My family visited a few weekends ago. My aunt noticed my bookcases (which totally made me internally squee as if I’d just seen a baby panda roll down a slide) and asked if I gotten any cool new books.
This is not the thing to ask an eccentric who went to library school and has a minimal grasp on popular culture.
I excitedly grabbed The Greatest Boxing Stories Ever Told (2004), a collection of sagas from the squared circle, edited by Jeff Silverman.
Not new enough? Okay. What about this?!!!
I immediately pointed out a copy of John Strausbaugh’s The Village: 400 Years of Beats, Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, published in 2013 and detailing the previous 400 years of Greenwich Village history.
Kind smile. Blank stare.
A previous post bragged about my Christmas book haul and I’m sad to admit that I haven’t gotten around to reading any of them yet. All my free time this new year has been spent either knitting or crocheting my kids ninja masks (they’re in a phase) or myself a new set of arm warmers and a matching hat (it’s been cold). My husband took me to the Lion Brand Yarn Outlet and I went a little crazy, so you know….
Anyhoo, it will be a little while before I get to those new-to-me books because two new titles just jumped to the front of the line. Neither are new books. I think I’m the only person to graduate from library school without having touched — let alone read! — a galley proof or advance copy of any recent title, or even rushed to read a book upon release.
Both books have to do with my current research rabbit hole. They’re readings to color the background surrounding the otherwise bland and gray framework of legislation and lost records I’ve made my latest hobby.
The first is Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George?, published by former Sports Illustrated writer Joe Jares in 1974. Its first edition is out of print and costs an ungodly-to-me amount on Amazon and eBay. The second edition, released in 2015, is not as pretty, but more easily procurable (I chose to buy the book instead of make my little local library pay for Interlibrary Loan). Seriously, though, that first edition is a real beaute.
I love the watercolor illustration. I miss pre-digitally-rendered book jackets.
Below is the second edition for comparison.
Not as pretty, but I’m sure that print of Gorgeous George, hand-colored and mounted, would sell well on Etsy.
The second book, which is currently stuck in a holding pattern due to the blizzard that freaked out the Mid-Atlantic region last weekend, is Jeff Leen’s Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds, and the Making of an American Legend (2009).
While I wait for a few New York State agencies to respond to FOIL requests, I’m reading up on the world of women’s wrestling during the 1960s, when two lawsuits were filed against the New York Athletic Commission for rejected license applications, and the early 70s, when the ban was lifted. I want to put together a legislative history of women’s wrestling in New York using the legislative record, but that’s rather hard to do when the record is missing years of data. Years that envelope the eventual overturn on the state’s ban on women wrestlers.
I don’t want newspaper reports; I have newspaper reports. I want the official background, thoughts, ideas, and opinions held by the members of the New York State Athletic Commission on the matter. I want the meeting minutes.
I want to know how the former chairman, Edwin B. Dooley, could go from “It is degrading” (State Athletic Commission meeting minutes, March 31, 1967) to legalizing women’s wrestling in 1972, and be quoted as saying:
“There are many reasons why the commission acted at this time. Just a few months ago, I lifted the long ban on properly accredited and assigned female sportswriters, permitting them now to sit in the working press rows at boxing matches. Women wrestlers are licensed in about 12 other states and jurisdictions. In checking with the New Jersey State Athletic Commission recently, I found that lady wrestlers and wrestling in its state has been successful and has created no special problems.” — Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974
What were those reasons? What was the thought process behind this evolution? What data was presented? What words were said? What discussion went into a change in legislation rooted in Victorian morality bullshit? And where did the papers containing this discussion go? How did the minutes get to the International Boxing Hall of Fame? Were “properly accredited and assigned female sportswriters” so big a threat that they needed to be segregated from their male peers in press row? Why is research my hobby?
That is a literal and legitimate question I have: Who actually knows what happened to these papers? I really want to know.
But until then, I’m adding some color to the picture, embellishments furnished by stories from squared circle of the three-roped kind (spoiler alert: It was hard to be a woman wrestler in the 1970s. And the 60s, the 50s, the 40s…).