Vol. 8, No. 2
Please note: As web publication of the newsletter often does not coincide with actual publication date, some outdated items have been removed. Please refer to the printed version of the newsletter for those articles.
MWBH Board Minutes and Financial Reports will be found in the Members only area.
Late Breaking News Via E-mail
MWBH member Richard Wunsch announced that Wooden Spoon Books, the oldest operating bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI will be closing in the very near future.They will be selling stock from Wooden Spoon Books, 200 N. Fourth Street, at deeply discounted prices. Hours are 10-8 Mon. thru Thurs; 10-9 Fri. & Sat; Sun. 12-6. Sale does not apply to Internet orders or to books at Volume I Books. For more information call Richard Wunsch at (734) 769-4775; or (734) 769-4956.
Expanded Hours for Future Chicago Book Fairs
As indicated in the minutes of our last board meeting, we plan to expand our semi-annual Chicago are book fair hours to day and one-half events, similar to our long standing Minnesota Book Fair. We are looking into establishing approximate 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday evening shows, in addition to regular 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday hours, beginning with the spring May 3-4, 2003 Loyola Fair. If we are able to do so, dealer set-up will be from about 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. The additional day / expanded hours should provide us with an opportunity to increase our fair attendance which will hopefully result in more sales for participating dealers. ~~Hank Zuchowski
The following booksellers have applied for MWBH membership:
West Side Bookshop
113 W. Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
They have been recommended by:
Tom Zimmerman, Plain Tales Books, Arlington Heights, IL.
Charles Spohrer, Autumn Leaves Books, Lansing , IL
Hank Zuchowski, Shaw’s Books, Grosse Pointe Park, MI
Dan Griffen & Cher Bibler
27 S. Sandusky St.
Tiffin, OH 44883
They have been recommended by:
John T. Glover of Glover’s Bookery, Lexington, Kentucky
Robert Brooks, Evanston, IL
Hank Zuchowski, Shaw’s Books, Grosse Point Park, MI
If you have questions or comments about the above applicants, please contact the membership Chairman, Darlene Spohrer, Autumn Leaves Books (708) 418-5620, or e-mail: SpohrerDA@att.net or write to 17813 Chappel Ave., Lansing IL 60438.
New Members and Returning Members
We welcome our most recently approved new member:
2910 W. Eastwood Ave, #1
Chicago, IL 60625
And a BIG Welcome Back! to a returning member, John Fort. John recently asked to rejoin the MWBH and sent in, all in one mailing, a completed application and all three required recommendations. We couldn’t welcome him back fast enough to the fold!
John J. Fort
502 Redondo Drive, Apt. 504
Downer’s Grove, IL 60516-458
Midwest Bookhunter History
For your information — I have asked newly-elected board member Carlos Martinez to take on the project of writing a comprehensive history of the MWBH organization, and he has graciously agreed to do so. The MWBH was organized more than thirty years ago, and I think it would be interesting for many of our current members to know of the roots and origins of our group and the fine people who were instrumental in its formation. It is my understanding that several earlier attempts were made to put together a history, but to my knowledge nothing was ever published.
Many of you, especially long time members, may have some early photographs, articles, newsletters, and the like relating to our group. Perhaps most importantly, a lot of you certainly have some recollections and memories which you may want to share. It is envisioned that the final product will include the typical chronology, statistics, and other elements you would normally expect to find in an organizational history. Also contained therein will be photos, interviews, comments, etc. from our current and retired members, especially those from original and long time members.
Following the distribution of this current MWBH newsletter Carlos will begin contacting members to arrange for both in-person and short telephone interviews which he will be recording to ensure accuracy. As Carlos goes forward with this endeavor, I would appreciate giving him your full cooperation and help. Please contact Carlos or the writer, if you have any questions or input on the matter. Thank you in advance for your assistance to this worthwhile undertaking. ~~Hank Zuchowski
Anne Leonard Obit
The proprietor of Anne W. Leonard Books in the Beverly neighborhood of south Chicago, Elizabeth Anne Waddington Leonard was born to Canadian parents, Dr. Guy and Winifred Waddington in Altadena, California on July 3, 1935. An alumna of the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, Anne received bachelor’s summa cum laude and master’s degrees in English and Classics from Radcliffe College ( now Harvard University). She also studies at the University of London and earned the equivalent of a second undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the University of Tulsa. While married to Tulsa lawyer John Arrington, Jr., Anne taught English at the University of Tulsa, was an officer of the Junior ??League, the Radcliffe Club, and the Shakespeare Club, and chaired the docent program at the Gilcrease Institute of History and Art.
Anne came to Chicago in 1974 with her marriage to Beverly native Thomas J. Leonard. While serving as a researcher in the anthropology department of the Field Museum of Natural History, she wrote a successful NEA grant proposal for a project which became the Field Museum’s 1980 Patterns of Paradise decorative tapa cloth exhibit that toured museums nationally. Anne collaborated extensively in the development of the exhibit, undertaking research trips to Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii. She also co-authored the exhibit’s comprehensive catalog with the Field Museum’s Dr. John Terrell
She served as President of the Chicago Radcliffe club from 1981 to 1983. In1986, her knowledge and love of books led her to open a used and collectible bookstore on West 95th Street. Over the next 16 years she became a Beverly neighborhood institution, reigning benignly over her small domain in a comfortable reading chair as her pair of cats, clownish “T.C.” and dainty “Miss Ink Blot,” enjoyed the comings and goings of customers and colleagues. A member of the 95th Street Business Association, an advisor to the Council Oak Montessori School, and a patron of the Beverly Arts Center, Anne was a cherished source of wisdom, information, and good conversation for friends, family, and community. — from Anne’s memorial service
Editor’s Note: Anne also served for many years as the Midwest Bookhunters Membership Chair.
Donation in Memory of Anne Leonard
MWBH made a $100 donation to the Chicago Humane Society in memory of recently deceased long-time member, Anne Leonard.
A Community Asset Passes On
By Carlos Martinez
The neighborhood of Beverly is one of Chicago’s most integrated communities, racially and economically. Here we may see Anfernee Hardaway of the Orlando Magic waving hello to TV news personality Mike Flanagan, or soon-to-be Philadelphia schools CEO Paul G. Vallas. Here, too, you may drive along Longwood Ave. and see great mansions and a transplanted Irish castle, then turn down 95th street and pass by The Holy Rood tabernacle and, a little further, some of the more attractive low-income housing in the city.
Beverly is culturally diverse, and takes pride in its several schools. Morgan Park Academy is there. So is one of the few community fine arts centers in the city. The public library branch is well-stocked and housed in two spacious carved stone buildings with their own parking lot. The literacy level is such that recently Borders saw fit to open a store on 95th near Western Ave.
But for decades Beverly lacked what anthropologist Ashley Montagu called “the poor man’s university;” it had no general secondhand bookshop. Moreover, aside from Hyde Park, not a single community in Chicago’s south side could boast such a shop. (The Modern Bookstore in Bridgeport limited itself to Socialist literature and thus served only a small, exclusive clientele).
Then in 1986, a local grandmother-to-be had the ambitious idea of opening a bookshop in a small storefront near the corner of 95th and Wood Street. She started, as every bookseller does, with her own stock, and slowly built a collection to serve all tastes and needs, one that would appeal to every ethnic group on the south side.
She gave it warmth by bringing in an easy chair, a carpet, and a cat. An antique library table by the window held a row of vintage and antiquarian volumes. She tried to make browsing comfortable by creating a judicious layout for her floor-to-ceiling bookcases — the walls completely covered by them — and a double row in the middle with another diametrically facing the front, in complete violation of traditional bookstore security layouts that demand aisle visibility from the front counter. In her shop a browser could truly hide herself “in a nook with a book.”
But Anne Leonard did not care much about such things. Every book in her store was accessible; even the scarce and valuable books she kept in another nook behind a low bookcase, upon two glass shelves hung on another wall, rather than in the standard glass-door-and-lock bookcase.
For Anne was a bookwoman on a mission. She was fully aware of the fact that she had Chicago’s only open secondhand bookshop west of the Midway Plaisance and south of the Loop, and that when she started out she was one of less than a dozen active secondhand bookdealers in all the South Side — Hyde Park included.
Her dream was to bring good books not only to her book-starved community, but to the entire South Side and the city beyond. With this goal in mind, she participated in the annual 57th Street Children’s Book Fair in Hyde Park, nearly always being the only member of Midwest Bookhunters to do so. She enjoyed the company of children, and loved exposing them to books. She was also to be found at the Printers Row book fairs, and of course, the bi-annual Chicago area fairs of the Midwest Bookhunters, whom she joined soon after opening her shop.
The visitor to her store entered a dome-shaped red cloth-overhung glass front to find a woman in her 50s relaxing upon a homey wing chair, sometimes with a furry house cat on her lap. She was ever ready with a smile and a “Welcome! May I help you?” If you sought conversation, she was an inexhaustible fount of anecdotes. Then she would encourage you to browse at leisure, and not another word would come until you had made the rounds of her shelves.
Those shelves were carefully filled with books of lasting quality. I was fortunate, in the seven or eight years that I visited her shop, to bring home a great many books that I read for pleasure and personal enrichment. They were not great rarities or opulent works of the binder’s and designer’s arts — her sources were primarily institutional book sales and her book-loving neighbors– but they all had some value culturally, historically, or spiritually. Given her community, she had one of the best Irish history, and Catholic theology collections in the city; but she also devoted entire bookcases to Foreign Literature, Black Americana, and Women’s Studies. Even her children’s stock — possibly the largest in any Chicago used bookstore, was meticulously chosen for quality of content, with many Newberry Award and Caldecott Medal winners.
During their visit to Chicago to research their Used Book Lover’s Guide, authors David and Susan Siegel were enchanted enough by her shop to describe it in their book as “The kind of place Christopher Morley might have felt comfortable visiting.”
Speaking of Christopher Morley , it was in Anne’s shop, I think, that I picked up his Letters of Askance, with his bookish essay “Bibliodisia” that gave the name to my firm. She had always stocked his books, although interest in his works had long waned. And it was there, seated next to her wing chair, that I picked up much valuable advice and encouragement which helped me get started in the trade late in life. Anne was always ready with a story or an experience that would make my visit doubly-rich as an educational experience.
As many of my fellow Midwest Bookhunters members know ( an organization I soon joined with her help), my wife and I are hard-of-hearing and have some trouble communicating with those we seldom see. But Anne was very patient with our “Ehs?” and “Uhs?” and “What’s thats?” and would repeat whole sentences as if frequent repeating were the most natural thing in the world. My wife Ofelia was particularly charmed with her grandmotherly demeanor, for she had been very close to my own grandmother when she lived
In the sixteen-odd years that Anne opened her shop from 10 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon ( so she could devote late afternoons and evenings to her family), Chicago was greatly enriched by her intelligent bookwomanship. She served serendipitous visitors with bookish surprises unavailable in even the largest public libraries, and therefore unobtainable and unknowable unless you have an active knowledge of the Internet book business, which few of them had. ( Ed: in more recent years, anyway). And she kept her prices low in fulfillment of Chicago bookselling legend Ben Abramson’s description of secondhand book buying as the poor man’s hobby
Her life was not without travails and disappointments, and one could detect this in a less than stylish appearance, her hair worn in a carefree style; an occasional faraway look and involuntary sigh at an unguarded moment, and in her frequent cigarette-smoking. This past July 31 she died peacefully in her sleep.
The easy chair in the little bookshop on 95th street will no longer welcome passersby seeking refuge from a wintry Sunday afternoon, and succor for a work-weary mind and spirit. A brief but wonderful chapter in Chicago book history has ended.
But for the many readers and book lovers who were privileged to enter that little shop with the red dome awning, the memory of a motherly figure welcoming them from her easy chair near the door will remain indelible, whenever that vanishing anachronism, the neighborhood secondhand bookstore, is remembered and cherished.
Editor’s note: Anne’s family reports that, for the time being, her long- time assistant, John Burnett, will continue to run the store in Anne’s name.
Book News from the North
Another bookstore closed. Sad words, sad thoughts. Another casualty of the economy, the Internet, the times, I guess. So very sorry to hear of the closing of Alkahest Bookstore. Evanston has gone through so many bookstore changes these past years — the passing of Dick Barnes and Connie Reuveni — it’s an era gone.
My book fair was a success in every respect except the attendance was down, especially the second day. Everyone loved the new venue. We have a bit of room for expansion, if needed. The “Air Conditioning” was more mental comfort than flat out cold. It will probably never get much better than what was shown, but it did help a little. The WCCO radio interview did take place a few days before the event. James Laurie, Jeff Marks, and I said our pieces, and the time, place, and everything was announced about 10 times over the airwaves. This station is the equivalent of Chicago’s WGN. Don Shelby was very helpful. He is the first media guy to ever help or even mention our book fair to the public. The usual Dingman luck with the weather once again came through. It was a delightful weekend — maybe too nice. The two day paid attendance was 1153.
Although we haven’t yet shaken hands on the deal, it would appear that John Dunning and I are again publishing together — this time a small printing of “Bookman’s Limericks” to be sold again at a series of book fairs. Minneapolis and Chicago, of course, will be among the sale sites. I’m hoping this will occur in 2003. Details to follow.
Summer is almost over, and I’m headed out west to visit the Sacramento Book Fair on the 28th . George and Mary Foster are exhibiting at it. (Ed. note: former MWBH members from Indiana, then Illinois, now transplanted West!) This particular book fair is the best one day book fair anywhere — well run, great exhibitors, beautiful venue, very dealer friendly, easy parking. It has it all — except lots of customers! ~~Larry Dingman