Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Story of Steve and Uncle Allen

The Story of Steve and Uncle Allen

I had long been studying A. Hyatt Verrill (AHV), his history and transcribing some of his works before I met Steve.
eBay was always a ‘must see’ location for finding and cataloguing the works of Verrill. It had seemed for the two years that I was the only one who was at all interested in Verrill and his works. I had built his Wikipedia page; I had compiled a list of his works —an ongoing activity. On this one day I came across a letter from Verrill to one of his publishers. The advertisement included photos of part of the correspondence, typewritten but with his signature, which up to that time I had never seen before. The price on this one page of correspondence was $50US.
This was an interesting find but there was no way that I was prepared to pay that price and I wrote to the vendor that the letter was interesting but he was asking too much!
The vendor was Steve; he wrote back explaining that to anyone really interested in this extraordinary author, this price was not too much to pay!

Well that started our correspondence, he lived in Washington State, I resided in Nova Scotia, but we had a common bond – Verrill.
It seemed that economic times were at opposite ends of the teeter-totter. Steve was divorced, unhealthy and economically depressed — I was enjoying retirement, fat but well exercised and doing just fine. We both enjoyed Verrill and we discussed joint projects. I discovered his autobiography and this provided me with a sound project that I considered quite doable as a solo enterprise. Once digitized, I often provided Steve with advanced copies.

At the same time Steve introduced his Uncle Al into our correspondence. His Uncle had provided him with his first Verrill books. AHV was Uncle Al’s favourite reading – passing that interest to Steve in total.
I believe that Steve passed a lot of time with his Uncle in his failing years. Recently I received an unanticipated parcel in the mail. The customs form said two Verrill books.
Uncle Al had died and Steve wrote:

Dear Doug,
After a long battle with many ailments, my uncle, Allen, passed away on Feb. 6. While he was ill, his only entertainment was reading, and he thoroughly enjoyed the Verrill stories I printed for him off your website.
I am sure he would like you to have the 2 books I have enclosed that belonged to him. I am not sure if you have obtained them yet. "An American Crusoe" still commands a high price for whatever reason, so hopefully you still need a copy.
Take care, Steve

Steve sent me two books from his Uncle’s library, The Cruise of the Cormorant and An American Crusoe. The later is the first novel by Verrill, dated 1914; I had never considered buying it since it was listed at $250US on the used book market.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.