Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Something Very Special

In September 2018,  I was part of a caravan that camped out in a LaQuinta Inn in Pensacola, Florida for an entire week.  Hurricane Irma was heading directly toward our homes in Florida, and our son, who is a weatherman for the U. S. Air Force, advised us to evacuate.  A caravan it was:  me, my wife, our friend Eve Harris, our daughter Anita, her four children, three dogs, and a bearded dragon.   We drove up to Pensacola a few days before the hurricane hit Florida, and stayed a few days longer just to avoid the traffic jams on the way home.  We didn't know what would be left of our homes, but we were glad that we had followed my son's advice.

I didn't know how many books I'd have left, so I decided to buy some more at Farley's Old and Rare Books in Pensacola.  While I was there, Owen Farley told me that he had gotten an offer to buy his property that he couldn't refuse.  And four months later, in January 2018, Farley's Old and Rare Books had closed for good.  

Fast forward to June, 2019.  Owen Farley called and asked if I wanted to buy some of his books about books.  I had bought a bag full of them before, but there were some that all I did was eye the first time around up in Pensacola.  It turned out that what I bought from Owen Farley in June 2019 were the remnants of his reference library: books, price guides, pamphlets, bookseller catalogues, and ephemera that was stored in a looseleaf binder.  In the binder, I found a letter.  And that letter was about something very special!  It was addressed , "Dear friend," and –– Well I'll just let you read it:


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this, Jerry. And - I wouldn't expect anything different than you heading to a book shop during an evacuation! -Mary Harris

Dean DeBolt said...

I'm fairly certain I know who the circus performer was; there was a massive estate sale of his circus memorabilia in the last ten years or so here--hundreds of posters, etc. We are still purchasing and collecting Pensacola and West Florida materials, and interested in hearing about anything available--books by local authors, books set in the area, archival materials, and the like! Owen told me that he'd had an offer but didn't hear if he took it or from whom or where his materials ended up.

Dean DeBolt, University Archivist and Head, West Florida History Center
John C. Pace Library, University of West Florida, Pensacola.

BonSue Brandvik said...

What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing it! I'd love to know if the author who wrote the original story (Helen Aberson-Pearl, Syracuse, 1938) was inspired to write "Dumbo" after watching the circus performer identified in the letter.

I think Pearl sold the rights to the story to Disney (for $1,000) and have read that the film "Dumbo" (1941) was credited for saving the struggling Disney enterprise from bankruptcy.

Thanks for keeping the letter and feather safe for posterity!

BonSue Brandvik, Author

Lilwing13 said...

Mr. Farley had a huge impact on my life. It’s amazing to come across these stories about him, but I’m not surprised.

Jerry Morris said...

Thanks Mary, Dean, BonSue, and Tiffani for your comments!