Port Leon Update

Tom Eaton's photos of the Port Leon expedition in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Tom initially tried to e-mail them to me at work, but the county network blocked the images in the message, so he brought them to me on Saturday on a flash drive. I tried to match his captions from the e-mail to the pictures, but I hope he will correct/amplify them for me. They are such beautiful photos, I couldn't bring myself to resize them.

It's easy to see why the only unpreserved structures remaining from old Florida are made from brick or stone, like the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. Anything made of wood returns to the earth relatively quickly.

(Edit 01/10/2009: Tom has generously posted comments for his Port Leon photographs. I have deleted any erroneous captions. Thanks. Tom!)


Blogging Reference: Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008

Town very quiet. Didn't see another vehicle until I came to College Ave. at Gadsden.

With Susan E. again.

10:00 a.m. Doors open.

Today's paper. Hasn't come yet. Waiting for 25th and 26th as well.

Help girl start Internet session.

Help puzzled man find PC? No, he's good.

José bids me good morning.

Susan and I agree to take down the holiday cookbook display. I haul Paige, the library's mannequin/mascot, who is wearing a Santa hat and an apron, back down to the first floor.

"Is my tutor here?" Don't know, where does she normally meet her? "Third floor." Suggest she check up there.

Computer with zip drive? No.

Susan has mislaid penny wrappers.

PC for Nakaya. PC's are already full. 25 min. wait.

Phone: Joyce M. wants mailing address for Caroline Kennedy. C/O Hyperion Books.

Papers are here.

Penny wrappers turn up.

Woman asks me to thank Susan, "for allowing me to use the computer". I will.

11:00 a.m.

How many papers can she have? Wants last three days. In luck. Haven't given out desk copies yet.

Remind 15-min. PC users to get sit-down PC if they need more time.

Can have another PC reservation? Not without card. Others are waiting for turn.

Starting to pick up. Browsers at New Books shelves. Children's voices rise from the first floor.

Phone: FTCE Prof. Ed. test prep book. Hold.

PC for José.

Caller tells Susan Value Line not working remotely. Works fine here. Suspect remote logins at limit of 18 users. Susan calls her back, suggests she try later.

Take FTCE book down to circ. reserve shelf.

Magic Marker.

God is an Englishman. Don't own, ILL.

Woman says she is unable to request video of Eagle Eye. Card ok. Already has hold & didn't know it.

Susan's husband Tom comes by with pics of Port Leon expedition.

12:03 Lunch. Turkey sandwich, Pepsi & D.I. Rebus on Park Ave. bench. Bright morning has turned grey and gusty. Check my new Xmas pocket watch! Just time for postprandial smoke.

12:35 Back.

Plumbing books. Take to shelf. Susan to lunch.

Can she use copier? Wake up copier.

Woman looking for husband who was downloading audio books. Haven't seen him. Susan hasn't either.

1:06 In Media to relieve JL for lunch. Volunteer Owais is doing sign-up.

Is there a charge to check out DVD's? No, free with library card.

Busy down here. Lots of DVD & CD browsers, people in line for 15 min. PC's

Reservation printer jammed. Get it feeding, sort out whose slip is whose.

PC for Christina.

PC for Mark.

Cancel reservation for woman who selected wrong floor.

"Do y'all have wi-fi?" Yes. "Whereabout?" Whole library. "So it doesn't matter where you sit at?"

She is supposed to have that computer at 1:35, but it says "locked". It is 1:20. Explain current session locked by user.

Ask boy to turn down game volume.

PC for Sean.

PC for Teresa.

35 min. wait now for PC's.

PC for Ivory.

1:50 Back at refdesk. Susan takes turn at Media.


PC for Samuel, with backpack and reflective sunglasses. "I need to learn some social skills. I had 'em. Then I lost 'em. Now I wanna get 'em back."

PC for Dennis. He is winded. "There must be a better place to park!" He has come up from Park Ave., where there is no entrance on the first floor. Explain main entrance on other side.

African professor from FAMU wants economic journals. Show him Gale databases. His first visit here, though he's been in Tallahassee for two years. Restricted library hours at the universities over the break prodded him to search us out. He's disappointed that we don't have paper subs to academic journals. Says the public library in Michigan had them. But he spends rest of afternoon in Gale db's.

Regular, Dave L., needs chemistry textbook. See one recently returned. Down to check-in room to retrieve.

PC for girl, Tyronica.

PC for her little sister, Unique.

Minutes later, Tyronica says she's "lost" her reservation. She's trying to scam me, not wanting to wait and hoping she'll luck out with a better reservation. I won't give her another.

Man wants The Horse's Name Was...: A Dictionary of Famous Horses from History, Literature, Mythology, Television, and Movies, from the Northeast Branch. Place hold.

Deaf lady friend wants today's paper.

Girl wants application. Downstairs.

Her brother wants a card. Downstairs. What do we have up here? Books for grownups.

Darryl's session expired before he could sign in. Give him another.

Do we have the Plum Book? (Book of jobs in Obama admin.) No. Is available online .

PC for Patthias.

Scratch paper.

Give ID back for paper.

Garfield books, or Zits. Have Garfiield, not Zits. Take to shelf, get stool for boy.

Quiet. Work on new display of medieval murder mysteries. Make sign and pull books.

I hear the 30 min. announcement while I'm in the stacks.

GRE test prep book, personal finance books. Take to shelf. Tell her about online test prep, Learning Express.

See a couple of black guys at a catalog PC. Finding what you need? Where are the "fishun" books? "Fishing?", I reply, helpfully, in my white boy manner. No, FISHUN. (Fission, I wonder? Are they researching a physics assignment?) Seeing my clueless expression, he kindly translates for me, "Fic-tion". "Oh", I say, "sorry, fiction's over there, in the west wing." (The "reference interview".)

Matthew Lesko Free Money books. Place holds. Show her newer college money books.

Turn off PC's.

5:00 p.m. Closed for the day.


Merry Christmas, lurkers!

We ate a mid-day Christmas dinner at Wakulla Lodge, an old Mizner-esque Spanish-Colonial resort built at Wakulla Springs by Yankee millionaire Ed Ball in 1937, now part of a State Park in the next county over.

Some Johnny Weismuller "Tarzan" movies were filmed at Wakulla Springs, as was "The Creature From The Black Lagoon".

Very Southern buffet, from which I chose lettuce salad, collard greens, oyster & corn meal dressing, mashed potatoes & gravy, fried shrimp, roast beef & horseradish sauce, sweet iced tea, and key lime pie for dessert. I have to say that nobody does fried shrimp better than the Wakulla Lodge!

Having driven there on the Crawfordville Highway, I decided to return on the Woodville Highway, connecting with it at the town of Wakulla and proceeding north through Woodville. Hard to believe it has been so long since I've passed through there. For years I took the bookmobile there every two weeks. It hasn't changed much; still the raw, piney-woods settlement it's always been, only bigger.

I noticed "Casablanca" was on TCM at 8 p.m., so we watched it to close out the day.


I finished Out of Ireland last week. I enjoyed it so much that I not only decided to keep it, rather than donate it to the library, I also ordered copies of Koch's, The Double Man, which was the first book I read by him, Highways to a War, the prequel to Out of Ireland, which I must read again now, and Koch's latest, The Memory Room.

In Out of Ireland, the transported Irish revolutionary Devereux befriends a mysterious Jewish bookseller named Lenoir in Hobart. Lenoir has lived through the French Revolution, and a partially obscured portrait of Napoleon presides over his shop. His advice to the young rebel is rueful and cautionary. His final words to Devereux are the last two verses from the book of Ecclesiastes.

I couldn't help thinking of Broderick, the flamenco guitarist and cryptic adept in The Double Man. He and Lenoir are both seers, but Broderick is dark, Lenoir is purified by ordeal.

Year of the Dog is Henry Chang's second crime novel, following his celebrated debut, Chinatown Beat. Ronda and I visited NYC's Chinatown on our visit to the Tenement Museum in 2007. Chang provides a unique and intimate entry for English-speakers into that otherwise impenetrable world.

Exit Music appears to be the last roundup for Rankin's Scottish detective, John Rebus. The story begins 10 days from Rebus's retirement. Rebus is one of several fictional British detectives, also including Peter Robinson's Alan Banks and John Harvey's Charlie Resnick, whom I have followed for years. They and their authors are getting on now, as am I.

I've also posted a new entry on the blog roll, The Age of Uncertainty. Steerforth's book blog is especially enjoyable for the interesting old paperbacks he finds and scans the covers from. My early reading life was all about paperbacks, as they were all I could buy as a teen at the Winter Park Mall.


Confession, Port Leon, Mysterious Coin

At confession on Saturday, the chapel is packed. I see Professor H., whose courses in Napoleonic history I took as an undergraduate 30 years ago, ahead of me in line. I wait 1 ½ hours for my turn. "His mercy endures forever..." This would normally be our last chance before Christmas, but on Sunday we see in the bulletin that an hour has been scheduled for confession on the afternoon of the 24th.

Tom E., husband of my colleague Susan, calls, wondering if we have a plat showing the layout of the town of Port Leon on the St. Marks River, which was destroyed by a hurricane in 1843. He is taking some folks on a hike there tomorrow. I find a vivid account of the hurricane in the Florida Historical Quarterly, which leads me to an 1838 announcement in The Floridian offering the land for sale, but no plat. Buyers were directed to the agent for a lithograph of the properties on offer. The State Library has only a couple of photographs of the remains of the docks. The party will at least enjoy the description of the hurricane. Tom promises to send me photographs of the outing.

Port Leon was one of several settlements at the mouth of the St.Marks River vying for the position of being the rail-to-ship depot for the burgeoning cotton trade in Leon, Jefferson and Gadsden counties. Planters from Virginia and the Carolinas were buying land and slaves to grow cotton here. Others, from Maine in the case of Port Leon, came down to profit from the shipping of it.

The town of St. Marks, 2½ miles upriver from Port Leon, was destroyed as well in that 1843 storm. St. Marks rebuilt, and the men of Port Leon erected a new port upriver, called, well, Newport. But St. Marks won out in the end.

A black woman calls from Quincy. She has found a coin while raking leaves in her yard. It is about the size of a 50 cent piece, and although it is very corroded, she can make out the words, Sullivan Manufacturing Company, payable, one dollar, and merchant. Has she tried a coin dealer? No, she is afraid that if it is valuable, a coin dealer will trick her out of of it. Her grandmother does not recall the company, and friends wonder if it is from the slavery days.

I take her name and number, and do some searching. She has found a "trade token". They were issued by companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as an advertising vehicle, and could be redeemed at a store for a discount, much like coupons are today. There was a Sullivan Manufacturing Company in Rome, Georgia, in the early 20th century, a purveyor of agricultural machinery. There are trade token collectors, and there is even a book of Georgia Trade Tokens. If she is curious enough, I may offer to ILL this book to see if her token is listed. I doubt if it is worth very much, but who knows?



I had a call from a man who wanted to know the status of a hearing on a proposed resolution in the Ohio State legislature calling for a constitutional convention to balance the budget. Turns out the measure did not pass. My caller feared that, if it had, we would be only one state shy of the required 34 states, (two-thirds of the 50 states under article V of the constitution), needed to force a constitutional convention.

I had not heard of this issue. A search indicated that many of the organizations that are worried about a possible "con-con" are fringe groups. They are more paranoid than ever, now that Barack Obama has been elected, and they see signs everywhere that gun-confiscation and concentration camps are imminent. Their concern is that, once called, a constitutional convention would not be limited to a single issue, such as balancing the budget. Liberties guaranteed by the constitution could be taken away.

To be fair, though, liberals are not anxious to have a con-con either, seeing a threat to the separation between church and state.

What I found is that states can pass all the resolutions they want, but only the U. S. Congress can call for a constitutional convention, and the odds of their doing so are very long. Congress has any number of procedural tools for ensuring that the states cannot force one to take place. State resolutions often stipulate that a convention shall only be limited to the issue in question, which makes them automatically invalid. And even if a con-con were to be convened, its proposed changes would still have to be ratified by three-quarters of the state legislatures, which is very unlikely.

So not to worry, patriots, the constitution is safe.


Ora Pro Nobis

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Christmas Party

Turkey, dressing with gravy, ham, greens, broccoli casserole, macaroni & cheese, sweet tea. Christmas sweaters. LB says grace, "Heavenly Father...". Leave it to a black sister to make sure we start with a prayer. Amen.

Garrison Keillor taught me how to negotiate these group happenings. Imagine you are a walrus. All that is required of you is that you show up to be with the other walruses on the seashore. You don't have to say or do anything else if you don't want to. It is enough to simply attend.

DS, who has brought a scrumptious chilled sort of ice cream/coconut/caramel dessert, says she has discovered my blog. Oh dear. Alarming to think co-workers are reading this, but really, there's nothing here I'd want to hide.

It's been a punishing year, with the hiring freeze and a major turnover in staff. So many absent faces: Trudi, Maria, Mary Jo, Mike, Edna, Sarah, Joanne, Gloria, Rita, Jennifer, and Jamison. And Mary Lee & Bill M., (may they rest in peace).

We who remain sit down and eat together.


James Lee Burke on Reference Librarians

A patron who comes to the desk every week for a copy of the NYT crossword brought us this quote from Burke's The Tin Roof Blowdown, (Robicheaux meets Katrina), p. 354. I have to give our library credit here. We have a reference desk that anyone would be proud of. It is prominent and well-equipped, the hub of activity on the second floor. All the rest is true. Thanks, JLB! :

"Then I used the most valuable and unlauded investigative resource in the United States, the lowly reference librarian. Their salaries are wretched and they receive credit for nothing. Their desks are usually stuck away in the stacks or in a remote corner where they have to shush noisy high school students or put up with street people blowing wine in their faces or snoring in the stuffed chairs. But their ability to find obscure information is remarkable and they persevere like Spartans"


Blogging Reference: Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008

With Susan E. again.

The Festival of Lights is happening downtown today, culminating in the Jingle Bell Run and a Christmas parade tonight. Yeah, it's still a Christmas parade because it still has Santa Claus at the end. Had to detour up MLK Blvd. to get here.

Meters are bagged on Park Ave.

We refill golf pencils & scrap paper by catalog PC's, crank up the Internet workstations, refill printers with paper, wipe monitor screens, put out todays papers, (the few we still get), count money in change drawer.

10:00 Doors open.

Where are law books, Florida Statutes?

He's meeting someone to take an engineering test. We haven't seen her.

Phone: reverse lookup, no luck.

Susan brings me a Vocera, the cool little communication device we wear.

Engineering test woman wants to get a room. Hand off to Susan, our proctor.

Where is Internet #60?

Cimarron by Edna Ferber. Take to shelf.

Handsome, polite Belafonte lookalike with West Indies accent wants geometry textbook. Take to shelf

LSAT and GED test prep books. Hand LSAT book, demo our online test prep, reserve GED, update patron record.

Unattended small Asian boy in men's room. Call V., Supervisor of Day.

Help printing. Printer B printing light, have her use backup instead.


10:50 Out for smoke. Cloud cover's burned off. Perfect day for a festival. See James the homeless vet coming up the sidewalk from the Shelter, neat and clean as ever, with his well-stowed backpack. He walks on by. Must be going up to the Presbyterian Church for a bite before coming in here.

Belafonte wants to borrow red and black pens. Is tutoring, apparently.

Street map of Atlanta? No, sorry. Can try Mapquest? No, he'll buy one. Had seen climate ref. book, where is it? Show him Climate and Weather of Florida in ref. coll. Yes.

Phone: Patterson's Final Warning and Leven Thumps and the Wrath of Ezra. Junior fiction. Transfer call to Youth Services.

Quiet. Answer some ref e-mail questions on NetLibrary access, US Census.

Phone: Where is President Bush buying a new "home" in Texas? Dallas, says Houston Chronicle.

PC for Swag. Do we have headphones? No, can buy earbuds in gift shop.

Florida Driver's Handbook. Take phone as security.

Primary sources for Andrew Jackson. Take to Biographies, Annals of America in ref coll, Schlesinger, show American Memory project. For History Fair.

Madison phone book.

Belafonte returns pens.

Boy wants Christmas decorating books. Take to shelf. Then Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield. Too high for him., get library stool.

Mom & daughter show me how Spanish online driving test doesn't work. They can't select multiple choice answers with mouse. Give them another PC.

Boy has blue screen. reboot.

12:00 Lunch. On my way outside with sandwich, Hispanic driving test woman calls out to me, "'Scuse me, 'scuse me!" Have to keep going. 30 min. for sandwich & cig, then Susan must go right away so I can relieve S. in Media at 1:00. Susan will help her.

12:30 Back. Susan goes.

Paul, by Charles Swindoll. Take to shelf.

NADA value for 2003 Mazda MPV.

Phone: Zamba and Mosey by Ralph Helfer. Zamba in Adult non-fic. Fetch & put on reserve. Mosey in Jr. fic., transfer call to YS.

Help with copier.

PC for Doshawn.

Has his card expired? He hasn't been called about reserves lately. Check card, two books on reserve for him now.

PC for Beau.

Phone: Betty Kay Smith with huge book list for Woodville bookmobile stop on Wednesday. She's 87 & "they" won't let her drive. I copy it down, will fill as I can today.

1:10 Down at the Media desk now. Poor S. gasping for cig. "It's only been 3½ hours!"

PC for Rodina. 25 min. wait now.

Explain 2 sessions/day rule to lady.

Mom & kids looking for Sigma Beta Club meeting. (Program room A.)

Browsers flip through DVD's, walking their fingers across them.

We have a high school boy volunteering here at the Media desk, doing Internet sign-up.

Quiet, start working on Betty Kay's list.

PC for Latoya. 45 min. wait.

Darian asks for word processor, discovers they don't have Internet.

PC for Darian.

Volunteer needs Kafka's Metamorphosis for sister. Fetch from YA fic.

PC for Williams.

Can get PC in Lab? With card, yes.

Public printer asking for legal, override to print job.

Phone: Talk Desi man through to Learning Express test prep on library web page.

Woman asks about perceived double booking for same PC. It happens occasionally, sorry.

"Is this a book search computer or Internet?" Book search, get her started.

Word processor for John.

2:05 S. is back. Out for smoke.

2:13 Back at refdesk.

PC for History Fair guy.

Phone: Man w/ halting speech wants name of head man at Publix Super Market HQ, address & phone in Lakeland. He gets it after much repetition. "S-U-P-E-R. S as in snake. P-E-R. No S on the end. Yes, SUPER. Yes, that's correct", and so on.

Where are the dictionaries? Take to shelf.

History Fair guy has questions about printing out History Fair manual.

PC for dad with daughter's card. "You've got #37 at 2:35", I say. He pulls a wad of bills out, "How much, $2.35?". "No, there's no charge, that's when your session starts, about 10 minutes." Embarrassed daughter shepherds dad off to PC.

Sister from John Paul II High School asks about Double Jeopardy by Catherine Coulter. Can't find in catalog! See on her web site. WTF? Says she'll look next time. Need to look into this.

PC for Brandy.

PC for Jessie.

E-mail remaining titles on Betty Kay's list that we don't own to M. in Bookmobile Dept.

Deputy Bill swings around corner and down stairs, softly whistling, tunelessly.

Mom needs help printing out forms from son's band director's web site. Asks how to copy and paste web address.

Where to get library card, audiobooks?

College girl with question about capitalization of disease names.

3:00 Out for smoke. Clouding up again.

McDonalds: Behind the Arches, by John F. Love, for History Fair. Take to shelf.

Books on camping. Take to shelf.

Which computers are to look up something in the catalog?

Fast Food Nation. Take to shelf. For History Fair? Yes.

Staple remover.

Clear misfeed in copier.

Where is the elevator?

3:50 Out for smoke. Light beginning to fade. People walking up Park Ave. to the festival.

Big black woman needs to break a twenty for copier. "You give me all these ones like I'm a stripper, heh heh!"

Susan takes break.

PC for Beau.

Phone: Florida's Highwaymen, by Bob Beatty. Don't own. Offer another title by Gary Monroe, The Highwaymen: Florida's African-American Landscape Painters, plus DVD, The Highwaymen: Florida's Outsider Artists. Tell her about pieces at Strauss Gallery in Betton Place. Create ILL request for Beatty. Man selling paintings at Market Days. She wants, but husband advises research first. Seller wants $800.

Reserve GED test prep book.

30 min. announcement.

Books on geneograms. Nope. How about Brown v. Board of Education? Yes, take to shelf. Line at desk, call Susan, who comes right out.

Been trying to answer home-schooling mom's e-mail question about trapper/mountain man fiction all day. Bear down and send reply, with titles from Genreflecting.

Susan counts money. Time to close down.

Go to Men's Room. Young fellow who approached me yesterday to call Public Defender at courthouse, as he had just gotten out of jail and back in town, asks me, as we wash our hands, if I am going to the festivities tonight. No, is he? Yes. He got some work setting things up this morning, so he's got money in his pocket, and is clearly excited about having a good time and listening to some live music. Open-faced, friendly, clean-cut. What had he done? Bar fight, or some such? Ex-military?

Asian guy: Is there another public library that is open later tonight? No.

Black lady: When do we close on Sunday? Six. She thought we closed at six on Saturday too. No, five on Saturday.

Police the Internet area for trash, shut down catalog PC's.

5 min. warning.

Sign out.


Out of Ireland: C. J. Koch's Ignored Masterpiece

If you know Christopher Koch at all, it is probably because you have seen the film made from his novel, The Year of Living Dangerously, starring Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt.

In 1996, Koch's Highways to a War was released, telling the story of Mike Langford, a Tasmanian photo-journalist in wartime Vietnam and Cambodia. The reader was given to understand that another tale was yet to be told, the story of his ancestor, Robert Devereaux, a fictional Irish rebel of 1848, who had been transported to Tasmania.

That book, Out of Ireland, was published in Australia and in the UK in 1999. I waited eagerly for its release in the United States, ready to order it for the library. After a couple of years, it became clear that no US publisher had picked it up, though it had won several awards in Australia. I was not prepared to order it from Australia or the UK for myself, and pay the expensive shipping cost, so I let it go.

Recently, I decided to check around for it. I found used copies of the 2000 Vintage Australia edition in a few US bookstores, so I ordered it. I began to read it today, and it is as good as I had hoped it would be. When I am finished, it will go into the collection.

1848 was to the 19th century what 1968 was to the 20th, a year of failed uprisings across Europe that terrified the nobility and the bourgeoisie. Marx's Communist Manifesto was published in early 1848 as a call-to-arms.

Many defeated 1848-ers, particularly Germans, emigrated to America, where their energies contributed to the birth of a sort of ante-bellum proto-New Age/New Left movement which, as Abolitionism, would spark the Civil War. I once visited the Texas hill country town of Comfort, founded in 1854 by German 1848-ers, notable for having a schoolhouse, but no church until many years later.

Edit 12/05/2008: It is interesting to consider that, if 1968 was analogous to 1848, it foreshadowed not an upheaval in the West, but rather one in Eastern Europe, which is what Tom Stoppard seems to have perceived in his play, Rock 'n' Roll. For all the drama of events in Chicago and Paris in that year, Prague can be seen as the epicenter, with reverberations that would bring down the Wall in '89. I saw this play in NYC last year, and it really opened my eyes. The Old Left had nothing but contempt for the Counterculture, even though they are lumped together in our memory of the "'60's". Who got himself a statue in Eastern Europe when the Wall came down? Che? No, guitar virtuoso and iconoclast Frank Zappa, in Vilnius, Lithuania.

More excellent recent Australian fiction:
Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire
Peter Temple, The Broken Shore
Gary Disher, The Dragon Man