Twenty-Five Years of Book Collecting: A Look Back and a Look Forward - This is a talk I gave at the Book Lovers' and Texana Collectors' Breakfast, March 6, 2015, Texas State Historical Association Meeting, Corpus Christi. A r...
2 months ago
While Jones’ Cosmic Aeroplane was a good place to find out about bands coming Utah and purchase “imported beads and bells from San Francisco,” the shop, originally located on 900 E. and 900 S., provided a rallying point for Utah’s expanding consciousness until its closure in 1991. Books, used records, underground comix and dope paraphernalia were available, and with a move to larger digs, the Aeroplane opened an experimental theater in back (the Human Ensemble, then featuring KSL news fixture Shelley Osterloh). The larger space also accommodated a draft counseling center run by Hal Sparck, who had frequent legal wrangles with the Selective Service as a result, but always prevailed.
McGirr appears to have been, in addition to a bookseller, a writer, editor, and publisher (thus my comparison to fellow Philadelphian Franklin). I can find several references to works of folklore, particularly in Pennsylvania, that he was involved with. And more particularly, he had a special interest in music history of the region. I could also venture a guess that he was somewhat of a songcatcher, a Lomax contemporary, who had at one time his own record label.
I did find mention of a book he wrote, which I have to get for my library: Experiences of a Pennsylvanian with Old Books, Bibliophiles and Old Records. I can't find anything more than the title and author (McGirr) and it seems to be long out-of-print and unavailable.
The most Fastidious Taste of the Erudite and Curious may be gratified in their "Rare, Old Book Shop."
Let it be said to the credit of these men that they cultivated the hereditary literary instincts of their Anglo-Saxon forefathers. The money made from the work of these slaves was haughtily and grandly spent in educating their children in the best schools of Europe. The sons were trained for the various professions, and the most accomplished teacher that Europe could furnish were employed for their higher education. The results were that in proportion to their population, the Southerners produced a class of men, both in numbers and general culture, that far exceeded those in the Middle and Eastern States. The history of the country shows that, up to 1860, when the Rebellion broke out in its greatest Ferocity, the South, in both the Congress and the Senate, shows a greater galaxy of brilliant men than all the rest of the States combined. However censurable and questionable this mode of government may be considered by many, it cannot be denied that it produced a class of men always to be admired by the literary student, that we in the North have as yet to produce.Brotherhead provides this history to establish the background of Penington's chief patrons. This cultivated Southern class always called on Penington, it seems, when on business in the east. Penington seems to have cornered the market on imported books from Europe, which, according to Brotherhead, the Southern literati craved.
A scholar of fine parts, thorough in his knowledge of bookselling, with judgement and skill, a biographer in its broadest and best sense he was an honor to the craft, and he took pride in it. He was a man of fine taste, of large reading, and of exhaustless service to all who were curious in scholarship or earnest in the study of letters... His shop became the gathering place of scholars and men with taste for letters, and one generation after another grew up almost under his eyes in the various branches of literature which he supplied…The trade of bookselling in his hands was elevated to the dignity that it really acquires in the hands of competent men. Such men are rare everywhere.Brotherhead concluded his chapter on John Penington, stating that after his demise and uneventful succession of family owners of his business, Penington's name and by implication the literary reputation of Philadelphia booksellers also passed away:
...the halo of old John Pennington has passed away, and his fine old store and name, except to a few, is sunk into oblivion.Perhaps the discovery of a 135-year-old trade card for the book shop has raised the memory of John Penington, Bookseller from the depths of oblivion, if only momentarily.
Mrs. Roosevelt came in at 3 P.M. to assure me that Jimmy & Elliott had nothing against me and intended no disparagement of me in their recent non-edited remarks. Said she was for me. Said she didn't like Byrnes and was sure he was not reporting Elliott correctly. Said Byrnes was always for Byrnes and no one else. I wonder! He's been loyal to me[.] In the Senate he gave me my first small appropriation, which started the Special Committee to investigate the National Defense Program on its way. He'd probably have done me a favor if he'd refused to give it.Truman makes note of a heart condition in his March 7th entry and scoffs, "So What!
Maybe there was something on both sides in this situation. It is a pity a great man has to have progeny! Look at Churchill's. Remember Lincoln's and Grant's. Even in collateral branches Washington's wasn't so good-and Teddy Roosevelt's are terrible.
"Left Mexico City at 6 A.M. Everyone[,] President, Cabinet, half the City to see me off.Excerpt from July 4th after a visit to Jefferson's home, Monticello:
Land at Waco in the rain at 11 A.M.
Doc tell's [sic] me I have Cardiac Asthma! Ain[']t that hell.
Well it makes no diff[erence,] will go on as before. I've sworn him to secrecy! So What!
Mrs. Astor-Lady Astor came to the car just before we started from Monticello to say to me that she liked my policies as President but that she thought I had become rather too much "Yankee."July 23rd, Truman comments on the departure of Secretray of War Patterson and his wife, as well as his dislike for the wife of his replacement:
I couldn't help telling her that my purported "Yankee" tendencies were not half so bad as her ultra conservative British leanings. She almost had a stroke.
How we'll miss Mrs. Patterson! as well as the Sec[retary] of War. Looks as if we've lost a grand, honest man & wife of the same caliber and have gained a good man and a baby talking, henna haired lady. She went to school with Claire Booth Luce-too bad I'd say. Cabinet women are a problem. I'll write a book on it some day.I've saved the most surprising (shocking) for last, a July 21st anti-semitic rant after a conversation with Henry Morgenthau, concerning a ship in Palestine:
The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I've found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes.Wow! When the diary was discovered in 2003 and made available to the public online, any media coverage slipped by me. I don't remember hearing anything about it. I wondered how others viewed the July 21st entry and how it might affect Truman's legacy. I found a couple of points of view on the matter, one of which defends Truman against anti-semitism: