Welcome to the blog for Lighthouse Books, ABAA. My name is Michael Slicker. We are a family-owned and operated antiquarian bookstore that has been open more than thirty-five years, located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Please have a look around the blog. Bookmark us or subscribe to an RSS feed so that you will be alerted when we make updates. Please follow the links to our spot on AbeBooks and our online bookstore for listings of some of what we have available. Thank you for visiting us online. You can visit us in person at 1735 First Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg. We specialize in rare books, unusual books, antique maps, vintage photographs and more.
Here are selected literary birthdays and some of the events we'll be attending in the coming weeks. We'd love to see you there. Click on the event for details.
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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Josh Billings, 19th century humorist
It is the birthday of writer Josh Billings (1818), who may be the greatest 19th century humorist nobody's ever heard of — at least in modern times. Why? Billings might have been eclipsed by Mark Twain, a contemporary. Like Twain, Billings is a pseudonym. The writer's real name was Henry Wheeler Shaw, not exactly the household name that even Samuel Langhorne Clemens is. Shaw was born in Massachusetts. His father (Henry Sr.), his uncle and his grandfather were all congressmen. Not Henry Jr., though. He didn't pursue politics. He got himself tossed out of college for pulling a sophomoric prank, held a series of jobs, coal miner, farmer, explorer and auctioneer, and finally settled down to make a living as a journalist. Writing as Josh Billings, he created works of witty, down-home wisdom in vernacular language and phonetic spelling. He wrote several books, including Josh Billings' Sayings, Choice Bits of American Wit and Josh Billings' Trump Kards, none of which are widely remembered today. Among the doggerel credited to Billings is this verse called The Kicker: I hate to be a kicker,/I always long for peace,/But the wheel that does the squeaking,/Is the one that gets the grease. John Steinbeck paid homage to Billings in his novel Cannery Row, set in Monterey, California. That's where Billings died (1885). According to Steinbeck's account, the town's only doctor (also an amateur mortician), prepared Billings body for burial by removing the entrails and packing it with sawdust. As usual, the good doctor tossed the entrails into a gulch behind his house. They were discovered by a young boy and his dog, who planned to used them for fishing bait but were stopped by locals who prevented the desecration (and the subsequent disgrace to the community) and forced the good doctor to perform a proper burial. Steinbeck noted, perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek that Monterey was a city proud of its literary heritage and couldn't let such a horrible thing happen.
Our specialties include Floridiana (Florida History, Florida Authors, Florida Related Ephemera), American History, Literature of the South, Military History (including, but not limited to, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korean War), Children’s Literature, Maps, Leather Bindings and Rare & Unusual items.
We also have a wide variety of general stock, including a large Landscape/Gardening section, a great selection of Christian/Church History/Bible Study titles, Beat Literature, and much more. Please browse our extensive category list.
This blog is your online connection to Lighthouse Books, ABAA, offering updates on our activities and an insider's look at some of our offerings. We hope you'll enjoy it and visit often. We'd love to hear from you.