Congratulations to Tom Congalton, New ILAB President!

IOBA member Tom Congalton (Between the Covers) has been elected President of ILAB, the International Association of Antiquarian Bookdealers. Outgoing President Arnoud Gerits recognized him with these words: “Tom Congalton, over a long period of time, has shown his great commitment to the League and his concise, short but always accurate comments on various topics, his impartial but clever and clear judgements, and his capacity to quickly see and understand the essence of a problem, make him the perfect new President of ILAB. He has been a wonderful Vice-President and I owe him a lot of thanks for his unfailing commitment, support and intelligent contributions to our discussions. To continue the metaphor coined by Adrian Harrington in 2010: the Ship of ILAB is safe in the good hands of Tom.”

Books for the Reading: Legend of Baby Doe

by Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore

Light rain, cooler temperatures, and early morning fog comprise Oklahoma autumn. My summer togs have been exchanged for warmer wear: sweaters and wool socks. I’ve taken to reading biographies, too, in a return to nonfiction works.

Legend of Baby Doe: The Life and Times of the Silver Queen of the West by John Burke is not Oklahoma fare, however, but Colorado lore. Colorado had a share of curious and colorful characters, many of them connected with gold or silver as Colorado was rich in natural resources. The tale of Baby Doe Tabor — born Elizabeth McCourt (1854-1935) and later known as Baby Doe after her first marriage to Harvey Doe — remains fresh because it was so scandalous. Baby, after divorcing her first husband, met Horace Tabor, owner of the Matchless mine located near the small mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Horace Tabor had no finesse; he was 24-30 years older than Baby Doe (depending on which source is presented), and he was already married to Augusta Tabor. He was also wealthy. Soon Horace Tabor divorced his first wife and married Baby Doe. Horace and Baby Doe squandered their wealth.

Perhaps this biography, although it treats Baby Doe kindly, but with no punches, serves as a cautionary tale. Baby Doe’s life was certainly wild, as wild as the Wild West. And rather sad, too. I’ve seen Leadville, walked through the town, imagined the whispered ghosts of silver, and somehow it makes history live. Somehow, too, the same tales repeat themselves. The past cannot be undone, but there is always the future.

It’s time to enjoy Oklahoma autumn and perhaps, read a few more biographies, too.

Books for the Reading: The Complete Sherlock Holmes

by Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore

Autumn, with cool mornings, is a welcome respite from Oklahoma summer heat. It feels autumnal, somehow, although the tree leaves have not yet turned to vibrant red shades.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), begun last spring, and on summer hiatus, has commenced again. I read this book comprised of four novels and 56 stories many, many, many years past and now from the same book, I am reading them again. The book is a shade worn, and the dust jacket much tattered and barely survives. For all the book’s shabby appearance, it is much treasured, and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other volume; it is my book. Of the tales themselves, I didn’t remember them, but I remembered the sense of them, with the air of old-world about them and a grace to the words. I wasn’t disappointed on reading them again; they were both fresh and familiar.

In the tales, British detective, Sherlock Holmes (using critical analysis), and with the assistance of his partner, Dr. Watson, solved numerous and intriguing cases. Mr. Holmes was portrayed as cold and cerebral; Dr. Watson as warmer and more congenial. Although all the tales are remarkably similar in tone, the first Sherlock Holmes tale was published in 1887 and the last in 1927 – a span of not quite 40 years. I am sure there are those who insist that Sherlock Holmes; and his partner and chronicler, Dr. Watson, were actual people, and that Sherlock Holmes did indeed live at 221B Baker Street.

Since that time, there have been numerous variations, updates, and modifications upon the Sherlock Holmes themes. However, the original stories remain better than the changes since that time. There is no improving the original tales.

My battered, personal volume of The Complete Sherlock Holmes will continue to remain greatly cherished. So, it’s time to finish the last of the tales for a second time, reflect on the past, and greet the future. Sherlock Holmes has returned, at least for me, and so has autumn.