Friday, March 7, 2008

R. Dunaway, Books: A Reminiscence

The popular stereotype has it that book collectors and booksellers are an odd lot. In my own experience, I have found many book collectors and booksellers to be about as ordinary as are any group of people who share a particular interest or fancy. Most people’s interest is just that – an interest - while only a few fanatics carry things a bit further. Take sports fans, for instance. Clapping and cheering during the game and high-fiving after a victory is just a brief interlude in most fans’ otherwise pedestrian life. But there are a few who allow their lives to become engulfed by their love for their team. Bare to the waist in frigid winter weather, their bulbous bellies and bald pates painted in their team’s colors, these fans decorate their homes with team memorabilia and populate their closets with clothing bearing the names and icons of their sporting heroes. Book collectors and booksellers look remarkably normal in comparison with these loonies. But it is true that the ranks of book collectors and booksellers include a healthy complement of unusual and interesting characters. Reginald Patrick “Pat” Dunaway would have deserved membership in this group. I first visited Pat’s small bookstore around 1970, the year that I had moved to St. Louis to pursue graduate studies at Washington University. My lifelong love of the writings of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) had burgeoned into an obsession, and I had started to build a library of Mark Twain first editions, biographies, critical works, and anything and everything I could find about this great American humorist and curmudgeon. My collecting had led me to ask the Washington University campus bookstore to special order copies of the volumes in The Mark Twain Papers that were being published by the University of California Press, a series that has progressed so slowly that I feel confident that I will not live to see its completion. At that time, the Washington University bookstore was located in the basement of Brookings Hall, the University’s imposing administration building that had originally been built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. It was most amazingly cramped, with barely room to turn around. Finding an item on a lower shelf required a near-Olympian degree of gymnastic skill. I loved it. As I was checking out one day with a stack of Mark Twain related items, the clerk noticed my interest and asked me if I’d ever visited Dunaway’s bookshop. “He probably would have some things that you’d like,” the clerk opined. “He specializes in literary biography and criticism.” I was living in an apartment just west of the campus, and Dunaway’s shop was a few blocks northeast of campus, so I strolled over to check it out, walking up Skinker Blvd. and turning east on Delmar Blvd. Of course, I walked past the shop without seeing it, and had to backtrack. To my surprise, the address that the campus bookstore clerk had given me had no identifying information on it whatsoever – no signage, the Venetian blinds closed, and the door locked. I was able to peek through the blinds and saw books, so I figured that I was in the right place. Finally I noticed a small business card taped to the inside of the window on the door: “R. Dunaway, Books, ABAA”. I almost turned and went home, figuring that the store was closed, but on a whim I knocked on the door. A minute passed and suddenly someone peered through the blinds at me, scowled, and the door was unlocked and opened just a crack. “Can I help you?” the man asked in a tone of voice that revealed that he was really hoping that he couldn’t help me. I timidly responded, “I’m interested in Mark Twain books. Would you have anything?” “Well, I suppose so, sure,” he said. “Come in.” I walked – rather, squeezed – into the shop. It was a very narrow storefront – maybe fifteen feet wide. There were just three rooms altogether, each small and each jam-packed with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The aisles between the shelves were quite narrow, and maneuvering through them was complicated by the fact that there were numerous waist-high stacks of books on the floor. The front room was about fifteen by fifteen feet, as was the room behind it – the back room was a very small work area where Pat packed orders for mailing. While Pat was polite during this first visit, he was also obviously discomfited by my presence. I was to learn later that his business had been for a number of years almost exclusively mail order, and that he had little or no carriage trade. So unbeknownst to me, I was a bit of an intruder. I don’t remember much about that first visit – I think that I bought a few inexpensive books, but I was rather intimidated by Pat’s manner, so several years passed before I returned. In 1972 I moved for a year to Chicago for my internship at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital. By this time I had become a bit more knowledgeable and sophisticated about the ways of the small bookseller, and I visited many shops throughout the Chicago area, as well as visiting in the homes of dealers who did not have a shop. By the time I returned to St. Louis in 1973, I felt a lot less intimidated by the eccentricities of booksellers. By coincidence, the tenant who had occupied the apartment in St. Louis that I rented upon my return had left behind a couple of shelves of books, so I called Dunaway to see if he would be willing to purchase them. I remember dropping off several boxes of books, with Pat indicating that he would look them over and give me a price the next day. He was decidedly cooler to me this time, because over the year in Chicago I had grown my hair to pony-tail length and a large Fu Manchu mustache graced my upper lip – he didn’t approve. I returned the next day, expecting to be offered ten or fifteen dollars. Much to my surprise, he offered me much more – I don’t remember the exact amount, but it very much exceeded my expectations. Seeing my surprise, he explained that most of the money he was paying was for a rare Jack London first edition, The Turtles of Tasman. He showed me the book, and I was once again puzzled – there was a date on the title page, but the copyright page listed the copyright as being 1914 by “The Currier Publishing Company”, and the date on the title page was 1916. Pat patiently explained that the earlier copyright date was for a periodical appearance, and pointed out the clues that I should have been able to use to recognize the book as a first edition. Thus began a pattern that persisted for the next ten plus years – me learning and Pat teaching. Reginald Patrick Dunaway was born in a small town in Illinois. He graduated from high school and entered college at the University of Missouri, graduating with a degree in Classical Studies, a course of study that uniquely prepared him for a life of bookselling. He also took some coursework at Washington University – wherein lies a story. Pat was telling me one day about his experience at Washington University during the World War II years, and he described a professor who had really touched in him a responsive chord. This professor, Pat said, was a truly great lecturer, who brought the subject matter alive in a way that no other professor had done. He couldn’t remember the professor’s name, but almost offhandedly mentioned that the professor had brought to class one day a beautiful book that he had written and published in England on medieval paving tiles. “Pat!” I exclaimed, “That was Loyd Haberly!” Pat looked pensive for a moment. “Really, Pat, that had to be Haberly,” I persisted. Loyd Haberly had gone to England in the 1930s to study at Oxford University under a Rhodes scholarship. He became interested in fine printing, and set up his own Seven Acres Press – he later became the controller of the Gregynog Press. During his sojourn in England, he became enamored of the Medieval paving tiles that he saw throughout the country, and wrote the book that Pat had described. When he returned to the U.S.A. he came to St. Louis where he continued to print a few books, although the books he printed in St. Louis were quite undistinguished when compared with those that he had produced in England. “Well, I suppose it was him,” Pat agreed, showing little of the excitement that I felt at the discovery – perhaps he was chagrined that he hadn’t put two and two together to recognize Haberly as this admired professor, since Pat certainly was well aware of who Haberly was and about his St. Louis connections. After college, Pat went to work at the old Neisner’s dime store chain. He was a lifelong bachelor, with no encumbrances, so he was free to go wherever his fortune led. He became a management trainee, and worked as an assistant manager at Neisner’s stores in Washington D.C. and Detroit (I think that he may have also worked in Philadelphia and maybe one or two other cities, but I mostly remember him talking about living in Washington and Detroit). He finally ended up back in St. Louis where he left the Neisner’s chain and went to work in a used bookstore in the old Gaslight Square area in St. Louis in the early 1960s. At some point, around 1965 or so, Pat formed a partnership with an acquaintance (I think someone related through marriage) who could offer a modest amount of financial backing, and began his own book business. It was an apropos time for someone like Pat to be starting a used book business because this was the period of the great university library boom – Sputnik had frightened Americans, who believed that the U.S. was falling behind the Russians. So the colleges and universities across the country ramped up their resources, and this included major additions to library collections. Pat, whose interest was primarily in scholarly books, was perfectly fitted to respond to the need for such books in university libraries, and he issued lengthy catalogues of books that were snapped up by acquisitions librarians across the country. Unfortunately, as with all booms, this one went bust, and the library business dried up. By this time, Pat had bought out his partner and was operating the business as a sole proprietor. He lived within the constraints of unbelievably modest financial requirements. Pat lived with a sister in what had been his parents’ home, just a few blocks away from his shop, so he had few housing expenses. He did not own a car – indeed, he did not have a driver’s license. He spent seven days a week at his shop, working, reading and listening to music, often into the evening. So he was able to survive the downturn in the library business without great difficulty, selling books to readers and collectors, and responding to want ads in AB Bookman’s Weekly. He lived a Spartan life, with his one indulgence being a morning breakfast at the Parkmoor restaurant on Clayton Road and Big Bend Blvd. He was such a regular that he didn’t even have to order – he just walked in and sat down at the counter, and the waitress would automatically bring him his food. I once saw Chuck Berry eating dinner at the Parkmoor – I stood behind him as he was checking out, and I particularly noticed how enormous his hands were. I don’t know what this has to do with Pat Dunaway, but I am always reminded of this chance encounter when I think of the Parkmoor, now sadly defunct. In the mid-1970s my bibliophilia had become somewhat omnivorous – I was always much more a reader than a collector, and I was curious about many things, so I bought books on many different subjects. I was buying first editions of authors that I liked to read – Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck, etc. Many of their first editions were quite affordable at that time, so I was able to build a pretty nice collection. I also read widely in history, literature, drama and the arts. My interest in printing and the private press began when Dunaway sold me a copy of Colin Franklin’s book, The Private Presses. And my interest in Mark Twain never waned. Of course, with this broad range of interests, I had frequent need to drop by Pat’s shop and browse. Gradually Pat and I ramped up our conversations, and it became commonplace for us to spend entire visits simply talking about books. Pat had an endless supply of tales to tell about his experiences, his customers, book-buying trips (which he only rarely did by the time I knew him), and wonderful purchases of private libraries. Pat was the kind of person who devoted himself completely to pursuing his intellectual interests. He read about the bookselling trade voraciously, and subscribed to all of the periodicals in the field. He also subscribed to the book auction catalogues from auction houses, maintained a complete run of American Book Prices Current, and had a remarkable collection of bibliographies, mostly focusing on author and subject bibliographies. He also maintained a card catalogue of most of the books that he had ever bought – many, many file drawers of these cards, upon which he recorded the information necessary for listing the books in his catalogues, as well as the names of the purchasers of the books and dates of sale. There were few books of any importance that you could bring into the shop that Pat wouldn’t be able to research using only his own bibliographical resources – his shop was like a bibliographical Google. Having such a wealth of bibliographical resources was a double-edged sword, however. Pat definitely had a touch of the obsessive-compulsive personality about him, and he would sometimes pursue bibliographical information to an almost absurd degree. He might spend an hour researching obscure first edition points or other factors associated with a book that he knew he would be pricing at as little as five or six dollars. But the time that he spent in these activities never factored into his valuation of a book. He was not pursuing the bibliographical details for the purpose of increasing his sale price – he was pursuing these details for his own edification and amusement. It was like solving a puzzle or mystery for him – like a game, almost. He was never happier than when he had ferreted out a detail that most booksellers would have overlooked, or have found unimportant or irrelevant. Pat was also very meticulous about packing books for shipping. He would take an inordinate amount of time to protect books from damage, and virtually never had anyone return a book due to rough handling by the US Post Office or United Parcel Service. He would have been shocked by the careless packing that so many internet booksellers engage in today. When I first knew him, Pat also had an enormous interest in baseball. A friend, who usually helped him make book-buying house-calls, was a guy named Leroy Thompson. Leroy was also obsessive about baseball, in addition to being an expert on firearms and military matters. Pat and Leroy would engage in lengthy trivia contests to see which one could stump the other on a baseball statistic or obscure fact. I remember Pat telling me once that he could name the starting lineup for every team in every World’s Series ever played. I came in the shop one day after having been to one of my younger son’s t-ball games. Laughingly, I told Pat that I had seen a play that I thought he had probably never seen – an unassisted triple play. Pat immediately told me how many times unassisted triple plays had occurred in the major leagues and who had turned them! (For those who want to know, the only players who are in a position to turn an unassisted triple play are the second baseman and the shortstop. There must be runners on first and second base, and the runners must both be running on the pitch. The batter hits a line drive to the second baseman or the shortstop who catches it to make the batter out, the fielder steps on second base making an out on the player running to third, and then the fielder tags the runner running from first. I suppose that a third baseman could do it with runners at second and third as well.) Pat was a living embodiment of the Baseball Encyclopedia. Another interest of Pat’s was opera. He absolutely loved opera, to the extent that he wanted to have a recording of every opera ever recorded. When he reached that goal, he amended the goal – now he wanted every recording of every performance of every opera ever recorded! Needless to say, he had a huge collection of LPs of operas, and had a very nice hi-fi outfit in the shop. When I would drop in on a Sunday, he would often simply be sitting at his astonishingly cluttered desk listening to an opera. Some years later Pat became interested in early recorded music and old records, and he ended up with a gigantic collection of old 78 RPM records dating back to the early 20th century. He bought a special turntable that was specifically designed to play these old records. One treasure trove of old records involved me, and nearly killed several of us. A very large collection of 78 RPM records had been donated to the library at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Pat was approached about purchasing the collection, and he jumped at the opportunity. The company that I was working for at the time had a truck, so I borrowed the truck one scorchingly hot summer day, and Pat and I and another helper drove over to Edwardsville to pick up the records. Do you know how much thousands of 78 RPM records weigh? A lot. Way too much. We loaded the truck with the records, and started back to St. Louis, but the weight was too much for the truck, and we had to stop several times to let the overheated truck cool down. I don’t know for sure, but I think that the poor truck was never the same after that trip. To make matters worse, Pat was renting space on the second floor above his shop, and all of those boxes of records had to be carried up a long flight of stairs to be stored. I just about had a heat stroke before we were done. Like the truck, I think that I was never the same after that day. An odd paradox about Pat was his mixture of openness to new ideas and his attachment to old times and old ways. He loved the popular music of the early 20th Century, but he detested all contemporary popular music. He loved old movies, but hated most modern films. He was always learning, learning, learning, but his mind was closed to almost all aspects of what might be called “pop culture”. Pat, at a fairly young age, adopted the plaint of the aged: the world’s going to hell in a handbasket. I found it baffling. He had to know full well that the belief that the younger generation was such a lost cause that they would probably bring about the end of civilization as we know it was a conclusion drawn by each succeeding generation. Yet he still felt this way. Perhaps the most baffling belief was his firmly held conviction, expressed to me on many occasions, that the cause of this impending doom was Woody Allen and the Beatles. He despised them with a degree of venom that was downright frightening. He somehow felt that Woody Allen and the Beatles had influenced culture in America to such an extreme and devastating extent that disaster was just around the corner. I was never able to extract a coherent rationale for this belief, but he held it nonetheless. Pat was one of the most well-read people I ever met. He had read much of the classical material that an educated person of previous generations would have been expected to have read: Pliny, Macauley, Gibbon, Aristotle, etc. But he read much more widely than just that. He is the only person that I have ever known who had actually read Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust in its entirety (the book is now often referred to as In Search of Lost Time, or more commonly, simply “Proust”). He read and was familiar with the major works of most of the important 19th Century British authors (Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray, etc.) and many other authors from America and around the world as well. In addition, he would occasionally dip in depth into a minor writer who caught his interest. I remember once in particular that he read through a complete set of the novels of Eden Philpotts, an early 20th Century British author who is largely forgotten today, and was pretty much forgotten back in the early 1980s when Pat read his books. But Pat realized that if an author was very popular during his own time (which Philpotts was), there was probably a good reason for it, and his books were probably worth reading – Bulwer-Lytton and his ilk excepted. He was also not at all averse to reading modern avant garde writers, and had read people like Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Kerouac, and other modern writers. He had read James Joyce, including such very difficult books as Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, both books that I find unreadable. Not Pat – he read and enjoyed them. I tended to be someone who would read particular authors that I liked in depth, but did not read a wide variety of authors. Pat read both in depth and widely – in depth if he really liked an author or topic, but widely to broaden his perspective. Pat and I also shared an interest in periodical literature, and we read journals and magazines avidly. This included both the periodicals in the bibliophilic arena, as well as literary or popular magazines. I subscribed, for instance, to several boxing magazines (The Ring, Boxing Illustrated), and I would let Pat read them after I was done with them. It might seem odd that a couple of bookworms like us would be interested in boxing, but we were. I was particularly interested in the history of boxing and the early bare-knuckle days. Pat, of course, had read the classic 19th Century books, Boxiana and Fistiana, but I never got an opportunity to do so. Pat subscribed to the Bulletin of the New York Public Library and other library publications. We both got The Private Library, American Book Collector, and others of that sort. Pat was one of those people whose reading is omnivorous and whose knowledge is encyclopedic – he reminds me of Henry Morris, the proprietor of the Bird & Bull Press, whose inexhaustible curiosity has led him also to seek out knowledge and information with a frenzied zeal and unquenchable appetite. An interesting experience was to talk with Pat about something that he did not have a lot of knowledge about – he would become like an information vampire, sucking from you every drop of knowledge that you might have. Henry is the same way – if he wants to learn something from you, you better be ready to give it up, and give it up quick, because Henry will just whale the living bejesus out of you until he gets what he wants to know out of you. It is both exciting and challenging. It’s important to note, though, that Pat’s erudition was not gained for the purpose of intellectual snobbery – another similarity with Henry Morris. He didn’t flaunt his knowledge, or try to one-up people with it. He sought knowledge and read extensively as a response to his own personal desire to know and to experience. If you wanted to have a conversation with him about a topic with which he was familiar, he was happy to do so. If not, well, he was happy to be modest about it and keep it to himself. The only exception to this was in the pronunciation or use of words. If you mis-pronounced a word, he was highly likely to correct you – he was equally likely to praise you if you correctly pronounced a word that was widely mispronounced. I remember particularly once when I used the word “primer”, in the context of talking about a book of basic instructions regarding something, and correctly pronounced it with a short “i” rather than with a long “i”, as the word for the undercoat of paint is pronounced, although spelled the same. Pat immediately noted that I was the first person in a long time that he had heard pronounce the word correctly. Similarly, I remember him looking at me askance when I mispronounced the word ‘halcyon”, a word that I had never heard pronounced and so was ignorant of the correct pronunciation. Those few exceptions aside, Pat was a person who hid his light beneath a bushel, as the biblical saying goes. Never full of himself, Pat would generously share his knowledge when asked, but would not otherwise impose his erudition on others. St. Louis was a pretty good book town in those days, although it had been even better during the 1950s and 1960s. Like many big city department stores, Famous Barr in downtown St. Louis had a rare book department in an earlier day, and was in a position to have a very nice inventory. But even without these places to buy books, there was a nice smattering of shops in St. Louis, small and large. Downtown was A. Amitin, a very large shop on multiple floors run by a true character, Sam Amitin (he used the name “A. Amitin” so that he would be the first bookstore listed in the Yellow Pages). Sam would prowl the shop, constantly giving everyone the hard sell, repeatedly calling out “I’m the source – ask me your questions” – he was much more the salesman than the bookman. I remember him once picking up a copy of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls to show me, and pronouncing it a first edition. I looked at it and informed him that it didn’t have the letter “A” on the copyright page, which was the point that differentiated the first edition from the huge book club edition that had been published of this very popular book. He looked at me shrewdly and said without a pause, “Oh, you mean the real first edition!” Sam always said that the books in his shop were worthless – his salesmanship was the key to his successful business. There was also a nice small shop like Pat’s down on Olive Street just a block from where Lindell Blvd. and Olive merged. The proprietor, an elderly gentleman, lived in a little area in the rear of the shop, separated only by a curtain. Later another shop opened on Delmar Blvd. just a block from Pat’s. The proprietor was a young man who came to a sad demise. He was walking his dog along some railroad tracks, and his dog suddenly dashed in front of an oncoming train. He tried to save the dog, but fell under the train’s wheels himself and was killed – the dog escaped unharmed. There was a small shop in Maplewood, another in Webster Groves, and a few people who operated out of their homes, most notably Anthony Garnett, who had the wherewithal to have a truly spectacular stock. I remember the first time that I visited him, he asked me what I was interested in, and I told him that my main interest at the time was the private press. He said, “Oh, well here’s a copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer in a Roger Powell binding – is that of interest? If not, I also have a Doves Press Bible.” After I peeled myself from off the floor, I let him know that those kinds of books were out of my league. He did have many, many private press books that I could afford, and I bought many books from him over the years. He was British, and did not hold American first editions in high regard, pricing them at amazingly low prices – I got a fine first edition in a dust wrapper of Johnny Got His Gun from him for ten bucks! Sometimes even British books were priced low too, depending on Anthony’s personal judgment of their literary value. He had a set of British first editions of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, in fine condition with dust wrappers, and like a fool, I didn’t buy them because they seemed too dear at $35.00 per volume. I feel suicidal every time I think about that opportunity missed. Complementing these bookshops were wonderful library collections at Washington University, St. Louis University, the Mercantile Library and the St. Louis Public Library. St. Louis was an embarrassment of bibliophilic riches. Dunaway’s was still the mecca for me, though. It wasn’t long before I was stopping by the shop once or twice a week on my way home from work. After a year or two of this, Pat made me a proposition. He said that he thought that I was knowledgeable enough about what kind of books that he sold that I could become a “book scout” for him. Scouts (in England called “runners”) attend used book sales, yard sales, resale shops etc., buying books that they resell immediately to bookshops. Most scouts are on the prowl for valuable books that they can offer to several different dealers to obtain the highest price. I didn’t have the spirit to go to that much trouble, so I sold all of the books that I picked up on scouting expeditions to Pat. In return, he agreed to try to protect me when I brought him books that were worthless, and I don’t think that it ever occurred that he paid me less for a pile of books than I had paid for them. Not that I didn’t make mistakes on individual books – I did, sometimes embarrassingly stupid mistakes. But the mistake would usually be mixed in with enough books that I made a profit on that things balanced out in my favor. Sometimes I made killings, but mostly I just made a nice modest profit, which I usually used to buy books for my own library. As time went by, Pat’s friend Leroy moved on to other activities, and so I started being Pat’s chauffeur on book-buying visits to libraries and private homes. Our relationship was mutually satisfying and profitable, and thousands of books changed hands between us over the ten or so years that I scouted for him. In the early years of my scouting for Pat, I tended to be very cautious and conservative. This was partly due to my limited knowledge, and partly due to my relative lack of money to risk on purchases that might not have the value that I hoped that they had. I remember a couple of instances in particular in which I agonized over making a purchase. Once, in a bookstore over in Illinois, I saw a book that had been published by The Caxton Club of Chicago early in the 20th century. The book was priced, as I recall, at $45.00 or some such amount, and that was a lot more than I was used to paying – a dollar or two was my typical purchase, and I couldn’t go far wrong at that. After much internal debate, I took the chance and bought the book – fortunately, it turned out to be a book worth a couple of hundred dollars, so it worked out fine. Another time I was prowling around an antique store in St. Louis and discovered a stack of brand new copies of what appeared to be the first edition of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show. There were nearly thirty copies for sale at $1.00 each. Believe it or not, I was so cautious that I drove to Pat’s store and asked him to return to the antique store with me to examine the books before I bought them to make sure that they were actually first editions. He reluctantly – and grumpily, I might add – did so, confirming that they were indeed first editions, so I went ahead and bought them. Both he and I were pleased with the profitability of that transaction. Pat was notoriously prickly – never with me, but often with people who annoyed him. Many’s the time I stood back and snickered as he was giving a customer the what for. I remember once a customer coming in and asking if the books were in any order. Pat got that look – his eyes narrowed and his lips tightened – and responded, “No, I just throw all the books in a big pile in the middle of the floor!” Another time a customer came in and started asking where certain subjects would be found – history, literary biography, etc. After receiving answers to several of his questions, the customer said, “You know, that’s amazing. I think that you know where every book in this shop is located.” I saw the look coming over Pat’s face that always preceded a sharp-tongued retort. “Well, I do work here full time, you know! This is my full-time job!” Pat snorted, giving the customer a look that would wilt lettuce. He was even worse with people calling on the telephone. I remember being in the shop once when the phone rang, and he answered it. There was a pause as he listened to a question, and then Pat nearly shouted into the receiver, “Rare books? Oh, no! I don’t sell rare books. All I sell is junk!” And with that, he slammed the receiver down in disgust. When a knock came on the door, which was always kept locked, he would stand out of sight and look to see who was knocking. If he didn’t like the looks of the person at the door, he wouldn’t respond, and would just let the potential customer think that he was closed. The door was locked for good reason – during the 1970s, that block of Delmar Blvd. was pretty dicey. His next-door neighbors who ran a dry-cleaning business were an elderly couple, and they were attacked, beaten with sticks and robbed by a group of children as they were closing up one day – the old fellow died as a result. Such occurrences were common in that neighborhood, although now the block has been restored – gentrified, if you will – and no longer involves much risk to pedestrians. In later years, Pat mellowed greatly, and became much more friendly and agreeable. I sometimes missed the opportunity of seeing him put a customer or bookseller in his place, but I know that Pat’s eschewing of this behavior reflected his generally more positive outlook on life. Here's an example: One day I stopped by Dunaway’s shop with my older son, Jordan, in tow. Jordan was very athletic, and had become particularly enamored with the St. Louis Cardinals, an interest that has persisted to this day. Pat was aware of Jordan’s interest. Pat and I were chatting as usual, when Pat suddenly said, “Say Jordan, here’s a book that you might like to see,” and he handed over a volume to Jordan. It was a very tattered copy of J. G. Taylor Spink’s book, Judge Landis and Twenty-Five Years of Baseball, which had been published in 1947. Spink was the Publisher of The Sporting News, which was headquartered in St. Louis. Kennesaw Mountain Landis had been the first Commissioner of Baseball, appointed after the Black Sox scandal in 1919. I looked quizzically at Pat, because I didn’t think that Jordan’s interest would extend into baseball history quite so much. Pat just gave me the old Cheshire Cat smile. Jordan opened the book, and found to his amazement (and mine) that the front end-papers were covered with autographs – and what autographs! Here were the autographs of some of the stars the 1947 St. Louis Cardinals, who had won the World Series in 1946, just prior to publication of the book. Also included were autographs of the announcers, Gabby Street and Harry Carey. Such very prominent autographs as Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter were accompanied by great players not so well remembered like Marty Marion, Terry Moore and the pitching hero of the Series, Harry Brecheen. A few autographs were illegible, or were names that we didn’t recognize. We speculated that the book had probably been passed around at some event that was celebrating the book’s publication – a party or dinner – and the team was present and signed the book as a favor to someone. Jordan slobbered over the book for a while (he had started collecting some autographs of current players, so this was kind of the holy grail for him), and finally handed the book back to Pat. Without hesitation, Pat said, “Oh, you can have it.” I couldn’t believe it. While the boom in sporting collectibles was not what it is today, this was still a very valuable book. I protested (weakly), but Pat was adamant about giving the book to Jordan. This kind of generosity was characteristic of Pat amongst those who were close to him. He was as selfless as the day was long, and if he could do something kind for a friend or family member, he would do so without thought or hesitation. His generosity to me – in terms of discounts on books I was buying from him, payment for books that he was buying from me, and, more importantly, his time, knowledge, expertise and friendship – was of incalculable value. Pat suffered from the problem that most of the used bookshops suffered from: too many books. This always happens very insidiously. The shelves are initially filled with books. The more desirable books sell, leaving gaps in the shelves that are filled with replacements, some desirable, others not. The most desirable of these books sell, leaving more gaps to fill. Eventually, the shelves become filled with books that no one wants to buy. As additional books are purchased, there is no shelf space to display them, so they end up getting put into storage. Without a process for periodically culling out unsaleable books from the shelves and replacing them with books recently purchased, the shelves in the shop become dead stock, and the saleable books remain out of reach. Pat had to rent more and more storage space in which to store new stock that he had purchased, but he had no process for rotating the stock from shelf to storage and storage to shelf. As a result, sales remained very slow, and the storage areas became frighteningly jam-packed with books. This hadn’t been a problem when most of Pat’s sales were from catalogues, because the books didn’t need to be sitting on shelves to sell. But as shop sales became the primary source of income, too much dead stock filling the shelves became a huge problem. I once helped out – and took advantage of the situation – by purchasing Pat’s entire section of Psychology books. I was still in graduate school in Psychology, so I had a ready source of customers for the books. Pat sold me the entire section for a very low price – I think that it may have been as little as $100. I took the books home and dramatically reduced the prices to a dollar or two per volume, set the books up in my dining room, and invited my fellow students to come and buy whatever they wanted. Within a week I had sold several hundred dollars worth. I took the books that were left and sold them to the guy who later was run over by the train, and he paid me a couple of hundred dollars for the remaining volumes. It was a great deal for me, and was actually also a good deal for Pat, because it opened up shelf space that he could fill with fresh inventory. Pat was widely respected for his knowledge and scholarship. He became friends with William Matheson, the Rare Book Librarian at Washington University who later became Rare Book Librarian at the Library of Congress. Booksellers from around the country never missed a visit to his shop when they were in St. Louis, and he was known for his reasonable prices and quality books. If you were knowledgeable and professional, then a visit to Pat’s store was a joy. If you were a poseur, you were likely going to be in trouble – Pat did not suffer fools lightly, and would refuse to offer trade discounts to people who he did not regard as being worthy of them, and would ban some people from his shop altogether if they rubbed him the wrong way once too often. Finally the day arrived that I accepted a job in another city. I told Pat that I would be moving to Louisville. He gave me a long look and said, “So, they’re sending you down to the minor leagues, eh?” While I had been his primary source of transportation, and a good source for new inventory, I was far from being the only person available to fill these needs. Another scout, a real go-getter, had started selling Pat books (but not exclusively – he also sold books to all the other booksellers), and he assumed transportation duties after I left town. Pat had suffered from ulcerative colitis for many years, and several years after I left St. Louis he had such an exacerbation of the condition that he nearly died and had to have his entire colon removed, and an ileostomy installed. I coincidentally was making a visit to St. Louis at the time, so I was able to visit him in the hospital shortly after his surgery. He was in good spirits, and after he recovered he told me that he actually felt better than he had felt in years – despite the hassle of dealing with the ileostomy, he welcomed no longer having chronic indigestion and worrying about developing colon cancer, which occurs commonly with people with ulcerative colitis. Unfortunately, like many members of the petit bourgeoisie, Pat had no health insurance, and spent many years paying off the hospital and doctor bills. A few years after his surgery, I happened to go to a book fair in East Lansing, Michigan, where I ran into a bookseller who was a friend of Pat’s. He told me that he had recently visited Pat in St. Louis, and Pat had suddenly, out of the blue, turned to the bookseller and said, “If you hear somebody fart, it’s not me. I don’t fart any more – I can’t.” That was Pat. A few years later, and quite serendipitously, a long-time customer of Pat’s, Walter H. Morris, expressed an interest in purchasing the business just as Pat was getting to the point that he could no longer take care of all aspects of running a bookstore in the changing environment (the explosion of growth in internet bookselling, for instance). So Pat accepted Morris’s offer, which included having Pat become an employee of the new business. Retaining the name Dunaway Books, the new owner obtained a much larger location on South Grand, just a block or so from Tower Grove Park, in a vibrant business district. By all accounts, the business thrived, and thrives still today. Pat seemed to enjoy his new role as sage. In 2004 Pat died. I didn’t hear about it for several months. He was in his seventies, but I don’t know what his exact age was at the time of his death. Booksellers the likes of Pat operated bookselling businesses all across the country forty or fifty years ago. They were a hardy lot, usually living on a shoe string, and having wide-ranging bibliographical knowledge that is incredibly rare amongst booksellers today, where extensive sources of information are just a few mouse-clicks away. Pat would not be successful in today’s environment, for a number of reasons. First, he was a true book-lover, a bibliophile. He would often comment that the reason that Sam Amitin was so financially successful as a bookseller was that he didn’t care a hoot for books – they were just inventory to him. Pat knew that having a love of books was a sure-fire route to business failure as a bookseller, but there was nothing he could do about it. Secondly, Pat was downright stubborn. He was determined to run his business the way he wanted to run it, and the hell with chasing fashion. He valued books primarily for their content, and would not pursue fad and fashion to make a buck. Booksellers with these characteristics simply can’t survive in today’s market, and we bibliophiles are much the poorer for that fact.

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