Notes from a Library Volunteer: “Paul,” “Ted” and “Lisa”

Near the ground, on a shelf filled mostly with copies of Ampersand magazine and photos from past Roadworks events, stand eight unassuming hard-backed folders – the kind that hold loose-leaf papers if you want to actually make sure that they stay safe. They are titled ambiguously:

  • Paul
  • Ted
  • Our Family Travels (two volumes)
  • Lisa (two volumes)
  • Celia Said
  • Our Family Matters

These titles are handwritten & stuck on labels on the folders’ spines, but carefully gold-pressed on their covers.

I’m sure you’re wondering (as I did) what could possibly be enclosed within these folders? Get ready for this: literally thousands of painstakingly hand-set letters – it seems, in fact, to be every single letter that one Irving Weinberg ever received in his entire life. They range from advice on how to get married to descriptions of a family trip in Austria to letters his mother sent him whole he was at camp to letters his daughter sent him while she was at camp.

A short taste:

Jul. 16, 1960

Dear Mommy and Dad,

I am saying my prayers every night.

I miss you very much and hope you miss me too.

I like Mom’s pictures and wish to see more.

I hope you have a good time.

I have a rock collection and it is growing.

We played ball. I made a homer.

By                       Love, Lisa

I don’t pretend to understand what made Irving save all of these letters (to say nothing of typesetting and printing each one) but I absolutely love this strange, sincere collection.

Please visit the library at the San Francisco Center for the Book and discover them yourself.

This entry was posted in Imprint, Intern Projects, Letterpress, Pamphlet and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Zoe is a student at Reed College, and an amateur playwright. During the summer of 2013 she is a volunteer at SFCB contributing her time and wit to the library and her sorting talents to the California job cases in the print studio.

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