Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting High At Work

This intrepid fellow was a good thirty-five feet above the ground here, painting the flagpole of the local American Legion hall this afternoon.
You know how painting can be kind of tedious, even boring, sometimes? I don't think this is one of those times.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nature Will Out

It may take a while, but this sycamore appears determined to tippy-toe its way out of its restrictive metal grating. Eventually.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Random Book From The Stacks

Here's an odd duck of a puffball from the biography stacks: Grocery Clerks Who Have Become Successful, a 1925 publication of the Beech-Nut Packing Company. Do you recognize the grocery clerk below? He did become rather successful:
(Hint: imagine him wearing a hat.)
This small volume contains portraits and profiles of 28 individuals. Bohack and Lipton are two of the very few names familiar to me. The rest I will assume are known to mercantile-history experts somewhere. A couple of the biographical sketches are first-hand, long and colorful and "in their own words." Others are short, bland and neutral, having been "compiled from other sources." All exhibit the Horatio Alger spirit evident in such passages as, "Beginning work one morning shortly after daylight many years ago, Mr. Rossell had a salary of nothing a year." The text and illustrations are unattributed, but the book looks to have been rebound in the thirties or forties, and information from the cover or flyleaf might have been lost.
An interesting example of a promotional trade publication, found under 926.58. (Also of interest to middle-schoolers who want a different portrait of you-know-who for the cover of their report.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Plated Wares

Like particles, like neutrons, like individual flecks of glitter, the personal libraries of minor public figures who have long since passed on can be found scattered throughout our public libraries.
Back in the day, books from the collections of ordinary people were occasionally, through death or donation, incorporated into the library's own, and some retain the personal bookplates. I decided to start photographing them, either because I liked the design, or the typeface...or because I was holding a camera. Well, when The Internet saw me doing that, it begged to help:
"It'll only take a minute to search that name...maybe the book belonged to Someone Interesting." Well, whaddaya know, it was right!
Here are two plates I found recently, one distinctive for its ornateness, and one for its severe simplicity. Both belonged to Someone.
Look at the way the library slapped its own plate over that of George Woodward Wickersham, as if to subdue the lush grandiosity of the privately-owned volume, an 1865 edition of The Squibob Papers by John Phoenix (pseud.)

Wickersham, he of the stout name and beautiful bookplate, was born in Pittsburgh in 1858, served as Taft's Attorney General, codified international law with the League of Nations after that, then went to work for the Hoover administration, investigating the U.S criminal justice system. He died in New York City in 1936, and sometime before or after that his personal library was broken up, and this piece of personal, recreational reading fell into the library's hands. And was kept, allowing us all this opportunity to learn a little somethin' somethin'.


It was the completely utililitarian cast of this next bookplate that made me curious as to the owner, who I'm guessing was probably this Louis F. Post. He was the editor of a progressive journal located in Chicago at the right time for this to have been a contemporarily owned book, so I'm guessing we somehow got some of Mr. Post's personal library. Since his life and work don't appear to have been very jolly, it's interesting to note the book is Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, a popular work by humorist Stephen Leacock. The bookplate is useful, but quite sober:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Relative Worth

It doesn't mean anything, I know that. It just strikes me as odd, looking at the sporting goods store's advertisement, to see that it's easy to spend four hundred dollars for a baseball bat. A glove can run you two, three hundred easy. Wow.

And how much is that helmet, the thing protecting your brain, gonna cost you? Uh-huh.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March in a Minute

In like a lion, indeed. We got whomped on Monday with a foot of snow, but not enough to close the library and let us stay home baking. Le sigh. We were working the night shift, giving us plenty of time in the morning to shovel (okay, Kenny did all the shoveling) and I had time to shake off the trees.
Then, out like a lamb, as that snow will all be a memory by tomorrow, it seems. The mercury's at 56 now and the sun is shining on the salty-dirt-encrusted cars, the wet leftover autumn leaves, the damp, brown and broken seedheads, grass stalks and...hey! can I get a little more of that clean, pretty snow? This all looks like nothin' but yardwork to me! Wait a minute, there's gotta be a little spring somewhere...Aha!
Here we go, the first crocus of the year, complete with a little piece of the bark mulch it pushed through:
And it wasn't alone: The tulips are pushing through: And from underneath the snowvalanche the mantis egg case emerged, bowed but unbroken and still firmly attached to the juniper. Also on view, this psychedelic sedum, which turned crazy colors last November and stayed that way all winter: Of course, this is only a false start; spring isn't official for two weeks, and even then, we know better than to put away the shovels before the end of April. Is there a name for this kind of respite, which, at the other end of the year, would be an Indian-summer day?