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Monday, February 06, 2017

In Brooklyn over the weekend, and Boots and I went to the Brooklyn Public Library, mostly to visit the space, which has a family connection. The entrance is framed by gilded representations of literary characters, many with Brooklyn connections, some not. Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick, Walt Whitman.... and Archy and Mehitabel. Nobody in my family knew who they were, but because I secretly grew up in the 20's and 30's I do. A columnist for the Evening Sun named
Don Marquis created them. Archy was a free verse poet reincarnated as a cockroach, and Mehitable was his friend, an alley cat. Marquis would leave a sheet of paper in his typewriter, and in the morning he would find a poem or a story that Archy had written by throwing himself onto the keys. Since he couldn't work the shift key, Archy's writing was always in lower case. The series was really popular, and is now pretty much completely obscure. It was an odd sort of literary moment for me, to be one of the very few people within what I would guess to be a fair-sized radius to know about this writer and his characters.

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