In the fall of 1984, I went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to sit in the audience as the Snake River Institute honored Alvin Josephy with a weekend of readings, speeches, films and discussions
Alvin Josephy loved amateur historians. When I opened the Bookloft in Enterprise in 1976, he was still working full time at American Heritage in New York City, writing his big history books and newspaper and magazine articles in the midnight hours. He and his wife, Betty, would come west each summer, she for the summer, he for a few weeks before he went back to the job.
And the Bookloft was always one of his first stops. He would comb the western and local history shelves for new books like 35 Years on Smith Mountain and Hells Canyon of Snake River, make a big stack of them at the counter, and ask about more. Were there new novels, books or pamphlets, diaries, books of letters, anything on the Nez Perce, fishing the Columbia, on Lewis and Clark and the Indians.
He would talk about academic historians missing out on the West because they confined themselves too much to official Read The Article
Rick Bombaci stopped by to bring me a Sun Magazine, August 2010, with an article by John Thorndike about caring for his aging father, Joe Thorndike. Rick mentioned that Joe must have overlapped with Alvin, as Thorndike senior edited the Harvard Crimson in 1934, worked for Time, Life, etc. I thought I remembered the name, and on checking, he is of course mentioned in Alvin’s A Walk Toward Oregon:
“My old Harvard friend Jim Parton, who had returned to New York after liquidating the daily newspaper he had tried to start in Los Angeles for Henry Luce, weaned me away from Time and over to his newest–and, this time, sensationally successful–venture, the American Heritage Publishing Company. Its major product, American Heritage magazine, dedicated to popularizing American history by good writing as well as sound scholarship, had been founded after the war by a group of eminent historians, led by… Allan Nevins. but had floundered financially until Parton and Read The Article