Sunday, November 22, 2009

You’ve heard of Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and even VIP, but have your heard of S. A. Wakefield? He wrote four children’s books, and we acquired one a short time ago. The lovely illustrations for his first book were created by Desmond Digby. We don’t know much more than that, and there isn’t that much available online. Here’s a photo of the first book, “Bottersnikes and Gumbles,” that he wrote and published in 1967. What do you know about this book, this author, this illustrator?

Friday, November 20, 2009


We acquired an unusual document titled the “Personal and Professional Memoirs of Forest Joy Pinkerton, M.D., F.A.C.S.” A large paperbound volume, its binding edge is taped and the pages are heavily tanned/foxed. An inscription and signature of the author are inked onto the top margin of the Preface, and original photographs are glued onto a few pages. (Photo of Preface, signed and dated by Pinkerton in December 1972.)

Information on Dr. Pinkerton is available online ( He was born in Lowell, Indiana in 1892 (died 1974), but eventually came to Hawaii where he stayed and made significant contributions to the community. Here’s the Memoir's Table of Contents:

Chapter I: Ancestry and Boyhood
Chapter II: Medical School
Chapter III: Professional Career
Chapter IV: Kahunaism and Old Hawaiian Customs
Chapter V: Leprosy (History in Hawaii, Father Damien, My experiences with Leprosy)
Chapter VI: History of the Pan-Pacific Surgical Association
Chapter VII: Chamber of Commerce Public Health Committee
Chapter VIII: History of the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Review of World War II, Office of Civilian Defense and Procurement Assignment Service
Chapter IX: 1953 Consultant’s Trip to Far Eastern Combat Theater
Chapter X: 1956 Far East Tour-Consultant, Lecture and Pleasure
Chapter XI: 1958 Trip to Medical Meetings & Personal European Tour
Chapter XII: 1961 Consultant’s Trip to Far Eastern Military Theater
Chapter XIII: Pan-Pacific Surgical Association
Chapter XIV: 1963 Mobile Educations Seminar
Chapter XV: 1967 European Tour

Dr. Pinkerton specialized in “eye, ear, nose, throat and larynx,” and beginning in 1918, he regularly treated the lepers at Kalaupapa on Molokai and at the Kalihi Receiving Station in Honolulu. In 1930, Dr. Pinkerton was appointed by Governor Poindexter to the first “Department of Lepers Hospitals and Settlement” devoted to the segregation and care of all leprosy patients at the Kalihi Receiving Station. Dr. Pinkerton’s memoirs describe the types of medical treatment available for leprosy and give a brief history of changes through medical research. Father Damien had died long before Dr. Pinkerton visited Kalaupapa, but it is fascinating to read the doctor’s observations and opinions from the early 1900s.

Another chapter in the memoir describes Dr. Pinkerton’s work in creating the first Blood Bank in Hawaii the importance of which was almost immediately evident with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Another interesting chapter is “Kahunaism and Old Hawaiian Customs,” based on Dr. Pinkerton's research and observations.

My object is not to belabor the numerous achievements and experiences of Dr. Pinkerton or review his memoir but to ask: what should be done with this document? The memoir is in delicate condition. If it warrants preservation, who should do that? Apparently the previous possessor of this memoir did not feel that they could keep it, so it came to us. If anyone has a suggestion or comment, please feel free to provide it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

USS Jeannette

Because I work in a used bookstore I recently discovered the fascinating story of the USS Jeannette, a ship that was privately owned but commissioned by the U.S. in 1879 for an expedition to the North Pole. Its captain, Lt. George W. DeLong maintained a detailed journal of the voyage, and based on this journal, the ship’s log and personal letters, DeLong’s wife published posthumously the captivating story of this expedition: “The Voyage of the Jeannette.”

According to Wikipedia, the Jeannette began its existence as the HMS Pandora, a gunboat in the Royal Navy. James Gordon Bennett, Jr. owner of the New York Herald purchased her in 1878. An Arctic enthusiast, he obtained the cooperation of the U.S. government in fitting out the ship for an expedition to the North Pole including new boilers and a massive reinforcement to her hull. Renamed the Jeanette, she contained the latest in scientific equipment. Her crew consisted of 30 officers and men, including the captain Lt. George W. DeLong, a veteran Arctic explorer, and 3 civilians.

On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette sailed out of San Francisco and headed northward to Alaska’s Norton Sound crossed the Chukchi Sea and sighted Herald Island on September 4. Soon afterward the ship was caught in the ice pack near Wrangel Island and for twenty-one months she drifted to the northwest towards the North Pole. DeLong’s journal details the daily weather, drift, land sightings, and so much more. Even while drifting, in May 1881 two islands were discovered and named Jeannette and Henrietta. In June, Bennett Island was discovered and claimed for the U.S.

On June 12, 1881, the USS Jeannette was crushed by the ice pack and quickly sank. The men on board split into three groups and began an arduous journey towards land. One boat capsized and sank. The other two boats made land but in different locations and then faced a long overland trek. The Jeannette’s captain, Lt. DeLong, and all but two men in his group perished; the third group eventually reached safety. The expedition that began in San Francisco on July 8, 1879, and the search and rescue following the loss of the Jeannette was scrupulously set out in two large volumes published in 1883, that include drawings, charts and maps (fold-out). A first edition published in leather in 1883 was followed by the 1884 hardcover illustrated edition shown in the photo.

I wonder about books so old that no one alive remembers the men or the expedition. Reading the book is like being transported to the cramped wood ship, stuck in the ice and not knowing where I am or if we will be rescued. For almost two years. This seems incredible now with our satellites and cell phones. But it’s all there in over 900 pages of fascinating detail.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Philippine Food

Today I’ve chosen to present a paperback publication in rather marginal condition titled “Preservation of Philippine Foods: A Manual of Principles and Procedures,” that was compiled and edited by Sonia Y. de Leon, Ph.D. Published by Phoenix Press, Quezon City, Philippines, the preface is dated July, 1966, and states in part, “Food preservation could alleviate the ever growing problem of hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines. …The object of this manual is to encourage housewives and students to preserve foods at home.” Included in the Appendix is a “Lecture Outline,” indicating that Ms. Leon, possibly used this book as part of the curriculum at the University of the Philippines where she was an Assistant Professor in the College of Home Economics. (Another interesting Appendix is a "Dictionary of Preserving Terms.")

The book sets out sections related to freezing, salting, drying, smoking, curing, fermenting, and canning of meats, fruits and vegetables apparently raised or grown in the Philippines. For those interested in the science of cooking Dr. Leon includes sections on sugar concentrates with a table of pectin content of some Philippine fruits, the pectin-sugar-acid ratio in jelly formation, the pH values of important food groups useful for canning, food spoilage agents, and chemical additives in preserving food. But, what intrigues me most about this 198 page paperback is the large array of local (Philippine) recipes. A sampling: Tapang Baboy (salting of pork), Chicharon (pork cracklings), Dried Sinkamas (some sort of vegetable), Tapang Baka (jerked beef), Burong Isda (fermented rice with fish), Longanisa (native pork sausage), Burong Mustasa (pickled mustard leaves), Papaya Achara (pickled papaya). Anyone who cooks, or who appreciates food preparation would enjoy perusing this wonderful book.

Online, Dr. Leon appears to be a Board Member for the Philippine Association of Food Technologists, and President of the Foundation for the Advancement of Food Science and Technology. Obviously, she is still active. However, I could not find a reference to this book online anywhere.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

1893 Chicago World's Fair

We recently acquired this lovely "Souvenir of the World's Fair," more specifically, "Souvenir of the World's Columbian Exposition" in photo-gravure, copyright 1893 by A. Wittenmann, New York. Of course, this is the Chicago World's Fair that Erik Larson featured in his book, "Devil in the White City." The Souvenir book's photos are in black and white and held together with a gold tassle (seen on the left) between soft grey boards. There is barely any wear to the boards--some on the very edges. The inside pages are tanned with age, but not otherwise marked, creased or dirty. The photo on the left was taken with a flash which darkens the grey but shows the still gorgeous gilt title over a detailed scene.
There were several publications around 1893, but we have found none available on the internet in either the condition of ours or by A. Wittenmann. As such, the 5" x 7 1/2" book is difficult to value. If you have any information on this item, we'd love to hear it.