Monday, May 9, 2011

"Piggy Pork: His Odyssey" by Thomas Yost Cooper

I picked this up recently at Morningstar Marketplace in Thomasville, Pa., and the neat thing about researching its history was discovering that this book of poems -- much like Papergreat -- represented a side hobby of a York County newspaper journalist.

The 36-page staplebound book is titled "Piggy Pork: His Odyssey." It was written by T.Y. Cooper, illustrated by John M. Sheffer and published in 1963 by Anthony Printing Company (Clayton P. Bair, Proprietor) of Hanover, Pa.

It consists entirely of 16-line poems describing a pig's travels and adventures around the globe. Here is one:

When glut with frog legs, truffles, mush-
rooms, prawn, and caviar,
Pig crossed the Pyrenees led on by
his olfactory star.

Can't be denied on Spanish far Pig
certainly waxed stronger,--
I mean his breath which grew so strong
he had need walk no longer.

Into a bullring as toreador Don
Porkerino got;
He blew his breath, the raging bull
fell dead upon the spot.

You marvel how Pig did it, but 'tis
simple as 'tis true:
Put garlic in the sausage meat, a
child can do it too.
The last poem in the book is titled "America First and Last" and the final stanza is:
Now, National Vegetarianism is
Piggy's latest hobby:
He's working for it at Washington
in a Congressional lobby.
"Piggy Pork: His Odyssey" author Thomas Yost Cooper was born April 22, 1884, and died on July 24, 1967, four years after this book's publication.1 He graduated from Harvard University in either 1905 or 1906 with a degree in agricultural science and then moved to Hanover.

At some point, Cooper veered into journalism. He became city editor of The Evening Sun in Hanover and worked there until his retirement in 1949. During the 1960s, Cooper gifted many items -- including rare books and a collection of theater programs from the 1890s -- to the Gettysburg College library as a memorial to his parents. (The bequest's bookplate is pictured at right.)2

"Piggy Pork" wasn't Cooper's only published work. Decades earlier, in 1929, he had a 213-page book titled "Wren's nest: A fairy tale in verse, and other poems" published by Picket Press. A few used copies are still available on Amazon.

Regarding the printer and illustrator of "Piggy Pork: His Odyssey":
  • Anthony Printing Company (no longer in business) dates back to at least 1915. Its other publications over the years included:
    • "Official program of the centennial of incorporation of the borough of Hanover, Pennsylvania; together with historical sketches, September 12 to 18, 1915" issued by the Hanover Centennial Committee in 1915
    • "Hanover Cook Book" by the Hanover Library Association in 1922
    • and "History of Gettysburg Classis of the Synod of the Potomac Reformed Church in the United States" by Edwin M. Sando in 1941.
    Proprietor Clayton P. Bair lived from 1887 to 1969 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hanover.3
  • Illustrator John M. Sheffer was a 1932 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He died on June 28, 1996, according to Penn's alumni newsletter. I couldn't find any additional information on Sheffer.

1. Primary source for this section: Thomas Y. Cooper Endowment page on the Gettysburg College website. The page notes: "There is a large file on the Cooper gift in Special Collections which includes correspondence, news clippings and information on Cooper's birth (April 22, 1884) and death (July 24, 1967)."
2. It appears, fittingly, that he also donated a copy of Homer's "Odyssey" to Harvard's library at some point. Check out this bookplate.
3. Source: Find A Grave page created by Jana-Lee Bair. Here is some more on Clayton P. Bair.

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