Thursday, September 7, 2017

Colorful bookplate in 1908 book

This bookplate, measuring 2 inches by 3¼ inches, was discovered within a copy of the 1908 Grosset & Dunlap book Pictures That Every Child Should Know: A Selection of the World's Art Masterpieces for Young People.

I'm fairly sure the bookplate is the reason that I bought this book for $1 at a Lancaster sale a couple of years ago. I don't think the subject matter would have piqued my interest, though the encouragement of fine-art appreciation by youngsters is certainly a noble endeavor.

The author, Dolores Bacon, also wrote Operas Every Child Should Know, Hymns Every Child Should Know, and Songs Every Child Should Know.

(If she was alive today, she'd probably pen Netflix Shows Every Child Should Know, Twitter Memes Every Child Should Know, and Instagram Filters Every Child Should Know.)

As you can see from the bookplate, this volume belonged to Frank K. Mears Jr. He lived from 1917 to 1992, and he grew up to become a doctor who worked in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, before later moving to Lancaster County.

After a little nosing around online, I discovered a blog post that's all about the life of Frank K. Mears Jr., as written by his son, John. It was posted in June 2011 and is titled "My Father, The Sex Machine." Cheeky title aside, it's a beautiful 2,200-word essay that I hope is preserved and doesn't end up as a Lost Corner of the Internet. It's well worth your time to go check it out. Here are a few short excerpts:

  • "Dad also loved gardening. Coming home from a ten-or-twelve-or-fourteen-hour day at the hospital, he made a beeline straight to his vegetable garden, which was a meditation on chaos. Rows of vegetable plants could best be found among the waist-high weeds by looking for little piles of stones that Dad put at the end of each row, the plan being that Dad would later cart the stones off to another location. (That rarely happened.)"
  • "Crows were a pain in the ass, with their cacophonies and sneak attacks on the corn, so in their case my father made an exception to his Quaker pacifism and shot them with his .22 rifle. He would then leave their bodies to rot next to the corn field, a warning to their fellows."
  • "My father could throw, would throw, did throw nothing away. He was a textbook example of a pack rat. Dad was remarkable for his obdurate inability to part with any object in his possession, no matter how trivial or apparently worthless. He filled every available space in every building of our farm with random stuff, initially organized in stacks, piles, cartons, or bins, but increasingly demonstrative of the second law of thermodynamics: everything in the physical universe tends towards entropy."
  • "After the funeral, my older brother Jim began the sad task of carting Dad’s memorabilia by the truckload to a pit in a cornfield for cremation. Columns of smoke rose above our farm for weeks."

As I said, you should go read the entire essay by John Mears.

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