The Long-Lost Friend Update

A couple of minor setbacks recently.

First, we had the matter of the Sears Roebuck catalogs and the ads therein for The Long-Lost Friend.  Poster Bobby went way above and beyond and looked through over forty years of catalogs to try to find those ads, all to come up with nothing.  Nonetheless, his help is greatly appreciated.

Second, there’s the matter of Hohman’s origins.  We know he, his wife, and his child arrived in Philadelphia on October 12, 1802, on a ship out of Hamburg.  I got a momentary rush earlier today when visiting, which promised a ship registry with ages and last known residence, but all it told me was that Hohman arrived with a big freakin’ basket.   More detailed records exist for passengers leaving Hamburg, but those files apparently only go back to 1850.

Still, there’s good news in other quarters.  Bret Kramer has agreed to spend some time with the 1846 copy of The Long-Secreted Friend, the first English edition of Hohman’s book.  Even better, it claims to have been published by Hohman himself, so we’ll see if that turns up anything.  I also tracked down copies of many miscellaneous recipes that appear at the end of one variant edition.  If I get all my permissions in order, this will be the most complete edition of Hohman’s book ever published.

It occurred to me today that this book has a character much like the Encyclopedia, insofar as it will keep expanding until I decide to cut it off.  I also know that publishers and deadlines are often quite useful for obtaining that goal, so I’ll see what I can do in that department.

I’m going to head out now – the snake is having a “I can’t drink while you’re watching me!” moment.

Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 9:36 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ah, but imagination whirls over what could be in that big freakin’ basket! 😉

    • Real-life: Clothes and books.

      Imagination: An evil spirit, in the form of that dog that ran away from him.

  2. The Sears catalog bit is funny; certainly Hohman’s book would not have been out of place for sale next to ‘The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses’ and ‘Egyptian Secrets’, both of which were advertised in the 1890s and into the 1900s. The book “Gumbo Ya-Ya” (1945) has a reference to someone buying it from the Sears catalog, but but the 1904 article in the Journal of American Folklore on ‘The Long Lost Friend’ doesn’t mention it at all. Weird, ja?

    I really wish I had access to Sears’ specialty Book Catalogs for those years, which have a complete listing of their offerings and might be able to settle the matter.


    • I’d have to go back and look, but was the Gumbo Ya-Ya reference second- or third-hand?

  3. It was the first time in print, I think; the author reportedly got it directly from his source, Gaston le Cocq. I’d have to check the book out again to confirm.

    – Bobby

    • I’ve got the relevant section copied in my office, so I’ll get it on Tuesday.

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