Remembering George F. Leinwall, who loved books

BOOKS & AUTHORS

January 31, 1993|By James H. Bready

The year started with the death of George F. Leinwall -- book man, collector, patron; on Jan. 1, at age 77, of cancer, at his home in Carroll County, his wife Mary Helen and their daughter Francesca at his side. By his request, there was no service, no death notice or obituary, no fuss.

A New Yorker, he came here 40-some years ago to work for the Social Security Administration; upon retirement, succeeding the late Clarence Russell, he became manager and persona of the main Remington Book Store, the one at Charles and Mulberry, until its closing in 1979. His trademarks: beard, good clothes, a memory for faces. Last year, independently, he was still dealing.

And collecting. Joyce above all (he gave his collection to the James Joyce Foundation in Dublin; a second he started was given to Southern Methodist University in Dallas), but also Arthur Rackham, private-press books, Conrad, eminent English firsts.

He read his books, too. He memorized -- Denis Boyles, who worked for him at Remington, marveled how George Leinwall could recite Conrad, Dickens and, especially, Joyce.

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New and choice, one by land, the other by sea:

In 1950, technology gave U.S. railroads an ultimatum: shift from coal-fired steam to oil-fired diesel. Maryland's railroads -- the Baltimore & Ohio, Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, Maryland & Pennsylvania and (the most reluctant of them) Norfolk & Western -- set about scrapping their smokestack locomotives.

James P. Gallagher, sensing the pictorial loss, undertook to record the old rail style. He got off from work, he befriended railroaders, he climbed (lugging 4x5 view camera and tripod), he waited. His resulting black-and-white prints of travel and transport during steam's last decade, with Jacques Kelly's informative text blocks, compose "Trackside Maryland" (Greenberg Publishing Co., $49.95). Mr. Gallagher is a retired stockbroker, Mr. Kelly a Metro columnist for The Evening Sun.

Pluming smoke; canteens and cabooses; familiar bridges; stations, station agents; enormous Mallets and Mikados and Mountains; tunnels, trestles, turntables -- the book does best of all by the Ma & Pa.

"We have come to the very last generation of men who knew and sailed the schooners of the [Chesapeake] Bay. Soon there will be none who can remember . . ." As a two-master, this was the longest-lived, most numerous and least glamorous class of workboat; since 1957, when the Anna and Helen, then an oyster dredger, sank in Crisfield harbor, the bay has been bare of merchant schooners.

As with steam locomotives, there was need to record. Quentin Snediker of Connecticut, a maritime preservationist, and Ann Jensen, an Annapolis writer, have collaborated on "Chesapeake Bay Schooners" (Cornell Maritime Press, $44.95).

Their book goes all out: interviews, research, photos, scale vessel plans, glossary, endnotes and checklist of 500-plus schooners (two- to five-masted), rams, bugeyes and pungies built in Maryland or Virginia between 1805 and 1924, with each one's fate, if known.

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Just coincidence, just nonbeginner's luck -- but where is the hero from, in Stephen Hunter's new thriller, "Point of Impact"? Where does much of the action occur?

Yup, Arkansas.

"Impact," out this week, is as usual a Book-of-the-Month Club choice; rights have sold for 10 overseas markets; new for the author, Reader's Digest will be reprinting it as a condensed book.

In two visits to Arkansas, Mr. Hunter never met the Clintons. And by now, after one more day's movie-reviewing for The Sun, he sits down at his home computer and, for his sixth novel, thinks about . . . the Oklahoma State Police.

Some addenda from our recent listing of 1992 books relating to Baltimore and the state of Maryland: "My Heritage Cookbook," ++ by Lorna Duane Smith, and (for children) "The Darling Boys," by M. C. Helldorfer.

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The first robin? No. But 1993's first Bird? On Feb. 6, Babe Ruth's birthday, Tidewater Press publishes Rex Barney's memoirs: "Thank Youuuuuu: 50 Years in Baseball, From Brooklyn to Baltimore" ($19.95). Mr. Barney, of course, is a former pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers and currently the Orioles' longtime public address announcer. On Feb. 6, he'll sign copies of his book at the Babe Ruth Museum and also open a new exhibit, "Brooklyn's Barney and Babe." For information call the museum at (410) 727-1539.

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Chatter: An albumen print of Abraham Lincoln (seated, beardless, Springfield, Ill., 1859; estimate, $1,000 to $2,000) highlights Baltimore Book Co.'s Civil War & Photography auction, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m., Towson Quality Inn. . . . Clifton Taulbert, author of "The Last Train North," will speak at Pratt Library's 1993 Black History Luncheon, Feb. 13, 12:30 p.m., Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel. . . . Jim Sizemore, playwright, will speak at the Baltimore Writers' Alliance's meeting Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elkridge Estates clubroom.

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