York, PA: 1932. Very Good. Item #20821
York, PA: 1932. Small octavo (17cm.); black cloth, upper cover "Diary" lettered in gilt; 206pp., filled to completion. Cloth a bit dusty, the youthful owner's faint pencil ownership initials on upper cover and in ink on textblock fore-edge. Still, given its heavy use, Very Good and sound.
Gift inscription from Bob Grass on front leaf to future cartoonist and commercial artist John Lawrence Frick. Frick was 13 going on 14 in 1932, living with his mother in York, Pennsylvania, his father having died six years earlier. Clearly at the time of his keeping this diary, which is dotted with already masterful drawings, Frick's great love was experimental chemistry, though by the time he entered high school in August he was already being assigned to do the cover art of the high school newspaper. The first half of the year is filled with notes on his chemistry experiments: "January 1: Stayed up lated last night & made noise on a tin tub...I bought some sulphuric acid & bismuth for my Laboratory"; "January 3: Moved my laboratory into my room...I lit a 10¢ flare, & burned my leg & a big hole into the floor. I tried to dig the ashes out, & covered the place with a rug. I'm scared! Mother hasn't found it out. (My room smells)." Larry would eventually fill the hole with silly putty, only to be found out by Mother a few days later. More significantly is the day-to-day portrait of white middle-class boyhood during the Great Depression, the days filled with collecting stamps and coins ("Harvey Smith had 2 teeth pulled today & I gave him an English cent to sooth him"), playing baseball and football, going for drives, eating ice cream sodas, seeing Frankenstein at the movie theater, and reading Horatio Alger rags-to-riches novels. Only one leaf redacted, on January 14, when Frick "got balled out from Miss Frank because on the blackboard I wrote my name 'Frickenstein,' after the movie."