Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Illustrated Dictionary of Sailing

My most recent acquisition is on my bookshelf (or porch table) at our summer home in Lakeside, OH. This is my husband's third summer of sailing--I won lessons with my apple pie, and he used them since I wasn't interested. I was walking home from the grocery store on Sunday and saw a box of free books in a neighbor's yard. It was authored by Jane Daniels and published in 1989 by Michael Friedman Publishing Group, but this book in hand is an imprint of Gallery Books and the verso of the t.p. says "available for bulk purchase for sales promotions and premium use." Terms are alphabetized with little anecdotes about sailing, and there are over 200 illustrations. Many in color. Great price.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Book of Prayers for Boys and Girls

This little (5.5" x 4") book was purchased at the Acorn Used Book Store in Grandview and was published here in Columbus by Wartburg Press in 1943. Wartburg was one of the early names of Augsburg Press, which is now Augsburg-Fortress, reflecting a merger in 1988 of The American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America for form ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). My children were grown by the time I bought this, so I probably bought it because of its local ties. I could use any of these prayers myself by adjusting the "thees, thous and hasts."

The Foreword says, "Your heavenly Father loves you and wishes to give you every blessing. But He wants you to talk to Him, to tell Him all your wants and hopes and sorrows: He wants you to pray to Him. . . Just in case little Lutherans didn't know what to say, this child size book has prayers for just about all situations and special days. Lots of morning prayers and evening prayers. Here's a sweet one.
    Now the day's done,
    For down is the sun
    And angels are lighting
    The stars one by one.

    O Father, I pray:
    Send an angel my way
    To watch at my bed
    Till the dawn of the day. Amen.
I don't recall giving thanks on my birthday, but then I wasn't a very religious kid. Here's a birthday prayer, which would make much more sense to me today than when I was 8 or 10:
    Dear Father in heaven, out of Thy hand my life has come. For this gift do I thank Thee most heartily on my birthday. I pray Thee so to guide me by Thy Holy Spirit that from year to year I may learn to know Thee better and to thank Thee more heartily for Thy goodness. And may every added year, O Father, find me ever more ready to do Thy holy will. In His name do I pray who for me and for all Thy children died upon the cross so that we might rise from the grave and live with Thee forever. Amen.
I found a photo on the internet (a post card) of the old Wartburg Press building, which is where the Augsburg book store was in the 80s. I used to go there to buy books for the church library.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Art of Reading Scripture

From the church library free box I selected "The art of reading scripture," (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003). The librarian puts withdrawals or donations not needed for members to take home. The Eerdmans title is a compilation of essays by scholars.

I took it to the coffee shop the next day and enjoyed the essay, "Reading scripture in light of the Resurrection" by Richard B. Hays, pp. 216-238. It confirmed what I've often thought. We need to hear about the Resurrection all year long, not just at Easter. I think it may be the most under-preached and under-discussed topic in Christian churches.

"Many preachers and New Testament scholars are unwitting partisans of the Sadducees. Because they deny the truth of Scripture's proclamation that God raised Jesus from the dead--or waffle about it--they leave the church in a state of uncertainty, lacking confidence in its mission, knowing neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." I've never heard a better description of why so many Mainline protestant churches are struggling to find an audience and a message!

I haven't attended a liberal church in 30 years, yet I think we evangelicals don't hear this message often enough. He specifically points out three texts, John 2:13-22 with Psalm 69, the identification between the temple and Jesus' own body; Mark 12:18-27 where Jesus goes to the heart of God's self-revelation in the Old Testament; and Luke 24:13-35 where Jesus opens the scriptures to his followers after the resurrection and points them to the prophets.

Hays then goes on to list nine implications of reading Scripture in light of the Resurrection, and points out again that most New Testament scholars are not believers--but would be if they'd open their eyes and hearts to reading Scripture this way.

I love it when someone agrees with me, don't you?


This is a photo of me standing in front of the bookshelves that hold old books and family memorabilia. Behind me are lots of old books from four generations. They look like they have fancy bindings, but books of my grandparents' era had a lot of chemicals in the paper, and disintegrate easily. Like me, they bought for value, not for quality. I think it is funny that I saved a book from my childhood called "Bruce" about a collie, written by Albert Payson Terhune (Grosset & Dunlap, 1920), never imagining someday it would be my name.

The shiny white, blue and green box on the far left of the 5th shelf contained a card catalog of my grandparents' library, assembled by several members of the family when they were closing up their home after their deaths in the 1960s. This list of books, found by me in the late 1980s, launched several publishing projects, including a spin off into agricultural magazines used by farm families in the early 20th century and women who wrote for Ohio farm magazines in the 19th century.

You can barely see the top shelf, but that holds children's books, some old, some from my childhood--mostly horse stores--and some I purchased because I liked the illustrations (from the days when I wanted to write a children's book). I've done some rearranging of my magazine collection on the lower 2 shelves (premiere issue collection), but these shelves stay pretty much the same.
    "From a fuzzy and adventurous fluff-ball of gray-gold-and-white fur, Bruce swiftly developed into a lanky giant. He was almost as large again as is the average collie pup of his age; but, big as he was, his legs and feet and head were huge, out of all proportion to the rest of him. . . seemed totally lacking in sense, as well as in bodily coordination. He was forever getting into needless trouble. He was a storm-center. No one but a born fool--canine or human--could possible have caused one-tenth as much bother."
With that, we know this dog has to turn out to be a hero, right? Wins a medal for bravery in WWI.

Wayne Public Library in Wayne, NJ, has the Albert Payson Terhune Collection with photos of Terhune and his collies of Sunnybank, known as The Place in the book.

My Town: Remembering Mt. Morris

Donald L. Smith does a nice job of weaving together his family and personal memories with the town's considerable history, even mentioning some sources I've never seen, like Kable Brothers Company, 1898-1948, and the late-1980s Memoirs of H.A. Hoff, the school superintendent, both of which I assume are on someone else's bookshelf. There's a few personal family things I think could have gone unsaid out of respect for his parents' memory, but that would just be my own preference as a mother. Don Smith taught journalism at Penn State, State College, PA for 33 years and began writing this title about 10 years before he published it in 1997. My copy was a gift from my sister.

    "Mt. Morris has been more cosmopolitan than its size alone would dictate, partly because of the presence of the seminary and then the college but largely because of influences associated with the publishing trade. Printing is an inherently literate business; and Kable's emphasis on magazines--rather than wallpaper, food cartons, or oilcloth--meant that editors from Chicago and other cultural centers regularly visited the Mount on business. Similarly, management people from Kable's, as well as Watt and Kable News, often visited major cities on business. All these contacts with the outside world helped create a small oasis of sophistication amongst the corn and soybean fields. . .

    One of my classmates [class of 1946] followed his father and his father's father there [Kable's], and the tradition was extended into the fourth generation when both of his sons joined the printing company's ranks. . . Mt. Morris attached considerable important to intellectual and cultural concerns as reflected in the excellence of the schools, the public library, and the town's near-professional concert band. . . few homes were in disrepair, and there was no real slum or shantytown. Most residences were handsomely landscaped one-and-a-half or two-story structures, and a certain amount of house-and-garden one-upmanship and peer pressure kept even sluggards in line. . . [there being] generally no substantial difference between the home of top Kable executive and that of a pressman."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pine Creek Recollections Revisited

My grandparents were tenant farmers in an area south of Mt. Morris, near Dixon, Illinois called, Pine Creek. This book is one of several I have about towns or areas in Ogle County. The author is Jane Shoemaker, and although I don't know her well, I remember her stopping by after the death of my mother in 2000 to visit. The book was a gift from Ruth Balluff, who also grew up in Pine Creek, and attended school with my Dad.

"This book describes life during the 20th Century in a small area of northern Illinois, Pine Creek Township. Although it tells about life in a small area of Ogle County, it should not be considered just a book of local interest. Within these pages is a description of rural and small town life that honed and defined the generation of people who parented, nurtured, and shaped the Greatest Generation, as was defined later by Tom Brokaw, in his book with the same name. The harsh realities of life during the early 1900s, that finally led to prosperity after the world's largest depression, shows a stamina and grit in those who lived it, that still holds us in awe. My Mother, Lela Mae Feary Stomberg, lived in this incredible century. She was born on October 13, 1901, on the Pine Creek Farm, nestled between a winding creek and a dirt road, in rural Ogle County. A few years ago, I sat down with her with a small tape recorder. We conducted an oral history of her life. She has remarkable recall especially for details in her early years. After many sessions together, we had three tapes full of her remembrances." From the Prologue by Jane Shoemaker. (Mt. Morris, IL: Pinecone Productions, 2001)

When I die, what will happen to my bookshelves?

I've written this poem for our daughter, who is our Executor. Still, you can't control what other people do, and I know that, so it's important to sift, sort and give away. My mother, aunt and grandmother all fussed about their books and memorabilia. Now I have them, and I'm worrying about them. Today I put grandma's dishes out to use for Sunday dinner tomorrow.

To my daughter, about my treasures
August 29, 2005

I want you to have our paintings,
of flowers, children, boats and trees.
You’ll sit back and admire I know,
closing your eyes in a squint
to see the artist’s true intent.

I want you to have the books,
Bibles, histories, poetry and lit.
You’ll treat them well I know,
opening them from time to time
so their wisdom doesn’t go stale.

I want you to have the china,
silver, pottery, and goblets.
You’ll dine with them I know,
setting a lovely white linen table
as you continue the traditions.

I want you to have Aunt Martha’s quilts,
pieced and stitched by lantern light.
You’ll fold, touch and smooth I know,
positioning them on wooden racks
to display her detailed handiwork.

I want you to have the photographs,
albums from way back when.
You’ll wonder at your folks I know,
dancing and partying with their friends
when the whole world was young.

I want you to have Mom’s recipes,
sewing chest and maple suite.
You’ll puzzle where I know,
shifting and rearranging like I did
until they are welcomed in your home.

I want you to have our calico cat,
kitty toys, bowls and love.
You’ll feed, pet and groom I know,
holding her close at night
until she leaves to join us.

All the rest just haul away,
the auctioneer’s close, up the road.
You’ll get a good price I know,
banking the rest for a sunny day,
after you lock the door.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Companion to American Immigration

One of the eye-opening experiences of reading Companion to American Immigration (Blackwell, 2006) is its foundational assumptions based solidly on Marxist thought and scholarship. Not that I was naive about the Marxists in our universities, but reading essay after essay--about food, education, demography, social customs, microeconomics, politics, and law--all rooted in and rooting for Marxism is quite an eye opener as I read along at the Lakeside coffee shop, a vacation spot more like the 1950s than a TV "Happy Days" recreation.

If you've ever wondered what became of the "tenured radicals" who went from sit-ins in the presidents' offices in the Halls of Ivy in the 1970s to populating them, read this book! They are indeed the adopted intellectual grandchildren of the 1930s faculties and labor activists who were pacifists until Germany invaded Russia and then had to go underground when the Gulags were being revealed after WWII. When the Berlin Wall fell, they used chunks of scholarly concrete to rebuild their fables.

I've learned a lot of new words and phrases for us and U.S. reading this book:

    marital endogamy

    draconian reductions in immigration [during the Depression, duh!]
    recovery from the Depression "eroded ethnic differences"

    boutique farms
    culinary nationalists
    women as cultural conservators

    aping the life of gentry
    nativist sentiment
    dominant society
    host society
    core culture

    institutionalized nationhood
    individualizing destiny
    pluralist vision
    voluntary pluralism
    vocabularies of public life
    civic homogenization

    language shift
    language loss
    home language

    schools as labor pools for industry
    cauldron (instead of "melting pot")
    well-socialized labor force
    enforced schooling to empower the government
And academic gibberish even worse than library jargon:
    gendered dimensions of transnational ties (I have no idea what this is!)
    major shareholders of identity
    ethno-cultural, creedal, and individualistic pluralistic models
    contingent contagionists
    immigrant transnationals
Incidentally, if there was a lynching, a killing, a riot, or a law about ethnicity, these are liberally interspersed at every opportunity to demonstrate the shallowness of the minority "dominant Anglo-Saxon culture." The chapter on religion isn't about religion at all--it is about the anti's--anti-Semitism, KuKluxKlan, anti-Catholicism, anti-muslim, etc.

I had this book checked out about 8 weeks from the Ohio State University Libraries. It was quite a challenge.

Eastern Approaches

One course of action when you are up early in a log cottage in the pine and birch forest by a pristine lake in South Karelia, Finland, is to read by the morning sunlight (no electricity) with a freshly brewed cup of coffee (bottled gas). Days without TV, radio, the Internet, or newspaper has a way of returning one to the joys of reading known by earlier generations. The hand woven birch bark baskets and pine shelves of the cottage were full of books--flora and fauna, old novels from the 40s, biographies, guides/tourism for the local events, and some old how-to-manuals. I found only one in English, "Eastern Approaches" by Fitzroy Maclean who was a member of the British Diplomatic corps in the 1930s-40s and wrote of his experiences traveling in the USSR and Balkans during 1937-45. Although this book technically isn't on my bookshelf, it was a welcome sight.

There was one eerie passage that seemed true even 60 years later. [Communists in 1942] all had one thing in common, their terror of responsibility, their reluctance to think for themselves, their blind, unquestioning obedience to the Party line dictated by a higher authority. . . the terrible atmosphere of fear and suspicion that pervaded their lives." This would be a book to read for anyone wishing to do business in Russia today, needing to understand the roots of the culture.

Either Maclean was an outstanding writer or after a week of being deprived of reading, I was like a starving woman at a banquet. In either case, it was a good read, given the years I had spent studying the history and politics of the USSR in the 50s and 60s. The chapter on the purge of the Party in the late 1930s was riveting because of all the old familiar names, particularly Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (who was posthumously rehabilitated in 1988).

Maclean sat through the entire trial and with friends tries to sort it all out. He decides that everyone needs a cause to die for--judges, prosecutor, prisoners and NKVD. And for the prisoners, it was the Party. Even in facing death, they were characters in a theatrical production about good and evil. The trial served as a reminder to the people to be suspicious of everyone--to see spies and traitors everywhere, to shun foreigners, to explain the shortages of food and goods not on a failing economic and political system, but on those terrible traitors who were on trial. Certainly the benign and benevolent Stalin couldn't be at fault, but these traitors now being purged from the Party.

When I got home I looked up Maclean and found he was a very popular writer who had written a number of books (some think his life was the inspiration for James Bond) and that Bukharin, one of the more unforgettable characters in this book, had written an autobiographical novel while imprisoned before his death.

What Grandma saw at the Columbian Exposition

My grandmother was a teen-ager attending Ashton High School in Illinois at the time of the Chicago Columbian Exposition. Along with 27 million other people, she strolled through the exhibits and marveled at the sights from foreign lands, and the fabulous architecture of the "White City." I'd seen many knick-knacks, guidebooks and souvenirs in her home and book collection.

It was very easy to get to Chicago from their farm--much easier than today. In fact, I think the train came through Franklin Grove depot 5 or 6 times a day and the family often shopped in Chicago, visited friends and saw a doctor there. Her father owned property in Chicago and it was later donated to the Church of the Brethren for the Bethany Sanitarium and Hospital. So I just love to read about the fair, and in 1993 when the Medical Library Association had its annual meeting there, I thoroughly enjoyed all the exhibits of the 100th anniversary of the fair.

Libraries and Culture, Vol. 41, no. 1, 2006, has seven essays on the Woman's Building of the Exposition. The Woman's Building [floor plan]contained a library with 7,000 volumes authored, illustrated and edited by women,(including 47 translations and editions of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin) produced between the 16th to 19th Century. If you are from Illinois, you'll be interested in the article about the 58 novels in that collection which were authored by Illinois women. Libraries and Culture (which will be changing its title to Libraries and the Cultural Record, which seems a bit redundant to me and will mess up serial records in thousands of libraries with vol. 42, is available on-line if you have a login to a library that has a subscription. Or you can ask for it from interlibrary loan at your local library.

One of the most stunning books you'll ever read about murder, mayhem and architecture is Devil in the White City. But you'll need a strong stomach.

Vocabulary Builders on my Bookshelves

At Liberty Books one night after dinner, I picked up one or two vocabulary drill books. They always look so interesting, but I know I won't do the exercises. Besides, I have two books on my shelves that I just love--and I don't know all the words yet!

The first is English Vocabulary Builder by Johnson O'Connor published by Human Engineering Laboratory, Hoboken, 1939 [c 1937]. O'Connor opens the book with an article he wrote for Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1934, about the relationship between vocabulary and success. But note this from "Acknowledgments":

"The International Business Machines Corporation has enabled the Laboratory to have a set of data-handling machines for the accurate assembly of material. The Atwell Company of Boston has made it possible for the Laboratory to have Ediphone equipment which has contributed to the preparation of this volume."
Of course, we know what IBM is, so this book used the latest technology in 1937 (there were 9 men and 5 women listed as collaborators, which may have been less sexist than IT staffs today), but the Ediphone was used to replace stenographers. It was invented by Thomas Edison to compete with the Dictiphone. The Ediphone had a tube to speak in and the voice vibrations would be recorded on a wax cylinder. A secretary would then type up the recording and then shave the used layer of the cylinder so it could be reused.[]

O'Connor arranged this book by order of familiarity. In 1937, apparently just about everyone, including children, knew the word, "horseshoer," so it was #1. Seventy years later, you probably wouldn't find many children who had ever seen or touched a shoe for a horse, and if they had to draw one might sketch something resembling a Manolo Blahnik. Using the latest data crunchers of the time, the laboratory found 55 words known to all adults, including "fragrant," "quench," and "disordered." From known to all, he moves on to "unknown to 1 per cent," all the way through to "unknown to 99 per cent." The last group has words that 70 years later would not be that rare, like "brochure," "unconscionable," "utter," and "detraction." I was a bit surprised to see that 50% of high-schoolers knew the meaning of "elegiacal" and "asseveration" in 1937, which I might figure out in context, but would not likely use.

With most words, he gives the percentage that knew it or thought it was something else, and what group they were in (college seniors, adults, prep-school, etc.) and words that might be confused, like retinue and retainer or annulled and nugatory.

The second book I have is Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage by Bergen and Cornelia Evans, Random House, 1957. It's not really a vocabulary builder, but a correct usage guide. This book is lots of fun--snarky remarks about English all over the place. This book is old now, and the authors warn the readers that the language is constantly changing--that silly once meant holy, fond meant foolish, beam meant tree and tree meant beam. But I still like it, and am not ready to replace it with something until I learn all the words I should have known in 1957. Don't pay more than $1.00 for it if you see it at a sale.

Cornelia was Bergen's sister, not his wife, and his papers are at Northwestern; if you look through the description of the files, her name appears also. They had planned a second edition, but didn't complete it. She was also a novelist and wrote "The Cloud of Witnesses," and "Journey into the Fog," using the name Cornelia Goodhue. They were born in Ohio.

, , ,

Wide as the Waters; the story of the English Bible

Wide as the waters by Benson Bobrick (Simon & Schuster, 2001) is one of the best books I've read. The sub-title "The story of the English Bible and the revolution it inspired" pretty much describes the theme. The book didn't do that well in sales, because several others with the same thesis appeared at that time, but I definitely think this one does the best job of showing that once the Bible was available in English, reading books of all types increased dramatically. There was an increase in the circulation and production of books (printing by then had been invented). "At the same time, once the people were free to interpret the word of God according to the light of their own understanding, they began to question the authority of all their inherited institutions, which led to reform within the Church." In short, it changed the world politically and socially, as well as spiritually. Another favorite which I did read cover to cover is The Story of English, a beautifully written and illustrated book that resulted from a TV program by the BBC. I bought it for $1.00 at a book sale (Viking, 1986), and I'll never let it go.

Roger Vernam, Illustrator of children's books

Some of my biggest thrills in blogging have been e-mails from people who can answer some of my questions, or I have answered theirs. Recently I heard from a woman whose mother attended the same college as my parents--she'd found me looking for the Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook; another woman was looking for the lost chapters of Mary Margaret McBride's Encyclopedia of Cooking about which I had blogged; I heard from several people who loved and longed for Spudnuts [donuts made from potato flour]; someone wanted to buy my 17 year old first issue of Martha Stewart Living; my Fornasetti entry [I need to go in and change the link, which seems to have disappeared] gets almost as many hits as my "how to fix a broken zipper." And now, Roger Vernam. Am I excited, or what?

What little girl who loved horses wouldn't be crazy about this?

"Hi- saw your note about Eight little Indians and your comment about whether they(author and illustrator) were pseudonyms. Actually, Roger Vernam is real and was well know personally to my family-grandparents and mother. I grew up reading the books that he illustrated and they are still among my favorites. I’m re-settling my library after an annoying but much needed renovation and just came upon one of my most favorites, Monkey Shines, by Elinor Andrews. Always a joy to revisit and remember!!"

David M. Wood
Cape Cod Multi-Services

Thank you, Mr. Wood. And you have a nice web page--the type I wish libraries had. Attractive, easy to read, clear; even with some of your pages under construction I give you a B+. Most libraries get a C- or D+. Good luck with your business.

Cross posted from Collecting My Thoughts


I don't particularly like war stories. After all, the U.S. has been at war with some country some where throughout its existence. But lest you get indignant, so have most countries, unless you're reading a modern history published in the U.S. for use in our schools, then all communist and marxist countries/governments are given a pass, and all Americans are invaders, pillagers or scoundrels.

Still, David McCullough's 1776 (Simon & Schuster, 2005) is a very sobering book. It only covers one year of our revolution which lasted until 1783, but there are so many times the Americans came close to remaining British subjects. In 1776, Americans had the highest standard of living in the world. I imagine there were many asking, Why are we in this war? Many Americans, Loyalists, and British wanted the war to end with peace talks because of the high losses.

    "In a disastrous campaign for New York in which Washington's army had suffered one humiliating, costly reverse after another, this, the surrender of Fort Washington on Saturday, November 16, was the most devastating blow of all, an utter catastrophe. The taking of more than a thousand American prisoners by the British at Brooklyn had been a dreadful loss. Now more than twice (2,837) that number were marched off as prisoners, making a total loss from the two battles of nearly four thousand men--from an army already rapidly disintegrating from sickness and desertions and in desperate need of almost anyone fit enough to pick up a musket. . . The British were astonished to find how many of the American prisoners were less than 15, or old men, filthy, and without shoes. . .

    What lay ahead of the Americans taken prisoner was a horror of another kind. Nearly all would be held captive in overcrowded, unheated barns and sheds, and on British prison ships in the harbor, where hundreds died of disease. . . Washington is said to have wept. . ."
The Fort was not reclaimed by the Americans until the end of the war in 1783, and it was renamed during that time for a Hessian, Fort Knyphausen.

Our times, The United States, 1900-1925

Although I’ve browsed some of the pricey, recent, multi-volume histories of the United States and the World at the public library, I’ve been disappointed by the revisionism* of current authors and publishers, so I was pleased to pick up this title at the library book sale, and wish I had the other volumes. Our Times, The United States, 1900-1925, vol. 3, Pre-War America by Mark Sullivan, The Chautauqua Press, Chautauqua, NY, 1931. I may try to track the other 5 volumes down, but probably won’t get them for $3.00. Chautauqua Press was "liberal" in its day, but liberal in the classic meaning of the word, not socialist as it has come to mean today, but open to new ideas. Chautauqua had a broad Christian base, but wasn't fundamentalist in outreach. Liberals of today are afraid of a little "sonshine" and have minds so open, their brains are in danger of falling out because nothing can be right or wrong (except GWB). Their publications reflect that, so it is difficult to get an intelligent synthesis of history because every culture and religion is presented as being of equal value.

Vol. 3 begins in 1890 with the developing friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft when they were both subordinates of Benjamin Harrison, Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, and Taft as Solicitor-General; and moving calendar style, it ends with 1908 as alcohol prohibition is getting established (reminds me a lot of the smoking bans we see today, state by state), unemployment and breadlines caused by the panic of 1907, and women's outrageous fashion (sheath skirts considered a step toward the fig leaf, huge hats, fishnet stockings) and behavior (smoking and attendance at cheap moving picture theatres). There will be many stories in this volume I’ll enjoy researching further, such as spelling reform, hookworm humor (laziness was declared a disease), and Roosevelt's relationship with African Americans.

This volume was published in the early years of the Great Depression, yet the paper is good quality, there are excellent photographs and plates, better footnotes and indexing than I see in some modern histories, and the author is careful to note where he has copyright permission and carefully cites the sources. For some sections the author allows the events to speak for themselves, others are heavily laced with opinions. Because Chautauqua had such a strong cultural bent (still does), and Sullivan was a popular culture buff there are interesting photos contrasting the early 20th century with the late 1920s, for instance, a photo of two working women, one in 1907 and one in 1928 showing the differences in clothing and office technology on p. 479, and comparing shoe advertisements from a 1927 Scribner's Magazine with one from Theatre Magazine of 1906 on p. 434. Apparently the hunger for "big hair" in 1910 was filled by the locks European women, Chinese women and the goats of Turkestan. There's a delightful section on the historical significance of the popular songs of the pre-war era.

The dramatic change in fashion for women and the amount of flesh exposed after WWI is very apparent in this plate. As more leg is exposed, the less the waist and bust are emphasized. Skirt length dropped again almost to the ankle in 1930.

*With contemporary 21st century authors, it is difficult to determine if the Soviet Union was ever a big threat to us in any meaningful way, and hard to tell if the Christian church had any impact on American society except for amusement to be pilloried in cartoons and obscure court cases.

Dan Rather on Mark Sullivan:
"Mark Sullivan was one of the most widely respected journalists of his day. One of the original muckrakers, he became America’s leading political reporter and columnist in newspapers and magazines for nearly half a century. A committed Republican, he had unrivaled access to the leaders of his party, including Presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and Harding, and contacts like these made him the ideal chronicler of his age."

My Mother's Favorite Song

Two weeks ago I bought a book at our public library branch (for sale items by Friends of the Library) titled, "My mother's favorite song; tender stories of home to deepen your faith" by John William Smith (Howard Publishing, 1995). It looked brand new; the publisher's statement on the verso of the title page included a statement about Jesus coming again, and the book flap story appeared to be sound. So for $2 it looked worth the price to purchase "one of America's best storytellers." Now after having read several selections during my morning devotions, I'll say, "money well-spent."

On p. 121 of Smith's book he writes my story:

    "When I was growing up, I never heard much about grace at church--I mean, in sermons or classes. I slowly figured out that it was important and that we needed it, but we were sort of embarrassed by it."
Actually, I'm not sure I heard about grace at all. We didn't even sing "Amazing Grace" in those days.
    "Now that we've discovered it, we're trying to make up for lost time and make the most of it. It has become an issue. Can we have too much grace? Will grace fix anything? Does grace mean that everybody is saved? Does grace mean that we don't have to do anything? . . ."

    "Nothing crucifes the self more than grace. And nothing is more painful than self-crucifixion. Nothing strikes a more savage blow against our basic pride and sense of self-worth than grace. Being able to accept grace is very hard, because it makes such intense demands. On my road to God, nothing I have encountered has baffled and frustrated me more than grace. It is the most nonsensical, illogical, unpredictable, unreasonable thing in all of God's arsenal of weapons that are designed to defeat the enemy within all of us--ourselves."
Who wants to be told she is sinful? Who wants to know he doesn't measure up? It might turn off the seekers; it might shake up the members. It's far easier to admonish the congregation to do more, be more, adore more. Grace? You can't earn it, but it sure isn't cheap.

Book Club Selections for 2007-2008

In May our book club meets at Barb's lovely home for our final meeting. It has never looked more lovely than this year--almost like a park with trimmed beds and lovely perennials and potted flowers. Our final and fun selection for our book year was Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray, who published her first novel when she was 60. Then with one minute to lobby our choices, the members offered suggestions for next year's reading, with the absentees sending theirs with another. Here's what we'll be reading, although all of the suggestions sounded terrific.

September: Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler. My caution would be that this is based on his teaching experience in Japan in 1987-88--20 years ago, and was published in 1991. We probably wouldn't want our culture evaluated by a just-out-of-college, one year visitor's first book.

October: Field work by Mischa Berlinski. A first novel by another American visiting a foreign country. A trained classicist, Berlinski worked as a journalist in Thailand where this story of two clashing American cultures--anthropologist and missionary--takes place.

November: 1776 by David McCullough. This is the title I threw into the mix. McCullough's use of diaries and letters and his ability to weave in the stories of the little people we never heard in our history texts is just awesome. George Washington managed to write almost 950 letters in that year, while running the war campaign.

December: Inside the Kingdom by Carmen Bin Ladin, Osama's sister-in-law (half brothers whose father had 22 wives), affords a peek into her life in Saudi Arabia. From the book jacket cover I thought she might use Michael Jackson's surgeon. Do you see a resemblance?

January: A tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is a 1943 classic that was made into a movie. It will be an interesting comparison with the immigrant life today.

February: We'll be doing something Shakespearean with a special guest, who actually taught my children when they were in elementary school.

March: Digging to America by Anne Tyler is a story about two families who adopt Korean children. Tyler is an excellent writer, popular with women, and I'm sure there will be enough stereotypes to go around.

April: Amazing Grace by Steve Turner, a pop/rock journalist, is the book [or part of it] about the hymn on which the movie was based.

May: I'm proud of you by Tim Madigan, yet another journalist, the story of Mr. Rogers.

Also suggested (but we only choose 9) was Unknown world by E. J. Edwards, Snow falling on Cedars by David Guterson, For the Glory of God by Rodney Stark, and Religious literacy by Stephen Prothero. I scored 100% on .Prothero's quiz, and 71% scored 80 or above.

Last week-end on a road trip I took along "Digging to America" by Anne Tyler. A really great read--covers adoption, immigration, culture, and older women and romance.

My Book House

My mother got a set of My Book House as a bonus buy when she bought a set of Book of Knowledge encyclopedias probably in the early 1940s. At least, I don't remember a time we didn't have both sets. Ours was probably the 1937 edition. Sometime in the mid-1970s, I walked into a little antique store in Lakeside, OH, and saw a set for $25, a 1953 printing. It was a lot of money for something my children had probably already outgrown, but one of my siblings (with the first grandchild) had been given the family set. Our very most favorite story to cuddle on the couch with was, 'Wee wee mannie and the big big coo," because we loved to hear Mom do the accent.

    1. In the nursery
    2. Story time
    3. Up one pair of stairs
    4. Through the gates
    5. Over the hills
    6. Through fairy halls
    7. The magic garden
    8. Flying sails
    9. The treasure chest
    10. From the tower window
    11. In shining armor
    12. Halls of fame
    13. [unnumbered] In your hands; a practical guide for parents, rev. ed., 8th printing, 1951.
The covers/binding of my set are like the above photo [taken from the internet, but that is from the 60s], and the set I grew up with was dark blue. The illustrations seem unchanged. Fabulous. A child can look for hours at one painting or drawing. The early sets from the 20s had only 6 volumes. Google Olive Beaupre Miller, the editor, for her very interesting story. Her papers are at Smith College. She lived in Illinois and some years back I read a very nice biography of her in an Illinois magazine, but I can't seem to lay my hands on it.

My favorite story for Mother to read to us was "Wee wee mannie and the big big Coo," which is about a very cantankerous cow (Big Coo) that won't behave until told (by Wee Mannie) to misbehave, kick and bellow and then she does just the opposite. I don't think there was a political or pacifist subtext to it, but Mother was very smart, so who knows? She probably didn't know that in the traditional version, Big Coo is threatened with a knife and then she decides to cooperate. Olive B. Miller, the editor of My Book House, probably thought it was too violent an ending for children.

Some parts of this entry are cross posted at Collecting My Thoughts.

The Correct Thing in Good Society

I have a book from my grandparents' library titled, "The Correct Thing in Good Society," by Florence Howe Hall (Boston: Page Company, 1902). It also gives advice on what is not correct. For instance, if you are providing a luncheon for your lady friends, it is not the correct thing

    for the butler to wear evening dress

    for the hostess to be disappointed or troubled if her guests fail to do justice to an elaborate lunch, since "dieting" has become so general that it bids fair to overthrow the elaborate and indigestible ladies' lunch

    to talk gossip or scandal at a ladies' luncheon

    to serve chocolate alone after an elaborate luncheon

    to omit providing each guest with a silver butter knife

    for guests to "grab, gobble and go," taking leave before the luncheon is over

    for the guests to carry off the decorations.
I've let my butler go--just too many slip ups at my luncheons, like forgetting the butter knives.