Fresh Supplies | Newberry

Fresh Supplies

I was starting to worry; really I was. It was over 24 hours after my blog notifying you that the parking lot was closed to people donating books before somebody actually backed in with books to donate. Dapper, devil-may-care fellow who didn’t mind much that his tires and shoes were sinking in the mire: renews my faith in human nature.

AND just sixteen days after the Book Fair I’ve had my first irritable donor, demanding to know why a volunteer hadn’t called her yet when she notified us ten days ago that she had a houseful of books for us to pack up (she had no boxes, of course.) Believe it or not, August 12 is a little late in the season for that. I usually have t least one impatient donor by about the eighth. (Yes, this is a no-donations month: what’s THAT got to do with anything?)

So the 2014-2015 season is well underway. Our first really Smurfish donation came in on Monday: the donor disavowed all knowledge of the identities of the bare-kneed flappers in the photographs she dropped off. They were Chicago kids (the address of the photographer’s studio was on one) and SOMEBODY at some time or another had made a note that these were “Chicago Jewish Girls, 1921-1922-1923.” So the donor was not concealing her own identity. (I didn’t get to meet her, but if she was one of these young ladies, she is still driving at the age of, oh, 111. This is slightly above average for our donors.)

There’s a story in these pictures: a few faces can be identified in each year’s photo, so it was some established group. But what? A sorority? A book group? The Drama Club? What is the significance of the lollipops each girl is holding in one shot? Why are they in night gear for one picture? (These were real flappers, so less of their knees show when they’re in nightgowns than when they’re in street clothes. Short skirts, stockings rolled down: pretty hot stuff in 1922.) And did any of them ever accidentally let their parents see these pictures?

(To be fair to the parents and grandparents, we must recall Mark Sullivan’s interview of the man who went to a coeducational college just after the Civil War, who told him that the college girls of his day would never have thought of the things the co-eds of 1922 got up to. Then he paused and added, “But if they’d thought of ‘em, they’d have done ‘em.”)

The Newberry may keep those; the folks in Modern Manuscripts felt this was too good a piece of Chicago history to let escape. Anybody who would like to pass along any additional knowledge about these photos–in black and white, we can’t even tell what flavor lollipops they have–I can accept confidential disclosures at this blog.

We’ve had our first major donation of videocassettes. DON’T try to wriggle out of it by saying you don’t have a VCR: I have one for sale. I also had my first request to look for something for a customer: there’s this movie the man’s looking for that he cannot find on DVD, so he’d like the video if it shows up. See? There’s a lid for every…no! PLEASE don’t start donating lids for pots and pans. I’m going to have enough trouble selling this Yale collector’s plate and the drinking glass that says something I can’t write in this blog.

(But maybe if I say I’m selling “pot paraphernalia” for medicinal purposes, people who read as badly as the fellow who drove into the parking lot could really enhance the line on Preview Night.)

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