Jun 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day! Part 1

I fell in love with Iceland through books. Bill Holm, Halldór Laxness, the Sagas. But how did my love of books begin?

I have early memories of my Dad reading to us. We had a big armchair that was large enough for Dad, me, and my three younger brothers. Every night we would all pile into that chair, and Dad would read to us. I remember children's books: Winnie the Pooh, Doctor Seuss. Every Christmas Eve we read The Night Before Christmas. Most of all, Dad read us lots of classics.

The way I remembered it, Dad subscribed to the Book of the Month Club for our nice, hardcover editions of the classics. I still have those books, so after writing this I pulled Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island off the shelf to have a look.

Was I in for a surprise! I expected to see copyright dates in the 1950's and 60's. Instead, I found that two of the editions I have were published in 1930 and 1941. My Dad hadn't purchased them for us, my Grandfather had purchased the books for my Dad! I have at least seven Heritage Press books that Poppy purchased, both from The Limited Editions Club and the Junior Heritage Club, over some fifteen years.

My Dad as a youngster.


I learned the following from this site at the University of Texas at Austin:

... George Macy (1900-1956) - published fine, illustrated books in limited numbers for member subscribers. Designed and illustrated on fine paper by leading figures in the graphic arts, most titles were classics ...

More information on the Macy editions can be found in A Heritage Press Retrospective, by Michael C. Bussacco, in BookThink. Several of the books I own have really stunning illustrations, including Gulliver's Travels (illustrated with woodcuts by Fritz Eichenberg) and Idylls of the King (illustrated by Robert Ball).


Another "Dad" tradition was going to Books Inc. ("The West's Oldest Independent Bookstore"), in Santa Rosa. Dad loved going to Books Inc., and he loved taking me with him. We went often, and we stayed a long time, browsing slowly through all the displays. I don't remember that Dad always made a purchase--sometimes he would buy me one book--but I do remember that any birthday or Christmas brought with it wonderful books from Books Inc. I remember the good smell of the pages.

My Dad loved reading to his children, yet I seldom recall seeing him reading books on his own (although in recent years he frequently listens to books on his iPod). So, while my Dad is more likely to be found reading a magazine, newspaper, or internet article than a book, he has always valued books and finds them interesting, and he passed his love for books, and bookstores, along to me.

We often grow up modeling our parents' behaviors, and my Dad wasn't the only one in the family who loved books. My Mom always had a book that she was reading, and if it was a good one she might not hear you if you tried to talk to her. It was my Mom who introduced libraries to me, starting with the children's room at the old, ivy-covered Santa Rosa Public Library, and later taking me to the Sebastopol Public Library each week.

Santa Rosa Public Library

Between the dual influences of my Dad and my Mom, becoming a librarian was a natural choice.

8 comments:

Professor Batty said...

The picture of the Santa Rosa Library evokes in me strong memories of the old Minneapolis Public Library building, which was also constructed in a similar style. When you climbed those granite steps you could really fell the majesty of the institution. Its replacement, as was the case with many of the buildings built in Minneapolis in the sixties, has been torn down as well.

Rose said...

The story about the tearing down of the SRPL is kind of interesting. As I'm sure you guessed, this was a library built primarily with Carnegie funds. Two and a half years after it was completed it was destroyed in the "San Francisco" earthquake of '06! (Santa Rosa was hit as hard as S.F., but having a much smaller population it didn't make the news in the same way.) So it was rebuilt, again with Carnegie funds. Then, in the 60's?, there was a fear that it wasn't up to earthquake standards, so they tore it down, and replaced it. But they had an awfully difficult time demolishing it, which caused many of us to wonder ...
Anyway, that's how I remember it. I'll have to try and verify some of this ;-)
And yes, majestic is a good way to describe the beautiful library.

Professor Batty said...

Here's a great photo of the old MPL along with pictures of the newest library building. The new one was so expensive that it virtually bankrupted the entire Minneapolis Library system. Link:

http://www.shorpy.com/node/5315

Rose said...

Well, to be fair it is very difficult to provide modern library services in an old building. But our old historic buildings should be saved and put to other uses when they are no longer functional for their original purpose. Lovely old library in Minneapolis, wasn't it. The picture is really cool when you click on the larger version: horse and buggy, bicycles ...

niranjana said...

I love libraries, esp. when they're housed in such beautiful buildings. I'm passing fond of librarians too :)

A rare instance where I actually concur with Germaine Greer. "Libraries are places where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity"

Rose said...

H! Niranjana, I wish I could use that quote at the high school library where I work! Maybe it would make some of the parents who want to censor what their kids read think twice? Of course, it might have the opposite effect, of confirming their fears ...
Anyway, librarians would certainly support your efforts at trying to prevent plagiarism. I was struck as I started reading back through your blog how even handed, calm and reasonable your arguments were, even in the (occasional) face of ignorance and flaming. You did your research! And it stimulated a lot of--mostly thoughtful--conversation. My conclusion was that you had good reasons for thinking that a little fluff on your blog might not be a bad idea. You must have been worn out! ;-) Good work.

Niranjana said...

Thanks Rose! The whole plagiarism episode seems a tad surreal now. All my ire has resulted in...nothing. I'm still hoping for an apology, but am guessing it'll be delivered by unicorn messenger on judgement day.

Rose said...

I'm afraid you're right, Niranjana. An apology would be admitting error--something that company lawyers don't like. That unicorn messenger will be worth waiting for, though! p.s. I'm sure you realize that by "fluff" I was referring to the Mount TBR picture ;-)