New employee Jared has been making great strides traversing our Island of Forgotten Books. In just a couple of months he’s cleaned out the darkest corners of the downstairs storage space and put the contents, item by item, up on the Biblio and ABAA selling sites. It’s beginning to seem that he does, in fact, have the requisite “fire in his belly” for the trade, and I think the kid’s got a future in the biz. However, we have yet to learn his tolerance for risk – an absolute necessity in such a chancy business. He’s committed to writing next week’s blog post, and I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say about all this.
In the course of his excavations, he uncovered a trove of books that I’d forgotten about. It was a secret hidey hole (admittedly notional, as the stash has been moved from place to place over the decades) in which I stored all the rare Gloucester items I happened to come across, planning someday to put together a catalog of it all. Well, now Jared’s labors have inspired me. That day has come. I’m working on a catalog of rare Gloucesteriana to be called “The Fingerless Navigator meets Bobbi Gibb.” Here’s the Prospectus:
THE FINGERLESS NAVIGATOR MEETS BOBBI GIBB
Enjoying and Collecting the Literature of Cape Ann
Kent Circle (Intersection of Western and Essex Avenues), 1893
“At Kent Circle… At Kunt Circle” –Charles Olson MAXIMUS IV,V,VI
When I began selling old and rare books 47 years ago local residents had more than a passing familiarity with the history of this place. They knew it chapter and verse, and they pursued it with passion at social gatherings and in the columns of the then-locally-owned Gloucester Daily Times. Men and women like Harold Dexter, Dana Story, Peter and Betty Smith, the Norton sisters, Erik Ronnberg, Peter Anastas, Cynthia Peckham, Ken Nickerson, Bill Hoyt, Joe Garland and Harold Bell collected and studied the literature of Cape Ann.
It is no coincidence that citizens of their generation saved the Fitz Hugh Lane House and the GAR Hall (though just by a whisker in both cases), defeated the mall on the I4-C2 parcel, added wings to the Sawyer Free Library, the Cape Ann Historical Association, the Rockport Historical Society, and founded the Gloucester Archives Committee.
These days, such rigorous awareness of the history of this place is in short supply. Perhaps that’s the reason we allow ourselves to be constantly distracted by the cheap, the fast and the easy. We’re losing our bearings, and I believe we need to reconnect with our past in order to get perspective on decisions that will affect our future.
As a step in this direction I am issuing a catalog of local rarities – The Fingerless Navigator Meets Bobbi Gibb: Enjoying and Collecting the Literature of Cape Ann. (Highlights of the catalog include material on Howard Blackburn, Gloucester’s “Fingerless Navigator,” and Bobbi Gibb, now famous as the first female participant in the Boston Marathon.)
NB – The catalog will be available in digital form only. If you are interested in receiving one, send an email with your snail mail and email addresses to us at firstname.lastname@example.org