famous contributors and after her husband's death sent a large number of the president's books to Ted who toted them two miles down the rocky Mount Sherman trail to the Wilderness Library.
The Roosevelt anecdote reminded me of another President Roosevelt whose book donation to another unique library I wrote about on this blog here.

As for wanting to know more about Ted Richmond, I found a few other sources of material on the Internet to supplement the brief sketch by Townsend Godsey more than 30 years ago. Collectively, they provide answers about his life and work with books in his library.

Dennis L. Raney appears to be the authority on Ted Richmond and his library, having put together a Web site called Ted Richmond's Wilderness Library, as well as an informative page on the The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

The Web site hasn't been updated in a few years, but it contains some interesting pieces of Ted Richmond's life as well as a photo of related artifacts exhibited at the Newton County Library. At the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture site, we learn that Ted Richmond had a little experience putting a library together under somewhat unusual circumstances.

As a private during World War I, Richmond served in France and after the war stayed there to help organize an American library at the University of Toulouse. Back in the states, he worked as a journalist until about 1931 when he began homesteading on Mount Sherman in Newton County, Arkansas. Lending his books soon followed and planted the seed for a wilderness library.

This site also has three interesting pictures of Ted Richmond in his library, one of which is provided by Dennis Raney (first of three below), who created the Web site mentioned above. The other two photos were taken during the filming of Wilderness Library by Norman and Cy Weissman for the United States Information Agency (USIA) and the year attributed to them is 1951. But the Wikipedia page for the USIA asserts that the USIA was not formed until 1953.

At, a Web site about some beautiful vacation cabins in the Ozarks wilderness near where Ted Richmond once lived and operated his library, I found a couple of items that add to what I've already assembled from other sources. Another book is mentioned that references Ted Richmond and the Wilderness Library: Ozark Cabin Folks, by Paul Faris. This book is said to contain a very good account of Ted and his library.

This last source also had a another photo of Ted Richmond and Hugh Raney, whom I assume is a relative of Dennis Raney. They are examining books on the front porch of the library.

After some 25 years among the hills and people of that region, Ted Richmond just left one day and never returned to live. His disappearance became a mystery and probably grist for the rumor mill, but Dennis Raney found the traces of what happened. Ted moved to Texarkana and married and lived out his days there. Raney's research, if you haven't already perused it, fills in the details. Mystery solved, but the intrigue about this man and his humble library flourishes, much as the "Wilderness Library" once did.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Edwin L. Miller: Lover of books, literature, and education

Another old English Literature textbook crossed my desk recently and I would have likely placed the book into a box for donation had I not visually scanned the author's Preface. Literature anthologies are quite common and usually of little value to a bookseller. But I can never seem to resist browsing one.

The book is English Literature: A Guide to the Best Reading, by Edwin L. Miller, A.M. (J.B. Lippincott, 1917).

The first sentence of his Preface grabbed my attention and urged me to read on:
"All my life I have loved, owned, collected and read books."
Yeah? Me, too! What else have you got to say?

Plenty, it turns out, and I found more unexpected connections to this author through his two-page Preface. One paragraph in particular required repeated reading:
"...I trust that the following pages will be pleasant to read; that they "will arouse curiosity about books and authors; that they will incite people to read books; and that they will inoculate some of those who read them with the altogether proper, harmless and desirable mania for owning them. The last assertion I make boldly, though I know that some persons of low character will probably charge me with being in league with those natural enemies of society who are commonly known as printers. To forestall their criticism, I will add that, in my opinion, the most meritorious act ever performed by Napoleon was to order one of them shot. Though I perceive that the last sentence is a trifle ambiguous, I purposely leave it so."
Miller states his hopes for inspiring people to not only read books, but to surrender to "the altogether proper, harmless and desirable mania for owning them." But in a mystifying contradiction of his desires, he goes on to say that printers of books are "natural enemies of society." In an effort to fend off any critics who may have thought him sympathetic to the printing trade, Miller makes his feelings about printers very clear: " my opinion, the most meritorious act ever performed by Napoleon was to order one of them shot." How do you really feel about it, Ed?

I knew immediately who this printer (and bookseller) was, as I had done a bit of research on him for the first entry on this blog more than four years ago: Dangerous times for a bookseller.

Miller admits to a degree of ambiguity in his statement about printers and further admits that he intends to let it stand as is.

He concludes this interesting Preface with his opinion on which chapters will provide the most satisfaction--Milton, Bunyan, and Dryden. And here, you can almost see him winking as he gives his reason: He did not write them; that credit goes to Miss Helen M. Hard.

Thus, this lover of literature and collector of books, with his ambiguous attitude toward the printers who make both possible, concludes his thoughts on literature in general and his book in particular. His Preface, in full, is reprinted below.
All my life I have loved, owned, collected and read books. The motive back of these activities has not, however, been any desire on my part to improve my mind. Being satisfied with my mind as it is, I have read in the spirit in which boys play ball, girls dress their dolls, men attend prize fights, and women gossip about their neighbors. I have read, in other words, for fun; and I have found in the collection, the ownership, and the perusal of books a source of pleasure which, unlike most pleasures, is not only inexpensive and harmless but has grown deeper with time.

My object in writing this book has been, if possible, to convey to others the secret of the location of the source of this fountain of perpetual refreshment. I wish to show people how to extract from books the same kind and degree of satisfaction that they get from games, movies, and automobiles. I hope, therefore, that these pages will be read, not because they are instructive, but because they are entertaining. Of course, like the pages of Mark Twain's " Roughing It," they do have information in them. '' Try as I will," he says, " information appears to stew out of me like the sweet ottar of roses out of the otter." It is so with me. I cannot help it. Judging, however, by what I know of the average person, I am inclined to believe that he will not absorb enough learning from this book to impair either his health or his character.

Seriously speaking, however, I trust that the following pages will be pleasant to read; that they "will arouse curiosity about books and authors; that they will incite people to read books; and that they will inoculate some of those who read them with the altogether proper, harmless and desirable mania for owning them. The last assertion I make boldly, though I know that some persons of low character will probably charge me with being in league with those natural enemies of society who are commonly known as printers. To forestall their criticism, I will add that, in my opinion, the most meritorious act ever performed by Napoleon was to order one of them shot. Though I perceive that the last sentence is a trifle ambiguous, I purposely leave it so.

The reader will note that some authors, who, in the encyclopedia of literature, should be treated at length, are scarcely mentioned, while others receive a relatively large amount of attention. This circumstance is due to the fact that my purpose is to stimulate the interest in beginners in literature rather than to convey information to experts. Thus there is a good deal about Pope and Macaulay and not much on the subject of Arnold and De Quincy. I am guided, in other words, in my choice of bait, not by my own taste, but by what I conceive to be the taste of the fish.

It is my belief that, of all the chapters in the book, the reader will find most satisfaction in those on Milton, Bunyan and Dryden. This need occasion no surprise, for I did not write them myself. They are from the pen of Miss Helen M. Hard.

Edwin L. Miller.
Detroit, July 14, 1917.
Who was Edwin L. Miller? A lover of books and language. A writer. An educator, Principal of Northwestern High School in Detroit, circa 1917. Edwin Lillie Miller, 1868-1934. In addition to Miller's Preface to his English Lit text, I also found and enjoyed his treatise on the function and roles of a public school.

In the Detroit Journal of Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1928, I found Miller's open letter to the faculty, pupils, and friends of Northern High School, his new place of employment. In it are some interesting ideas, probably considered a bit radical or revolutionary for the day. Detroit and other public schools across the nation might benefit from the application of such principles advocated by a principal early in the last century. If only it were possible.

From the editor of the journal, there is this note about Miller and his letter:
Mr. Miller's letter to the pupils and friends of Northern High School is reprinted because of the interesting way in which he utilizes the cardinal principles of education as a basis of common understanding between the high school and the community. He has succeeded in treating these principles in an informal manner that makes them attractive to pupils and parents alike.
The letter is an interesting read on the subject of education and offers more insight into the character of this educator and lover of books and literature. The excerpt below comprises a good chunk of the letter, as well as Miller's philosophy on education.
The health of the pupils should be a principal's first care. It takes precedence. A good lunch room, a spotless building, a yard free from rubbish, proper heating and ventilation, instruction in right living, physical training, and athletics are, therefore, to be regarded not as frills but as fundamentals. Pupils should seldom or never leave school on account of their health. If they are ailing, their programs should be readjusted in such a way that their health will be restored. In other words, they should not leave school to get well, but go to school to get well.

The fundamental processes are readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmctic. Our ancestors thought that they constituted the whole of education. Though this was not a philosophic view, they still constitute the backbone, so to speak, of education. This means that in high school, every pupil must learn to speak and write plain English with fluency and precision, must become familiar with many great books, and must take as much training as he can in mathematics. The study of a foreign language is of incalculable value in the mastery of one's own. For this purpose Latin has no peer, though French and Spanish, which, after all, are only modernized forms of Latin, are excellent.

The study of music, literature, domestic art, domestic science, household mechanics, drawing, and art contributes to training in worthy home membership. The school should make boys and girls more useful, agreeable, and thoughtful about their homes, not only in the future, but now. If it fails in this, there is a fault somewhere, which can and should be discovered and corrected.

Training in citizenship is one of the chief duties of a school. Respect for law and constituted authority should be taught in all classes, though this is the more particular function of the teachers of history, economics, and civics. At the present moment, the Constitution of the United States, as never before, should be presented to pupils as the supreme political classic of the world. There is no room in our schools for any teacher who believes otherwise and no room in the United States for any flag except the Stars and Stripes.

Vocational guidance is one of the fundamental duties of a school. At the earliest reasonable moment in his school career, a pupil should know whether he is to earn his bread and butter as mechanic or minister, as artisan or engineer, as draughtsman or doctor, as bookkeeper, stenographer, lawyer, teacher, or writer. I say at the earliest reasonable moment, for a hasty or ill-considered decision may be disastrous. At best, it will mean a loss of time. Pupils who have decided to be artisans will get good preliminary training in the drawing, building, and automobile classes; the commercial department will take care of those who are going into business; and those who plan to enter law, medicine, engineering, teaching, or literature should take four years of English, four years of mathematics, four years of Latin, French, science, or history, and two years each of any two of the following—Latin, French, science, history, or Greek.

Athletics, art, literature, science, proper social organizations, and school entertainments, wisely managed, afford training in the worthy use of leisure. Today, as never before, this is essential. The love of good books, if all high-school pupils could acquire it, would be a national asset. A passion for wireless or chemistry or art or music or gardening or carpentry is a priceless protection against silly society, worse than silly movies, and those indescribable hodge-podges of nonsense, noise, and indecency, which are called musical comedies.

The last and probably the most vital function of a school is to teach ethical conduct. The good old laws of right living are not obsolete

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Traveling Antiquarian blog

Recently, I've seen a few referrals to my Bibliophemera blog from The Traveling Antiquarian, with which I was unfamiliar. The name alone is intriguing and I soon discovered the blog's content was as well. For anyone interested in the pursuit and enjoyment of old, unusual, rare, and interesting books, this new blog by Christopher, the Traveling Antiquarian, will be worth a look. Enjoy!

A reading list for the impossible journey

I found an interesting reading list in the book The Impossible Journey: Unarmed to the South Pole, by Odd Harald Hauge (Pax Forlag 1995), which recounts the expedition of three Norwegian explorers to the South Pole.

The book derives its title from one of the three Polar explorers, Cato Zahl Pedersen (pictured on the dust jacket), who lost an arm and half of the other when he was 14 years old. In a prelude to an adventurous life, the teenager climbed up a high voltage pylon and received a shock of 17,000 volts, which caused him to fall 30 feet. Either of those accidents should have killed him, but they didn't. One arm was amputated at the shoulder and the other at the elbow. At the time of this book's publication, he was a prominent player in the development of sport for the disabled. He also won 13 gold medals participating in the Paralympics. The English version of Pedersen's Web site can be viewed HERE (google translation a bit rough in spots).

The other two explorers on the expedition were the author, Hauge, and Lars Ebbesen. In a folio size book that features many images of incredible, stark beauty, it's easy to get caught up in the photos of the harsh environment and its effect on the explorers. But it was one of either Hauge or Ebbesen (can't tell which) trying to read a book in a tent that piqued my interest on a bookish level.

Here's a routine activity (routine for most environments) that could be taken for granted at first glance. Apparently, a great deal of thought went into which books to bring on the trip. Content and weight factored in the decision of what to lug along to the South Pole.

The photo below is titled Most Words Per Ounce, followed by a reading list based on that criteria, which includes some commentary on the authors and/or books. The Grisham comment appears to be the only dated one.

Choice of books is difficult on an expedition. There are countless books you would like to read, but the criterion is most words per ounce (it must be a paperback, therefore). The Bible is unbeatable in this way, but the following were judged to be light enough.

Cider House Rules (under 10 ozs) by John Irving, that masterly story-teller who always uses more words than necessary. If another debate on abortion is in the offing, this book is compulsory reading.

Taipan (12 3/4 ozs) by James Clavell is the book about the birth of Hong Kong in 1840. It is hard to imagine anything more remote from the Antarctic in time or space.

The Pelican Brief (7 3/4 ozs) by John Grisham, America's most feted thriller writer at the time. A lot of good legerdemain, but illogically put together--will this man be just a passing fad?
Only three books. Flash forward to present day and the advent of e-books and their reading devices. These explorers could have packed a Kindle full of hundreds or thousands of books and other reading matter for about the same weight requirement as the three paperbacks they chose. Or could they?

E-books seem to have some problems with cold temperatures (as well as really hot temperatures). It gets a little chilly in the Polar regions, so looks like the low tech/old tech reading devices (books of paper and ink) will have to suffice for any current expeditions into extreme environments. And maybe not so extreme, according to this post found on the blog, Brillig.

Either way, books will always be possible and, perhaps, necessary in any environment, impossible journey or not.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beatrix Potter books

Today is Beatrix Potter's birthday and I have gotten out a few of my childhood books she wrote for a little reminiscing. My grandmother introduced me to Beatrix Potter and her books when I was a child. She (my grandmother) was born in 1902 and had read several Potter titles in her childhood. Her books did not survive to my generation, but she did buy the books she liked for her little boy (my father) and for her grandchildren (my siblings and me) when we came along. From what she selected, I have a good idea of what she once owned and read in the early 1900s, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit and all that followed that first decade (noted in this bibliography).

So Beatrix Potter's books have been passed down, in various editions, through three generations of my family. Recently, I added a fourth generation by sending my brother and sister the books with their names in them to share with their children and beyond. I'm sure many families have similar experiences with this series of books.

Nothing interesting found between the covers, as is the usual MO for this blog, just acknowledgment of Beatrix Potter's birthday, some images of my books, including my favorite, Jeremy Fisher, and a brief journey down memory lane.

And here's our own Peter Rabbit, which we realized later was pregnant, so my wife renamed her Miss Potter and has sort of tamed her. She began eating birdseed with the birds on the ground and comes hopping now when she sees my wife walk out back, shown here setting the dinner table for a patiently waiting Miss Potter. Hmmm, maybe there's a book here about a rabbit...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Declaration of Independence

Appropriate for today is a post that originally appeared here last year on this day.

Today, July 4th, or Independence Day, Americans celebrate the day a delegation of colonists under the rule of George III and Great Britain declared the United States (thirteen colonies) an independent nation.

During the 1970s, in conjunction with the approaching Bicentennial anniversary of this event, the United States Department of the Interior, National Parks Service published Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence. This title is Volume XVIII in the series, The National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. The series editor was Robert G. Ferris. My copy is a revised edition, dated 1975, but it retains the Foreword written by Richard Nixon from the White House, Washington, D.C.

Part I of this book provides historical background , Part II provides biographical sketches of the signers of the Declaration, and Part III surveys the historic sites and buildings connected to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It is this last part that is of particular interest to me because of family history.

In June of 1776, Thomas Jefferson was asked to draft a document to present to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in support of the Resolution for Independence favored by most colonies. Jefferson sought a quiet place where he could work on his assignment. Near the edge of town, at the corner of 7th and Market Streets, he rented a third floor room from Jacob Graff, Jr.

I am a descendant of the Graff family. Jacob Graff, Sr. was my fifth great-grandfather, but my direct line of descent goes through another son, John Graff, brother of Jacob, Jr. So it's actually a great-uncle of mine who built the Declaration House in 1775, and a year later rented the room to Thomas Jefferson for a few weeks so he could draft the Declaration of Independence. The house was destroyed in 1883, but the National Park Service rebuilt it in 1975 from old photographs in time for the Bicentennial.

The rear endpapers of the book depict the Graff House as it may have appeared in 1776 when Jefferson rented a room there. The sketch below is of the proposed reconstruction to be completed in 1975. Below that image is a photo of the finished house.

The Declaration was submitted to Congress on June 28th, where it was debated and edited (minor edits by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin). But Congress created a final draft with some pretty significant omissions, including Jefferson's passage condemning the slave trade.

Some interesting facts from the book:

  • On July 4th, all colonies except New York voted to adopt the Declaration.

  • The document was first read to the public on July 8th outside the Pennsylvania State House.

  • New York approved the Declaration on July 15th. Four days later Congress ordered the document prepared on parchment for signature.

  • The 56 signers did not sign as a group and did not do so on July 4th.

  • The official signing took place on August 2nd, 1776. Fifty men signed at that time, five more signed later in the year, and one more the following year.

  • On January 18th, 1777, Congress finally authorized the printing of the Declaration.

  • Declaring one's independence is one thing, actually getting it is another. The fighting had begun before the Declaration and continued for seven years afterward. In the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Britain officially recognized the Americans' independence, which they had declared in 1776 and fought so hard for in the ensuing years.
One of the Patriots in the fight for independence was my fifth great-grandfather, Caleb Whiting.

Happy Birthday, America!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ray Bradbury, the Kingston Trio, and the High Frontier

I like looking at space exploration books from different eras--the 1950s anticipation of manned space flight and space travel, the 1960s vision of lunar voyages, and the subsequent decades with the benefit of actual experience and history to create bigger and bolder visions and predictions.

In the 1970s, with mankind having orbited the earth, traveled through space, and landed on the moon multiple times, visionary thinking began creating the next generation of more realistic, achievable scenarios for the evolution of exploration off the home planet. Colonies in Space, by T.A. Heppenheimer (Stackpole Books, 1977), is an example of such visionary thinking and prediction.

The book's subtitle is A Comprehensive and Factual Account of the Prospects for Human Colonization of Space. As science fiction of earlier decades gave way to fact, accomplishment, and a new reality, it might seem ironic that a science fiction writer, even the iconic Ray Bradbury, was asked to write the introduction to the book.

I think Bradbury was chosen for a couple of reasons. It would have been easy to get an expert in some aspect of space exploration to write a scenario of the future. But the defense of such endeavors needed more than just compelling scientific fact. Defending the notion of space colonization against the critics, Bradbury summons "the literary/aesthetic," as important a tool as scientific fact in the toolbelt of the visionary.

Bradbury also serves as a reminder that it wasn't that long ago that these recent accomplishments were the stuff of science fiction and fantasy. The sci-fi writer offers a bridge between the two eras of fantasy and fact and serves as a reminder to highlight what can be accomplished in a relatively short time with the fusion of imagination and will.

Martian Chronicles: Ray Bradbury, by Les Edwards

Bradbury titled his Introduction to Colonies in Space, "The Life Force Speaks--We Move to Answer." Written for this 1977 publication, it could not feel more timely today more than 30 years later. "Colonies in space?" he parrots the naysayers. "Yes, of course," he answers the question. "Why not? Let's move. Let's go there. Let's do the job." He then recites a list of arguments, by rote, about having too many problems on Earth to deal with first. In spite of many valid arguments, he declares:
"The Life Force speaks to all of us. We should, we can, we must listen. Because wouldn't it be terrible to wake up one morning and discover, without remedy, that we were a failed experiment in our meadow-section of the Universe? Wouldn't it be awful to know that we had been given a chance, a testing, by the Cosmos, and had not delivered--had, by a loss of will and a flimsy excuse at desire, not won the day, and would soon fade into the dust--wouldn't that be a killing truth to lie abed with nights?"
In the next paragraph, he writes perhaps my favorite passage, realizing one day what opportunity we once had and squandered:
"Our failed imagination tossed our seed onto the infertile sands of a barren river bottom on a lost world named Earth."
If that's not a powerfully ominous sounding message, then it begs another reading.

As Mr. Bradbury nears his final paragraph, he pleads, "We must become citizens of the Universe." He then applauds the author of this book, Colonies in Space, concluding:
"Mr Heppenheimer is keeper of the key, opener of the gate, tender of the gardens we will toss to space and inhabit with proper proportions of sorrow and joy. He offers you citizenship in the Universe. How can you refuse?"
I know a lot of people who would take these words to heart--the civil service and contractor work force at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where I used to work. And that's just for starters. The American government may see things differently, as Bradbury lamented with the administration in power during the time he wrote this Introduction. Both sides of the argument of going back to the moon or to Mars make valid points, whether in 1977 or 2010. It doesn't hurt, though, in either time period, to have Ray Bradbury's thoughtful, inspiring words trying to tip the scales in your favor. By the way, Ray Bradbury will celebrate his 90th birthday later this summer on August 22nd.

Now how about the Kingston Trio, as mentioned in the title of this post? How do they figure into Mr. Heppenheimer's book?

First, a little background. The Kingston Trio folk music group became an icon of American music in the late 1950s with the release of their first album (pictured) and the huge hit, Tom Dooley. They were very instrumental (pardon the pun) in elevating the folk music revival of that era. My parents had this album and I remember, as a child, listening to it over and over again. Tom Dooley was always my favorite. A movie version about the character in the song was made in 1959 and starred Michael Landon , later of Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie fame. I had an opportunity to meet him a few years before he died and told him, aside from Bonanza, Tom Dooley was the role I always associated him with. He smiled at my revelation, or maybe winced.

So, riding the crest of their popularity, in 1962, Kingston Trio member John Stewart wrote the song, The New Frontier, also the title of their third album, to honor President John F. Kennedy and his vision for the young space program. Flash forward to 1977 and the publication of Colonies in Space. President Kennedy's vision for missions to the moon had been realized and Stewart teamed up with author T.A. Heppenheimer to rewrite The New Frontier for the next era of space exploration. They titled this new version, The High Frontier. I can't find anything to indicate that this version was ever recorded. Below are the lyrics for both versions.

The New Frontier
written by John Stewart

Some to the rivers and some to the sea.
Some to the soil that our fathers made free.
Then on to the stars in the heav'ns for to see.
This is the new frontier. This is the new frontier.

Let the word go forth from this day on.
A new generation has been born.
Born to the task to keep us free,
but proud of the rights of the home country.
This is the new frontier. This is the new frontier.

Let us begin for it shall take long.
Let ev'ry man sing out freedom's song.
Not for ourselves that we take this stand.
Now it's the world and the freedom of man.
This is the new frontier. This is the new frontier.

The day will come. It's got to be.
The day that we may never see.
When man for man and town for town
must bring the peace that shall resound.
This is the new frontier. This is the new frontier.


The High Frontier
written by John Stewart and T. A. Heppenheimer

Some to the rivers and some to the sea,
Some to the soil that our fathers made free,
Then on to the stars in the heavens for to see,
This is the High Frontier, this is the High Frontier.

Let the word go forth, from this day on
A new age of mankind has begun.
Hope will grow for the human race!
We're building a colony deep in space!
This is the High Frontier, this is the High Frontier.

Let us begin, for it shall take long,
Let everyone sing a freedom song.
Not for ourselves that we take this stand,
Now it's the world and the future of Man.
This is the High Frontier, this is the High Frontier.

The day will come, it's going to be,
A day that we will someday see
When all mankind is reaching out
Without a limit, without a doubt!
This is the High Frontier, this is the High Frontier.

Colonies in Space, by T.A. Heppenheimer, is offered online courtesy of the National Space Society at

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Peanuts and D-Day

Today is D-Day. I opened up the Sunday paper this morning, the comics were on top, and the first thing I saw was the Peanuts strip featuring an old photo of General Dwight D. Eisenhower talking to the troops on the eve of the D-Day invasion.

I had seen this picture before--it's famous--but not in this color-altered form. And I wondered what it had to do with Charles Schulz' Peanuts comic strip. At the bottom of the half-page photo was the image of Snoopy in Army uniform. I understand the significance of D-Day (I've been to Normandy and visited Omaha Beach), but I was unaware of any connection of Charles Schulz to D-Day and why he would have worked Snoopy into a comic strip to commemorate the day.

I have the book, Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown: Celebrating 30 Years in the Comic Strips and 15 Years on Television (Random House, 1979), by Lee Mendelson in association with Charles M. Schulz. I looked through it for some answers or clues.

Toward the end of the book, I found some pictures of Schulz when he was in France with the Army during World War II. This was a good clue. He had served in France during World War II, though the date given is 1945, a year after the D-Day invasion and also the year that the war ended.

Further research revealed on several sites that Schulz was a World War II buff and held D-Day in particular reverence, so much so that he donated $1,000,000 to the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia. The Web site provides some good background and a telling quote from Schulz about his feelings toward D-Day:
"I believe D-Day is the most significant day for mankind in modern history."
Of the troops that preceded him in the invasion of Normandy:
"Their hard-fought victory set the Nazis on their heels and eased the way for the rest of us. I am proud to help in any way I can to make the long overdue National D-Day Memorial to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the allied forces a reality as quickly as possible."
Beginning in 1993, Schulz observed the D-Day anniversary in his comic strip each June 6 (except for 1995) until 1999. The Eisenhower photo with Snoopy ran in 1998. Schulz refers to this particular strip as drawing the most interest of all his D-Day strips:
"Of all my D-Day cartoons, this Sunday page created the most interest from readers, who remarked that it was often the only reference to that momentous day of June 6, 1944, in their newspapers. Most gratifyingly, I heard from those in the picture and still with us, family members, and friends of the men talking with General Eisenhower.

The photograph itself was taken just before these men of the 101st Airborne Division parachuted into Normandy. According to Wallace, who was the youngest lieutenant with the number 23 on his chest, he had just been asked by Ike where he was from.

"Michigan, Sir."

Ike brought up his thumb and said, "Go get 'em, Michigan."
I followed Peanuts and Charlie Brown through the 1960s and bought many of the books that came out during that decade about Charlie Brown and the gang. I gradually quit reading most comic strips and by the 1990s I had no idea Schulz was honoring the D-Day vets. I'm glad my local paper reprinted a classic for this unforgettable day in history.

For more about Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts, visit the Schulz Museum online at

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Wartime surgeon created a publication first

Many book collectors like collecting firsts, such as first books of authors or first printings of authors' works. I have collected and sold many of each. I've even had a publisher's first book. However, finding the first publication on a particular subject is pretty rare, but I believe I have one of those, too (of which, farther down).

Browsing the Web for anything on collecting subject firsts led me to Steve Trussel's site, which could keep you busy for weeks checking out all the book-related links, but here's one pertinent to this post, which expands on my initial thoughts about firsts:
This link is to a collection of essays and articles by the late New England antiquarian bookseller, Robert F. Lucas.

Here is the book mentioned earlier that qualifies as a first publication in a subject area. The Brenthurst Papers, edited by Jack Penn (Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 1944) is the first academic journal of plastic surgery in the English language. There is an interesting history lurking between the covers.

The reminiscences of a plastic surgeon during World War II was published in The 1978 Annals of Plastic Surgery (Ann Plast Surg. 1978 Jan;1(1):105-15.). Following is the Abstract for that article:
The experiences of the author while an Officer in the South African Medical Corps are related. During the battle of Britain he was attached to the R.A.M.C. and observed the work of pioneers in modern military plastic surgery. On his return to South Africa, he set up the Brenthurst Military Red Cross Hospital for Plastic Surgery and dealt with many thousands of allied battle casualties--South African, British, French, and Polish. The injuries treated included aircraft and tank burns, facial destructions (particularly the nose and eyes), extensive facial fractures, and limb amputations. Various procedures are mentioned. The first plastic surgical journal in English, The Brenthurst Papers, was produced describing these innovations.

Excerpted from Wikipedia about Dr. Penn:
Penn was born in Cape Town in 1909. He served in World War II as a major, 7th Field Ambulance, where he trained in plastic surgery and helped in London with war casualties in need of plastic and reconstructive surgery. He returned to South Africa, where he founded and was commander in charge of the Brenthurst Military Hospital. Dr. Penn, at the age of 35, was appointed first professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of the Witwatersrand.

His academic positions included visiting professorships at Oxford, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Ann Arbor, UCLA, New York, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and the Taiwan Army Medical Centre.

Penn resigned from the University in 1950 to found his own clinic, which he named the Brenthurst Clinic. Penn originated innovative techniques in plastic surgery, notably the Brenthurst Splint which was standard for many years for jaw fractures.

In 1956 Penn was the moving force behind the establishment of the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and he was elected unanimously as its first president.

He helped to initiate plastic and reconstructive surgery in other countries, including Israel (during the 1948 war), Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Kenya, Gabon (then French Equatorial Africa, at the invitation of Albert Schweitzer at Lambarene), Japan(assisting Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims) and Taiwan.

Penn was also responsible for the first academic journal of plastic surgery in the English language, the Brenthurst Papers, and he authored many professional papers, editorials and book chapters in this field.

To top it off, it appears that Dr. Penn signed this book. The inscription is from "Jack." Surely that is Dr. Penn, a remarkable man who had a remarkable career as a plastic surgeon. His innovative work led to the creation of a bound collection of journal articles, remarkable in its own right as the first of its kind in the English language.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ship-Bored with Julian Street

Ever been ship-bored at sea? I had to read through a few pages of this slim, little book to figure out what that term even meant. I was trying to overlook the obvious.

Julian Street is the author of Ship-Bored, published by John Lane Company in 1912, a humorous look at ocean liner travel at a time when that was the only way to travel overseas.

Sketches from May Wilson Preston illustrate Street's observations. Preston was a very talented artist and suffragette, whose work is spotlighted in the blog, 100 Years of Illustration and Design, by Paul Giambarba.

The comic illustration pasted on the front cover alerts the reader to the style of prose between the covers, but not what the title implies.

The author devotes his Preface to sea sickness and the remedies he has received for "casting bread upon the water." So I began to think of "ship-bored" as another euphemism for seasickness.

Further digging into the book alludes to sea-sickness here and there, but "ship-bored" seems to be a catch-all for everything the author detests about ship travel between the States and Europe. It all bores him.

From the very beginning, he pokes gentle fun at everything connected to being on a ship at sea, including fellow passengers. By page 27, he takes off the kid gloves and comes clean in no uncertain terms about his feelings on the subject:
I detest the sea. I abhor it with an awful loathing. It offends alike my physical system and my sense of proportion. It is too sickeningly out of scale, too hideously large!
A few paragraphs more of the same complaints and Street invokes the poets who wrote of the sea:
As for Coleridge, Cunningham, and Campbell, it is only too evident that they wrote sea-songs in vain celebration of their own initials. Byron and Wallace Irwin were probably bribed by the transatlantic steamship companies and the Navy Department.

And not one of them is a realist. There have been two realists who have written poetry of the sea. One is Shakespeare, who wrote: "Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground." The other is James Montgomery Flagg, who in his "All in the Same Boat" exposes the sea down to its very depths. The sea treated him abominably. he retaliated by throwing a book.
You might think a little music would cheer up Mr. Street and bring him out of his ship-bored state, if only temporarily. Not so. In his day, ship concerts seem to have been the norm on these trips. And they did nothing for Julian Street.
There is a horrible fascination about a ship's concert, something hypnotic that draws you, very much against your word and will. I always think of it as a sort of awful antidote that is given to the passengers to counteract the poison of the steady boredom of the ship.
It seems the only thing that cheered him up is when he saw the shores of home come into the horizon again. I know this is a satirical look at sea travel in his day, but I can't believe it was as bad as he made it out to be. Just not his cup of tea.

It would appear Street also despised automobiles enough to have some fun with them in writing as well. The list of other books he wrote, at the back of the book, includes My Enemy - the Motor, along with The Need of Change, and Paris a la Carte.

Researching Street, I was surprised to find him at the Julian Street Collection, 1904-1967 residing at the Princeton University Library, Manuscripts Division. What was I missing from his four little books of light humor?

His biography on this site identifies him as an American author and playwright. Of his books, the first one mentioned is his first novel, Rita Coventry (1922). It was made into a film, directed by William de Mille. He also wrote short stories for popular magazines and was a great admirer of author Booth Tarkington, whom he referred to as an influence on him. He even dedicated Ship-Bored to Tarkington.

I further discovered that Street was friends with Theodore Roosevelt and collected his correspondence with Roosevelt into a book of manuscripts (unpublished) about him. This page at the library's site gives a more prolific accounting of Street's life and writing. His little volume of humorous sea travel observations belies his talent as a novelist, essayist, food and wine connoisseur, and scriptwriter, most of which was on display after he wrote Ship-Bored.

Besides his books to give him some degree of lasting fame, Street's memory is honored by the library named after him, a wing of Wilcox Hall at Princeton University. Not sure how he acquired that honor, but it's his.

Back to Ship-Bored, though, the little volume that introduced me to this writer, I re-checked the publication date because of another ship I thought sailed the same year. The copyright is 1912, but Street's Preface is dated January 1912. Quite possibly, Ship-Bored was published the same month or soon after.

Just four months after Street wrote the humorous Preface, one of the worst ship disaster's ever occurred with the sinking of the Titanic in April of 1912. I can't help thinking that Ship-Bored's sales sank with the tragedy of all the lives lost on the Titanic. How could one want to read light-hearted satire about the ills of ship travel in the wake of the Titanic tragedy? Besides, in short time publishers would issue books about the Titanic sinking that likely were number one on everyone's ship travel reading list.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wild flowers in Saudi Arabia

This time of year, we're used to this kind of scene in Texas--a proliferation of beautiful wildflowers painting the spring landscape.

Bluebonnets in Independence, TX

A mixture in my backyard, west of Houston

So wildflowers weren't far from the forefront of my thoughts when I came across this book: Wild Flowers of Central Saudi Arabia, photographs and text by Betty A. Lipscombe Vincett (1977).

Texas and wildflowers go hand-in-hand in the spring, but Saudi Arabia? That was news to me--news that the country had any wildflowers, let alone such a beautiful variety as found in this book.

The author wandered the wadis (dry river beds) and sand dunes near the Tuwaiq Mountain Range in the vicinity of Riyadh to capture these images. Click on the image below of the book's endpapers for an enlarged view of a map of the area.

Spring rains help this area come alive with a colorful array of flowers during the spring months, which parallels our own season of wildflowers in Texas and other parts of the US. The following images represent a sampling of the variety the author/photographer found in her Saudi Arabian explorations and included in this book.

A word of caution... I don't know about Saudi Arabia, but in parts of Texas, hidden among the beauty of the spring flowers, you want to watch where you're walking in fields of bluebonnets and other wildflowers. You just might rattle one of these critters!