Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Three…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

I had seen the movie, A River runs Through it, but had not read the book. “You should,” my friend said, and she gave me a copy. After only 8 pages a mood came over me and I put the book aside to write this story. It is something I had to do. The book will be there later. 

I Remember Bip

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Our hair is beginning to turn white

He was as close to me as anything could be, my arm for instance. His real name was Bippy, but I can’t imagine why. Perhaps it was given to him when he was just a pup and any flippant designation, applied with a laugh, would fit. You know how humans are around babies. 

As he matured, my little brown dachshund moved off of his pad and into my heart, and even closer if there was such a place. He started sleeping on our bed, and then under the covers. It was nice to awaken in the middle of the night and feel his warmth at my feet. 

Bippy became Bip, and then The Bip, as if the crown jewels had been injected into the name. In my work place he was always under the desk. If I moved an inch, he knew it. When I rose to walk, The Bip was always trotting, 3’ in my trail. 

Once, in Lubbock where we lived, at the time, my wife and I had the occasion to drive from the Red Barn (the name of our art foundry) to visit Glenna Goodacre at her home. We drove about 3 miles through downtown to get there. My little dog was in his usual car-riding spot on the top of my driver’s seat, and behind my neck. 

After a visit with Glenna we were ready to go, but The Bip wasn’t hanging with me, and he was nowhere around that we could see. He had never been to Glenna’s before and it was not like him to wander off into in a strange neighborhood. For three hours we searched, up this street and down that one, all about. He just wasn’t there, and I was sure someone had stolen him, or that he had been hit by a car. I was rife with despair. 

After more hours of circling and looking, we drove back to the Red Barn. And there he was, The Bip, sitting by the front door and wagging his tail if to say, “Where have you guys been?” 

How did he get from there to here, 3 miles through heavy traffic, and red lights, and big trucks? Those are the things that souls are made of. 

Peggy and I were going up the Amazon River when we received a frantic phone call from Santa Fe. A vicious dog had attacked Bip, and he was having trouble. We charted a small pontoon plane, which I think was held together with bailing wire and duct tape, (it had no heading indicator or altimeter) to come land beside our boat, and carry us to Manaus, Brazil, which was 250 miles across the unmapped Amazon jungle where we could catch a flight home.. The Bip saw us and wagged his tail. He quickly recovered. Reunions following near disasters, are wonderful.IMG 7507

In 1981, a friend assisted Bip in writing his autobiography. It’s called Bip, and has his signature on the leather cover. It’s a 30-page fictionalized account of Bip as an artist, and Eric Sloane illustrated it with 7 drawings.

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The book was published at Northland Press in Flagstaff, AZ, in one copy. 

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The book starts out:

I never wanted to tell my story. I think that should be stated at the start. I find most autobiographies rather self-serving. I hated “Doggie Dearest,” which I found highly exploitive, “For Whom the Dog Barks, “Memoirs of a Schnauzer of Pleasure,” “Cheaper by the Litter,” and all of the other volumes I have read over the years have left me cold. I always assumed that my art, not my printed word, would make the world aware that I have been one of the most colorful artists of the American West, Throughout all the years I have been painting, I have naively assumed that somehow my reputation would be discovered through the gallery we operate. But now that I am getting old, I think it is time that I tell the whole story.

At about 13 years, Bip’s muzzle turned white, and he got a cancer on his right fore-arm. It was an ugly balloon looking thing, the size of a cue ball. Our vet just shook his head, a gesture I wasn’t ready to accept. The 2nd vet, a wonderful man named Clint Hughes, said he could operate and fix it. 

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He operated for an hour and he did fix it, and he allowed me to sleep the night in his operating room on the floor beside my little dog. I knew he would be stressed. At about 15 years the terrible malignancy returned, and Clint fixed it again. We were on a roll. 

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Then at 17 years or so, The Bip began to fall apart. His liver failed and he had other problems. His eyes told me he was ready. Clint came out of retirement to help us, and as The Bip went limp in my arms, all of us cried. 

But I wasn’t ready for all of that to happen, and I told Clint I wanted my little dog to spend one last night on my bed, like he had done so many times over the years. “He’s no longer there, his spirit has gone.” Clint said. It was a kick in the gut to me, And I quickly reacted. “Who says he isn’t still there, where is your evidence, please show me your evidence?” Why do we arbitrarily believe things that we’ve been told? Just because someone said it doesn’t make it true.  Throughout the night me and Bip were together in spirit. It was a warm sleep for me. 

The next morning, I wrote The Bip’s biography and placed it in a fruit jar that had a rust-proof lid. My words said what I needed to say, so I signed it with my name and date. 

Then I made small wooden box. The boards were new and the nails were applied with loving care. Then I wrapped Bip in some warm covers and buried him under the big plum tree just outside my office at the gallery. 

Many years later, when we sold our gallery, I moved Bip to a place just outside the bedroom at our new home on the Old Santa Fe Trail.

Chiseled on a flat sandstone slab, and placed atop his little space, are these words, Bip, so long old friend, for now. I just went out and brushed the snow away to see if there was a date. There wasn’t, and I’m glad, because I don’t want to know when he passed away. I just want to remember that, in a real way, he is still with me. fContactThat story is full of reminiscing words and I feel better for having said them. 

Now it’s back to A River Runs Through it, page 9. Thank you S. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Two…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Related Cultures?

I’m getting emails from some who want to see more of our collection. I hope you don’t think I’m over doing it. 

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This beautiful 9” Sinagua lady is a pitcher. She was made of clay in north-central Arizona, and I excavated her on a friend’s ranch. She had 2 holes punched in her from a previous encounter. Can you tell where I gave her some necessary medicinal repairs? 

Dal thinks she’s ugly but what does he know about little ‘ole pottery ladies? He probably thinks her nose is too high on her face, and it is by today’s standards. But in her day, 1,200 years ago, she was right in the middle of what was culturally vogue. Her profile makes me want to agree with dal just a little bit. 

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When my trowel found this woman, she was resting supine in the volcanic ash-like dirt. The 151disc beads in her necklace were made of shell, catlinite, travertine and argillite. They had become unstrung over time, but were still in place. I restrung them on cotton. Same for her turquoise earrings.

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Meanwhile, and 4,000 miles to the south, the Chancay Indians of coastal Peru were making anthropomorphic figures like this 6” guy. His eyes of ostrich shell are inlaid in his wooden face. The other facial features are made of shell beads. Notice that his nose is up between his eyes. 

Inlaid in the right side of his headpiece is a recycled spiny oyster pendant (the other side probably had one also). Both sides of his earrings are inlaid with small slabs of turquoise, which are difficult to see because they are held in place with some kind of dark mastic.

For several thousand years most all of the cultures up and down the Americas, constructed their art from identical raw materials. It nearly always included turquoise from what is now the United States. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty One…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Olden Wood

I like old wood when it has aged in a dry environment. It takes on a deep mellow patina. Can you see it in this 18th century Spanish Colonial chest? It’s just 9” long and 4” high.

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Perhaps at one time its purpose was to provide a travelling home for some special religious object, like the 7 1/4th inch bulto below. An old tag on the back identifies it.

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Our Lady (of Guadalupe)

Circa 1810 carried by Don Pedro Don Baptista Pino who was the only delegate from the New World to the courts of Spain. He was trying to acquire money for teachers and priests. The statue was carried with him at all times. 

Today, the old chest serves a useful purpose for me. It provides a home for 880-dollar coins. The value of the chest and the coins is about $3,500.

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I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. Ideally, I would hide it somewhere in the New Mexico Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, but nearer than 8.25 miles from town. Then invite kids 16 years old and younger to go search for it. It can’t be out in the weather. What would you do with it? 

Here are a few of my old Spanish Colonial wooden crosses. f

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Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

The Power of Dance

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Joe Rivera acquired this skull for me from an Indian who said it was used in a ceremony in Greengrass Montana. I wonder what he meant, because there is no Greengrass, Montana, at least not on my map.

My recent post (SB-138) prompted some interesting comments about the Sun Dance, so I’ll tell another story.

About 20 years ago, Peggy and I went to Lodge Grass, Montana, to visit our friend Joe Medicine Crow. Since his place was just 20 miles south of Crow Agency, we had to visit there also. 

That whole country is pretty much sparse of trees, except along the Little Bighorn River and in the coulees. Off in the distance, on a rise, we saw some pickup trucks and a few horses parked in a small cluster, all by itself. Because it looked so strange and out of place, we drove over. I sensed that something special was happening, but I didn’t know what. We parked on the prairie about 200’ away, and cautiously walked over. The Crow Indians were having a Sun Dance. 

I asked an elderly Indian woman, wearing a beaded dress, if we could watch the dance. She said, “Yes, but get smudged.” (cleansed) A young Indian boy approached us swinging a large tin can that was heavy with smoke. He was burning sweetgrass. (Two of my all-time favorite smells are sweetgrass in the field, and citronella on my hand). 

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Sweetgrass maintains its pleasing smell for months, and then suddenly, its gone.

The boy feathered some smoke on us and we walked over to where 7 men were participating in the dance. A woman next to us was quietly chanting as she cut her arm with a razor blade. She was mourning her dead, and blood was spilling on the ground.

Peggy and I understood the sacredness of the ceremony and we stood reverently, without speaking, just looking. About 40 others were in a circle around the dancers watching the event with us, mostly Indians. Although the dancers were wearing modern clothing, the ceremony was ancient, and we felt blessed to witness it. 

After an hour or so, Peggy and I eased slowly back. It was time for us to go. Again, we were smudged by the cleansing smoke of sweetgrass. 

An Indian woman thanked us for coming and we spoke for just a minute. I asked her why 6 of the 7 dancers were white men. She said, “When the white man cannot find what he needs in his own religion, he come to us.” 

How can we ever have peace on this planet when every religion is correct from its own point of view? f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Nine…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

New Life From an Old Body

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This old juniper tree, adjacent to Shiloh’s house, was totally collapsed by the weight of snow about 15 years ago. It didn’t much care, it just grew sideways instead of up

In 1914, an archaeologist named Nels Nelson, working for the National Museum of Natural History in NY, took a photograph of a juniper tree at San Lazaro Pueblo. It was in full growth and seemingly in good health. I have that photo someplace but am too lazy to go into my basement and look for it.

Many years later, I took this photo of the same tree. It looked melancholy and forlorn, a stump of its former self. Well, here, you can see for yourself. 

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Sometime after 1914, someone cut all of its arms off, probably for no greater gain than to build a fence. It must have been a painful experience because an axe was used to do the cutting. Orange lichen soon covered its remnants as if to say “We’re helping you buddy, hang on.” It couldn’t, so it didn’t. 

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About 20 years ago I couldn’t stand it any longer so I brought that beautiful thing home. Now it relaxes under a growing pinon tree by my gate. It has earned a rest. 

Juniper is a hard wood that grows slowly and rots slowly. Nevertheless, I know that in another 100 years it will be gone. But in leaving, its decomposing body will fertilize a new generation of growth. I planted a small cluster of juniper berries near its soft underbelly, where they will get moisture from the ground, energy from the growing rays of sun, and nourishment from juniper decay.

Covenants on my 2 ½ acres say that no additional structures can be built on the property. So I expect the berries to germinate undisturbed, and enjoy full growth for many years. And every spring their own berries will residuate as the process renews.  

Please don’t anyone say I can’t influence the future? f

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Eight…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Paul Dyck and Me

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Paul and I at his ranch on Beaver Creek

Paul Dyck was my friend and compadre. Although he was 13 years my senior I would like to have passed through some of his life adventures at his side.  

He was born in Chicago in 1917, and spent much of his early life in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Florence, Italy. 

Paul returned to the United States and married Fawn on Elk, and they settled in among her Lakota people on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. That’s where Paul met One Bull, the adopted son of Sitting Bull.

Although One Bull was many years older than Paul, they became such fast friends that he was adopted into One Bull’s family. In discussions between the two that lasted into the wee hours, they talked about the early Indian way of life and about the Custer Fight. One Bull said that some historians had written that he was the one who killed Custer in the fight, but it wasn’t true. Although he was in the battle, he said he never saw Custer. He was 23 at the time, and he died in 1947.

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Sitting Bull with his pipe, and One Bull

As a painter, Paul had an intuitive flair for color and description. So much so that the Sioux named him Rainbow Hand. He was fascinated by the carving that Gutzon Borglum was doing at Mount Rushmore, so he went over and got a job carrying water to the workers. 

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Original watercolor from Paul’s book Brule’

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Oil painting by Paul Dyck

After Fawn died in childbirth, Paul moved to Rimrock in the Verde Valley of Arizona. His ranch house was on Beaver Creek and when the water was up, a car couldn’t cross it. So Paul would come get you in his tractor. 

Paul’s house looked like an aircraft hangar, with the ceiling about 40’ high (I’m guessing). His bedroom and bath were off to the side and upstairs. It was generally considered that he had the greatest private collection of antique Plains Indian material in existence, and his big room was full of it. It included more than 80 beaded dresses, and 70 war shirts. 

Paul was one of the authorities on what he called, the “Buffalo Culture.” His book Brule’ about the Sioux people of the Rosebud, brought him national acclaim. Museums and universities sought his council, and he was awarded an honorary PhD by the University of Montana.

Paul was married two more times. Jean Hamilton was his third wife, and the love of his life. He called her Star. When she died, he was devastated, and started spend time reading out by his corral where he had two buffalo. He fed them by hand, and delighted in watching his bull hook a big tractor tire and toss it high into the air. 

About 2004 I videotaped a lengthy interview with Paul at his ranch. He said a few things that ran contrary to the generally accepted history of the Custer fight. Supposedly, White Swan, a Crow Indian scout with the 7th Cavalry, was in a club fight with some Sioux warriors and was left prostrate on the battlefield. 

According to Paul, two days before the battle began, White Swan was dispatched to track down a trooper who had deserted, and return him to duty. A fight ensued, the deserter was killed and White Swan was severely wounded by a conk to his head. When he returned, the Custer battle was in full swing, and he collapsed on the battlefield, forever deaf and dumb from his fight with the deserter. Paul said that One Bull, who was in the fight, told him that story. 

It is terrible when history is written wrong, but worse still is not knowing who to believe. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Seven…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Earthenware Bowl

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This 18” earthenware bowl has been a prize in our collection for more than 40 years. It was made in Granada, Spain about 1850. The galena (lead ore) blue and green glaze decorations were applied over a milk-white slip. A snarling animal is the featured figure. 

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At one time the vessel was broken into 5 distinct pieces with 2 large cracks that didn’t actually break apart. The bowl was so coveted that 26 iron “pins,” were used, in semi-ancient times, to put it back together and secure the pieces in place. To affect that end, 52 holes were drilled into, (but not through) the ½” thick sides and bottom.

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Evidently the bowl continued to be useful for many years after it was repaired because all of the iron pins are heavily rusted, ostensibly from being in water. 

When the bowl’s life as a utilitarian object was discontinued, maybe 100 years ago, it was worth almost nothing. Many years later I gave $725 for it, but if it were not for the 26 repairs, I wouldn’t have wanted it. The older it gets, the more valuable it becomes. 

Well, I’m about half that beautiful thing’s age. I’ve suffered a few breaks, and had some repairs here and there. Although my rust is not showing, it’s there nonetheless. Nobody has ever said I’m getting more valuable as I move farther into oldenhood, but I’m still listening. f

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Six…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

It was 41 years ago next month that Bill Oakton came to see me and took this photo. 

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He was a writer for New Mexico Business Journal, a magazine that seriously reported on commercial re-financing, risk management, the problems with overstocking inventory, and other similar subjects. 

The publisher heard that Santa Fe was somewhat of an art community and he wanted to do a story about it. So Bill called the Chamber of Commerce and they sent him to me. When he showed up at our gallery, I was busy with a client. That gave Bill a few minutes to stroll through the 7 spacious rooms in which we sold art. 

Evidently, he had had a conversation with his editor and they decided it wouldn’t be much of a story, but since Bill was going to be in town on other business anyway, he might as well drop in for a short interview. 

To him, art meant “hobby,” and he was ready to write a delightful little quarter-page item about art for the New Mexico masses, and put it on the back page. 

As Bill wandered around looking at wall stickers, he was thinking about Sunday afternoon paintings priced at several hundred dollars, or maybe $500 max. He wasn’t ready for $3,500 on the bottom, and more than several paintings priced in the middle six figure range. 

When he entered my office and shook my hand, the conversation went something like this:

“Mr Fenn, you must really love art.”

 “No, art is a business to me.”

“You mean you just don’t, really, really love art?” 

“Listen Bill, my business is like most others, is the owner of One Hour Martinizing supposed to love dirty clothes?”

That did it, and we started laughing, me at me and him at him. The coffee discussion after that lasted more than an hour. He wanted me to advertise in his magazine, and I told him that his pages were too serious for me. He countered with, “what’s not serious about a $350,000 painting?” The repartee went on like that for a while, like two little kids playing in a grown-up sand box. 

When the December, 1978, issue of New Mexico Business Journal was published, it contained two stories about me. One was titled, “The business of art, and the other, “Money, not love. One sub-title read, “Santa Fe’s Forrest Fenn is a maverick in the art business, because he deals in art, not because he loves it, but to make money.” 

I always try to give writers something they can use.

And the editor put my picture on the cover. f

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Five…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Me and Bobby McGee

When I was a kid wandering around in the country side where Belton Lake is now, I found a little kitten. The poor thing was resting under a tree and looking lonesome, and forlorn. It had to be newborn because it was so small, and barely had its eyes open. I sat on a rock holding the animal for almost an hour, expecting its mother to come looking. She didn’t, and its loud meow told me it was hungry. So of course, there was no other option but to take it home. 

I’m not normally a cat type of person, at least not a small alley-cat type of person. But my sister June was, so she took over the motherly care duties. 

I named the cat Bobby McGee. 

As she grew, my father was the first to notice that this animal was different. Her back legs were longer than her front legs, which gave the appearance of walking downhill all the time. Her face was feral-cat like, but she had a bobbed tail. Her fur took on dark spots, and short stripes. And she stalked a lot, even when there was nothing around to stalk at. Bobby was half and half, bobcat and alley cat. Wow!

My respect for her magnified and suddenly I enjoyed hanging out with Bobby, and her, me. 

One moonless night, Bobby and I were in our front yard catching lightning bugs. A small porch light was the only movement that pushed some of the close darkness away. 

Then suddenly, there was a faint, far-away wail. Bobby froze in mid step. Me too, and I instinctively looked at her. Not a hair moved for the longest time. Then, again, distant and demanding, that same call…

Bobby McGee sprang, and her first step was at whirlwind speed. In a mega second she disappeared into the total blackness of night, and I knew she was gone. She had been summoned, and the totallness of her response said everything to me that I was eligible to know. That’s why I didn’t wait up. f

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Thirty Four…

scrapbook

November, 2019

 

Hot on the Trail

I don’t know how many books J. Evetts Haley wrote but I have 25 on a shelf in my office. I just counted them, and he wrote some that I don’t have. He was a staunch conservative, a western writer, a cattleman, and a great American. 811kFlVRBGL

There was nothing around anyplace that could scare Evetts Haley. When his book, A Texan Looks at Lyndon (the expose’ of Lyndon Johnson) was published, in 1964, Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States. Evetts distributed the book at midnight because the president was trying to charge him with sedition. 

Evetts was a severe book collector and the Haley Memorial Library in Midland, Texas, now houses his vast collection of books, paintings, and ranch memorabilia. When he saw John Marchand’s painting, The Trail Drivers of Texas, in my gallery, he liked it. When I said the painting was the frontispiece in a book by the same title, he liked it even better. 

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“Forrest,” he said, “If you can find me a first edition of the book, I’ll buy the painting from you.” The price was about $7,000 even then, so I started moving.

That was before the internet so I went to see my good friend and antiquarian book dealer, Fred Rosenstock.

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Bookseller Fred Rosenstock

He had a book store on Colfax Avenue in Denver. When I arrived, Fred was talking to a hag looking guy who had ridden up on a bicycle. His hair had never seen a brush or comb, and for lack of front teeth every time he smiled his tongue could see daylight. He handed Fred a book, and let me see if I can remember what Fred said.

“This is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, the cover is falling off, its full of foxing, and half the pages are crimped. I couldn’t possibly give you more than $4,000 for it.”

I just stood there with my face trying to look away. Had Fred lost his consciences? When the hag of a guy left, his face was wet, and I think his tongue was seeing daylight.

Later, Fred told me that it was a very rare and much sought after Colorado history book, and that after it was restored, he could sell it for twice what he gave. That was Fred Rosenstock, and everyone loved him because he was always doing things like that. 

When I told Fred that I needed a copy of The Trail Drivers of Texas, he paused, but only for a few seconds. “Follow me,” he said, and we headed for his “elevator.” It was the old kind where the driver had to close two iron screens and then throw a lever forward. Under perfect conditions the rickety thing would move up to the 2nd floor at about 1 mile per hour. 

Finally, the screens opened into Fred’s warehouse. It was the size a basketball court and was absolutely filled with dusty cardboard boxes. I was in another world as we waded through swirling dust, extinct spider webs, and Denver Post wadding papers that I’m sure dated to 50 years earlier. 

After about 15 rows, Fred turned left into a narrow corridor of boxes that were stacked 3 or 4 high. He put his hand on one, and looked at me. “Forrest, I haven’t opened this box in 25 years, but I think I found your book.”

And of course, there it was, the first one on top. Walking back to the elevator, we talked about Evetts Haley’s great book collection and I mentioned that it should be given to the Smithsonian – the elevator I meant. f