Monday, September 17, 2012

The Loggers, Or Six Months In The Forest Of Maine A Rare Maine Book

The Loggers, Or Six Months In The Forest Of Maine
A Rare Maine Book

(Fuller, Horace B., presumed author), THE DIRIGO SERIES.  THE LOGGERS; OR, SIX MONTHS IN THE FORESTS OF MAINE.  Horace B. Fuller, 14 Bromfield Street, Boston, (1870).  (1-2, frontis plate), (1-7), 8-75, (76, blank).  First edition.  Ill..  Rust-orange deckled publisher’s cloth with Eastlake Victorian style ornamental title printed in gold on the front.  Interior text is lightly shaken, fly leaves cracked at gutters, text has light age toning, has minor child read - thumbed through feel to whole, penciled 1888 owner’s name on front fly leaf with matching name ink stamped on blank rear of frontis plate, both attractive.  Covers age toned, dust soiled, spot soil stained and worn on all edges with spine sun faded, worn and moisture damage being in total a truly appropriately read-by children “rare juvenile”. Williamson 5538 (by title), Smith/LUMBERING pg. 12 at page bottom.  $1,250.00.

            After finding the book and… recognizing it when I found it to be the rare Maine book it is, I spent a whole week trying to recall how and where I had found out about the book.  Williamson I ignored after checking for “Fuller”.  Smith (David C., LUMBERING AND THE MAINE WOODS: A BIBLIOGRAPHIC GUIDE, Maine Historical Society, Portland, Me, 1971) I… pulled off of the shelf in my office after at least a 25 year undisturbed rest and flipped through it cavalierly with a “MUST BE IN THIS” attitude.  I did not see it mentioned and became absorbed in reviewing my own penciled marginalia denoting “rare Maine books” done by my hand decades ago.  “Huh.” concluded this effort.  A week later I revisited the bibliography after making no progress elsewhere and coming around again to the “MUST BE IN THIS”.  It is.  I found it.  Way at the bottom of page 12 carrying to the top of page 13.  It had no marginal pencil note in my hand scoring it as “rare”.  But.  I GUESS this is where I originally “heard of” this truly rare Maine book?

            Finding the book was fun.  The coastal Maine house was old but they’d “moved into it” after their parents finished “using it” and “moved to Florida”.  This… bought from the original Victorian Maine family… home’s second family occupation neared eighty years.  “ALL” of the “OLD STUFF” from THAT first family had been “CLEANED OUT” by the parents “YEARS AGO”.  Therefore “THERE IS NOTHING UP THERE” I was told regarding the second floor of the two story shed that I was standing in and… having the opportunity to “buy all of” “this is our parent’s stuff we don’t want”.  I went up anyway.  MORE “our parent’s stuff” …in “gone through” disarray covered the second floor.  Jumbled old books were mounded amongst the disarray.  Poking and peeking at these and selecting only the thin books to review… there THIS book was before my eyes before I even got started.  I HAD noted that the books were from western Pennsylvania and THIS book TOO, was from there but … was about logging in Maine… at the start of the Civil War.  Knowing the value of the book to be high, I put it back into its disarray, clambered back to the first floor and “negotiated”
            “All, including ALL of the second floor” for a “THIS MUCH” offer in “CASH”.  There was not… actually… that much “stuff”; nothing big (in size) and most of it being “gone through” boxes packed out of the house “years ago”.  Their murmur amongst selves was to suggest that they would like “more” cash but I sensed this was a faint.  It was.  They caucused while I waited outside.  “Accepted” they said as a group after stepping out of the building.  I cell phoned for a second truck “on the way”, paid in cash, stated the building would be “empty in two hours” and then… skipped up the stairs, purloined THIS BOOK from its pile and put it in my truck right up front on the seat “next to me”.

            The …I read the book carefully and critically… contents meets the Smith’s superlative comment “A rare juvenile which is very valuable”.  Although not published until “1870” the text, noted through careful reading, was actually written about 1859-1861.  This dating is found in its early in or pre Civil War side comments.  The narrative is purveyed as a series of letters written by a young …going to college next fall… boy to his going to college next fall too chum.  The boy in the Maine woods has been sent there for his health by his uncle who is a lumber man who feels his city boyhood needs to be toughened up.  A winter at a remote logging camp is just the thing for him.  Although a constant sub theme of the book… it is NOT INTRUSIVE to the narrative.  In fact the narrative is carried right around ANY intrusion of Victorian melodrama, rich boy saga, boss’ kid saga and even the Native American Maine guide babysitter stereotype… that is NOT a stereotype because THIS IS what Native American Maine guides DID DO in those day; get hired to “teach the boy woodcraft”.  IT IS carried right around ALL of that by… being a true remote Maine logging camp “obviously real” narrative record.  Aside from not actually stating where the boy peed in the woods, the ALL of first era “long log” logging of both primary actions; the all winter long forest logging camp life and the spring river drive the logs to the sea epic, are precisely revealed in very satisfying narrative prose that WILL send the reader hunting up a map to “find this place” and that reader WILL be able to do that to have full satisfaction that “YEP: THIS IS REAL”.  That includes moose hunts, bear hunts, deer hunts and all woodcraft notice as “the boss’ son” AND all truly Maine Woods logging including windlassing the log boom across the lake and …returning the crushed logger’s body to his family… all carefully portrayed with no stark truth glossed over AND a heavy handed salt and peppering of aside facts too.  Therefore again; very real reading AND meeting Smith’s “very valuable”.  The actual location?  Monument Brook, the lakes below and then down the St. Croix to the sea with a sporting vignette west to West Grand Lake.

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