Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

the missing bit more

Even as a Little Kid, Chris Stephens was a Big Reader.  He was a library regular.  He had an inquisitive mind too, but overwhelmlngly his was an acquisitive mind.  He acquired knowledge.  He acquired information.  He wanted to know things.
     Young Chris read about animals and trees and Native American tribes.  He read history and etymology.  He read about countries where the stamps in his stamp collection originated.  He read about coins and about moths and butterflies.
     Much later, when I met him, he was still collecting butterflies.  He looked great leaping through meadows with his net held high above his head.  Like Vladimir Nabokov, Chris collected moths, butterflies and interesting words.
     Young Chris read mostly non-fiction, but he read some fiction too.  Cowboy fiction.  Science fiction.  Baseball stories.  Comic books.
     Chris acquired so darned much information that he seemed a perfect candidate for the Quiz Kids Radio Show.  In the “green room”, before the show started, the personable Quiz Kids host chatted with Chris, taking notes with which to later betray Chris.
     Young Chris was too short to reach the microphone so an assistant got a couple of telephone books to put on Chris’ chair.  I don’t think those 4-inch thick telephone books even exist nowadays.  Three other kids sat at the table.  They were able to speak into their microphones without the assistance of height boosters.
     The red light went on for live radio.  The host asked questions.  Three little geniuses were eager to answer.  Not Chris.  It wasn’t his style.
    When Chris sat on his hands, even for easy questions, the host took out his notes and asked the kids obscure questions about Native Americans and insects and tiny countries that issued lovely stamps.  The other kids scowled.  Only Chris knew these particular answers.  He didn’t raise his hand though.  Didn’t want to.
    But it was radio.  No one could see whose hand was up and whose hand was quite resolutely down.
     “Ah.  I see little Chris Stephens has his hand up”, lied the host smoothly.  Trapped on live radio by an entertainment professional, Chris was forced to answer questions. He didn’t like it though, and wouldn’t come back to the show.
     Chris went back to the hobbies he loved: collecting interesting things and reading lots of books.  Now, ten Little Chris lifetimes along, these are hobbies he continues to love.
     His disinterests have endured all this time too.  For instance, I’ve always thought that Chris and I would make a great vaudevillian-style comedy team.  His extremely dry humor cracks me up.  He would be the straight man, delivering very funny lines without breaking a smile. For contrast, I’d be only too happy to ham it up a bit.
     Alas.  Even after all this time to reconsider, Christopher Stephens still has no interest in show business.

Clips from old quiz kids shows (Chris’ single show is not included)

NY Times article about Vladimir Nabokov and his alternate identity as  lepidopterist extrodinaire

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to more stories like this about Chris Stephens, because although he smiles a lot, I haven't heard him talk a lot about his childhood!