"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Three
“All good things come to an end”. One day the sleuthing of the boxes did. But not before unrecoverable damage had been done.
Damage? Yes. I admit it. I understand it. I destroyed something precious. I destroyed Dead Can’s “boxes”. I will demonstrate how I did this. I will demonstrate my method. I will use a “later, after enlightenment” box and show how I destroyed …Dead Can’s boxes… by sleuthing THAT specimen box.
Eyeballed by whimsical procedure in the darkish storage unit my eye would alight upon a “that box”… during a whimsical visit to the unit on a …whimsical impulse to “do another box” meaning sort through it to discover all the “good stuff” in it, get that identified, gathered and off toward my commercial gain and… properly prepare the remaining waste paper for eventual disposal. The boxes in focus for this are from the large “middle period” of Dead Can’s book collecting era. They are from the time period AFTER he stopped dabbling with old books and became a “serious” book collector continuing along for years and years (decades) and over beyond those years until Dead Can became “too old” “to collect” “anymore”. Don’t worry; he kept his hand in it to the end; his dying day. These boxes; this LARGE main mass of boxes… that Dead Can packed up himself, were abundant, obvious to my eye, stacked and pack in a reverse order, sort of, of how they’d been stacked and packed in the office and… super easy for me to …with a “what’s on the menu?” appetizing delight… pull in and “grab one”. Phrased more crassly; “HAVING A BAD DAY FINDING GOOD STUFF CHEAP? GO THROUGH DRIVE THROUGH AT THE STORAGE UNIT AND GRAB A BOX OF DEAD CAN’S WHOPPERS TO GO”. It was that easy to “make money”; a “sure thing”.
A box… and I admit to sometimes taking two …or THREE at a visit… was dollied to the truck cab, loaded on to the passenger’s seat, driven to the office, dollied to a sorting table, lifted up on to this table. And destroyed.
I would strip the single tape strip off and lift the lid to find, IN EVERY BOX, the very top layer to be …a wasteland assortment of Dead Can’s then current papers. This wasteland assortment of his papers continued downward to the bottom. In amongst this paper pile I found… rare books (or rare books related) material carefully “there” between papers of paper piles after papers of paper piles… all the way to the box’s bottom. “NO PROBLEM!”: Simply slowly and steadily remove the paper mass carefully downward, uncover the next emerging rare book or rare book ephemeral item and… keep going until I … “reached bottom”. The paper pile generally was piled in a mound out before me on the sorting table, one mound at a time with the next mound started when that mound started to …spill onto the floor. The rare books were stacked by themselves. The ephemeral rare books made their own stack. Once a box was empty, THAT box was “chucked”, the paper piles were… dumped… into another long-term-storage box and: I would …whimsically… review my discoveries; my plunder.
These rare books I would …rare bookseller quick eye nimble finger… “review”, denoting the “good ones” and usually (“does it have the map?”) “collate” “it”. This is NOT done “up to code” (of ANY rare bookseller’s associations or any library). It was just as it reads; “rape and pillage”.
(In the photographs included showing the dissection of a specimen box… I am NOT going to “go over” the books found and photographed. THE PHOTOGRAPHS are good enough to allow a rare book person to be able to do that… just like I’d do that with my own two eyes described above. NO: One does not need ME to tell “Which one is the best book?”. Get over it; the title of this escapade is “Can” B. Worth”. A hint? Maine Civil War. But that Coos narrative is very scarce while the Eastman – White Mountain guide book is early. The Lincolnville Maine imprint is unusual as are some others, the Farmington history is good too and “I Go Ah Fishing” a classic “must read”. The folded map is precious; it shows Small Point, Maine private sector development. All good, “rare”. And more.)
At the end of this quadrille …of mere minutes… the music stopped and I sat down in a chair with “good stuff” beside me. I rested. I then gathered up the plunder, scooted that off to rare-book-forever-land in MY “stock” and humped another box of Dead Can’s papers off to “his pile” of “waste”. Nothing else happened, book after box, except that as I lifted the paper waste out of the box I would usually inspect “rare book” related paper items; business cards, receipts, flyers and …any other “catch the eye” piece of paper such as Dead Can’s car repair bill, his wife’s dentist bill, his kid’s Little League uniform receipt, his dog’s vet bill, his wife’s family’s photographic Christmas card, his church donation summary, his inter facility communications, his lawn mowing bill, his weekend trip to a conference receipts, his brother-doesn’t-speak-to-me stuff, his local PX candy bar wrapper (“Cool!”), his shoe repair, his wife’s telephone number at her sister’s house, his oil furnace repair bill, his used carbon papers for everything he ever typed, his everything he ever typed copies, his every piece of mail he ever got, his hand written notes about anything ever always, his lunch-in-office food wrappers, his… on and on EVERYTHING gathering of every GOD DAMN PIECE OF PAPER he ever had ever was ever always put into the boxes WITH EVERY GOD DAMN RARE BOOK too and all… in order.
IN ORDER. In order of its (any piece of paper including a rare book) arrival in his life. IN ORDER. FOR DECADES. THE WHOLE SHIT PILE OF THE PAPER PILE of Dead Can’s WHOLE LIFE, including the rare books… was … perfectly… time line COMPLETE filed… in those boxes. When he ate lunch after going to the dentist after giving a lecture and …after that lunch buying a rare book at a local used book store AND picked up the list of telephone calls “missed” at the department office on the way back to HIS office… ALL of this went into the current box-being-filled, in order, until full. Then the next box was started on top of that one. Boxes filled, in order, for decades. That I destroyed in minutes.