I found the book, written by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, in a dusty bookcase in a dark little room toward the back of a secondhand shop in Snohomish, Washington. The gilded lettering on the battered spine read Annual Reports of the Department of the Interior, 1899.
But that’s not what I found inside. Long ago, Sylvia A. Perkins of Hoquiam, Washington had another idea for this leatherbound book — she turned it into a scrapbook, for the sole purpose of preserving poems carefully clipped from Park’s Floral Magazine.
Mrs. Perkins loved poems about flowers.
She inscribed the front endpaper, in pencil:
Hoquiam Sep 16th 1910.
Mrs. Sylvia A. Perkins
Research turned up a census record which shows that Sylvia Perkins was 75 years old when she made this do-it-yourself poetry collection in 1910.
Pages and clippings from Park’s Floral Magazine are pasted throughout.
Park’s was published by the Park Seed Company, beginning in 1877. Poems from other sources are tucked between a few pages.
The title page is covered with a Park’s page containing the poem, “Some Verses About the Orchids” by Lyman M. Ford, along with two short poems. It appears that the poems were contributed by readers of the magazine. I wish that Sylvia had written one of them!
The book was originally 526 pages, but since additions were pasted in, Sylvia removed some to allow the close flat. Nearly every right-hand page is covered but many of the left-hand pages were not. The juxtaposition of the charts and reports and the facing flowery poems is striking.
Here are just a few photos of this one-of-a-kind poetry scrapbook.