is the first of what we hope to be a monthly newsletter. Our
purpose is to make it informative, as well as fun. It's certainly
been fun putting together this first one!
oldest son Joe, who you may have seen working here back in
March, has agreed to be our editor. His qualifications are
excellent, as he edited all my papers through college a few
years ago. He's agreed to fit the newsletter into his busy
schedule of work & school on the condition that I let
him write his own folklore column -- don't miss it, his interest
With those words
the tradition of the Book Again Newsletter began.
As I recall, it
was November of 1985, and my brothers and I had assembled at
my mother's for dinner. During the course of the meal, she announced
that she planned to open a store of some sort, and asked us
for ideas. I personally pushed for a used record store, but
the winning concept was, as you well know, a used Book Store.
Brother Mike and I volunteered to help set it up, and Mike further
signed on as Store Manager.
On opening day
all the brothers were there, helping out to an extent but mostly,
I fear, just getting in each other's way. I believe Mom has
proof of this on video.
At any rate, the
store opened in March of 1986. Mom had been searching for a
name for the store, and, mindful of a song I had once written
called "Look Again," I jokingly suggested "Book
She liked it.
That Summer I got
my first computer (an IBM XT with a whopping 20MB hard drive!),
and two months later Mom hit upon the idea of starting a newsletter.
(If this sounds familiar, it should -- some eleven years later I would finally go online, and two months
after that so would Book Again.)
She asked me to
put the newsletter together, which I did, and continued to do
single-handedly through the early '90s (with monthly contributions
from Mom and Mike).
At the time I had
been getting increasingly interested in folklore, and sensed
a golden opportunity. I based my involvement on one stipulation -- that I be allowed to contribute a folklore column on a regular
basis. She readily agreed, and it worked out to the benefit
of all -- the column kept the newsletter from becoming just another throwaway
bit of advertising -- it became something that customers would actually look forward
It became frequently
a royal pain as well, especially as work and school took up
more and more of my time.
I enjoyed it, however,
and still do -- though I never would have guessed that I'd still be doing it
so many years later!
A word about what
I consider to be "folklore" is, perhaps, in order.
Certainly the usual examples apply: myths and legends, roots
of old sayings and songs, and the origins of holidays -- the latter a theme I would devote myself to exclusively for
the first six months.
Folklore, to me,
goes beyond that, however. Any historic or public figure, if
colorful enough, inevitably has some small bit of apocrypha
attached to their story, whether they be Presidents, gunslingers,
pioneers, baseball players, or Rock Stars. From Abe Lincoln's
seances, to Babe Ruth's "calling the home run," to
Stuyvesant's ghost, even to my own great uncle Adam Walsh's
exploits under Knute Rockne in the 1920's ... it's all there,
and it's all wonderfully good -- and entirely appropriate to the world of Folklore.
origins of the art of the Magician, rumors of Secret Societies
that may or may not yet wield influence to this day, the birth
of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer -- all such matters, from the trivial to the profound to the occasionally
spooky, are fair game for my musings.
Still with me?
Faithful readers may have already noticed that most of the examples
just cited have yet to make an appearance in one of these columns.
Quite so, as the columns continue to this day. Consider the
above a "teaser" -- a glimpse of things to come.
But I've rambled
enough -- the blessing and curse of writing online, free of space constraints.
Having said that, I must point out that all the columns prior
to September of 1997 were written only for the printed newsletter,
and as such they were frequently severely edited even as they
were being written. I had no choice -- I only had a finite amount of space.
It is partly for
that reason that no fewer than 16 of the original columns were
reprinted and (usually) greatly expanded for subsequent online
appearances. When such is the case you will not see the original
column -- instead I'll interject as I'm doing now with a pointer
to where the improved, expanded version may be found.
From October 1986
(our first issue) through the end of 1987 the newsletter and
column appeared almost every month. In 1988 we briefly went
bi-monthly, as we were mailing every single issue to customers,
and postage was getting a little out of hand. In July of '88
we hit upon a compromise -- we returned to the monthly schedule, but elected to mail out
only three issues a year. The remaining issues were available
only in the store.
By January of the
next year (1989) we were all just too busy to maintain any sort
of monthly schedule, and so the newsletter and column went bi-monthly
again, and would remain so until July 1991. That issue, there
was no room for a folklore column, so instead I inserted a little
box promising a return of the column "next time."
would take six months to arrive. There were various logistic
reasons for this gap, most notably being Mom's decision to move
to Valencia, but for however many reasons (I recall being frightfully
busy at school, for one thing) there would be no newsletter
for the remainder of 1991.
We returned in
January 1992, but would publish far fewer issues (four per year
from 1992 to 1994), and on occasion there would be no folklore
column. We were all moving on with our lives, and it seemed
only a matter of time until the inevitable happened.
happened in mid 1995, when I left the South Bay to move to the
San Fernando Valley. None of us were online yet (the internet
was still in its infancy), so any continuing contributions on
my end became too much trouble to attempt. Mike was editing
the newsletter by this point, and though issue #49 (Jan - May
1995) included the optimistic statement: "the folklore
column will return in the next issue of the newsletter! (hopefully)."
It was not to be. The September / December 1994 column would
be my last for years.
The rest you know
by now. Book Again's newsletter went online in September 1997,
and the folklore column returned with a vengeance! Editing chores
were divided between our Uncle Mike for the online edition and
Brother Mike for the printed version. Then by 2004, Brother
Dan (this is starting to sound like a monastery) took
over the whole darn mess.
And, though circumstances
forced a brief disappearing act on my part from May 2002 to
March 2003, I have returned, and continue to write the folklore
column (I have returned to the South Bay as well, incidentally).
As always, I trust the best is yet to be -- but I have long wanted to make previous columns available to
With these words
I now write, and the help of long-suffering Brother Dan, this
dream is now a reality.
A quick legal note:
All columns found herein are copyrighted to me, and should not
be used without permission. My ode to Charles Schulz, "Charlie
at the Bat," has found its way elsewhere on the net, and
I have no problem with that as I was in communication with the
webmaster of that site and a "copyright Joe Nolte"
appears on the page. Generally I don't mind seeing my words
take root in other places, but I strongly object to seeing my
words without my authorship mentioned...
In short, if you
want to cite any of this stuff, let us know first!
It's time to bid
this overlong introduction goodbye, and get to the folklore!
As I said, I spent the first six months delving into the origins
of Holidays. To my delight, the first issue of the newsletter
was to appear in October -- and Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. It
was a good way to start things rolling...