When you are browsing second book stores for antique hardcovers, sometimes you got ta choose between a famous but not so old (maybe 60-70 years) book and an authentic antique whose content sucks, written by some jerk.
Let me tell you about one I got yesterday that falls in the second category – it’s a racist harangue, “Germany and the Germans – from an American point of view,” by a turn of the 20th century white nationalist American bozo named Price Collier. The book was published in 1913, in Toronto. So, why Toronto? Maybe because it was a year before the start of WW1 and German U-Boat activity was already beginning ta hurt American merchant shipping in the North Atlantic, pissing off the Americans. American publishers would hesitate to publish a pro-German rant in that milieu, wouldn’t they?
It all kinda ties in neatly. Jeeze, I coulda been a forensic behavioural sciences specialist. If you need ta figure things out, give me a call. I charge $300 an hour and I’ll figure anything out for ya.
It is highly likely that this Collier dude was one of the thousands of German-Americans who wanted President Woodrow Wilson to intervene on “their side”. Woody would have joined on the German side, given the massive German-American voting bloc in those days, but when Fritz began sinking too much American merchant shipping around the North Atlantic, he couldn’t justify it.
In case you would like ta know what happens when somebody hurts American commerce, just ask the 1950s Guatemalans about the time when they told the American giant, United Fruit Co. to shove it. In case you’d like to be further enlightened about it, type “The banana conflicts” in the search box of my blog ‘spunkybong.com’. Go ahead, its free, though nothing stops you from sending me money.
Getting back to Germany and the Germans, the book rages on about how the demographics have been growing darker over the past decade, how in 1882 almost all immigrants were white Christian protestants from Europe, how there was law and order then and how today (1913) one in four newcomers is an “Asiatic or Turk, rampaging through America, unchecked, killing our innocent young white women”.
Fuck you, Prick Collier.
The feel of an antique book is overwhelming. The binding is almost invariably sturdy, the type bold and double-spaced, the font-size large, sprawled over thick beige paper. Bring it up to your nose and sniff it and you will detect a certain innocence, even in bigotry. Hold it in your hands and you will feel the weight of history in it.
On the inside front cover of “Germany and the Germans” is a beautiful piece of handwriting, with a flat-tipped fountain pen of the type that is used in calligraphy. It says….
Elizabeth J. Greenshields
Danville, Jan 2
The book wasn’t gifted. It has no ‘To’ and ‘from’ in the writing. Elizabeth Greenshields bought the book and therefore had to have been in her late 30s/early 40s at least, to want to read the crap that this Collier guy had written. If she read the book in 1916 as her handwriting suggests, I figure Lizzy was born sometime around the late 1870s and had been living in Danville, today a town of 4000, situated a two-hour drive east from Montreal. Isaleigh Grange is shown in the Statistics Canada website as a “locality” in the town.
The fact that Elizabeth Greenshields spent money to buy right wing propaganda tells me something. But then, she also popped up in a Google search. Old Liz and her descendants apparently started a foundation in the early 1950s, then supposedly well into her 70s, to help underprivileged aspiring black and native American artists in Quebec. Remorse, then the search for redemption? Understandable. They say that within every bigot is a soul crying out to be proved wrong.
And within every old Bengali, is a sleuth, with the urge to express himself (and/or make an ass of himself).