I’m New Here…Week Eight

April 5, 2019 by  
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Perhaps the most significant thing I have learned in my weeks here is that I don’t know much.  And, as that sinks in I feel an urgency to get to work, because there is so much lost ground to cover!  Even if Time stopped right now, it’s too late to catch up on the designations within mechanics, medicine, entertainment, science, culture, and everything else.  Yet, I am optimistic of gaining a bit of yardage as I spend my days surrounded by thin slices of information, accumulated at such quantities that facts could be (by someone math-minded) measured in cubic feet.

“What kinds of things are collectors searching?”  That was my early question, and I see now how gracious everyone was with their oft-repeated, non-committal replies.

People are looking for issues concerning as varied a range of topics or content as there are human beings. Early motorcycle polo matches had me perched fifteen feet skyward, balancing five volumes — each of which is half my height and wider than I can put my arms around.  The issue I was seeking had some key content of wide appeal:  Capone and his gang.

Mobsters are popular.  So are serial killers and crime sprees.  I skipped right over the portions of The Devil in the White City that dealt with the monster Henry Howard Holmes, and was instead caught up in the achievements of the human mind as exhibited in the Chicago World Fair.  Here in our annals we have issues of Scientific American that feature Thomas Edison’s inventions, as well as multiple innovations of the 19th century — some of which were presented at that 1893 event!  My mental censorship was so complete that I forgot  the gruesome killings described in Erik Larson’s book altogether.  But many people, for a myriad of reasons, are fascinated by details of historical mayhem.  Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and Jesse James‘ headlines still hold mass appeal.

But in this case, the Detroit Free Press of 1928 contained something more valuable to some than the headline “Capone Pal Slain”.  The back page photograph of a group from Yonkers was the treasure I unearthed for a research request.  Scheduled to ship today, that paper will replace a photocopy in a transportation museum — which seems a very appropriate destination for a Michigan publication.

Motorcycles, motion pictures, mobsters, and murder…those are a few things that interest collectors, and after this week things of which I now know a very little bit more.

Post Script:  And, as I was reminded by email, there is a world to observe beyond the “m” words — including last week’s glance at suffrage -SRW

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