Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Day They Shot Out the Lights at the A.S.S. Dry Cleaners

Niavaran Palace, north Tehran

            When we lived in Tehran, Iran back in the days of the Shah, we lived in a fairly westernized neighborhood.  People there knew more about the West, and America, than most in the huge city of Tehran.
            Right up the road, about half a mile, was Niavaran Palace, where the Shah lived most of the time.  He had many palaces from which to choose.
            We lived on a wide avenue, and all the houses on the avenue were enclosed by walled compounds.
Son Mark in our yard with German Shepherd Schatzi

            Next door to us, right behind our house as shown above, was the A.S.S. Dry Cleaners.  Next to that was the Barf Laundry.  “Barf” is Persian for “snow”.  I don’t know what the A.S.S. stood for, but the neon lights on both buildings were in western characters and Farsi, or Persian, script.
            At Christmastime, these buildings were all dressed with colored lights.   I noted above that our neighborhood was “westernized”, but most of our neighbors spoke only Farsi, and didn’t know much about “The West” except that it was the land of their dreams. 
            Since the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Republic of Iran formed in 1979, the picture Americans usually get of Iranians is that they hate America and Americans.  But in 1970-72, when we lived there, all the Iranians I talked with admired the U.S. and couldn’t wait to visit.  In the meantime, they played American music, and bought American clothes.
            My father sent our oldest son, John (age 12) a BB-gun for Christmas, and he and his little brother, Mark (age 10) couldn’t wait to try it out. 
            One day, around Christmas, Marty and I went to a social event, and left the children with our Badji, (Maid), Parvin. 
            The boys went up on the roof of our house and commenced to test out the new BB gun by shooting out the Christmas lights on the A.S.S. Dry Cleaners building. 
            Soon the proprietor saw that these small Americans were shooting out his lights and he stormed over to tell Parvin, and she called the boys down, and of course reported their transgression to us when we returned.
            Today, if a kid shoots anything with a BB gun in the United States, it’s a whole lot more serious than in 1970. 
            But if an American kid got caught shooting out lights in Tehran today, I expect our whole family would wind up spending a few years in dreaded Evin Prison. 
            We apologized to the Proprietor of the Dry Cleaners and gave him money to replace the broken lights and a small gift which seemed to please him. 
            What a difference a few years makes!

The Personal Navigator offers these books and papers:

Kipling: Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack Room Ballads by Kipling, Rudyard 1924 Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co. The Ballad of East and West; marvelous collection of ballads that capture the flavor of life with the British Army in the far reaches of Victoria's Empire. Ballad of Boh Da Thone. The Sacrifice of Er-heb.Tomlinson. Danny Deever.
West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgement seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
217 pp. 13 x 20 cm. Decorated dark green cloth on board, edges rubbed, very good. (5100) $20.00 Poetry/Literature

Floral Gift, The, From Nature and the Heart Chauncey, Mary, Editor 1846 Worcester, MA: Jonathan Grout, Jr. This is a delightful little book, probably first edition but since several differing editions appeared in 1846, it is unclear.  This book tells the language of flowers, which "betray, like the divining rods of magi old, where priceless wealth lies buried, not of gold, But love, strong love, that never can decay!" Poems about many flowers and the words they convey, including Acacia (Chaste Love), Aloe (Sorrow, Dejection), Amoranth (Immortality), American Linden (Matrimony), Aspen (Lamentation), Buttercup (Childishness), Bachelor's Button (Hope and Love), Damask Rose (Bashful Love), over 110 more. 128 pp. 7.4 x 11.4 cm. Brown cloth with gilt title and floral decoration. Color frontispiece illustration of red flower with tissue guard. Gilt-edged pages. Very neat, clean, very good copy. (8015) $75.00. Poetry

Golden Treasury of Irish Verse, A, edited by Lennox Robinson 1925 New York, NY: The MacMillan Company. Poems by W.B. Yeats, Patrick Kelly, Lionel Johnson, Fanny Parnell, Sir Samuel Ferguson, Hon. Emily Lawless, Padraic Colum, Austin Clarke, Thomas Parnell, and more. 346 pp. 11 x 17 cm. Dark blue cloth on board with gilt design and printing. Corners bumped, edges lightly frayed. Gift inscription On front free endpaper. Very good. (3321) $20.00. Poetry/Irish

Gray, Thomas: Poetical Works of Thomas Gray, English and Latin; Edited with an introduction by John Bradshaw, M.A., LL.D. Gray, Thomas 1894 London, England George Bell & Sons, York St., Covent Garden. Ode on the Spring, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard; Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College; Agrippina; Sonnet on the Death of Richard West 319 pp. 11 x 17 cm. Quarter leather, marbled paper on board, edges worn. Marbled endpapers and marbled page ends. Very good. (3509) $35.00. Poetry/Biography

Harmonies Poétiques et Riligieuses par A. de Lamartine, Membre de la Académie Française [Poetry, in French] de Lamartine, Alphonse 1837 Bruxelles: J.P. Meline, Libraire-Éditeur. Première Harmonie: Invocation. L'hymne de la Nuit. Hymne du Matin. La Lame du Temple. Bénédiction de Dieu dans la Solitude.  Aux Chrétiens dans les temps d'épreuves. Hymne de l'Enfant a son Réveil. Hymne du soir dans les Temples. Etc. 267 pp. 10 x 15 cm. Marbled boards with leather spine, back cover detached, front cover nearly so. Leather of spine missing.  Prize inscription dated Mai 1850 on half title page, and note inserted in book: "This is not a Christmas present but is interesting…Published in Brussells 99 years ago.[in 1837] Given to your grandmother as a prize when she was 10 years old." Poor. (6927) $31.00. Poetry

John Keats, Complete Poetical Works and Letters, Cambridge Edition by John Keats ©1899 Boston, MA Houghton, Mifflin and Company Excellent biographical sketch, followed by Keats' short poetic output, and his large collection of letters which are very autobiographical in nature. 473 pp. 14 x 21 cm. Brown cloth on board with gold printing. Minor scuffing at top and bottom of spine and edges of cover. Small ( 1 cm.) white paint spot on cover. Owner name sticker on ffep. Very good. (1426) $32.00. Poetry/Literature.


Kasîdah, The; of Hâji Abdû El-Yezdî, Or The Lay of the Higher Law by Abdû the Traveller; Translated and Annotated by His Friend and Pupil, F.B. Sir Richard F. Burton, K.C.B. [250 copies of this edition were published.] 1915 Portland, ME: Thomas Bird Mosher. Thomas Mosher issued this 1915 reprint of Burton's 1880 Kasîdah, dedicating it to Charles Freeman Libby. This edition has paper-covered boards with gilt inscription in Farsi: "Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî"  Frontispiece portrait of Burton from etching by Léopold Flameng, with tissue guard.  Kasîdah, acc. To Oxford English Dictionary, is a classical Arabic or Persian poem, which begins with a reference to a forsaken campground, followed by a lament, and a prayer to one's comrades to halt while the memory of the departed dwellers is invoked. Introduction by William Marion Reedy declares that "The Kasîdah will never be as popular as the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (to which it is often compared), but it will endure...."  Burton (1821-1890) claims to have been the translator of these verses, and in Notes provided describes the author,  Hâjî Abdû, as a native of Yezd Province (central Iran), "who has travelled far and wide with his eyes open", and has added to his native Persian, and classical Arabic, some Latin, Greek, scraps of Chinese, Hebrew, Syriac, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Slav, Berber and more;   but it is well-established that Burton, the Victorian scholar, soldier, linguist and adventurer, was the author. This edition contains numerous tributes to Burton,  by Theodore Watts-Dunton and Algernon Charles Swinburne. It also reproduces a facsimile of the 1880 first edition.  At end of text is notation that 250 copies of this book were printed on Van Gelder hand-made paper and the type distributed in the month of  "October MDCCCCXV" 100 pp. including notes and bibliography.  23.5 x 31.7 cm. Paper-covered boards with gilt inscription in Farsi: "Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî";  cream trim, lightly soiled, with one-cm tear to top of spine. Frontispiece tissue guard loose. Text block excellent.  Deckle-edged pages. Very good.  (7314)  $75.00. Poetry.

Lady's Cabinet of Polite Literature, The; containing a Selection of Chaste and Elegant Poems 1813. Boston, MA: Thomas Wells, No. 3, Hanover Street. Collection includes The Traveller by Goldsmith; The Hermit by Parnell; Armine and Elvira by Cartwright; An Elegy, Written in a Country Churchyard, by Gray; Goody Blake and Harry Gill, by Wordsworth. 206 pp. 8 x 13 cm. Calf on board, cover worn and scuffed, 1 cm. Hole in spine. Owner name on front pastedown, pages foxed. Good. (2715) $45.00. Poetry.

Lalla Rookh: An Oriental Romance, A new Edition, revised by the Author, with a new preface and notes by Moore, Sir Thomas. 1854. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Co.   Dedicated to Samuel Rogers, Esq. by Thomas Moore, 1817.  In Preface, Moore notes that this is 20th edition, and quotes poem from friend: "I'm told, dear Moore, your lays are sung, (Can it be true, you lucky man?) By moonlight, in the Persian tongue, Along the streets of Ispahan."  Poetic tale of Lalla Rookh. "The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan." "Paradise and the Peri" "The Fire-Worshippers"....  232 pp. 7 x 10.8 cm. Cloth on board, blindstamped design front and back.  Gilt-edged pages. Endpages slightly soiled, moderate wear, good. (7196) $15.00. Poetry/Persia

1 comment:

  1. Neat story. Reminds me of our adventures, like hunting rats at the dump. We didn't use a B.B. gun.