Our Visit to Fort Mackinac

                               A raven perched atop a stockade at old Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island…

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There is so much history on Mackinac Island, and for decades, much jockeying for position and control among the French, British, Native Americans and American colonists!  Construction on this fort was begun by the Brits in 1780.  It was built to replace Fort Michilimackinac, which had been constructed  down closer to the shore of the island by the French in 1714 as a means of controlling the fur trade and European development along the Great Lakes.  Fort Mackinac was built by the British during the American Revolutionary War so that they could control the Straits of Mackinac (water passage between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan).   The Fort was turned over to the United States in 1796, but recaptured by the British again in 1812.

Read a brief and interesting history of the fort HERE.

 

Fort Mackinac sits high on a bluff on Mackinac Island, 150 feet above the harbor

Fort Mackinac sits high on a bluff on Mackinac Island, 150 feet above the harbor

 

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Walkway from the street to Fort Mackinac

Walkway from the street to Fort Mackinac

If you want to read a first-hand account of what life was like here in the early days, read this exquisitely written biography by Juliette M. Kinzie, WAU-BUN – The Early Day in the Northwest.  It is the detailed life of an educated Eastern woman, when as a bride she came to unnamed Wisconsin (with an extended stop at Fort Michilmackinac on Mackinac Island), and shared the experiences of her husband, the Indian agent at Fort Winnebago.  Her description of the Indians, army officers, traders, modes of travel, and hardships are enlivened with a sense of humor, vivid feeling for nature, and a just sense of values.

 

Wau-Bun - The "Early Day" In the Northwest (George Banta Publishing Co., 1930) Newer edition of an old classic originally published in 1856

Wau-Bun – The “Early Day” In the Northwest (George Banta Publishing Co., 1930) Newer edition of an old classic originally published in 1856

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Below is a view toward the harbor from Fort Mackinac…

View toward the harbor from Fort Mackinac

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In the large stone building which was the “Officer’s Quarters” there is now a visitors’ tea room (Fort Mackinac Tea Room) with an outdoor dining patio.  It has good food and reasonable prices, and is operated by the Grand Hotel.

Dining patio off the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac

Dining patio off the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac

Some cheery geraniums along the wall of the Officers' Quarters

Some cheery geraniums along the wall of the Officers’ Quarters

Looking down toward the harbor and town from the patio…

 

20160715_104134Approach to the center area of the compound…

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Inside the compound of Fort Mackinac

Inside the compound of Fort Mackinac

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Here are some views from the interior of a house which is inside the compound of the Fort.  The rooms, doors, floors and staircase of this house was so similar to ours here at Old Scrolls that I felt I’d come home!  Also (like ours) constructed in the mid-1800’s.

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A Native American dwelling in the original style of the area at the edge of the grounds of Fort Mackinac

Another fascinating book to read about Mackinac Island is the historical novel titled The Loon Feather by Iola Fuller (Harcourt Brace, NY, 1940).   Winner of the Hopwood Award, this novel is the story of Oneta, daughter of Tecumseh, and granddaughter of the chief of the loon tribe of the Ojibways.  It takes place during the fur trading days on Mackinac Island.

The Loon Feather, by Iola Fuller (Harcourt Brace, NY, 1940 First Edition)

The Loon Feather, by Iola Fuller (Harcourt Brace, NY, 1940 First Edition)

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Two Gringo Book Lovers in Paradise

At a book stall near the east gate to the walled Old Town of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia

At a book stall near the east gate to the walled Old City of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia

In early February we boarded a Jet Blue flight in Rochester, NY to Cartagena, Colombia with one connection at JFK in New York City.  We left zero degree temperatures in Rochester at 6:30am in the morning…

ROC airport, Rochester, NY

ROC airport, Rochester, NY

in flight over the Dominican Republic

in flight over the Dominican Republic

…and arrived in Cartagena at 1:30 in the afternoon to 80 degree F. temperatures with cool tropical breezes blowing in off the Caribbean Sea.

Cartagena, Colombia airport

Arriving at Cartagena, Colombia airport

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Going through immigration at Cartagena, Colombia airport

Going through immigration at Cartagena, Colombia airport

Our mission was to visit our son and daughter-in-law in their new home and to explore the area so romantically depicted in the books of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, journalist and Nobel Prize Winner for Literature (most famous for the books One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a grand master of the literary genre known as magical realism.  It didn’t take us long to discover where Marquez drew his stories from, as Cartagena is indeed an utterly magical place brimming with romance, beauty and history.  We took an amazing walking tour focusing on Marquez and his literature, which we will cover in an upcoming post.

First, let us introduce you to some of the beauties of  the enchanting city of Cartagena!

We arrived at Adam and Diana’s home in the early afternoon…

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and enjoyed relaxing by the pool with a view of the sea.

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Later that evening Adam and Diana brought us to the Old City.

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Cartagena was founded by Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia in 1533.  Towering fortresses and 11 kilometers of thick stone walls surrounding the old town are awesome historic reminders of this coastal City’s pirate-ravaged past.

At one of the entrances to the walled city of Cartagena at night

At one of the entrances to the walled city

Today Cartagena is an enchanting and eclectic mix of ancient and modern.  In the streets, both inside and outside the wall, automobiles mix in a gentle symbiotic chaos alongside donkeys pulling carts and elegant horse carriages.

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Street vendors peddle their wares on the sidewalks amid upscale boutiques selling high end fashion, food and art.  Excellent food can be had on the cheap from sidewalk purveyors or from first class restaurants boasting world-renowned chefs.

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Beautiful fresh fruits are bountiful in Cartagena

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Beautifully plated Lion Fish, at El Gobernador restaurant

Beautifully plated Lion Fish, devoured at the elegant El Gobernador restaurant

Hotels, restaurants and spas with beautiful courtyards await discovery behind massive elegant doors decorated with incredible door knockers…

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Old mixes with new.  From the nearly 500 year old Fort San Felipe, one can see the distant contemporary high-rise buildings of Cartagena.

Ancient and modern Cartagena juxtaposed, looking through a watchtower at Fort San Felipe toward the modern section of the city

Ancient and modern Cartagena juxtaposed, looking through a watchtower at Fort San Felipe toward the modern section of the city

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ground view of Fort San Felipe

Join us on future posts as we visit a bookstore and go on a walking tour in the footsteps of Gabriel Garcia Marquez…

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Cartagena was declared a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO in 1984.  For a wonderful description of the city’s heritage, click HERE.

 

 

The History Behind the Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July! I apologize for not posting for awhile, but aside from being engaged in spring clean-up activities here at Old Scrolls Book Shop, I’ve been busy fighting a war.   I’ve just finished reading Kenneth Robert’s 836-page epic of America’s War of Independence, Oliver Wiswell.   It had me hooked from page one.

Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Roberts (1st Trade Edition, Doubleday Doran, NY, 1940)

Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Roberts (1st Trade Edition, Doubleday Doran, NY, 1940)

Independence Day seems a great time to write about author Kenneth Roberts, who is most famous for his splendid historical novels covering early American history, particularly the Revolutionary war era.

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Kenneth Roberts, photo from the back panel of dust jacket on his book “Boone Island.”

History is most often written by the winners; therefore we usually don’t get “the rest of the story.”

Oliver Wiswell is a thoroughly researched and well-written historical novel, telling the story of America’s war for independence from a different side– the Colonial Loyalist’s point of view.

Covering the eight years of grueling societal division and conflict, Roberts brings to light events and issues that were never exposed in your average American History class. All your standard heroes, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and others are here seen as the imperfect, three-dimensional characters they actually were. Important battles are set forth as they actually happened – often won by the Loyalist side, and yet lost by retreating British generals who had no interest in victory.

Map on front endpapers of "Oliver Wiswell"

Map on front endpapers of “Oliver Wiswell”

This was truly America’s first civil war, dividing families, friends and neighbors in a great clash between those who believed they should avoid the bloodshed and suffering of a war with Great Britain and those who wanted to engage in war at any cost to gain complete independence. Both sides were patriots who loved their country, with different ideas on the best course to follow for the future of the colonies. It was not a matter that was put up to a vote. Well respected citizens and educated people were driven out of their homes if they were believed to be Loyalists; tarred and feathered, tortured or sent into hiding by mob rule. Families, homes, farms and businesses were destroyed –neighbor against neighbor.

Rear endpapers, "Oliver Wiswell"

Rear endpapers, “Oliver Wiswell”

Not without humor, Roberts succeeds in exposing the absurdities of war, and the follies of the military leadership and troops on both the British and Colonial side. He also conveys the resilience and strength of civilian men and women who, caught in the circumstances of war through no fault of their own, suffered great loss and hardship. His well-drawn characters are appealing and his scenes descriptive as he takes us from Boston to New York to England, France, and back to the colonies as his main character, Olive Wiswell, struggles to preserve his American homeland in the best way he knows how.

To experience this time in our history from the Revolutionist side, read Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel (1929) – the American Revolution through the Battle of Quebec and Rabble in Arms (1933), where he presents the conflict from the viewpoint of the Colonial rebels who are fighting against all odds to halt the advancing British invasion. The struggles of soldiers and civilians alike are vividly brought to life, amidst the miseries of war when food and supplies are scarce because of human greed and faulty links in the chain of command.

Arundel, by Kenneth Roberts (Doubleday Doran, 1933)

Arundel, by Kenneth Roberts (Doubleday Doran, 1933)

Rabble in Arms, by Kenneth Roberts (Later printing - Doubleday Doran, NY, 1943).

Rabble in Arms, by Kenneth Roberts (Later printing – Doubleday Doran, NY, 1943).

All of these books are compelling reads and make for a thorough education on America’s beginnings.

The great thing about an intensely researched and well-written historical novel is this; as you become involved with the characters, you absorb the facts of history in a way that never happens when reading a textbook, and hear the story as it can never be told in a book without characters. You experience life as it happened for people of the time, in detail.   As history unfolds in this compelling way, it stimulates a hunger for further reading and research.

I came late to appreciating the writing of Kenneth Roberts. Now I know why his books have quickly left our shelves, year after year.  He was a great novelist of America’s historic past, and wrote his novels with the same dispassionate truthfulness that made him a great journalist for The Boston Post and The Saturday Evening Post in the early twentieth century.

*Key historical novels by Roberts and their topics include:

Arundel (1929) – The American Revolution through the Battle of Quebec
The Lively Lady (1931) – War of 1812
Rabble in Arms (1933) – Sequel to Arundel; the American Revolution through the Battles of Saratoga
Captain Caution (1934) – War of 1812
Northwest Passage (1937) – French and Indian War and the Carver expedition
Oliver Wiswell (1940) – The American Revolution from a Loyalist’s perspective, from the Siege of Boston to the United Empire Loyalists
Lydia Bailey (1947) – The Haitian Revolution and the First Barbary War
Boon Island (1955) – 1710 shipwreck on Boon Island, Maine

In 1957, two months before his death, Roberts received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation “for his historical novels which have long contributed to the creation of greater interest in our early American history.”  He died, aged 71, in Kennebunkport.

*taken from Wikipedia

Collectible first editions of Kenneth Roberts works are almost always available here at Old Scrolls Book Shop.

 

Juliette Kinzie’s Wau-Bun – The Early Day in the Northwest

I have just finished reading a book which has captivated me for many successive evenings.  Now that I have closed the final chapter, I feel like I’ve said goodbye to a most interesting friend!

The book is one I picked up in the Chicago area this summer (quite appropriately, as the book is very much about the early settlement of Chicago and the regions surrounding it.)  Wau-Bun, The Early Day in the Northwest, by Mrs. John H. Kinzie, is an historical autobiography that was first published by Derby and Jackson, New York, 1856.  It has been republished multiple times since, by  J. B. Lippincott  (1873),  Rand McNally (1901),The Caxton Club  (1901), George Banta (1930), Lakeside Press (1932),  National Society of Colonial Dames in Wisconsin (1948), and others.

Here’s a link to a photo and description of the first edition (Derby and Jackson, NY, 1856) on University of Wisconsin’s Digital Collections, (PBO – Publisher’s Bindings Online ).

The Rand McNally edition (1901) is an attractive decorated American trade binding, done in green cloth boards with a  brown and black illustrated background of high-rise Chicago buildings, with tee-pees and a canoe on a river in the foreground on the cover, and a small decoration on the spine.

 Here’s our 1930 Edition (George Banta Publishing Company, Menasha, WI), in its original dustjacket:

Wau-Bun - The Early Day In the Northwest, by Juliette M. Kinzie (Menasha, WI: 1930, George Banta Publishing Co.

Wau-Bun – The Early Day In the Northwest, by Juliette M. Kinzie (Menasha, WI: 1930, George Banta Publishing Co.)

 The endearing thing about this copy is its provenance;

Inscription inside our copy of Wau-Bun

Inscription inside our copy of Wau-Bun

This copy actually belonged to the Indian Agency House in  Portage, Wisconsin, about which the author wrote in the book and where she lived.   The Indian Agency House was built by the U.S. government for John Kinzie in 1832.  Kinzie was the Indian Agent to the Ho-Chunk Nation (Winnebago), and he and his wife, Juliette Magill Kinzie, lived at the portage from 1832-1834.

          Image of the map printed on the front fixed endaper:

Map of the areas of Wisconsin and upper Illinois covered in Wau-Bun

Map of the areas of Wisconsin and upper Illinois covered in Wau-Bun

This edition was published in 1930 to support the effort to preserve the Agency House:

From the front panel of the dust jacket of "Wau-Bun" (George Banta Publishing Co., 1930)

From the front of the dust jacket of “Wau-Bun” (George Banta Publishing Co., 1930)

Apparently it was a successful effort, as it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and still stands today with guided tours available during summer months for a nominal fee.

 This edition also has an Introduction and is edited with notes by Louise Phelps Kellogg, which contain some corrections and additional information.

 Juliette Magill was a well-educated young woman from Connecticut when she met the dashing young John Kinsey in Boston, Massachusetts, whom she fell in love with and married in 1830.   She moved with him to Detroit and then Fort Winnebago, a new trading post at the crucial portage between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers.  At the time, it was the western-most outpost of the American frontier forts, where her husband was an Indian sub-agent to the Ho-Chunk nation (Winnebago).

John H. Kinzie, a portrait from "Wau-Bun"

John H. Kinzie, a portrait from “Wau-Bun”

 Juliette M. Kinzie wrote with clarity, compassion, and intelligence.  Her narrative about the times in which they lived is beautifully written, with fascinating details on what it was like to travel, communicate and subsist on the early Western frontier.   Her experiences with the Black Hawk War and the Sauk War are recounted, and details of the Chicago Massacre (Battle at Fort Dearborn) are covered as they were related to her by members of her husband’s family who lived in Chicago at the time it occurred.  Wau-Bun was not her first published work.  In 1844 Juliette Kinzie published Narrative of the Massacre at Chicago, August 15, 1812, and of Some Preceding Events, anonymously.  Kinzie acknowledged authorship soon after publication.

Juliette M. Kinzie, a portrait from "Wau-Bun"

Juliette M. Kinzie, a portrait from “Wau-Bun”

 She was a game young woman who enjoyed being on the frontier, sometimes covering over 60 miles a day on horseback as they journeyed between posts, sleeping outdoors or in makeshift shelters or as welcome guests at isolated homesteads.  They routinely dealt with blizzards, mud, storms, mosquitoes and summer heat, and the diverse cultures and idiosyncrasies of an assortment of Native American tribes.  She possessed a positive attitude and a subtle sense of humor, along with insight and compassion into the culture of the Native American people and their plight as white settlers encroached on their homeland.  Her writing style is honest and as readable as if it were written yesterday.

 For anyone interested in the history of the Great Lakes area, early American travel, fur trading, American Indian wars, and frontier forts (including Ft. Mackinac, Ft. Winnebago, and Ft. Dearborn),  this book is not to be missed.

An image of  Chicago in 1831 from "Wau-Bun"

An image of Chicago in 1831 from “Wau-Bun”

 In addition to her non-fiction work, Kinzie published one novel Walter Ogilby (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1869), and it must be exceedingly scarce, as I have not been able to locate a single copy for sale.

A few interesting footnotes: 

According to Wikipedia, Juliette M. Kinzie died at age 64 while vacationing in Amagansett, New York, Long Island, in 1870, after a druggist accidentally substituted morphine for quinine.  (How ironic, after a life of constant danger and close calls in Indian wars and hazardous frontier travel that she should be snuffed out by a pharmacist’s error in Eastern “civilization.”)

 Juliette Kinzie’s granddaughter was Juliette Gordon Low, who founded Girl Scouting in America in 1912.

The Rest of the Story…Gettysburg, PA

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After book scouting all day at the York Book and Paper Fair and at the York Emporium, in York, PA, we needed to find a place to spend the night.  We decided to take a little side trip.  Neither Ron nor I had ever been to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and it seemed like a good opportunity to visit this historic American town, just 40 minutes or so down the road.

We took Rte. 30 west out of York, which runs directly to Gettysburg.  Rte. 30 is the famous “Lincoln Highway.”  In the summer of 2006 we did a book scouting trip partway across the country on the Lincoln Highway, although on that trip we picked it up beyond Pennsylvania in Ohio and followed it as far as Iowa.

If you track our book scouting adventures, you’ll know we try to stay in historic hotels whenever possible as we travel.  This time we were happy to get a room in the historic Gettysburg Hotel (established in 1797).

Historic Gettysburg Hotel, Gettysburg, PA

Historic Gettysburg Hotel, Gettysburg, PA

Notice the lady in period costume playing the violin in front of the hotel

A lady dressed in period costume was playing the violin in front of the hotel

It was reasonably priced, lovely, and clean, with a beautiful lobby, bar and restaurant.  The whole place is very sleek and modern, as historic hotels go…leaving you to think there really isn’t much left of the “historic.”

Our room at the Gettysburg Hotel

Our room at the Gettysburg Hotel

We enjoyed our stay there, however.  It is centrally located so that many of the areas of interest are within walking distance.

Gettysburg, PA - early evening

Gettysburg, PA – early evening

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We walked all over town, taking in all the nice shops, pubs, inns, and historic buildings.

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Gettysburg is a fun place to visit.  The shops and restaurants were all open and thriving well into the evening; they don’t roll up the streets here after 5pm like some small towns.

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And yet it seemed the perfect time of year to visit, as it wasn’t yet crowded with tourists.

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IMG_0389We stopped in at a fun little shop called “Spirited Ladies” which had beautiful and original items – then had a nice meal at the Blue Parrot Bistro.

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Afterwards we walked south through town to the Dobbin House Tavern, stopping inside to take in the old architecture.  Unfortunately the pub in the cellar of the Inn had just closed, but it has a stream running through it!

Dobbin House Tavern

Dobbin House Tavern (built in 1776)

 inside the Dobbin House Tavern

inside the Dobbin House Tavern

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We also passed the library…

 Gettysburg, PA Library

Gettysburg, PA Library

In the morning we walked north a block or so past the refurbished old movie theater, “The Majestic” which recently underwent a $16 million renovation.  The theater features independent movies on two screens, drama and dance.

Majestic Theater, 25 Carlisle St., Gettysburg, PA

Majestic Theater, 25 Carlisle St., Gettysburg, PA

Below is the historic railroad depot, which operated from 1858 to 1942 — the very one Abraham Lincoln rolled into when he arrived to deliver his Gettysburg Address.  It was also used as an emergency hospital during the Civil War.

Gettysburg Train Station

Gettysburg Railroad Depot

Gettysburg Train Station

Gettysburg Railroad Depot

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There is so much to see and do in Gettysburg, we’ll  have to make a return visit when we have more time.  There are the historic battlefields with tours available via horseback, self-guided driving tours, bike tours, bus tours…the Soldiers National Cemetery, the Eisenhower National Historic Site, Underground Railroad tours, and candlelight ghost tours.  There is art, theater, music, antiques, and covered bridges, museums…and so much more.

Once again, our book scouting has led us to an interesting and historical place on the map, which we enjoy sharing with you.

Here are some links which will help you learn more about historic Gettysburg:

Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau 

Main Street Gettysburg

Gettysburg.com

Providing Books to Soldiers during World War I

This iconic book was published in 1919 by Houghton Mifflin and details the heroic efforts of the American Library Association to provide books to soldiers during World War I through their Library War Service.

Books in the War - The Romance of Library War Service (Houghton Mifflin, 1919

Books in the War – The Romance of Library War Service (Houghton Mifflin, 1919)

The cover is decorated with a famous poster done by  Charles Buckles Falls and used by the ALA to rally citizens to the cause of donating books and funds to their massive campaign to bring reading materials into the hands of soldiers.

Citizens were asked to donate books at their local libraries, which were then collected and shipped to men in the trenches, and to camps and hospitals in America and overseas. Interior, Camp Library, Camp Kearny

Interior, Camp Library, Camp Kearny

 Donated funds were used to build temporary libraries at military camps and training facilities, which were greatly appreciated by the men as places of quiet escape and peaceful camaraderie amidst the chaos of war.

A.L.A. Hospital Library, Newport News, Virginia

A.L.A. Hospital Library, Newport News, Virginia

For many, it was what made enlisted life endurable.  Cash donations were also utilized to purchase books requested by enlisted men that weren’t readily available from donations – such as non-fiction works on code-breaking, topography, mechanics, artillery, foreign languages and other knowledge useful to them in their military work.

On board the transport "Mercury"

On board the transport “Mercury”

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the books and camp libraries to the enlisted men.  It was their lifeline to home, and to more normal aspects of life.  Many soldiers who had never been readers became such through their exposure to readily available books close at hand in their isolated circumstances.

"Books in the War" Frontispiece illustration by Dan Smith

“Books in the War” Frontispiece illustration by Dan Smith

“The library records at one camp for one week show that 1050 books were borrowed by the men in camp.  Of these 548 were works of fiction, 46 dealt with war, 52 were in foreign languages, while the balance, 404, were works on technical military problems, educational topics, poetry, art, history and general literature.”

The fiction writers that seemed to be most popular during this era were O. Henry, Rex Beach, Zane Grey, John Fox, Harold Bell Wright, G. B. McCutcheon, Jack London, Chambers, Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, E. P. Oppenheim, Kipling, Poe, Booth Tarkington, Rider Haggard, Dumas, and H. G. Wells.  “Some of the books by these authors never got to the shelves as they were taken out by readers as fast as they were returned to the charging desk.” 

 Examples of non-fiction circulation on one Sunday at Camp Humphries include:  Life of Robert E. Lee; Over the Top; George Washington – The Man and the Mason; Pick, Shovel and Pluck (practical engineering); Paths of Glory; Army Paper Work; Europe since 1815; With the Zionists at Gallipoli; Tests of Metals for 1916; Office Practice; Poor Richard’s Almanac; Manual of Military Training; Bayonet Fighting; Operation of Trains; My Home in the Field of Honor. 

Other organizations collaborated with the A.L.A. to provide reading material and library space to soldiers, including the American Red Cross, Y.M.C.A. and Knights of Columbus.

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Library War Service in France (Upper: Circulating A.L.A. books in a YMCA hut; Lower: Stockroom, A.L.A. headquarters, Paris)

Red Cross Hut, Orly Aviation Camp, Near Paris

Red Cross Hut, Orly Aviation Camp, Near Paris

Books were also provided on transport ships and trains, and in prisoner of war camps.

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Hospital Train in France

Prisoners of War always displayed an interest in newspapers

Prisoners of War always displayed an interest in newspapers

Newspapers and popular magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and National Geographic were also provided to enlisted men and to POWs.

Most noticeable in the photos throughout this book was the importance of the gathering place of calm camaraderie provided by these temporary libraries.  This idea was stressed repeatedly by soldiers quoted in the book – that the libraries provided an island of peaceful companionship and normalcy with their colleagues.

Between 1917 and 1920, ALA, whose membership was just over 3,300 in 1917, accomplished the following:

  • mounted two financial campaigns and raised $5 million from public donations
  • erected thirty-six camp libraries with $320,000 in Carnegie Corporation funds
  • distributed approximately 7-10,000,000 books and magazines; and
  • provided library collections to over 500 locations, including in military hospitals.

The work of the Library War Service lives on in numerous ways:

  • the creation of permanent library departments in the army, navy, and Veteran’s Bureau;
  • founding of the American Merchant Marine Library Association American, created in 1921 to “establish and promote a professional Library Service for the benefit of the personnel of the American Merchant Marine, United States Coast Guard ships, stations, lightships and lighthouses”;
  • establishment of the American Library in Paris, initially established in 1918, but continued at the end of the war, in 1920,officially, with community support and 30,000 books left from the Library War Service as a permanent memorial of the work done in France and as an example of American library methodology; and
  • stimulation of the Association’s activities in the fields of international relations and adult education.

(Statistics above taken from ALA website )

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Books in the War (Houghton Mifflin, 1919)

Books in the War has become scarce in collectible condition.  We currently have one copy available; to view our offering, click Old Scrolls Book Shop.

Last Dinner on the Titanic

Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner, by Rick Archbold & Dana McCauley (Toronto: Madison Press Books, 1997)

Recently we sold a first edition of this beautiful book, The Last Dinner on the Titanic to a very nice customer in Brazil.  Talking about the book with her brought up fun memories of a dinner party we attended years ago, shortly after the book was published.  After reading the book, a friend of ours decided to host a dinner modeled after the menu, style and period dress of the Titanic and the Edwardian Era.  (There is an appendix at the rear of the book which gives great tips on hosting such a dinner party, with details on table settings, napkin folding, what to wear, and how to re-create the atmosphere.)

The book contains details on dining in First, Second, and Third Class areas of the Titanic

Each of the guests at our dinner prepared an item or two from the authentic menus and recipes presented in the book.  We all came to Anne’s lovely home dressed for dinner in period style. My son was a graphic arts student at the time, and he designed menus for us to closely match the originals pictured in the book, as well as place cards.  He also printed out the recipe for each course served, so that all could take home the recipes.

Each recipe from the dinner menu was printed for the guests

Our hostess laid out her best table linen, china and crystal, lit tall candles and even cranked up the Victrola.  After cocktails, we observed a few moments of silence and a toast to the memory of those who lost their lives on the great ocean liner.  Then we toasted our friendship and settled down at the table to enjoy an eight-course dinner, produced by all of us.

The opening quote at the start of the book makes an excellent toast before dinner.

What a brilliant evening…and what delectable culinary delights we enjoyed that night!  All of the recipes were excellent, not especially difficult to execute, and were brought mostly prepared prior to arrival at Anne’s kitchen.  These days, it can be exceptionally hard to get friends together for a dinner party, or to inspire people to “dress” for an elegant dinner.  But there is something very special about conspiring together to pull something like this off; and it made us all slow down from our harried pace and enjoy a memorable evening together in grand style.

This is the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the great ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic.   Last Dinner on the Titanic is an well-researched, accurate book filled with Edwardian character, and one which conveys just what it was like to dine aboard this most famous of ships.

We have this book available from time to time at Old Scrolls Book Shop.   Other places where you might find a copy include www.bookfinder.com or www.addall.com

 

 

The Music of Words in the Land of Promise

Land of Promise – The Story of The Northwest Territory, by Walter Havighurst (NY: Macmillan, 1946)

Here is yet another wonderful book which we discovered on our recent book scouting trip.  An author-signed first edition, I bought it to read prior to offering it for sale, because it had me at hello with it’s lovely dust jacket illustration and it’s excellent prose.   What a pleasurable reading experience!  The book is rich in detail on the early history and settlement of the upper Midwestern United States, which in our country’s youth was known as “The “Northwest Territory.”  It is a page-turner, and kept me awake into the wee hours many a night;  had me reaching for the atlas to look up locations being discussed, even planning road trips to explore the places brought to life through the author’s words.

Endpaper maps from “Land of Promise – The Story of the Northwest Territory”

Here is a paragraph regarding the “Mound Builders” of Ohio:

“Above the wooded gorge of the Little Miami River on its way to the Ohio is Fort Ancient, the greatest military stronghold in prehistoric America.  Its grass and tree-grown walls extend four miles and enclose a hundred acres in two rudely triangular areas connected by a serpentine passageway.  Thousands of travelers have wondered at its irregular shape and some have seen clearly marked the outlines of North and South America, joined by the sinuous Isthmus of Panama.  So they credit the Mound Builders of a thousand years ago with a knowledge of geography that no European possessed until centuries later.”

Here are incredible stories from an incredible time in the history of mankind, as early explorers, missionaries, fur traders, followed by settlers moved into unknown territory from the original east coast colonies across the Alleghenies and Appalachians into the wilds of the Midwest.   There is the story of the race to claim the land by the French, the British, and the Americans, all of it long occupied by Native American Tribes.  Then the intrepid surveyors who followed with chain and compass – laying out the sections of land for settlement in places where the wolves howled at night, mosquitoes feasted on them by day, in country that was rough, isolated and difficult.  “They waited, sometimes weeks on end, for an observation of the stars to clinch their meridian.” 

It is also a story of riches found and quickly depleted by man…rich soil, bountiful fur, game, timber, iron and copper.   Here were expansive waterways–broad rivers and Great Lakes, at first mistaken for oceans and a route to the riches of the Orient…which in time became great shipping lanes for American commerce.

And then there are tales like this one, which make you want to grab a shovel and map and set out on a quest:

As a political maneuver In 1749, Celeron de Blainville was sent to reaffirm the authority of France in the upper Ohio Valley…

“In his canoe was an article of baggage which had added to the toil of the portages.  A box, sturdily built and surprisingly heavy for its size, was packed with lead plates, on each of which was printed a declaration of possession “…of said river Ohio, and of all those that therein empty; and of all the land on both sides of said river.”  At the mouth of each important tributary to the Ohio the party moored their canoes, drew up in military ranks on the shore and buried a lead plate in the soft soil.  Then to a nearby sycamore or willow trunk Celeron nailed a tin plaque bearing the arms of France and giving the location of the buried plate and repeating its inscription.

Years after the French claim to that country was forgotten, two of the buried plates were found.  At the mouth of the Muskingum a group of Marietta boys dug a heavy lead slab from an eroded place on the river bank.  They cut off a corner to make rifle bullets, but the remainder of that plate is now in the museum of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, Massachusetts.  Another plate, removed from the mouth of the Great Kanawha, is now in possession of the Virginia Historical Society at Richmond.  The rest are still buried at the river mouths.” 

The route to the new lands was first by canoe, raft or sailing ship, or on foot; later by wagons or coaches over rough roads…and then by steam powered ships and boats.  Canals were built to link lakes and communities; then the trains came.   This history of the development of America’s heartland is filled with little known facts about astounding yet little known people, as well as details on the lives of those who became legends, like Jonathan Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.

The growth of cities, with their destinies determined by waterways, railroads and sometimes pure chance, is brought forth in detail and peppered with many intriguing facts.   Chicago (not expected to grow large) was built upon sloppy marshland; in the 1850’s, a huge project ensued where most of the city’s buildings and roads had to be raised 4 to 8 feet.  In 1858, the Tremont House, a big brick four-story hotel, was one of the last buildings to remain at the old level.  No one had mustered the courage to lift it out of the mud.  George Pullman (later of Pullman railroad car fame), tackled the job and completed it in seven weeks with twelve hundred men.

Walter Havighurst wrote many fine books, including The Long Ships Passing – The Story of the Great Lakes.   His first book, Pier 17  (Macmillan, 1935), was a novel about a waterfront strike on the west coast, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

The Long Ships Passing – The Story of the Great Lakes, by Walter Havighurst

His biography and bibliography is available here.

Havighurst died in 1994.  In his Eulogy, Philip R. Shriver wrote:  “Through the years, Walter gained a mastery of the English language equaled by few. He possessed a rare talent for using words, finding through their combinations melody, harmony, and tone. L. Scott Bailey, a 1948 Miami graduate, once said of Walter that “he could set my soul humming with the music of words.”

This book set my soul humming and filled me with wonder.  It is a fine example of the author’s talent.  A signed first-edition of Land of Promise, and a signed revised enlarged edition of The Long Ships Passing,  are currently available at Old Scrolls Book Shop.

The World of Upstairs, Downstairs

Now that PBS  is presenting a sequel to their long-running and popular Masterpiece Theatre series  Upstairs, Downstairs, fans may be interested to know that a book was written which delved deeper into the making of the series and the era and lifestyle it represented.   The World of Upstairs, Downstairs  by Mollie Hardwick (Holt Rinehart Winston, 1976)  gives us a closer, more detailed view of life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Great Britain for the privileged and their servants, and everyone in-between.

The World of Upstairs, Downstairs (Holt, Rinehart Winston, NY, 1976, 1st Ed.)

   (We have one copy available at Old Scrolls Book Shop!).(UPDATE: SORRY…our copy has been sold!)

  The original “Upstairs, Downstairs” drama focused on the lives of a wealthy London family as well as its servants from 1903 to 1930; it first aired in Great Britain from 1971 to 1975, and in America from 1974 to 1977, running 68 shows.   Believe it or not, Masterpiece first turned this series down; they didn’t feel it appropriate for Masterpiece because it wasn’t an adaptation of a classic.   BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning Upstairs, Downstairs was phenomenally successful in it’s original run, and  is considered Masterpiece Theatre’s most popular and beloved series in their history.

The year is 1936 at the opening of the new Upstairs Downstairs (note lack of comma in new title), and we are back at the same house at 165 Eaton Place.   King Edward is on the verge of abdicating the throne to marry American Wallis Simpson, and Hitler is making inroads in Europe.  The three-part series began airing in the U.S. on Sunday, April 10th and will be followed by episodes on April 17th and 24th.  There is talk of more episodes to come, which should make all the fans of this exquisite series very happy.

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See Upstairs Downstairs on PBS stations on Sunday nights at 9 (April 10, 17 & 24 – check local listings).

Produced by the BBC and Masterpiece on PBS. Created and written by Heidi Thomas; originally created by Jean Marsh, Eileen Atkins, John Hawesworth and John Whitney; directed by Euros Lyn (Episodes 1 and 2) and Saul Metzstein (Episode 3); Piers Wenger, Ms. Thomas, and Kate Harwood executive producers; Rebecca Eaton, executive producer for Masterpiece; Nikki Wilson, producer.

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