2020 Collections – Mi Biblioteca
(Ignore May 1, 2017 publish date – this was published on October 1, 2020 )
During this pandemic, I’ve become REALLY sick of TV remote interviews where the subject is always posing in front of his/her home library to let the world know how much of an intellectual he/she is. It’s worse if that person is a recently-published author because a copy (or three) of their new book is always positioned within readable camera range – even though the interviewer has already been publicizing it and waving it about for all to see (new PPE = Product Placement Excess).
Not having an elegant book depository in my apartment, I guess I’m safe from being interviewed on TV anytime soon. Besides, what would I hold up for the camera – my blog posts?
I’m just not that much of a book reader (though I do read a lot). That probably stems from Catholic high school, where the school year never ended thanks to mandatory summer reading lists that you would be tested on in September. A family member was very surprised to learn that I never yearned to “sit down with a good book” and that I didn’t even own a library card.
I DO own books, but not the kind one would put in a cohesive library suitable as background for remote TV interviews.
It’s a really varied collection that I…………..wait a minute – did I just use the word, “COLLECTION”?
Oh, goodie! An excuse for another collections post!
Where to begin?
First off, sometime earlier last month, I somehow burst a blood vessel (I think) in my right eye, so that was the inspiration for the eye-for-an-i image in the above photo (I think my eye looks rather patriotic). The red vanished naturally within a week (and without Visine!).
As far as organizing this mess, saving the best – i.e. most interesting – for last is always a good idea, so let’s get an old favorite of mine (history) out of the way first because there’s a LOT of it.
Having been the moderator of the Bergen County Historical Society’s forum a while back, it helped to have a little knowledge about many of the county’s 70 municipalities, so I have a couple of books about some neighboring towns. With the exception of the first one, I’ve lived in all of them.
New Milford, NJ
Ridgefield Park, NJ
“Teaneck, NJ Forty Years of Progress”
“The Story of the Township of Teaneck” – a bound, typed 1941 master’s thesis at the University of New Hampshire by Evelyn C. Sloat
Included with this thesis is a separate, 3-page handwritten and typed family-tree of hers (I imagine), who came from Holland in the 1600s and whose last name originally appears to have been Slot. Many of them lived in or were born in Hackensack, NJ during that century and the next. Some lived in Teaneck. Somewhere along the line, there was a slight change to their surname.
One of the children grew up and moved “northward into New York State” in the mid-1700s. Now we know where the name of Sloatsburg, NY, came from:
Another Sloat – John – who commanded the Navy’s Pacific Squadron, wound up claiming California for the US in the 1840s. Sloat, CA, was named for him:
Aside from a small note where she crossed the “b” instead of the “t”, there’s a lot of interesting information in this thesis:
This the 8-9-01 receipt for the above two publications:
“The Huguenots On the Hackensack” (1886)
(Schraalenberg is today’s Dumont, NJ)
This loose image was contained within. I added a slightly-more-readable blowup of the image’s title:
“Hackensack, New Jersey”
This interestingly-bound publication was put out by The Bergen Evening Record newspaper. There’s no publish date within, but there was a mention of Hackensack’s population being about 12,000 at the time, so I found a chart of the city’s population through the years and I estimate that publication was somewhere around 1905:
Some included information about the paper:
(this is the same newspaper I delivered as a paperboy in the early 1960s)
One of the included book images:
This is a mere speck compared to the massive conglomerate that the hospital is today.
“The Home Afloat or The Boy Trappers of the Hackensack” (1908)
I read this book with the unwieldy title several years ago. It was interesting to read about making a living by setting traps for muskrats in 1865 where the Meadowlands Sports Complex and the New Jersey Turnpike are today and then making their way to New York City to sell the pelts. There was a lot more to this book………….I really need to read it again.
Every time I saw this book for sale, it was always a red cover. One day, a blue one popped up, but I have no idea why. There’s no mention of a second edition or anything like that. Everything in it is identical to the red one…………except for ONE little thing………..the author signed this one:
(HAD to get it, right?)
“Every Teacher’s Problems” (1922)
The only reason I bought this book is because the author was the Superintendent of Schools in Hackensack. Never read it, but if I ever do, you probably won’t know about it (or care).
“The Night We Stopped The Trolley” (1969)
As I recall, it was a good book about…………..Hackensack…………the Great Depression…………..trolleys………….(another book I have to read again).
“The Hackensack Water Company 1869-1969” (1969)
The HWC was not even based in Hackensack, but Hackensack’s in the title, so I bought it. Never got around to reading it (it sounds just too exciting).
“The City of Hackensack – Three Centuries of Prosperity 1693-1993” (1994)
This was put out by the City of Hackensack to celebrate the city’s Tricentennial. Shown on the cover (and in my 6” piece) is Oratam (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oratam). He is on the Hackensack municipal seal and policemen’s shoulder patches.
“Looking Back – A Photo Retrospective of Bergen County” (2001)
This was published by The Record newspaper. While not strictly about Hackensack – the County Seat – it does contain an good assortment of old Hackensack photographs.
Of course, I picked out two non-Hackensack pictures that I liked. The Table of Contents page shows a picture that brings back a LOT of memories for me: the same year, the same ton of snow to trudge through with the exact same, overstuffed, heavy carrier bag of newspapers………………
I hadn’t seen the next one before, but it’s a great shot of the under-construction George Washington Bridge with the Palisades and Bergen County behind it:
“Hackensack – A Pictorial History” (2004)
There are a LOT of images in this book of old Hackensack postcards I used to own, but the proceeds from sales of the book went to a good cause – the Hackensack High School Blue & Gold Scholarship Fund – so it was worth purchasing.
“The Faces of Rackensack” (1972)
The Mighty Palisades
“The Palisades of the Hudson” (1909)
This is probably an enjoyable book if you’re REALLY into the Palisades, its formation and its history. The are many old black-and-white photos of the cliffs and surroundings and this 58-page book also includes a four-page foldout showing the Palisades Ridge profile from Jersey City, NJ, to Piermont, NY.
I found this illustration of the geological formation of the Palisades Ridge and nearby areas from the Hackensack Meadows to the Harlem River to be slightly interesting:
I’ll bet you’ve never heard of Manhattan Schist before.
This is a publication of the Bergen County Historical Society – one of many (number four from 1907-1908):
And this was found inside the front cover:
“A Postal History of Bergen County” (1940)
From the people most-qualified to do this – the Hackensack Philatelic Society
“Washington and His Army in Bergen County” (1957)
Published by the Bergen County Bar Association
Washington was quite active in Bergen County and the story of his retreat from Fort Lee is quite fascinating. If not for his burning of “The Bridge That Saved a Nation” (over the Hackensack River about 2 miles from where I live), we might all be speaking with British accents today.
“Bergen County Historical Society Papers” (1960)
Found inside the front cover:
“Turkey Feathers – Tales of Old Bergen County” (published 1974, copyright 1963)
by Rosa A. Livingston
This is a great local history book for kids (I found a yellow Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum wrapper near the back of it that appeared to be used as a page marker. I’m keeping it there.). Mrs. Livingston was the founder of the Paramus Historical and Preservation Society. She writes that – in the Indian language – “Paramus” means “land abounding in wild turkey”, hence, the book’s title.
“Public Service Railway – Bergen Division” (1994)
As moderator of the site of the Hackensack city historian, I’ve been involved in lots of questions/discussions about the trolleys that used to run through Hackensack and this book – with its pictures and maps – has been a godsend in figuring out what existed (and where) pre-1938, when they last existed here.
The eastern end of one line was the Edgewater Ferry Terminal, which sat at the foot of the Palisades on the Hudson River. Tracks had to be carved into those high cliffs from the top in Fort Lee to bring the trolleys down to where the commuters could catch a ferry to get to Manhattan. The back cover shows a small example of what had to be done to accomplish this.
The State of New Jersey
“Know Your Own State”(1925)
The inside covers show maps of the top and bottom halves of the state:
The content in the 48 pages not only lists just about every attraction in the state back then, but it also shows three pages of Lubrication Charts for just about every make of 1923-1925 car that existed then – most of which you’ve never heard of. Here’s one of those pages:
Driving a tractor instead of a car? No problem – it’s got a Lube Chart for you too.
“This is New Jersey” (1953)
Comprehensive look at every county and region with illustrations and photos that – for the most part – I don’t think I’ve seen elsewhere.
The dust jacket’s a little raggedy, but everything else is fine.
“Interurban Interlude” (1968)
It tells you right on the cover what this book is about.
“New Jersey History” (Winter 1971)
Put out by the New Jersey Historical Society, this is a bit stuffy for my taste. Unfortunately, the most interesting thing I can find about this book is the stamp on its front cover:
According to Wikipedia:
Wirths Campus in Wantage (1978–1992)
Upsala (College) sought to expand and acquired a 245 acres (99 ha) tract of land in rural Wantage Township in Sussex County in northwestern New Jersey for the construction of a second campus which was called the “Wirths Campus.” Upsala did not erect any academic buildings on the property, and in these formative years held classes in existing buildings. But when the school closed down in 1995 and the school’s assets were dissolved, the Wirths family bought back their farm in Wantage from the college for $75,000.
But they had a college library in existing family farm buildings?
“New Jersey Fall & Winter Guide” (1992)
This is VERY rare. It was put out and quickly recalled. I have two of them.
Can you figure out why it was recalled? (This should make for interesting comments……….do you dare?)
“Teenage New Jersey 1941-1975” (1997)
The Contents page tells you what this book’s about:
“Images of America – Around Fishkill” (NY – 1996)
In 1968-69, I lived in a motel in Fishkill for 3 months and an apartment just up Rt 9 in Wappingers Falls for 9 more. I’m always interested in wherever I’ve lived, so I snuck this one in.
19th-century Chemistry Books
As some of you know, I had a whole other career before I threw away my degree to jump into the music photography life, and that degree was in…………chemistry.
The longest and last job I had in that field lasted for over 6 years (out of a total of 13+) and that was as non-teaching faculty at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ, where I ran the 6 Physical Sciences labs (various Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science lab classes), 2 experiment prep labs, 1 reagent room and my office………for the night classes.
This was a much better deal than doing it for the day classes because I didn’t have to deal with the full-time professors who would still see me as their student. The part-time adjunct night professors had no idea what was going on, so I really felt like I was running the show. AND there were no Friday night classes, so I only had to work 4 days a week.
I got along really well with one particular adjunct professor – a much older, elegant and funny man named Morris Waldstein. He lived in Teaneck, right across the street from the school where I went to kindergarten. It turns out that I had been in his house many times in my youth because I was friends with his son, Arnie, who was also on the same Little League team as I. In my “Collections/Recollections of Teaneck” post, there’s a team photo that we’re both in.
Between classes, Morris would hang out in my office because we always had great conversations and – probably, mainly – because he was a pipe smoker and I let him do that in my office.
One day, he told me that he was thinning out his library and asked me if I’d like to have some really old chemistry books that his children weren’t interested in.
He wound up giving me four schoolbooks that were from 1836(!), 1875, 1884 and 1899:
The 1836 Chemistry book
Despite having had its cover replaced with something that looked WAY too new – this was the most interesting of the four books because it was the most primitive:
Here’s the most extreme example: y’all know what a Bunsen Burner is and looks like, right?
Well, maybe a little more like the bottom one than the top one.
Look what they used in 1836: pans of burning charcoal! Call………….better yet, create……the EPA quickly!
The 1875 Chemistry book:
The 1884 Chemistry book
Lots of interesting illustrations in this one………….
A Chemist’s Work Bench:
I have a fascinating illustration to show you, but it requires a setup. I scanned the page that has the relevant information on it – a story about balloons – and blacked out the non-relevant text. The illustration demonstrates what was done with that information and ends with a Magic Lantern. If you’re not familiar with that term, read this after viewing the below images: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_lantern:
A 19th-century darkroom (I still have my 20th-century one and am forever waiting for that call from the Smithsonian):
What a dreadful old method of bleaching cotton and linen goods:
So THIS is what they did before the advent of icebreaker ships. Looks dangerous (“We’re sorry, ma’am. Your son was killed by a flying ice cube the size of a truck.”):
Looks gorgeous and uncontrolled, but at least there were no flying, truck-sized ice cubes:
How come I didn’t have ANY cool images like these in all of my chemistry books? This is the only picture I have of some of them:
Oh yeah – I forgot something from that 1884 Chem book. It belonged to a high School in Union City, NJ. Students who were assigned the book for the school year were supposed to write their name, date and teacher’s name in it. No one did until someone I know decided to do something about that.
I had to censor one of the words, so let your imagination run wild…………but whatever you do, don’t EVER come in contact with his copy of “Military Arms of the Republic of Kenya”!
1899 Chemistry Book
Not much excitement in this book. At least they got Bunsen Burners before the century ran out:
Fun 70s Reading
After all that science and math, I needed something more lively and up-to-date.
When I was a kid and my mother got mad at me – which was fairly frequently – she’d give me the four-fingered salute (“Ball Four” – take a walk!). Years later (sometime in the 70s, I think) – because I was a big Yankees fan – she gifted me with a best-selling book written by Yankees pitcher and former local boy (Ridgewood, NJ) Jim Bouton. It was titled………………..“Ball Four”.
Guess what book I STILL haven’t read yet.
One odd note: when I was setting up that picture so that the cover was somewhat open to show there was no writing on it – i.e., missing its dust jacket – I grabbed the first thing that was handy to prop it open. After realizing what it was, I HAD to take a picture of it:
In another post titled “The Signature Collection” I wrote the following:
There was a guest on the Uncle Floyd Show in 1984 called The Amazing Wid, who would bring in a million unrelated props and use them in a funny word association bit.
Davy Jones of the Monkees was also on the show that day, so I grabbed one of Wid’s props – a humorous 1962 book called “The Monkeys”, which was about monkeys who were to work in an olive grove in Provence picking up olives – and asked Davy to sign it.
He seemed to be very concerned that I thought this book had some connection to his band and made sure to write “The Monkees” under his signature, so I wouldn’t be confused (uh, thanks for clearing that up, Davy).
I’m proud to announce that after 36 years, I’ve finally read the book: my first about African monkeys in France who picked up olives that fell from olive trees.
I also read the book about every New Jerseyan’s “favorite” turnpike and had contacted one of the authors about who could have written what’s on the inside cover:
That mystery has yet to be solved, but I’m happy to say that I’ve become friendly with both authors of the book, who are professors at Rutgers, New Brunswick, NJ.
I’ve written in this blog twice already about this gentleman and his book, so I’ll just say now: Go here – https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=2561 – and scroll about a third of the way down the post to read all about it (it’s right after “Octopups in Outer Space” and uses the same below picture):
“A Landscape For Modern Sculpture – Storm King Art Center”
This is a GREAT place to visit and photograph, as I did in 1993. You can see some of my shots and read the story on http://bobleafe.com/ (Enter “Storm King” in the search box, check the “Search Descriptions Also” box and hit “Search”).
“The Almanack of Poor Richard Nixon” (1968) and “Smokey Stover – The Foo Fighter” (1938)
I have these two little (3.5” x 5.25” and 3.5” x 4.5”, respectively) books displayed together in my living room. For the most part, they’re unread (though I HAVE browsed the full-page, one-panel comics in Smokey’s book).
Exposure to the sun has robbed Smokey’s front cover of most of its vitality, so I’ve included the spine and back cover images (which I’ve perked up a bit):
Smokey Stover was a beloved staple in newspapers’ comics sections when I was a kid, so I HAD to get this book. I’m not aware that this particular Poor Richard was a beloved anything anywhere, so I had to get this book too for contrast.
Two more images: Smokey’s title page and the only image in the Poor Richard book – one that you may not have ever seen before:
I wonder how many fans of Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters know about the original Foo Fighter.
“Keeping Up Appearances – Hyacinth Bucket’s Book of Etiquette for the Socially Less Fortunate” (1994)
Since this was the only British comedy I could fully understand and get into, I thought this book might be an interesting extension of the show.
It’s a dreadful read…………stay away. Imagine viewing every episode – more than once – and then having to read EVERY single word you just heard. Everything here so far (I can’t image finishing it) is what you already know by heart.
What would be the point in continuing?
(Saving the best for last) Music-Related books
“My Name Is Love – The Darlene Love Story” (1998)
I don’t know any music fan who doesn’t love Darlene. Her voice has mesmerized me since the early 60s. She’s a big part of what I consider to be the best Christmas album EVER: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (1963).
And look who’s standing above the rest.
I referred to this book on my site:
“Me, The Mob, and the Music – One Helluva Ride With Tommy James and the Shondells” (2010)
This is one helluva story and if you’re not aware of it, get this book! Still not convinced? It’s gonna be a movie: https://variety.com/2019/film/news/tommy-james-biopic-me-the-mob-and-the-music-development-1203271345/
This man, who wrote 90 bazillion hits that you know and love and that have been covered by everyone and their grandmother, continues to put on a great show and STILL isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! That omission makes it Tommy’s second encounter with criminality.
Maybe that story will be in the next book: “Me, the Mental Midgets Running the Hall, and the Music”.
“Life” by Keith Richards (2010)
A must-read if you’re any kind of a Rolling Stones fan because – besides the truckloads of tidbits included about the Stones and their formation – you also learn a lot about dozens of other people in his circle that you were aware of, but perhaps only barely so.
Thank you, Lorraine, for bringing this book to me.
“Let It Rock!” (Volumes 1-5) by Seth Mallios and Jaime Lennox (2015)
I’m gonna finish up with a publication I probably won’t read from covers to covers (there are 5 volumes), but I certainly have (and will continue to) peruse because it’s a TON of history………….and all from one school: San Diego State University.
It’s their ENTIRE (and very active) concert history from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s – a decade for each volume.
Other than for 5 or 6 hours one day in 1988, I have no connection whatsoever with SDSU, but as a result of those few hours, I have an entire page of my work in the 1980s volume. Sounds like a lot, but it’s only two pictures.
But what pictures they are! (he says modestly)
SDSU was the first stop on a 3-days-in-a-row mini-tour I did with Guns N’ Roses in California on February 8, 9 and 10 in 1988.
Before the show, I did an outdoor shoot with various band members (excluding Axl) after their road manager told me to first find a good background………….at a college………….for THIS band?
Not an easy assignment, but I found this amazing mural where I wound up taking the best shot of Slash I ever took. Years later when I created an online booklet about my career, I put this photo – out of all the ones in my 100,000-image archive – on the cover.
During the show, I took a shot of Axl that I consider my best image of him. AFTER the show, I found Axl in the school basement quietly playing a piano and got to take some VERY rare shots of that.
QUITE a good photo day!
Of course, all of these images and more are on http://bobleafe.com/ (you know where).
SDSU and I stayed in touch over the years and when this project came about, I got an email from co-author Jaime Lennox regarding their potential use of the two really good Slash and Axl shots and the deal got done.
The result is on page 287 of Volume III (The 1980s):
If the caption is too small to read, it says, “Slash posed before the show in front of Mario Torero’s mural on the ground floor of the Aztec Center, and Axl snarled during the gig on the stage of Montezuma Hall. Photographs courtesy of Bob Leafe.”
This rather large (10” x 10” x 4”) and expensive ($200) set is displayed in my living room. I’m glad they sent me the whole set instead of just Volume III. It’s fun to read about all the incredible history that I’m not aware of from a university on the other side of the country and then all of a sudden see a page that I created just from being there once for a couple of hours.
If you’d like to read more about the project and its authors, go here:
La biblioteca ahora está cerrada.