Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grand Moments


The most sentimental thing in my life right now is being a grandfather – or, as some of my fifteen little ones call me: "Grandpa," "Grumps," "Ga-Ga-Papa," "Papa," and even "Poo-Pa."

When some of my grandchildren come knocking on my door, the first words out of their little mouths, after Grandma lets them in, are "Where's Papa?" And Grandma replies, "In the library, of course."

My grandchildren laugh when I try to read a book to them that is upside down. Their eyes widen and then twinkle when I try to put their socks on their ears or their shoes on their hands. My own eyes widen when I call one of my granddaughters by her mother's name. But then Hannah is the spitting image of her mother when Anita was a child. I no longer call that "a senior moment;" I call that "a grand moment."

I have had three "grand moments" in my library of late as well. I talked to the great-grandson of a bibliophile from New York City whose books I collect. I received a message from the great-grandson of the former owner of a book I bought in Texas in June. And I learned that one of the books in my library belonged to the granddaughter of a poet whose works I collect.

Lew Jaffe, the bookplate maven, put me in touch with the great-grandson of Henry Blackwell, the bibliophile from New York City. When I appeared as a guest blogger on Lew's blog, Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie in July 2010, I displayed the bookplates belonging to Henry Blackwell, as well as two books that Blackwell bound; he was a bookbinder.  So when Henry Blackwell's great-grandson contacted him, Lew knew I would be interested in what the great-grandson had to say. Lew and I talked on the phone, I emailed the great-grandson – whose first name is Charles – and several days later, we had an extended conversation about his great-grandfather's papers.  Charles lives in Jupiter, Florida.  I plan to visit him and view his great-grandfather's papers on my next trip to Fort Lauderdale.

One of the books I bought in Three Dog Books in Wichita Falls, Texas in June was The Legend of the Book, a small book of verse about the early days of the making of books.  It was published by The Bookfellows in Chicago in 1924, of whom its former owner, Frank M. Morris was a member.   In my blog post, "Books From Texas...," I mentioned that I bought this book because of the previous owner's inscription on the front flyleaf:
"Stolen from Frank M. Morris.  Who had it with the compliments of George Steele Seymour.  Chicago Oct. 1924."

A month after posting about the book in this blog, a person from Seattle contacted me and said that this book came from his maternal great-grandfather's bookstore in Chicago. He said he wanted to buy the book from me if I was willing to sell it. I posted a comment to the blog the very next day that I thought the book belonged in his library instead of mine, and provided an email address for him to contact me.  It has been almost a month and I have not heard another word from him. I have deleted his comment and my reply. Either he is not related to Frank M. Morris, or he is not too enthusiastic about owning one of his great-grandfather's books. Hey! I am more than happy to keep Frank M. Morris's book in My Sentimental Library.   In researching Frank M. Morris further, I can say that he was one well-liked Chicago bookseller.

The last "grand moment" in my library concerns a book my friend Asta gave me for my birthday in June 2007. It was a copy of Austin Dobson's The Ballad of Beau Brocade, published in London in 1912 and bound in half leather. On the front flyleaf was the following inscription:

For Doris Martin,
With best wishes
from Jean Austin Dobson
July 1962

I googled Jean Austin Dobson, learned she was a singer, but found nothing that mentioned she was related to Austin Dobson, an English author whose prose and poetry works I collect. I was in Hawaii in 2007, watching some of my grandchildren while their father was over in Iraq. I even created an appropriate blog: The Displaced Book Collector, and wrote about this book and Jean Austin Dobson in my June 30, 2007 post, "Once a Book Collector..."

Fast forward to the first week of this month – August 5th to be exact. I discovered that I had not been notified when someone posted to one of my blogs several months ago. I answered that comment and decided to check my other five blogs for comments I didn't know about. And that is when I found Warwick Harte's comment from Feb. 10, 2011.   I stopped posting to The Displaced Book Collector blog in October 2007, but never deleted it – and never bothered to check for comments until this month!

I have since contacted Warwick Harte and thanked him for his comments.  I also contacted another friend of Jean Austin Dobson's:  Colin Hurrell.  Colin has six blogs and mentions Jean Austin Dobson several times in his Poems and Prose Blog.  Colin visits Jean Austin Dobson several times a year, and they read her grandfather's poetry together.  Grand moments they are!