Sunday, December 20, 2009

Searching for Miss Moore: Part Two

In my previous post, I blogged about finding a short story collection written by Guy du Maupassant. The orginal owner's name was scripted inside: Phyllis Moore of Hollywood, CA and dated November  of  1944.

As I hold the book in my hand, I think to what it must have been like to live in the early 40's. I was born 15 years later, so research rather than memories are my guide. Life in the U.S. was all about the war in the early 40's. Either you were serving in the armed forces or doing your part at home. It was likely that Ms. Moore had a sweetheart overseas. I imagine her sitting in an armchair gazing at a framed photo of a handsome young soldier as she writes daily lengthy letters to her love. Most likely she was wearing a rayon  navy dress with a sailor collar, silk stockings
and black pumps.   Women's homefront fashion was driven with a military influence during WWII. 

Books were a diversion and a splurge in wartime. I discovered that The Book Guild of America - who I thought was the publisher of the this book - was actually a mail order book club! So it appears that our Ms. Moore had a discretionary income as the yearly dues were about $16 annually - a small fortune in the 40's.
I know a little more now, that the book was carefully chosen and I'm sure this luxurious purchase was treasured.      I recall my mother joining the Double Day Book Club in the early 70's and how much fun she had selecting books. This was a real eye opener to me to hear about a mail order book club in the 40's.

Ah, another clue, like us - Miss Moore was a lover of books

Monday, December 7, 2009

Who is Phyllis M. Moore of Hollywood, California?

This is the first in a series of posts devoted to a find in an old bookstore.

I’d love to own an antiquated book store filled with aroma of old leather and musty pages a la 84, Charing Cross Road. My shelves would be lined with rare books with gilded edges and embossed designs.

I was browsing in such a store the other day . Gently I guided my fingers across the old books skipping along the bumpy bindings and golden letters stopping at “Short Stories” by Guy de Maupassant. A small but lovely book bound in black leather with gold lettering and flourishes. My heart skipped a beat as I enjoy reading and writing short stories.

I opened it up and read it was published in 1941 by Blue Ribbon Books, 14 West 49th Street, New York, NY. The Book League of America, New York is also credited.

Inside is inscribed in beautiful penmanship:
Phyllis M. Moore
November 14, 1944
Hollywood, Calif.

My curiosity piqued and the next thing I knew I was in line to purchase this exquisite book for $6.98.