Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Six - "(Reading, Writing, Printing and) Comprehension"

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Six

"(Reading, Writing, Printing and) Comprehension"

            Now that I have... marked off the borderlands of the old rare books, suggested some of their secrets and... suggested some of their secrets of those secrets and... answered those by showing off that the grandest of secret secrets in Bibliomania (old rare book madness; ‘crazed obsession’) to be the current biblio rage of... Bibliobooklessness:  The ‘To have no books at all’:  We may return to the March Gather of an ‘old rare books’ hosted talk (Part One)... including spilled tea, crummy ‘tea ware’ china, blue frosted cupcakes, a few ‘shown around’ ‘old rare books’ and a doggie name Benjamin who, well, eats... tossed and dropped baked goods? 

            No.  I move the whole gather two and a half months ahead and find its Memorial Day location outside along a row of white (“my mother’s old linen”) cloth covered folding tables “set up” before the ‘oldest building in town’ (actually a village)’s Historical Society... annual... pie “SALE” featuring rhubarb pie, “local women made” (and including at least three made by men).  Yes.  “PIE”... “SALE”... for sale... by the pie, the slice or.. the slice with (vanilla) ice cream.
            And:  Benjamin (the doggie) is there (in attendance) on his flexible leash.  Yes and he is looking a little stout from his winter’s work.  Packed right into his skin I’d say.  And if he is that stout... when out and about... I surmise his bowels must be “a tight stout” (mess) too.  But he IS at the pie tables and DOES enjoy vanilla ice cream in a “dish for him”.  Some rhubarb does manage to get ‘mixed in’ to his greedy ice cream bites (his snapping jaws on two scoops of soft and cold vanilla) so I would expect that this rhubarb should “pass” somewhere on the surrounding lawn before he is escorted from the
            Memorial Day

            There are no old rare books or their collectors... in sight?  Almost; no old rare books and only the one old rare books collector acting as hostess.  She is ‘at table’... serving a small slice to a “Please” upon a “Second scoop?” paper dish of vanilla ice cream.   The small pie slice “Beside please” assures that this purchaser of a ‘her dish’ will not be “too sour” (from the already heavy handed with the sugar “MY MOTHER’S” rhubarb “stew” pie filling...):  Yes... small slices of ‘the pie’ are the order of the day. “Sour” is the namesake and... anyway...
“It (the rhubarb stew)
Could work through the white dress committee’s “my bowels”
            Benjamin has snarled his leash around a table leg but ignores that as he ravishly re-tongue cleans his own... very empty paper dish... and, again, he looks UP for “MORE”
            “You’ve already had yours and that was MORE than enough”.

            I just nod to the hostess pie serving old book collector “at station” as I go by to ‘slip inside’ to “SEE” the weekend’s Historical Exhibition.  It is different each year.  Sort of.  So I always “go in” to “SEE”.  NOT that anyone would care in their white dresses and white shoes and Old New England white painted buildings and white painted fencing with the ...just starting to go bye... white Lilac bloom... mixed with the lilacs’ lavender bloom... too.  “They smell so good”. 
I’ll get (buy) a
            When I “come out”.
            But first I “go in”.

            It is not hard to examine (“look at”) an exhibit of a village scale Maine community historical society.  One exhibition room is a normal as... may be... two rooms.  These exhibition rooms are often the front rooms of the historic building (former home “of”) that houses the village historical society.  The exhibits are often specific and titled.  “MILL CREEK MILLS 1783-1894” for example.  Two rooms of ‘exhibit’ on that subject title... is a lot... to wish for.  To avert an empty feel, other items are often ‘fit it’ to ‘fill out’.  Nothing is ever said.  No one (“Who IS going there?”) notices.  I like this... practice; more “stuff” to look at.
            I go into the first room noting that the second room has a back-to-me older man actually looking (peering downward) at a ‘something’ in a display case so... this means that... with us both viewing the exhibit the... exhibit is actually ‘crowded’.
            In the first room I notice a single fit in – fill out item right away.  After a quick scan I move on.  The object is not related to the current exhibit, has no title card and no description card.  It is a classic ‘fit in’ inclusion.  I go back to it after a circular examination of the room’s contents.
            I know what the object is.  I, to the kindness and benefit of doubt, presume the Historical Society Collection knows ‘what it is’ too.  Dated 1819, the object is an octavo size printed paper pamphlet titled THE MAINE FARMER’S ALMANACK’.  To my quick eye it is also noticed to be ‘compiled by’ “MOSES SPRINGER” and published in Hallowell, Maine... presumably in late 1818... as a readiness for the 1819 year  That’s it.  It is in a locked glass case.  I cannot touch it.  The floor squeaks behind me.  “Who did you get the almanac from?” I ask this floor squeak to my rear.
            “Oh that’s old Jodery.  From the family.  Found it in their PAPERS
            Papers?  Jodery?  Family?  Jodery family papers?  “Family has papers?” I hear myself say.
            “Well not very many”.
            “Like this is it?”
            “Pretty much”.

            When I went in to view the exhibit, I knew the curator – director would ‘follow right along’ so risked my speaking to the floor squeak to be a fair assumption that that be he and... it was.  As for the Jodery papers I... “everyone knows they (the family) can’t read” to that so... who cares if you think that’s unfair of me.  Read.  Write... okay... “maybe”... here and there over eleven generations.  “Papers?”  No.  Printing on paper.  No.  Books... old books... old rare books... that someone actually has and read?  No.  But this almanac?  Possibly “Yes”.  Possibly.

            It is that old that possibly “Yes” someone... once long ago... procured it and it... being a ‘read it’ survived ever after because... no one else did ever... read it.  And ALL still don’t ... ‘read it’ NOW... TOO.  “Oh who cares anyway and it is locked up in the case good and tight ‘inside’ and protected from those... rhubarb pies.  IF they (the long ago Jodery family) did actually read the almanac; could read it... did they understand what they read?  Was... and is there today... “comprehension”?
            Not really... anywhere along the timeline.  No:  This Moses Springer’s 1819 almanac is the first Maine published almanac; first in the state... published for the year that was the last year before Maine became a state.  It is a first almanac printed and sold in Maine, to Maine, FOR Maine.  One had to find it, buy it, hang it by a little string next  to the fireplace and ... READ IT... by candlelight ‘of evening’.  Yes ‘read it’ if you could.  And then understand what you read (comprehension).  This almanac is intentional printed word intended to be read and understood.  IF you could read.  The almanac additionally... may be read to someone ...who could not read... by someone who could read... with hope the through joined discussion... what was read was... understood.  Too.  This ephemeral production... print on paper with intentional purpose... was the (excepting the Bible of course for... that must be ‘assumed ‘they [a household] did have one... if they can read) only print on paper ‘in there’ (the home).  That is why it is still there (in the Jodery Papers).  It was always there.  No one threw it away.  That was the ‘their book’ ‘in there’ (the their home).

            Now it is in a locked display case.  On display.  In a local historical society.  I do not say anything more about it at all.  I go outside the building to the pie sale tables and look at the pies.  I have plenty of time to do this.  The old rare books collector and pie sale table hostess is... off in the distance walking Benjamin ‘close in’ along the shadowed shade of the back side of the Historical Society’s building... where what is happening cannot be easily noticed...  I know what is going on; it is “watch where you step” over there for the rest of the day.  And this is not the only ‘visit’ ‘over there’ either.  I pick out my “a whole pie”
            “That one.  Please.”
            “That’s Jean Skillins’ pie”
            “Yes.  I know her pies by sight.”
            “Hers are more sour you know.”
            “Yes.  I like that.  She is always very light handed with her sugar”.
            I paid twenty dollars for it; the whole Jean Skillins pie.  At some point in your life you will realize you need to do something like that... too.  (Thoreau knew a good pie when he saw one).

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