Saturday, July 19, 2014

Go Through Those Boxes More Than Once: Abe the Newsboy

I successfully threw out a political pamphlet in the last post to this blog.  Now I'm hesitating over getting rid of a book.  It's full title:  Life Story of Abe the Newsboy, Hero of a Thousand Fights.

This is apparently a vaguely historical book, and you know that I have a weakness for the vaguely historical.  It's an autobiography of a Navy boxer and it has pictures of Presidents in it.  It was also self published, which usually didn't work out that well, back in the day.  Did I hear you ask which day?

Looks like the first edition was in 1930.  That would be the year my Dad was born.  This is my Grandma's copy, which she obviously bought after 1960.  She had a thing for sailors.  She married . . . .  Well, let's just say that Dad's dad was a sailor when they were first married.  So it fits in with family history.

I've looked it up online, and the book is referred to as "important".  It's also called one of the first memoirs, which is a crock, and the exact same wording has spread to many internet sites.

It sells for as little as $2.49, plus shipping, and can be downloaded for free in PDF, ePUB, or mp3 from a place called bookalist.  It downloads as a passworded file, then you have to log onto another site and download the password.  That's where I got cautious.  So I can't tell you if the site is fishy or not.  Can anyone vouch that this is a safe site?

I can't find a review of it online, although it is on the recommended reading list at  Amazon has a bunch of consignment copies for sale, but, again, no review.  The first few sentences were very 1930's sincere.  Part of me wants to read it just to write the review.  The rest of me knows that I have many more important things that I'm behind on.  

Oh, man.  Someone presented a paper on it.  Mangun, Kimberley. “Abe ‘the Newsboy’ Hollandersky: Self-Promotion and the Hero Myth in Newspaper Coverage of the Jewish Boxer.” Paper presented at the American Journalism Historians Association National Conference, New Orleans, September 2013.

Sigh.  It's starting to look like it's going to end up back in the box.  My only excuse is that I can use it as a prop to talk about those relative that have gone before us.  If I actually manage to get it out of the house (or to post a review), I'll post it here.  

[ETA:  To make up for my indecision regarding Abe, I've tossed The Salem Frigate by John Jennings.  It's listed as an adventure romance and you can get it for $0.13 on Amazon.]

Go Through Those Boxes More Than Once: Goodbye Mr. Max Rafferty

My Beloved Son and his wife (who are expecting - yay!) go through everything they own twice a year to see what they can throw or give away.  You can see the results of the constant pruning in their house, which is spacious and easy to clean.  This is not a thing that either of them learned from me.  

I am trying, though.  Since I'm not at their level, yet, I sometimes prune in stages.  Recently we did some organizing in the garage and I brought in three boxes to sort through.  From the look of them, it's all family stuff.  When I put the boxes away, I think they were meant to be deep storage.  Today, I'm looking at them as being full of things that I couldn't bring myself to throw away, yet.  And I'm giving myself dispensation to prune in stages.  If it ends up being one box going back in the garage, I'll consider it a big step forward.  And who knows, maybe that's what I intended to happen when I stored them.

What's in the boxes?  Well, I found one thing I can let go.

Not sure where this came from.  I had one uncle who did political networking that was job-related, and my father was more than a little right wing.  

Either one of them would occasionally get involved in political mailings, so this could have been a leftover from one of those.  The lack of address means that it wasn't mailed to Dad, but he could have picked it up when visiting a local campaign headquarters or it could have been passed out in a door to door campaign.  

It wasn't a campaign that Dad was particularly active in, or I'd remember the candidate.  As it is, the name is only vaguely familiar, and I'd have to look him up to see if he won or lost.

I suppose I could make a comment on 'the hoax of "forced housing"' vs 'housing equality', but I'm not feeling the need at the moment.  For now I'll just shrug and say it was the sixties.

I have no clue why this political pamphlet was in my Mother's things.  I only know that I hung onto it because it felt vaguely historical.  I have a weakness for that.

So, if anyone finds any historical value in this little, unmailed piece of paper, you have these images to download.  Take them with my blessing.  Unlike the cooking pamphlet, I didn't hold onto this one to see if anyone else wanted it, though.  The paper version has been recycled.  

Recycling wasn't one of Max's issues, but then it was the sixties.  

I could decide that it's sad that it took all this effort to throw out one piece of paper, but I won't.  I'm enjoying this little effort at memorializing my life and trash.  Goodbye, Mr. Rafferty.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Climbing Mount Guilt (Books)

Sometimes you can measure guilt.  

This particular stack of guilt is eight point three feet high.

Let's try a different perspective.

This is a stack of all of the books that I've bought that I have not finished.  About a quarter of them haven't been started.  

The books in the shelves have been read, and so have the books in the shelves in my bedroom.  Not to mention many, many books that have been read and donated to the library or the thrift store. 

I tell myself that this is not a horrible thing.  But like any unfinished thing, they sort of nag at me.  "You meant to read me," they say.  "It's not like reading is a hard thing."

They're each one more unfinished thing that implies that I'm the sort of person who doesn't finish things.  Well, I may not have read them, but I've used them, now.  I have the photo to prove it.  They were, for a few hours, an art installation.  For a few hours, they were a homage to my guilt.  True, I had to add four books that I'd actually read to make it high enough to touch the ceiling, which was necessary in order to keep it from falling.  But eight point three feet of it is solid guilt.

(You'd think books would be steadier in a stack, but without the pressure of the ceiling, it wouldn't have stayed up for five seconds.  One of the minions had to steady the stack while I added the cappers.  Even then, the top third came down in the night.  It didn't wake me.)

While they were stacked, and half-stacked, I took advantage of the space and cleared the last of the plaster dust and hunks off of the bedroom shelves.  So that's another success.  (The plaster was from when we replaced my bedroom window, going to double-paned from feel the breeze - another success.  I could feel guilty about clearing the plaster three weeks after the window replacement, but I won't.  We also replaced the siding on that side of the house, and there have been other things I've been doing to clear out the debris from that.  Including buying a trap and trapping a cat that had crawled under the house while the siding was off.)

But let's look at the books again.  You'd think that stacking them up like that would make them more intimidating, but it doesn't.  When they were salted through the rest of the books, they nagged at me a lot.  Now I've seen them in their entirety.  I've seen the actual magnitude.  And you know what?  I can deal with them.

They now have a seven foot long shelf in my bedroom all to themselves.  A few of them are in the shelves you see by the desk.  And the rest are, um, still in a stack.  But it's tucked beside the desk shelves, where it isn't in the way.

Why are they stacked on the floor?  Because they're part of an art installation, for one.  I like having one.  For another, I like having usable space in the second set of shelves by my desk.  It helps me keep my desk clear.  It looks airier when it's not filled with books, and I can use the look of open space.  

The remainder stack is maybe three feet tall.  I can deal with that.  And with everything in order, I've started reading - - a new book that my daughter-in-law sent me.  It's Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded by John Scalzi, and I'm loving it.  Hey, I am not going to be controlled by an art installation.