Wednesday, May 22, 2013

And a Bookseller Shall Lead Them...

It is with pure delight that I pass on the news that Eric Papenfuse, bookseller, historian, publisher, and community activist, has won the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Harrisburg. Harrisburg has had it pretty rough of late, declaring bankruptcy in 2011, and even recently having its fiscal fiasco featured on a Planet Money segment on Morning Edition. I had coffee with Eric a couple of months ago and I asked him why? Why would he even want to become mayor of a city in such dire straights? He told me, "Because I live and work here. Look, all I wanted to do was make things better for the block where my bookstore is, but I began to realize that to fix my block, I had to start with the city." And I completely believe him. It's the kind of guy Eric is. We recently published a book on the little known Pennsylvanian, Mira Lloyd Dock, and Eric was so thrilled that this greatly under-appreciated figure was finally getting her due that he chose the book for for his monthly public radio sponsorship, then proceeded to sell it at or below cost in his store. There are other booksellers who sell below cost, but typically it's to destroy competition and grab marketshare. Here's a bookseller doing it to be able to teach his community about a neglected yet incredibly important figure in their own history.

He is a man of great intelligence and principle. And while he's only won the primary so far, he's got an excellent chance of winning in November. Congratulations, Eric. Harrisburg is really fortunate to have you, and the city has finally shown some real wisdom in this primary election.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Book From the Other Side.

About a month ago, the trucking company that my ex-brother-in-law used to work for tried to contact my nephew at work, but as he was not immediately available to the dispatcher for the police department he works for, the department operator transferred the call to my sister who works for the same office(it's Louisiana). The lady who worked for trucking company was trying to get in touch with my sister's children. Apparently my ex-brother-in-law, who had died a few years ago, had left 2 full pallets in storage that were about to be dumped because the trucking company was moving its location. The following weekend my nephew went to the company's warehouse to find out what was on those pallets. He called my sister from the warehouse and told her, "Mom, I think you need to come and look at this." So she went to warehouse, and to her delight, the pallets were full of lost or forgotten family artifacts. Piles of the kids' art works, homework, notes, letters, photographs, trophies, report cards—memories. He had saved it all. The warehouse supervisor told her that they were ordered to throw all of the pallet contents away. The supervisor, however, knew my nephew, as he worked for his father for a while before he died. So he let them take it all.

I was really sorry when my sister's marriage to him broke up decades ago, mostly for how hard it was on their kids, but it's really hard to be mad at him now. What an amazing story. What an amazing gift.

Here's a book they found among those piles that it seems I sent to my nephew when he was a toddler and I had just finished college. I'm embarrassed by the typos, but so glad this was rescued that I want to share it.

There's also this hilarious note from nephew to my sister.

Come on, Chris, just let this one go.

Thanks, Greg. RIP. Shipment Delivered.