Sunday, June 03, 2007

Neglected Author: Don Robertson

One of my very favorite fictional characters is a boy named Morris Bird III. His life is chronicled in three books by Don Robertson: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread (1965), The Sum And Total Of Now (1966) and The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened (1970). Each novel takes place around a key event in Cleveland's history, which is where Morris Bird III and his family live.

In The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, the year is 1944, and Morris Bird III (Robertson always refers to him by his sweet and goofy full name) is nine years old, and full of the usual angst life in the 4th grade seems to bring, although he is the greatest kickball player at his school. One day, he decides to cut school to go visit his old buddy from the second grade, Stanley Chaloupka, who moved to East Cleveland sometime back.

Morris Bird III plans the long journey (on foot) carefully. Armed with supplies (including a jar of peanut butter than will come in handy in ways he never could have envisioned) and his red wagon (ditto) he and his slightly bratty six-year-old sister, Sandra (who has blackmailed him into taking her along at the last moment) head for Chaloupka's home in East Cleveland. Unbeknownst to him, or anyone else, his arrival time and destination coincide with the East Ohio Gas explosion, in which over 100 people were killed and much of that section of the city had to be rebuilt.

Morris Bird III wants to see Chaloupka again and play with his elaborate toy train set, but this is also a heroic quest for him. Morris Bird III wants to prove to himself once and for all that he is not a sissy. By the end of The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, he is not only NOT a sissy, he is a hero.

In The Sum And Total Of Now, it's four years later. 1948. Morris Bird III is now thirteen years old. He's in love with his classmate, Julie Sutton and mortified by his suddenly spotty complexion. The Cleveland Indians are poised to win the American League championship and will go on to win the World Series that year.

The person Morris Bird III loves best in the world, his grandmother, is dying of cancer. Morris Bird III spends most of the novel miserably listening to his mother (who he memorably compares to Fred C. Dobbs, the Humphrey Bogart character in Treasure Of The Sierra Madre) and her siblings haggle at the tops of their voices night after night over who will get what furniture while the grandmother lies upstairs, dying. Morris is called upon to make an unfair choice, and in a related incident, makes one of his own.

Robertson's writing style is definitely from the school of naturalism, which becomes apparent as the reader gets a full blow-by-blow account of an Indians game that Morris Bird III attends with his friend's father.

The Korean War is the backdrop for the final novel in the trilogy, The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened. Morris Bird III is 17 years old and a basketball player at his high school, where he is a senior. His big dream is to have sex with his now-girlfriend, Julie Sutton. Shortly before Christmas, 1952, Morris Bird III will face the greatest challenge of his life.

Not only did Robertson seem to remember so well what it was like to be all these ages, the books are chock-full of information about life in 1944, 1948, and 1952. It's like being in a time machine. He also wrote humor and sadness with equal craftsmanship.

I'm not very good at math, so it took a while (30+ years!) for me to realize that Morris Bird III was born the same year as my father, 1935. I'm sure that partially explains my strong affection for this character.

All three books in the trilogy are wonderful, but if you read just one, that should be The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread. I would put this novel up against To Kill A Mockingbird or The Catcher In The Rye as a contender for "Greatest Coming-Of-Age Novel". (Actually, I'm going to go back and add it to my book meme as soon as I finish writing this sentence.)

Since most of Don Robertson's books are out-of-print, the Morris Bird III trilogy is a little expensive, especially The Sum And Total Of Now. Your best bet is your local library and probably inter-library loan.

Don Robertson (1929-1999) wrote many other novels including A Flag Full Of Stars (1964), Paradise Falls (1968) Praise The Human Season (1974) Victoria At Nine (1979) and Prisoners Of Twilight (1988). Stephen King counts Robertson as one of his influences, and in the 1980s, published Robertson's novel, The Ideal, Genuine Man, with an effusive introduction of praise.

In 1966, Don Robertson won the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature. In 1991, Robertson received The Mark Twain Award from The Society For The Study Of Midwestern Literature. In spite of this acclaim, today he's largely unknown. He doesn't even have a page on Wikipedia, which I found surprising, because he had a long career, sold many copies of his novels and wasn't just a flash in the pan. Even more shocking, although he was a resident of Cleveland most of his life, he doesn't seem to be remembered in his own hometown! I eagerly asked a librarian who has worked in Cleveland for many years about him, and she said: "Who?"

Sigh. Eventually, good authors get rediscovered. It happened to Dawn Powell, another writer from Ohio. But I'm feeling impatient. I can't wait around for twenty years for some PhD. literary snot to do a dissertation on Don Robertson and beam with pride like he or she's the only one who ever heard of Robertson while all the book critics tie themselves into knots with delight over fresh literary treasure. I want Don Robertson to be rediscovered NOW. Un-neglected NOW. The sooner his books are back in print, the better. It's time. No, scratch that. It's past time.

47 comments:

Sam Houston said...

I met Don at a bookstore in Houston in 1988 when he was on a book tour with Stephen King, of all people. It was to promote Don's "The Ideal, Genuine Man," a novel set in Houston and for which King wrote a "forenote." Both authors personalized the book for me and I was impressed with both men. Don seemed to be a very quiet man, at least in that setting, but a genuinely nice one.

kookiejar said...

Wow, Bybee, Robertson's books sound charming and the endorsement from Stephen King would be enough to hook me. However, the only one of his books in all of Omaha (apparently) is one copy of "Paradise Falls" at the University of Nebraska. I may have to go get it.

Bybee said...

Sam Houston,
I am jealous that you got to meet Don Robertson. So jealous. And Stephen King, too! Excuse me -- I'm getting froth all over my monitor.

Kookiejar,
Only one copy of Paradise Falls & that's it in all of Omaha? I'm saddened but not surprised. He's not being read, so he's not getting checked out so libraries are culling him out of their inventory. That was how I picked up my copy of The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread 3 years ago-- it was on the donation table at my library in Missouri. Lucky for me, but of course I realized what was going on and was also annoyed. Paradise Falls is good --A Chunkster, though!

herschelian said...

Bybee, Don Robertson sounds like my kind of author (one of my favourite authors of all time is Sinclair Lewis, and DR sounds as though he's cut from the same cloth). How did you happen upon his books? was he recommended to you - if so by whom?, or did you just stumble across his novels? I'm off to do an Abe books search for The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread right now.

Bybee said...

Herschelian,
Oh, I like Sinclair Lewis, too! One of my many goals is to read everything he wrote.

I stumbled onto Robertson at the post library when my father was stationed in Germany. I was in middle school at the time. The title of the book seemed funny, and when I realized that the main character was a young boy, I was hooked. I clearly remember thinking the author was a little crazy because I'd never read anything in that style before. I could go on and on. If you decide to buy the book, it's money well-spent!

char said...

Oh man, I devoured "The greatest thing..." when I was about 12. I even talked my non-reading friend into reading it, and she loved it too! I haven't read the last 2.

I wonder if they have the same impact on adults. Maybe I'll interlibrary the 1st one and see.

Thanks so much for the blast from the past!

Anonymous said...

Discovered this site while looking for info on one of my favorite writers!

The first I heard of Don Robertson was when Stephen King published The Ideal Genuine Man (I have an affinity for angry old people, being one myself) and have managed to find or trade for most of Robertson's catalog.

My favorite is Paradise Falls -- it's The Great American Novel, as far as I'm concerned. His Civil War books are also excellent, as is Praise the Human Season (another angry old person book).

I think it's a shame that his books are out of print, but they're not hard to find at the usual places.

Bybee said...

Char,
That's so great that your non-reading friend liked it, too!

When I reread "...Sliced Bread" as an adult, I picked up on a few more things that went over my head as a middle school reader.

Anonymous,
How nice to meet another Don Robertson fan! I think you've got a point about Paradise Falls being The Great American Novel. I wish I'd talked it up more in my blog entry. About the same time as I read PF, I also read Praise The Human Season. I've only read one of the Civil War novels, Prisoners Of Twilight, and I want to read the early ones that predate the Morris Bird III trilogy. The next Robertson I go after, probably later this year, will be The Ideal, Genuine Man".

Anonymous said...

I'm always surprised to meet Robertson fans too. I ran into several on a horror fiction message board! I wish someone would at least write a Wikipedia article on him.

Anonymous said...

I just finished the trilogy. It changed my life. I have never wept like that before.

ion danu said...

Hi,

Glad to see there are other who like Don robertson, even if, it seems like we speak of different persons...I've only red The Ideal, Genuine Man, the "postumous" book (as Don R. used to call his after 1974 novels), the one published and praised by Stephan King and I can say this one is neither "nice" nor Sinclair Lewis style...It's rough and cruel and true, but not nice...However, I think of Don Robertson as a great writer and hope to read more of his books...which is not so easy in Qu├ębec...

Ion

Anonymous said...

I wrote the screenplay for the 1977 CBS-TV adaptation of THE GREATEST THING THAT ALMOST HAPPENED. I still think of it as my Great Moment In Showbiz, partly for the wonderful performances by the cast (watching James Earl Jones in rehearsal, I began taking out lines, because that man didn't need them); but also because of a letter I received from Don Robertson himself. He wrote that I had "kept all the good stuff that was in the novel, and cut out all the cant and all the bullshit." I don't know that I could ever have had the guts and the honesty to write such a letter to someone who had adapted any work of mine, no matter how well he or she had done it. That's absolutely all I know of Don Robertson, but it'll do.


Peter S. Beagle

Anonymous said...

A little late posting to this area, but I just found out about Don Robertson a month ago and have finished Paradise Falls. What an awesome book!

I've ordered a few others of his (used) like Make a Wish, Ideal, Genuine Man, Flag Full of Stars, and Prisoners of Twilight.

I did notice that there was a recent movie called Swimming Upstream http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259017/

that appears to be a version of The Greatest Thing that Almost Happened...

gloria said...

Great blog, ByBee. And thank you, thank you, for talking up Robertson and the Morris Bird III trilogy. I, too, have been driving my friends crazy over that last 30 some years about this author. I was almost afraid to leave a comment here in fear that it would turn into one of my MBIII monologues. I will try to restrain myself enough to say that I agree with the one who said these books changed her life. Having found these books at a pivotal time in my life, I feel as though I grew up right along with Morris.

I would definitely place "Sliced Bread" beside "To Kill A Mockingbird". Though, I find it difficult sometimes to think of them separately--the three seem to blend so seamlessly for me.

I, too, found my copies of "Slice" and "The Sum and Total of Now" at library sales on the discard table. Unbelievable. I noticed one for sale at Amazon for 350 bucks--1st ed. signed, however.

Mr. Beagle, where can one get their hands on a copy of the TV version of "The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened"? I remember reading this at the kitchen table when I was a teenager. My mother says she has never seen me cry so hard in my life. I was a wreck. But it was a wonderful wreck.

Sorry, ByBee, you got the monologue anyway. May I list your site on mine?

~gloria

Bybee said...

I am so very pleased that all of these Don Robertson fans are coming out and making yourselves known! I knew that I couldn't be the only one! C'mon, people...let's get Don Robertson back in print! If you're a fan, talk him up in your blog entries. If we keep doing this, eventually, some publisher or someone with connections/influence is bound to notice and take action.

Miami Heat said...

Well, it appears someone is listening, at least for one book! According to Amazon, a new paperback printing of The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread is due by Harper Paperbacks April 22, 2008 under ISBN #0061452963.

See http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Thing-Since-Sliced-Bread/dp/0061452963/ref=sr_oe_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196695218&sr=1-1

John

Rabid Robertson Fan said...

That is wonderful news! Thanks for letting me know. Everyone, circle your calendars!

J. said...

Great to see so many other Robertson fans out there. I created a Wikipedia page for him last year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Robertson_%28author%29

Bybee said...

J,
Thank you so much for doing this! I found the entry recently and wondered who the wonderful person was that was responsible. You rock!

gloria said...

Thank you j. for the Wiki entry. It was certainly deserved.

I just finished reading the Morris Bird III trilogy again. What a treat. If I had the money, I'd buy a thousand copies and "release" them all "into the wild" through Bookcrossing.

~gloria

J. said...

Bybee & Gloria...my pleasure. If you have any info be sure to add it. Doesn't seem to be a lot about Robertson online. I swapped a couple emails with his widow last year. She seemed very open to discussing DR and his work. Maybe I'll ask her about Harper's new edition of TGTSSB. I emailed Harper today for confirmation and to hit 'em up for a review copy. We'll see if they respond.

lor_ said...

Just completed "Paradise Falls" -I loved it, and found its treatment of very similar themes far richer and more illuminating that Upton Sinclair's "Oil!", the basis for the great new film "There Will Be Blood". I was a tv fan of Don's -about 40 years ago on the Cleveland UHF station he had a weekly 3-hour talk show, of the format of the more famous talkers of that era: Joe Pyne, Alan Douglas, Irv Kupcinet and Joe Gordon (of Romney's "Brainwashed" on the air answer fame). I watched Don's show every single week and he was my favorite.
Regarding "Paradise Falls" he ends the book unusually with the exact dates in 1965 to 1967 when it was written down to "4:04am"! What disturbed me a bit, however, is that although there are 2 very minor black characters (who aid one of the protagonists in his rites of passage), "PF" is loaded with scores of racist asides and statements no doubt typical of the 1865-1900 era it covers, but presented without any irony or perspective. Don has merely repeated and underscored stereotypes about Afro-Americans, Jews and Native Americans here, with a particularly unsympathetic approach to the last named in the early parts of his story. I know, having heard him speak on tv for 100s of hours, that Don was "better than that", but I cannot understand how he could have written in such a naive fashion, esp. during the height of the Civil Rights Era, 1965-67. He should have left all the slurs out, and the book would have benefitted from it, and perhaps been more attractive to a 21st Century audience.

Anonymous said...

lor,
I've always planned on reading "Paradise Falls", but it hasn't worked its way up the ladder of my 'To Be Read' pile yet. However, your comments have me intriguied now and I may have to promote it to the top-o-the heap.

Thanks for your helpful review.

~gloria

Bybee said...

I wish I could have seen his TV show.

The only explanation I can find for the way PF was written is that he was of the Naturalist school of writing....everything's pretty damn gritty.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to know Don and his wife Sherri reasonably well back in the 70's. I worked at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights and Don was there a lot. His personality was gritty like his writing style. He was a bigger than life kind of guy and a lot of fun and quite kind too. I'm ashamed to say I've only read Paradise Falls and Praise the Human Season. I'm glad to see that some people remember and enjoy his books. I agree he was an excellent writer and would like to see his books have a resurgence of popularity. I remember he was always aggravated because another author whose name I can't remember always beat him out for the Book of the Month Club selection!

gloria said...

Woo-hoo! Around Father's Day, "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" was featured in the window of our local Border's Books. There was a lovely display of the re released edition. Nice artwork on the cover. Getting some long-overdue attention. I wonder if this was a nationwide thing with Border's or unique to the Rochester, NY area? Either way, I was thrilled. I wanted to grab people passing the display and say, "Hey, look, it's Morris Bird the Third! You've gotta read this!" But, I restrained myself. Now I wish I hadn't.

~gloria

dale said...

I used to lift a glass or two with Don at Pat Joyce's in downtown Cleveland...always fun, but a bit gruff. I have since collected and read all his books and have made provision to donate the entire collection to Denison University's library in Granville, OH (my alma mater). It is with the understanding that the collection will be kept together and not just distributed through the stacks.

All his works trace back (or sometimes forward) to Paradise Falls. I am astonished at what a fine storyteller he was. There was a rumor that he had a very long manuscript almost ready to publish at the time of his death. Perhaps his widow, Sheri, could shed some light on this.

Whatever...READ HIM!!

Dale Hamilton
Christiansburg, VA

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Peter S. Beagle: I ordered the movie "The Greatest Thing that Almost Happened" and it made me cry my eyes out. I saw it in prime time in high school and it had the same effect on me then. I had no idea it would tell me the ending of "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" which I'm currently reading now. Oh, well. And your movie contains some of James Earl Jones' best work. I wanna write more, but it would take up a whole page.

Miami Heat said...

Update: It does look like the next Don Robertson book ( The Sum and Total of Now) in the Morris Bird III trilogy is being reissued!

Amazon now has it listed with a release date of 8/4/2009.

See: http://www.amazon.com/Sum-Total-Now-Don-Robertson/dp/0425230848/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227645977&sr=1-2

Bybee said...

Miami Heat,
You definitely made my day! Thanks for the heads-up. I'll do a new blog post about this. Great news!

Marti said...

I am SO jazzed to see others who love the Morris Bird III books as much as I do. I first read them when I was in my early 20's, again in my late 30's and yet again in my 40's. They just seem to get better and better every time!

My mother-in-law originally suggested them to me and I checked each of the three books out from the library. A few years back I found "Sliced Bread" at a thrift store. What a find!! Though it is a worn paperback, I cherish it greatly.

I handed it to my 91 year old mother last week. She read it in three days and just loved it.

What great news to hear the Sum and Total of Now is coming out soon. I'll be buying it for sure. Since I'm now in my 50's, it's definately time for me to read them again.

When I first read the story (I always think of the three books as one long story) it, of course, made me cry BIGTIME. I didn't know during the first two readings that my own son would eventually be diagnosed with leukemia. Lucky for us the medical world now knows how to treat this disease. Because of this my sons story turned out quite different than Morris Bird III's did, as he has been cancer free for six years.

Oh dear, I didn't mean to go on for so long... Oh well...

Onward, ever onward.

Marti said...

I am SO jazzed to see others who love the Morris Bird III books as much as I do. I first read them when I was in my early 20's, again in my late 30's and yet again in my 40's. They just seem to get better and better every time!

My mother-in-law originally suggested them to me and I checked each of the three books out from the library. A few years back I found "Sliced Bread" at a thrift store. What a find!! Though it is a worn paperback, I cherish it greatly.

I handed it to my 91 year old mother last week. She read it in three days and just loved it.

What great news to hear the Sum and Total of Now is coming out soon. I'll be buying it for sure. Since I'm now in my 50's, it's definately time for me to read them again.

When I first read the story (I always think of the three books as one long story) it, of course, made me cry BIGTIME. I didn't know during the first two readings that my own son would eventually be diagnosed with leukemia. Lucky for us the medical world now knows how to treat this disease. Because of this my sons story turned out quite different than Morris Bird III's did, as he has been cancer free for six years.

Oh dear, I didn't mean to go on for so long... Oh well...

Onward, ever onward.

illustrator said...

Bybee,
I'm an old illustrator who has little time for the web, but when I do find a moment I often put in Don Robertson's name and pray that someone else has found him.
I was stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1965-66 and found "Greatest Thing..." at the post library. I was hooked. Since then I've read them all and believe you could string them together chronologically to create the Great American Novel.
I also found "Little Big Man" in the same library. Thanks U.S.Army for finding a great selector of books.

Gloria Slater said...

In response to illustrator, I, too, found Little Big Man around the same time that I found Greatest Thing. For me, they will always be linked and mark a true milestone in my life.

George A. Kays said...

The trilogy has been recently republished, my CO bought me "The Greatest Thing Since..." for a end of year gift when I was 19 (now 20)...I was hooked, I laughed, I cried, I was mesmerized.

I am working at "The Sum..." right now, as soon as I am done that, I am moving on to "The Greatest Thing That..." I feel such a connection to these books. Don Robertson is such an amazing writer.

The re-published books can be found here...

http://www.amazon.ca/Greatest-Thing-Since-Sliced-Bread/dp/0061452963/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256337114&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.ca/Greatest-Thing-That-Almost-Happened/dp/0061868140/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256337114&sr=1-9

George Kays
georgekays@hotmail.com

Jer from Chicago said...

I discovered Don Robertson's work back in the mid-70s when I received Praise the Human Season as a Literary Guild selection. I never forgot it and decided to reread it last year (2008). Now I want to read ALL of his work! So far I've gotten through Paradise Falls, Miss Margaret Ridpath and the Dismantling of the Universe, the Morris Bird trilogy and The Ideal Genuine Man. Next is Make a Wish, and I have Mystical Union, Victoria at Nine and Harv sitting here waiting. I hope to make it through all of his work by the end of 2010. I am trying to find affordable copies of Barb and The Forest of Arden - any suggestions? Email is collinsje5@sbcglobal.net.

By the way, Ridpath is a wonderful book, but I suggest reading Paradise Falls first so that you get the many references.

Of all his books, at least so far, Praise the Human Season is still my favorite. It surprises me that it wasn't made into a movie!

Anonymous said...

Without question, Praise the Human Season is one of the best novels of all time. Robertson captures the essence of life in a writing style that is truly wonderous. They should make this into a movie.

gloria said...

<>
Speaking of making his books into movies. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!! I caught the last 40 minutes of a movie based on The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened. (Swimming Upstream) And I can honestly say what almost happened was my lunch making an unwelcome reappearance. It wasn't bad enough that the actors seemed drugged or had only gotten the script the day before filming, but the end of the movie left you thinking (and rightly so) that Morris had died, only to ruin the whole book by tagging on a hideous written epilogue before the credits stating Morris had "made it" and was now helping other kids with terminal diseases. I sat in stunned silence. Funny I would receive your update today of all days. Poetic justice perhaps.

gloria said...

Sorry, I tried to put a spoiler alert on my previous post, but the program wouldn't accept my tags. My apologies to anyone currently reading The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened. Go ahead and finish it, you'll love it anyway. Heck, you knew what was going to happen the first chapter in, we all did. But we had to finish it, right, who could put down a book like that, foreshadowing or not.

Lauralew said...

I worked at a book store in the Midwest in 1975 and read Praise the Human Season during slow times. Now I have my own copy and have re-read it several times--interesting to see how my take on the characters has changed along with me. Absolutely remains one of my favorite novels. I went on a Don Robertson tear after PTHS and read Paradise Falls, The Greatest Thing... and a couple of other works. Until today, I was the only person I'd met who had read him; found out that a new friend of mine reads him also. We occasionally come out of the woodwork :).

gloria said...

Yes, we do come out of the woodwork sometimes, Lauralew. If only long enough to get another book.

Hilary Turner said...

I began reading Don Robertson as a very young teenager in the early 1970s. Although I did go on to get a PhD in English Literature, he remains an influence that still guides me. His books make a believable link between historical events and human needs and desires. He understood the human heart in a way few writers can. Certain scenes are still indelible in my mind: Margaret Ridpath bites through a tooth while playing six spades, doubled and redoubled. Morris Bird III's grandmother begs him for more morphine. Julie Sutton cries when Morris cannot make love to her. Floyd Sherman absconds with a bunch of women's dresses.

What a brilliant writer he was.

Susan said...

I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland. I LOVED Don Robertson's books because I could relate to everything he experienced in his books. I have been looking for his books for years so I can share them with my husband and other family members. Tell me what I can do to get his books re-introduced into the mainstream bookstores. These are CLASSICS novels that should not go unnoticed.

Lauralew said...

Found an old copy of _Paradise Falls_ and it now resides on my bookshelf next to PTHS. Currently am working on a novel set in Oberlin in the 1890s, so thought PF would help me with the research :). Any excuse!

Mosetta Maria Penick Phillips-Cermak said...

I did not know that this blog existed. I am not only a fan of Don Robertson, but I am honored to have know him. I first met him at a writers' workshop at Cuyahoga Community College, and he was gracious enough to give me pointers on my writing themes and insight on the development of my characters. His gracious phone conversations and his willingness to read my rewrites will never be forgotten.
I treasure my autograph copies of all his novels. Thank you, Don.

Josh M said...

I created a fan site for Don Robertson on Facebook. Please like the page and contribute your stories, memories, reviews, photos, etc. Thanks.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fans-of-author-Don-Robertson/192019810969577

Anonymous said...

I read Paradise Falls in 1968. It was on a bookshelf in my house and it was the middle of the night and I was a sophomore in high school who was reading my way through the shelves in our front hall. I think I read it again over the next few years and as an adult have looked for it because the story of Ada Masonbrink Seeds and her hatpin was stuck in my memory. I recently found a hard cover copy of Volume II at a local(New York City) bookstore. I couldn't have been more delighted.