Editorial Comments | Newberry

Editorial Comments

Your Uncle Blogsy has NOT been wasting his time while the Newberry has been closed. For one thing, I have been able to determine that eight copies of The DaVinci Code, laid in a row the long way, equal six feet, the recommended social distance for the spring. This is equal to twelve copies of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood laid next to each other spine to fore edge. If you’d been buying the way you should have been last July, you’d have your measuring tools.

AND I have learned that I am better provisioned than I thought, thanks to all those of you who, not knowing what else to do with something but deeming it too good to throw away, tossed all those unused Wet Naps from take-out bags into your book donations. These have turned out to be at LEAST as useful to me as cleaning wipes.

And I have been going over some of these things I set aside to be packaged as collectibles. We have been getting pictorial tourist guides done especially in the 1910s and 1920s, big paperbound things which served as coffee table books, to be set out to show your guests where you’d been, and warn them not to bring up the subject unless they wanted to hear all about your vacation.

Well-kept photo souvenir books have some appeal to historians of those areas, professional and amateur, but the covers are a bit fragile so I like to put them in protective bags. I had thus packaged Beautiful California and Spokane, the Power City, when I picked up Oregon in Color, published by a stationery store in Portland, Oregon in 1925. The first page shows a noble silhouette of the state capitol building.

And in the corner, someone has written, “The capitol building burned a year ago. It was completely destroyed so we are building a new one, $6,000,000.”

This sounded like a Portland taxpayer to me. Seems Nola and Francis sent this book as a birthday gift and annotated the pictures before sending it. The capitol building burned to the ground twice, about eighty years apart, so I assume this refers to the second fire, of 1935. So Nola and/or Francis made their notes in 1936.

They were thorough. Only half a dozen pictures are not labeled. The rest have an additional note to add to the caption and the facing page of official text. Some of these are informational, as when they noted on a picture showing a field of cattle: “The coast plains do a great deal of dairying. Tillamook cheese is a major product. The herds are primarily Holsteins and Guernseys.”

This note was necessary, I suppose, because the text on the facing page is all about trees. (The author claims, for example, that the myrtle grows nowhere but in the Holy Land and Oregon. You are allowed to draw what conclusions you wish from this.)

Sometimes the note is personal. On a picture of a street in Portland bedecked with roses, they note “The practice of putting roses in the parking strips is waning; for which I’m sorry. We do raise beautiful roses with such little effort.” This also illustrates the use of “parking strip” for that bit of lawn between the front sidewalk and the street, known as the “parking” or the “parkway” in my part of the country, the “grass verge” in England, and about three dozen other names depending on where you grew up. We never planted roses in ours.

And at times, the text is corrective. On a picture of a park bordering a beach, they have added “This is a dressed-up picture. The beach resorts are not well kept. Notice the wide beach? The tide is out. When it comes in, water is usually quite high on the sea wall.”

Some two-thirds of the pages have added notes, sometimes extensive, occasionally curt. “This is irrigated”, has been written on one salute to the beautiful cropland. I decided not to package it up for the Collectors table after all, but listed it for sale online. Some Oregonian may want it, to keep it out of the hands of outlanders.