An acorn fell from the oak tree on my front lawn this afternoon. It’s too sad to even mention autumn, so let’s talk boys of summer. The Second Fireside Book of Baseball is a collection of short stories edited by Charles Einstein and with an introduction by Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer.
The jacket cover is showing its age and my scanner is broken, so apologies for the poor quality image.
The book was published in 1958. The Brooklyn Dodgers last played at Ebbetts Field in 1957 and first played Los Angeles in 1958. Lois Nettleton probably acquired this title during her relationship with Jean Shepherd, an avid baseball fan. My guess (a wild guess) is that Shepherd was feeling wistful about the Dodgers leaving and purchased the volume to commemorate a happier time.
Here’s a video clip of Shepherd at Fenway Park telling stories as only he does about Chicago, the White Sox, and Bullfrog Dietrich. So the book makes a lot of sense in Lois’ collection. It also pulls together a few threads — Lois, Shepherd, and Chicago, where my mom and Lois grew up.
The book has lots of photos, including this one that seems startingly prophetic.
There is lots of good stuff here, including stories by Walt Kelly of Pogo fame and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Robert Penn Warren. The book isn’t only about baseball — it’s about journalism and America and innocence.
Let me close with this cool illustration by Edmond Kohn that is printed on the inside cover of the book. It reminds me a bit of a Leroy Neiman, an artist whose work Lois had acquired.
May you enjoy the remains of summer.
You mention that Lois had acquired work by painter Leroy Neiman. Neiman did many illustrations for Playboy, where Jean Shepherd published many stories. It’s said that Jean and Leroy sometimes went out sketching together (Jean did many finely detailed ink drawings). This connection may well have been the one that led to Lois acquiring a Neiman. When I visited her apartment at her executor’s invitation, he pointed out a couple of Jean’s oil paintings on the walls. I’ve often wondered what happened to those Shepherd paintings. Also, while drinking coffee in her kitchen, right behind me was a framed Shepherd ink drawing of a building. I coveted that drawing. Of course I also wonder what happened to it.
Hello. Unfortunately, I was not the recipient of the art work. The executor took possession of the paintings, including Neiman and Shepherd. Leroy Neiman was still alive when Lois passed away, so the painting most certainly increased in value. I am fortunate to have received part of the book collection. Wish I could be of more help. I do have a photo of Lois and Shepherd that might be of interest. Perhaps I’ll scan and publish it. After meeting in the apartment, I was planning to make a copy and send it to you, but then my mom had a debilitating stroke and my daughter experienced serious health problems and everything came to a halt. Let me know how I can help now.
Hello, Katherine. Yes, of course I’d like to see the photo of Jean and Lois! Only two photos of the two together are publicly known of. One is the studio shot of the two shown (but not for sale) on ebay when her mementos of Jean were being sold. The other is a black and white photo reproduced in Helen Gee’s book “Limelight: A Greenwich Village Photography Gallery and Coffeehouse in the Fifties.” It’s a group snapshot at a party, Jean shown from the front, Lois only showing the back of her head. Should you choose to scan the photo to send to me, for an email attachment: firstname.lastname@example.org and for using snail-mail, please email me and i’ll email back my home address (which is also the address of my extensive collection that I call my “Shep Shrine”).
I think you’d enjoy the extensive post about Lois and Jean that is on my blog, http://www.shepquest.wordpress.com. In the left column of the home page is the listing of subjects of all my posts. See and click on– Nettleton, Lois –for that long blog post.
I appreciate your offer to help. I’m not sure in what way at the moment other than to state the obvious–I’m interested in all that has to do with Jean and Lois.
FYI: My book of transcribed-from-radio-broadcasts Shepherd army stories, SHEP’S ARMY is now published and I’ve been interviewed several times, once on CBS Sunday Morning TV, several times on radio, including, coming up this Saturday 8/24 AM on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon.
Cheers and Excelsior!