Wednesday, November 16, 2011

1933 in Germany and in America

An older brother of mine sent a book to me that he thought I’d find interesting; and what I found tucked inside it really interested me!
by Charlie Leck

Have you ever heard of the Roycrofters? How about Elbert Hubbard?
No? Neither had I.

Here on my desk I have a copy of an old book (1923) by Elbert Hubbard that was published by “the Roycrofters at their shops in East Aurora, Erie County, New York State.” It’s quite handsomely bound in a three hole style that is then threaded with a ribbon and tied very tightly on the top cover. The front and back covers are semi-hard and the pages themselves are done in an elegant paper. The type-set is splendid and extremely readable. The page design is a bit crowded and awkward, but, afterall, this is a scrapbook. (I will try to take some photographs of the book and include them here for those of you who are bibliophiles.)

In the Foreword, the publishers (who I am sure is Hubbard himself) writes of the contents and purpose of the book (or scrapbook):

“When Elbert Hubbard was storing up in his Scrap Book the fruits of other men’s genius, he did not contemplate a volume for publication. He was merely gathering spiritual provisions for his own refreshment and delectation.”

The book (scrapbook) that Hubbard then presents is jammed full of some of the most remarkable quotations of some of the world’s finest writers, artists and thinkers. Like, this one, for instance:

“It is great, and there is no other greatness—to make one nook of God’s creation more fruitful, better, more worthy of God; to make some human heart a little wiser, manlier, happier—more blessed, less accursed.” [Carlyle]

Now a whole blog needs to be written about these Roycrofters and their remarkable compound in East Aurora. I will get to that one day very soon. The book includes a series of photographs of their compound that included a printshop, a chapel and an inn. All this is intriguing and we will have to (must) know more about these fellows. Stand by for a report.

However, I write today about a little treasure I found within the scrapbook – tucked away within its pages! A copy of a 1933 New York Times story was folded away neatly inside the book. When I withdrew it and tried to unfold it, it, of course, cleanly broke apart at each of its folds. So, I had a little jigsaw puzzle to put together. I did; and I found a section eight story about the government’s success in increasing crop production of all kinds in the agricultural states of the union (The Farm Relief Record). This, I remind you, was 1933 and the nation was still deeply mired in a lingering depression.

Bored with this story, I turned the page over and put it together again. There I found intriguing stories that gave ominous hints about what was happening in Germany. Women were being cleverly forced to learn factory work; that is, to take over the roles formerly played by men. The men were in training for different work (not mentioned in the article); that is, the work of invasion and dominion and building secret weapons of war. Hitler, the article says, disapproves of women displacing men in these jobs and vows to fight against it. So, the women don’t like it and Hitler doesn’t like it and, yet, it continues. Clever deception! The world was not yet sure just what was going on in the mind of a lunatic!

Another story pointed out that immigration flows into America were down and it was because of the high rate of deportations of unlikeable characters and criminals and spies and general ner-do-wells and immigrants who had just plain failed in America because of the depression – “the flow of migration is reversed!” Also being deported were illegal aliens who had smuggled themselves into the country. The estimates were that 400,000 illegals were living in America at that time.

What goes around comes around!

What a lovely morning with one single page of the New York Times from 1933 (November 12). My sister would have been only two weeks from her third birthday. My brother, Frank, who sent me the book, would have been only two weeks old. My mother and Father and their two children would have been living in the Bronx and struggling through the hard times.

“Whatever strengthens and purifies the affections, enlarges the imagination and adds spirit to sense, is useful.” [Shelley]

“God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages.” [William E. Channing]


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