History of William H. Allen, Bookseller, 1918-1997

by George Allen

Most book stores start very modestly and ours was no exception. My father began what is now William H. Allen, Bookseller, Inc. in the wilds of Berks County at his father-in-law's home on the Pricetown Road. He was an A.B., A.M. from Columbia College and had worked for Oxford University Press from 1906-16 and then for F. C. Stechert, a New York bookseller, for two years, as he tells us on the first-page of his catalogs, when he decided to go out on his own. He issued his first catalog in November 1918 at R.F.D. No. 1, Temple, Pa. It consisted of 28 pages of books, about 425 titles in all, with the most expensive one priced at $8.00. The average book cost between $3.00 and $4.00 though there were many for thirty to fifty cents too. They were actually the books in his own library which he used to start the business. They were all in the field of the humanities: English, Classics, French, German, and philosophy. His next catalog, issued in March 1919, was a catalog of "New French Books at 'Pre-war Prices.'" Apparently he wasn't able to get material for a catalog from the Pennsylvania Dutch inhabitants of the Pricetown Road and came across a collection of recent French books. It was probably the first and last catalog of French books to be issued in this country. His next catalog in May reverted to the humanities in general: "A catalog of books of intrinsic value." The one exception is a section of "Shaviana," books relating to George Bernard Shaw to whom he was addicted.

My father was a man of many prejudices and he soon began interlarding the titles with some of them. Under Clara Morris's Stage Confidences he adds: "most actresses are indeed confident, if not confiding," a gnomic statement which must have puzzled many. Under Charles Rann Kennedy's play The Idol-breaker he says: "There is a fine portrait of the only man who understands the play," a tribute to its obscurity, I suppose. Under "Shaviana" he says: "If you would understand Shaw, read Archibald Henderson's book: it is so thorough a piece of creative analysis that one must pause and consider who has the greater energy--the author or the authorizer. But it likewise destroys our illusion of G.B.S. as a Mephistophelian mountebank." On Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra he says, "Why aren't Nietzsche's works suppressed for daring to suggest that the world should be ruled by those able to do it well?"

After issuing four catalogs in Berks County my father realized that a dirt country road leading to his store would never supply enough books to sell and the surrounding inhabitants of small farms would never provide him with sufficient clientele to continue his business there, so he decided to move his custom elsewhere. The house where he began his store has, however, become famous not only for being the original location of William H. Allen, Bookseller. It was also the birthplace of its third owner. My mother always used to return to the family home when she was having children as they had "Rural Free Delivery."

My father issued his first catalog in Philadelphia from a house across from the University of Pennsylvania at 3413 Walnut Street. The title-pages of his catalogs are loaded with his prejudices and the text interlarded with some. "It has been rumored that the price of the Loeb Classical Library would be raised again, to keep them within the reach of everyone." H. T. Stephenson's Shakespeare's London is called "an enlightening book that makes Shakespeare almost plausible." A caustic note on Mark Twain's King Leopold's Soliloquy. "It is hardly to be hoped that the Belgians whom the Germans ruined were those who had tortured the Congo Natives."

One of the advantages of a bookstore at this period was that it was a place of leisure. The store owner, in between chatting with the customers, would prepare a catalog and answer the mail. My father enjoyed talking with many of the faculty at Penn who also sometimes bought a book. To spend his time fully my father took an occasional course at the University in philosophy or some other subject of interest. For the rest I suppose he thought up what remarks he would put below in his next catalog. Under a book described as "Lacks flyleaf, a bit loose," he says "Accuracy in description surely makes a catalog sound like a hospital report." Above one series of entries he puts, "Poetry of recent years, some of it in verse." He was a hater of Woodrow Wilson and a lover of Teddy Roosevelt. Under the latter's National Strength and International Duty he adds: "Roosevelt, you should be living at this hour." Occasionally he took to verse: "An imagination is a dangerous thing: stick to the facts, let not your thots take wing." I might mention that he spelt "thoughts" as "thots," being a lover of George Bernard Shaw and his eccentric spelling.

In 1925 my mother decided to bring the whole family down from Alsace Township and they bought a store with residence above it at 3345 Woodland Avenue. This building had a dining room, kitchen, and living room on the second floor with bedrooms above, but the living room was soon taken over by books so that the dining room and living room became one. The house had been jerry-built during the Centennial in 1876 when West Philadelphia began to be settled and was just half a block away from the University of Pennsylvania. From here my sister went to Girls High School and later Swarthmore, my older brother and twin and I to the local grade school, then Central High School, and later to college. There was a certain element of cultural change we had to make on the move. My grandfather was an M.D., a doctor. When we came to Philadelphia we were introduced to my father's friends, Dr. Campion, Dr. Baugh, Dr. Van Deventer, and others. When we asked them for advice on some medical problem, they replied that they were not that kind of doctor. Whenever my father asked us to meet any other doctor after that, we would ask if he was "a real doctor." We soon discovered that there was a difference between our grandfather and these.

My mother brought in a new element to the store since she was a graduate of Swarthmore College and Drexel Library School. She added to the quality of cataloguing because she introduced library methods and had a beautiful hand while my father scrawled like his youngest son. She introduced order into a business which had been rather haphazard. The store actually became my father's and my mother's living room where they worked, often until 9 at night, entertained, and lived. Indeed we have retained to this day the card catalog my mother improved on and it occupies a prominent place in our store. We have a file of all the books the store ever sold. We put the name of a person who wants a book on the card and retrieve it when we get another copy, thus selling many of our books without listing them in a printed catalog. We are noted among book stores for this practice. Recently we quoted a book to Haverford College which it had asked for in 1960--and they took it. Normally, however, we don't quote books after about fifteen years.

There was a fire-place at the back of the store where my parents often entertained with tea. They loved every minute of it. After times became bad they still issued three catalogs a year but depended on the university for much of their business. I recall my mother saying that once they didn't get any orders for two weeks after they issued a catalog, times were so bad. They began slowly to get a few valuable books and no longer listed them at thirty or fifty cents. One-fifty to five dollars was more the norm. A sixteenth-century book might go as high as $25.00 or $50.00, especially if it was early sixteenth century. Seventeenth century editions were still very cheap: an Elzevir printing might bring as little as $4.00. It was a period when age really didn't count for much since there were still so many early books around and small demand. Indeed I recall in 1950 buying a book printed in 1496 in East Berlin for $10.00. A refugee dealer from New York had asked the man to reserve it for him while he thought about it. I thought about it very quickly and took it. Only within the last twenty or thirty years have such books gone up in price.

After a while my father developed aphorisms which he placed at the foot of the pages of his catalogs.

And so on. Unfortunately his mind sometimes became too brilliant and he often made people angry. Being a New Yorker (actually a Brooklynite) he was apt to look down on the rest of the country. Since my mother went to Swarthmore College it was diplomatic for him not to call her a Swarthmoron but he might sometimes refer to Bryn Mawrons when they would have preferred being called Bryn Mawrters. It was probably their Quaker influence.

In the early thirties my father developed myelogenous leukemia, a cancer of the marrow of the bone, and for three years his health went down. Then in 1935 at the age of 51 he died and my mother took over the business by herself. With only one man to wrap packages and her children to help out occasionally she bought books, carried them in, catalogued them, and prepared the catalogs by herself. It was an awful burden but she was determined that her children would have a college education as their grandfather and great-grandparents before them had. She worked day and night, at the same time preparing the meals in the evening. It was grit that pulled her through, sheer determination that upheld her while we were all going to high school and college.

Then a blow befell her that at first seemed a catastrophe but later a blessing. By 1941 the buildings all about us had been torn down and finally our building was condemned too. We were forced to move. Fortunately she got in touch with a real estate agent who got her to buy the building we occupy today, 2031 Walnut Street, for $8,500.00 if I recall correctly. Today that price seems extremely low but at the time we thought we would be in debt for the rest of our lives paying for it. I had just joined the business after graduation from Haverford College in 1940, having studied, Latin, Greek, French and German and Hebrew, so that I was able to help with all the details of moving, putting books on the shelves, and even down to typing the catalogs which kept us in business. Wilman Spawn remembers the first day of our moving, Valentine's Day 1941. He and other students helped us to move and were rewarded with ice-cream after the event. People often wonder why, when they come into our store, the Latin and Greek books are at the entrance. When we moved we had the largest quantity of English books and they were put on the opposite wall which was larger. The Classical books, being many but not so many, were put on the left where they are today. We are probably the only store in the world where you first come across the Latin and Greek Classics and have to look for English literature.

I was slowly learning the business when in March 1943 I received a letter from President Roosevelt himself, saying, "The President of the United States to George R. Allen, Greetings." It was the first time that I realized he knew of my existence. It seemed there was a war going on in Europe and Japan and he needed my help. This meant that again my mother had to run the business by herself. She could have brought in someone to help but being an individualist she preferred to maintain the store by herself.

My own Army career was unique for anyone in any business. I served in Military Intelligence (an oxymoron, according to Bruce McKittrick) with the 101st Airborne Division and ended my active career with Counter-Intelligence at Berchtesgaden, making such discoveries as no one else ever made. My first was the extant fragments of Hitler's "Lagebesprechungen" or "Military Situation Conferences" which he held several times a day and which were taken down stenographically. These I found partially burned in a hole in the ground near Berchtesgaden. Then the aerial photographic coverage of the Crimean front, an area which our Air Force considered extremely important because our planes had never penetrated it. (They sent over a dozen C-47s to pick up the documents and take them to England.) Later I found a portion of the German Order of Battle of the Russian Army, documents which showed us how and with what the Russians fought. In private life I have never found anything of anywhere near the importance of any one of these. It was only during the war, at a salary of about $90.00 a month, all found, that I had such luck. The ability to discover rare books or documents of any particular value left me as soon as I was demobilized. I will not mention the people we arrested, or interrogated, excepting for a few, starting with Hitler's sister and a secretary, then his chauffeur who told us the story of Hitler's death and the circumstances around the disposal of his body. It was one of the most exciting things I was ever involved in.

In late November 1945 I was released from the Army and have remained in the book business ever since, a period of about 53 years in all.

In the early years of the business my father had bought several libraries, the best of which was the library of William Romaine Newbold of the University of Pennsylvania, a collection of Renaissance material. In more recent years we have bought many scholarly libraries but I will spare you the names of the owners who are now only a memory. A few of them were Albert C. Baugh, Rhys Carpenter, Roland G. Kent, and most recently Craig R. Thompson. We have made changes in our catalogs. We began with general catalogs but today issue lists on special subjects: Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages, England & America, Africa and the Orient, etc. We began making the catalogs larger so that instead of being from 28 pages to perhaps forty they have been extended to 70 pages. Over my mother's objections I insisted on numbering the items. Mailing the catalogs was a problem. We used a stencil machine on most envelopes but wrote a few by hand. Then we had to stamp each catalog and put them all in canvas post-office bags. Now the printer does all that, including putting on zip-coding, The computer has taken care of all these things.

In the early days we almost celebrated when someone phoned in an order from out-of-town. Slowly this began to change with the result that, when we were once able to consider the day settled after three deliveries of mail (yes, I said three), we are now busy all day. As soon as we come in we are greeted by E-mail, FAX, then the phone, and finally the mailman (once a day). And this continues all day without a moment's rest. Now when we issue a catalog, it is nothing to get several phone calls a day from England, Germany, Italy, Japan, and elsewhere. "There's no hiding place down here," as the saying goes.

As long as she was in the business my mother's greatest form of relaxation was to go downtown to the various bookstores, especially Leary's, but also to Joe Molloy, Jim Williams, Joe Rappaport, Al Saifer, and others, to buy books. This was her time for relaxation and above all buying. My father never went to Freeman's Auction House to buy but my mother, who was much more adventurous, discovered them and they became a great source of new stock, with their sales catalogs made by Joe Molloy and others. We began to buy library duplicates and get calls from out of town. On one occasion I went to Indiana, Pennsylvania (not Indiana, the state, as I told those who asked) to the state college there. When I arrived, I was first driven to the hardware store run by the father of Jimmy Stewart, the actor, and looked in awe at the Oscar he had won, displayed prominently in the front window, and then proceeded to look at the books. The owner had collected them some time after the Civil War and they had remained in the family ever since. I recall getting half-a-dozen 15th century books (called incunables) and taking them back on the train. I collated them and soon began to hope the train would go faster as I was in a race with death. We had a customer, Howard Goodhart, who bought them for the girls at Bryn Mawr College, and I knew he was near death. The first thing I did when I got them home was to look them up in catalogs for pricing and then offer them to him. One of my sources was a Maggs catalog of the early thirties with extremely high prices, printed just before the Depression. I then cut them down to a third and quoted them to Goodhart. He bought five of the books but pointed out that he had bought the sixth from Maggs for less. I couldn't anticipate that they would cut their prices by more two thirds and was a bit chagrinned. But we soon sold the book elsewhere.

One of the oddest collections we bought was from a man named Fred Santee from Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania, near Berwick, in case you don't know where it is. He had impeccable credentials, having graduated from Central High School, Harvard College and Oxford University, later becoming a doctor. At Oxford he didn't like to attend early classes so as an alternative he had to compose a hundred lines of Greek hexameter verse. In retirement in Wapwallopen he established a coven, or assembly of witches. We could see where they held their meetings. He took to doctoring again and collected books, largely classical or English but actually covering many areas, and built a special building for them. One day one of the local yokels set the library on fire because Santee was considered a witch. One of his vagaries was women in high-heeled shoes and I have brought along a picture of one such lady, along with a toy shoe that he had on display. The man was nutty despite such refined schooling. Most of our books come, on the other hand, from perfectly ordinary, sane persons. Wayne Radke and Ken Milano drove up with me in this case and we carted the books back in a van.

On one occasion we sold out the entire contents of a classical catalog to the University of Maryland. They were starting a Classical course and needed material in a hurry. On another occasion I typed a list of all the books we had in the field of English literature and we sold many of them to the University of Munich.

I often give as my reason for not attending sports events the claim that we have an agreement with all the teams in town that when they patronize us, we will patronize them. Actually this hasn't quite worked out. In 1929 Howard Emke, an Athletic who was famous as a pitcher for having nine strikeouts in a single World Series game came in and looked around with his wife for leather-bound sets. When my parents discovered later who these people were, they told us and we were impressed (but they were able to sell them nothing). The Emkes wanted only bindings which matched the other bindings in their library. They then went down to Sessler's where they found such books. For a number of years in the 1960's we were visited by Moe Berg, a man who played in the Big Leagues as a catcher in the twenties and thirties. He had graduated from Princeton in the early twenties and while his grades showed that he wasn't very good in languages, he maintained an interest in them all his life. He apparently slept in the Washington, D.C. station, and then early in the morning caught the train to Philadelphia, arriving at our store about 9 and spending the rest of the day reading books seated on a stool. He tried to regale me with stories of how he worked as a spy in World War II but I soon came to the conclusion that he was trying to give the impression that he was a spy when I couldn't believe it. I was in the Intelligence business myself and used to discourage his pretensions. He really had no money and was too lazy by now to work, having been in the OSS during the war. One day I took him to the Franklin Inn Club where he was recognized by several of the baseball addicts and this pleased him. Finally one day he broke down and bought a book for a dollar. It remains our only sale to a member of the sports world, justifying my not attending sports events.

In her early eighties my mother began to suffer forgetfulness and slowly this advanced into senile dementia. She no longer recognized even her family. Finally one day early in 1977 she died at home as she wanted it. We buried her with my father in a family plot in the cemetery at Kutztown, Pennsylvania. She had a long life and, while she had many trying years, she had many good years. She lived to see her four children successful and to see four grandchildren. That and the future of the store were all that she cared about in life.

In the course of the years we have had many customers and a few stand out for their oddness. One was W. M. Voynich who used to visit us in my father's day. He was a bookseller of Polish origins who worked variously in London and New York. My father claimed he spoke six languages, all of them with an accent. I recall seeing him sitting in a taxicab outside our store, chatting for a long time with my father. Although he lived in metropolises much larger than Philadelphia, he always took a taxi to our place because he claimed the crossing at 22nd & Woodland Avenue was the most dangerous in the world. We used to cross it as a matter of course. In the early part of the century he used to issue catalogs with books printed prior to 1500 (incunables) at prices varying from $5.00 to $10.00. Christopher Morley, a friend of my father's, visited us once or twice. Another strange visitor was Hans Felix Dresel, six feet tall and about as wide. He was a dealer in food extracts. He had come from Germany after 1924 and was now collecting, of all things, books on Egypt, most of which he never read. He had lost his teeth at the age of 16 and always had trouble pronouncing words. Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony always came out as "Juniper" Symphony, an icon as Ike Cohn. Mohammedans became Mohamujians. His worst pronunciation was the Duck and Duckess of Windsor for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. He could never distinguish between forty and four and if he had to write a check for forty-three dollars, he would write a check for thirty-nine dollars and give four dollars in bills. It was always necessary to follow him carefully to know what he was talking about. A hundred percent Jewish, he always looked like the typical Nazi leader and he was regularly denounced as a Nazi while his hundred percent Lutheran wife was regularly called the "nice Jewish lady" who was married to him.

Another was a man named Stanley Wemyss, known as "the Hollywood Kid" or, simply, "the Kid", for having once been an extra in some movie. He was born in Ohio with the name Oscar Hittel and since that name sounded like that of a prominent German political personage of his day he changed it to a purely Welsh name. His task was to steal books. He used to travel to the small up-state libraries of New York and abstract first editions of Melville, Poe, and other luminaries and sell them in New York. He was early caught stealing books at the Newark Library, not because anyone suspected him but because he looked like a minister and was watched for that reason since ministers of the day had a bad reputation for theft. He was locked up in the local prison for a few days and tried to commit suicide by tying a broken shoelace around his neck and hanging himself. This failed and he was left to spend much of his time in our store, looking out of the window and making observations on what he saw. He claimed to have coined the word "old dog" for any old book which was dog-eared and the words (if he indeed coined them) are sometimes used today. He once wrote a book on word usage which is now completely forgotten.

When people hear that I am in the bookselling business, they often want to know what finds I have made. I can confess to having made very few. In fact I did make two nice ones at Freeman's Auction House but not of a fabulous nature. One day I was looking at a dozen boxes under a table when I noticed a volume of religious pamphlets bound together. I flipped through it and found, among many items of little interest, a gold-rush narrative, that is, a description of the gold fields in California. I put it down at the bottom of the box and covered it over with a group of worthless books so that it would be protected if the roof caved in and went back to tell David Szewczyk about it. He then went with his young son and they bought the lot for (I think) $125.00. No one else had noticed it. He then stayed to guard the books while his son went back to get someone to help him carry them back. He sold the one pamphlet to a dealer for $1,200 and by working over the other pamphlets in the volume I managed to extract another $125.00.

On another occasion I noticed in some boxes that came from the local branch of the Roosevelt family a book of annual reports of the State of New York for the year 1928, inscribed to "My old, swashbuckling uncle, Col. Henry Roosevelt, from Franklin D. Roosevelt." At the time FDR was the governor of New York. I went back and told Katie Barnes about it and she went and bought the lot for a few dollars. As I recall it, she got $250 for the book and we got a few more dollars from the rest.

On another occasion Wayne Radke went to look at some books in a small Germantown library. He found a half-dozen items and as he was leaving noticed on the window sill a book with many pamphlets in it. The custodian said she was going to throw it out and told him to take it along. As he was bringing his booty back to the store he happened to work his way through the pamphlets and discovered, among the strictly religious material, a twelve-page account by an English criminal of his being sent to Australia as a convict. We tried to find a record of the book and came to the conclusion that it was unique. The man had returned, completely crippled, dictated his recollections, had them printed, and sat on pavements hawking the resulting pamphlet for a few pence for a living. It consisted of only twelve pages. Such items are really scarce. I wrote to the National Library in Perth, describing the piece and they refused to believe that it was real since they found no record of it. Then I sent a Xerox copy over Wayne's objections that they would settle for that. They cabled back to send it on for $2,000, registered. They wanted the original. I inserted it in a copy of the annual publication of the American Philological Society, figuring that this was so dry that if the plane sank with the book, it would still be preserved. When payment arrived I divided it three ways, with Wayne, the Library, and the store. I've never found anything like this in a family library.

One of our problems is occasionally buying stolen books. Some years ago a young man came in with two books that I was sure were stolen. I asked Ken Milano to go back and phone several of the stores in town while I kept the man in the store. He tried Bauman's and found that they had been stolen from a display case in their New York Office. They phoned the police and said they'ld be right out. When they didn't come, Ken noticed a policemen outside with his family and asked him in. He searched the thief and found several identity cards on him along with stolen Visas and Mastercards. Eventually the lady from Bauman's arrived and was able to identify the books. He was taken into custody and the next day Bauman's started proceedings which were soon dropped. After all, he had only stolen books, not jewelry or anything of value. We were rewarded with a basket of fruit and goodies by Mr. Bauman for our work.

That wasn't the case with another theft we were involved in. A lady came in with two rare books and said her mother was sick and she needed the money to pay for hospitalization. I looked them up an found high auction prices on them. In fact they were so out of proportion to their value that I didn't believe them. In any event I gave her $400.00 for them. Later a young man from a local print shop phoned and asked if we had bought them. I had to confess that we had and he came out right away to pick them up, saying that he would have his boss pay for them. The next day his boss phoned to say that he wouldn't pay for them since I hadn't paid enough for them in the first place. This was strange logic which I've never understood. Presumably if I had paid $1,000 for them, he would have been glad to buy them back. And I am king of England. All I told him was the word my commanding officer once used when we were surrounded by the Germans, namely, viz. and to with "Nuts." It doesn't pay to deal with such people.

Over the years we have had many customers but few of any distinction. For a while we used to get orders from Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister of Israel, but he is the only head of state we sold to. Anyone who thinks that Bill and Hillary and their like buy antiquarian books must have fallen out of a tree. FDR used to buy books on the sea and I imagine a few others did. On other occasions we have sold to Lincoln Kirstein, Bertrand Russell, and Digby Baltzell. Recently we sold several books to a senator from Virginia but that was an event. Such persons have many things on their minds but antiquarian books are not one of them. Years ago we sold several books to H. L. Mencken and recently to Umberto Eco, but for the rest our trade is with scholars and collectors and never to persons of distinction. You could probably make a goodly library of books published by customers of ours. But these are scholars, not politicians or business people. And we don't sell the very expensive books that are sometimes purchased by leaders of industry. We sell book books, not rare books, unusual books or anything high priced.

Since my parents and I have been familiar in various degrees with Latin, Greek, French, and German (I've forgotten all the Hebrew I ever knew), our catalogs have always expressed our interest in the humanities. We buy scholarly books on science, economics, and so on occasionally, but chiefly literature, history, philosophy and art.

Over the years we have had to follow trends. My mother believed that if a book was once good, it was always good and she never threw anything out. On the other hand I have seen books that we have sold in the past pile up on our shelves now. When I went into the business, Henry James was hard to sell. In the fifties and sixties we couldn't get enough books by or about him. Now Henry James languishes on our shelves. William Dean Howells was another good seller. Try to sell him today. Werner Jaeger's Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture was a set that every classical student had to have. Gilbert Highet's The Classical Tradition was another. Today we have many copies of them. They are out of fashion. Our store is full of books by authors who once were in but now are out: Shaw, Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, Faulkner, Stevenson and others. There are people who read these writers but never the number who used to. This requires that we be careful in our purchases and try to keep up with who is being read today and who isn't.

On the other hand it is possible to buck some trends. For years we have been noted for handling books on Greece and Rome. Throughout the years our best-selling catalogs have been in these areas. In October we issued such a catalog that had us jammed with orders for two months. Other catalogs sell less well but we are still successful with them, along with store sales which have increased. We pretty well monopolize the Latin, Greek, and Medieval fields, and also Oriental books, including the Ancient Near East. As I look back I consider these are areas we should continue to cultivate, along with English & American literature, history, philosophy, and art. Modern languages are out. Years ago we used to issue a modern language catalog each year and it did fairly well. Now I hesitate to issue another. I read recently that New York State University in Albany is giving up German studies, presumably the beginning of a trend. Imagine! One of the world's most distinguished languages and no wants to study it there. The only language with a future as I see it is Spanish and this is not because there is any special interest in the Spanish world. The reason is rather that students who have to study a language take Spanish because it has the reputation of being easier than any other. It is the only language any of my children studied and I am convinced that they took it only because they heard it was the easiest. Within the last few months colleges have begun to grant degrees to persons who need not even take Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton to teach English. To such a stand have we come!

For my part I love the book business. Mabel Zahn of Sessler's once called it the "world's greatest profession" and I've always agreed with her. We work day and many a night or weekend. Because of interruptions in the daytime, for instance, I have to put our catalogs on the computer at night. I won't even try to estimate how many thousand hours I've spent typing out such catalogs. Still I enjoy it though I sometimes wish I had more leisure in my declining years.

The computer may be the salvation of the business. David Szewczyk and Cynthia Buffington introduced it to us. Every one of my associates knows more about it than I, Wayne, Ken, Richard, Christine, and even Sung, our wrapper, but I still have some knowledge of it. At present we use it for setting up catalogs from our card file and for our mailing list and for bookkeeping purposes, but some day we will find a system and the energy to catalog the whole stock and issue catalogs at the drop of a coin. If anyone of you here tonight would care to put our entire stock of perhaps thirty-five thousand books on the computer. we will start now. In the meantime we are busy all the time. And we love it.

This club was founded by S. Weir Mitchell and I would like to close with a verse of his which applies to me as well: