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Recollections of Lawrence Clark Powell, 
Librarian, Teacher, and Writer 

Interviev;ed by James V. Mink 


Completed under the auspices 

of the 

Oral History ProgX'am 

University of California 

Los Angeles 

Copyright © 197 3 
The Regents of the University of California 

This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to the 
University Library of the University of California at 
Los Angeles. Mo part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the 
University Librarian of the University of California 
at Los Angeles. 



Introduction vil 

Interview History xxix 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (April 30, 1970) 1 

Early years, Washington, D.C. — Family move 
to California, 1911 — Settling in South 
Pasadena — Childliood and youth — Traveling in 
Southern California — Early education — 
Friendship with Ward Ritchie — Cass family — 
Pasadena environment 

TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (April 30, 1970) 28 

Travels — Trip to Nev; York State — First job, 
selling papers — Soda jerk at Taylor's 
Drugstore--Magazines and newspapers 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (August 11, I969). ... 37 

Occidental College — Remsen Bird — Benjamin 
Stelter — C.P. Maclntyre — First meeting with 
Louis Epstein — Librarians at Occidental — 
Ward Ritchie and book collecting — Introduction 
to works of Robinson Jeffers — Robert Glass 
Cleland--Fraternity pranks — Fraternity brothers 
— Bob Donaldson — Close friends 

TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (August 11, I969). ... 63 

Around-the-world trip — First memories of 
Europe--V/orking as musician upon return — 
Recollections of Occidental College — Summer 
experiences — Meeting Fay Shoemaker — The Bell 
f amily--Mother ' s Influence 

TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (August I8, I969). . . . 8I 

Activities at Occidental--Debate and public 
speaking — Clyde Brown — Ritchie and printing — 
The Abbey — Job at's — Interest in 
Robinson Jeffers — Influence of Gordon Newell 


— Jeffers' poetry — Meeting with John Steinbeck 
— Study in Dijon — "Last fling" in Paris — 
Dijon: the Fishers — Faculty of the university 
— Learning French — Life in a pension — Doctoral 
program — Dissertation on Jeffers — Doctoral 
examination — Mother's visit--Al Fisher-- 
Publishing of the dissertation--Sources on 
Jef fers--Correspondence with Jeffers — Return 
to California, visit to Carmel and the 
Jeff erses 

TAPE NUMBER: III, Side Two (August 26, I969). • • .135 

Return to Southern Calif ornia--Marriage to 
Pay Shoemaker--Living in South Laguna — 
Primavera Press — Influence of Jake Zeitlin 
— Working at Zeitlin' s — Zeitlin and Primavera 
Press — Robert Cov;an — Bishop William Stevens — 
Bookselling at Zeitlin' s — Move to Los Angeles 
Public Library — Library school at Berkeley-- 
Working at UC Press — Library school faculty — 
Return to LAPL — First position at UCLA, 1938 
— Goodwin — Poor quality of collection-- 
Memorials for Goodwin 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side One (September 8, I969). . • 192 

Virginia Trout — Job at UCLA in acquisitions — 
Offers of other jobs — Gift sollcltatlon-- 
UCLA faculty — Ma j 1 Ewing — Library exhibits — 
Cowan collection 

TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side Two (September 8, I969) • • -221 

Jens Nyholm — Visit with Robert Gordon Sproul 
— Opportunities with other libraries — Interview 
at Northwestern — Offer to be Read Librarian at 
UCLA--Appointment as Librat^lan of the Clark 
Library, 19^^ 

TAPE NUMBER: V, Side One (September 15, 1969)- • • 239 

Cora Sanders — Clark Library--Increasing use 
of the Clark — Faculty support — Layout of the 
Clark — Collections — Staff — H. Richard Archer 
— Harding collection — Local printers — 
Becoming University Librarian — Sproul and 


UCLA — Neal Harlov/, assistant librarian — 
Other llbrarlans--Goodwln In later years 
— Staff changes as University Librarian 
— Closing collection gaps 

TAPE NUMBER: V, Side Two (October 21, I969). . . .286 

Loyalty oath controversy--John Caughey — 
Charles Mowat — Edward Dickson — Dickson and 
the School of Library Service — Hole art 

TAPE NUMBER: VI, Side One (October 21, I969). • • 312 

Carrie Jacobs Bond acquisition — Refusal of 
the Arensberg art collection — Controversy 
over the Hole Collection — Clarence Dykstra 
— Bullock's seeks to buy the Janss Triangle 
— Opposed by the university — Pressure from 
Dickson and Alphonzo Bell — UCLA gets the 

TAPE NUMBER: VII, Side One (November 11, I969). • 331 

Ten-cent notebook — Plans for the library — 
Library Committee — Bringing in Neal Harlow 
— Harold Leupp — Library Councll--Buying 
pollcles--Plans for the Clark — Appointment 
of Robert Vesper — Heads' meetings 


Lawrence Clark Powell of South Pasadena 

Aside from my brothers, I have known Lawrence Clark 
Powell longer than any person now alive. When I first 
knew him some sixty-odd years ago, however, he was 
generally known In the byv/ays and lanes of South Pasadena, 
California, as Lawrence Chase Powell. Children's natural 
inclination is to pounce on any active name, and young 
Larry Powell resented being "chaste," even at that early 
age. He adopted his mother's maiden name Clark, re- 
taining his original Initials LCP. 

My first recollection of him was in the sandpile 
outside of the kindergarten of the Marengo Avenue School 
In South Pasadena. He was then a rather formidable 
creature, somewhat larger than most of us, pudgy and 
aggressive. He v/as the tyrant of our teeter-totter and 
the admitted ruler of our small world. 

We went through grammar school together, vjith Miss 
Harter in the second grade. Miss Crabtree in the third 
and Miss Cllne in the sixth, among those teachers I 
remember best. They taught us well to read and write 
and sing and draw, especially Miss Crabtree, though she 
would never allow me to sing in her class--relegatlng me 
to be a listener. Only years later did I realize why. 


Miss Crabtree was a mannish, provocative teacher who 
could appeal especially to small boys by stimulating 
their imaginations and activities. Her vivid pre- 
sentation encouraged intellectual curiosity and left 
with us many remnants of folklore. I well remember 
much of her sage advice which has helped to preserve me 
these many years. Whenever I now encounter a shark in 
my twenty-by-thirty-foot pool I remember her know- 
ledgeable advice to bash it on the nose and then watch 
it retreat intimidated. And I will never eat a banana 
without removing those untidy little strings lest they 
build up a poison in me. 

But her habit of introducing odd and often ir- 
relevant bits of information led some of us in her 
class to explore for more. This brought us to the little 
Carnegie Library, far across town on El Centre Street. 
Here we discovered the world of books and a far v/ider 
horizon. I doubt if there are many nine-year-old boys, 
nowadays, with television and women's lib enlightening 
them, who would possibly think they could glean all of 
the viisdom of the world. Back in 1915? we believed 
that it was all contained in the books in our South 
Pasadena Library, and since we were competitive kids 
we began to read and read and read, expecting to even- 
tually encompass all known knowledge. 


The Powells lived at that time on Camden Court, 
which must have been a good mile and a half from the 
library. Larry would pedal his bicycle, v/ith a wire 
basket hanging from the handlebars, over Oak Street, on 
which in those days of early ecological appreciation were 
preserved the grand old trees which happened to be in 
the roadway. He'd wind around them to Fair Oaks Avenue, 
a wide double street with the tracks of the Pacific 
Electric Pasadena Short Line raised between the twin 
roadways. It was uphill from there to El Centro Avenue-- 
a builder of many muscles. 

A block above El Centro was Mission Street, the 
business hub of South Pasadena. Appel's Variety Store 
was there, the Live Hardware and Merritt's Stationery, 
where we had to come for school pads and pencils. But 
most of us headed for the small hut that precariously 
tottered on the southeast corner of Mission and Fair Oaks, 
on the edge of a deep excavation dug for a building 
planned years before and for some reason abandoned. 
During the rainy season it became a beautiful lake of 
mud in which v/e could paddle a raft made of the discarded 
lumber, but our primary Interest was in Merrlman's candy 
counter v;here for a few pennies, or a nickel, we could 
gather a bulging bag of licorice whips, chocolate 
cigarettes, candy bananas, jelly beans and jaw breakers. 


Across the street there usually was a dilapidated 
street car drowsing at the terminus of its tedious 
Journey from Watts. Of all of the Pacific Electric lines, 
this was the most derided and broken down. Only the 
oldest and ready-to-be-discarded equipment was allotted 
to this line. No one from Watts ever came to South 
Pasadena and no one from South Pasadena ever went to 
Watts, but several times a day a car would poke down 
Mission Street, stopping at almost every corner, past 
the Cawston Ostrich Farm, across the Arroyo Seco into 
Garvanza and Highland Park from where it meandered 
through an unknown wilderness (at least to us) until it 
arrived hours later at its destination in Watts. It 
was always a source of embarrassment to us young "South 
Podunks . " 

The library was a half-dozen blocks v/est of this 
heart of our town, across from the El Centro Grammar 
School, a bitter rival for those of us v;ho attended the 
Marengo Avenue School. Miss Nellie Keith reigned over 
the library for what seemed a hundred years and I can 
hardly believe that she still isn't hovering behind 
the desk there. She was stout and grey-haired, even in 
our youthful days, and remained so indefinitely. She 
early began to enjoy Powell's ravenous appetite for books 
and carefully overlooked his habit of filling his basket 

on each visit with many more books than were usually 

That year, in our third grade, a new boy arrived 
from Canada. His father was the Baptist minister in 
South Pasadena. He became as avid for reading as 
Powell. My earliest recollection of him was seeing him 
v/ith a stack of books, which he had just gathered from 
the library. V/e sat on the steps at Marengo, and, in 
curiosity, I checked them to find what he was interested 
in. He was amiable, smart, tall, thin, and not as 
eager for playground activities as most of us. William 
A. Jackson had great intellectual and social ambition. 
He soon left the rest of us behind, skipping, I believe 
it was the fifth grade, and then again from the seventh 
directly into high school. Eventually he was two years 
ahead of Powell and myself. His brilliance almost 
destroyed an older brother, Robert, who suddenly found 

himself floundering in a class behind his younger sibling. 
Despite his youth. Bill Jackson had maturity. He be- 
came student body president of South Pasadena High School, 
and several years before the Huntington Library was 
opened to the public he began to haunt it and became a 
captivated bibliophile. After a year's hesitation, he 
enrolled in Williams College in Massachusetts, primarily 
because of the Chapin Library there with its fine col- 


lection of rare books. 

Years later. In the summer of 19^0, when Bill 
Jackson was already the director of the Houghton Library 
at Harvard University, we lunched together with Larry 
Powell at UCLA, visited Paul Jordan-Smith to see his 
Burton collection and then hopped from the Brovm Derby 
in Hollywood for cocktails to Lav/ry ' s on La Cienega 
for dinner, where we sat reminiscing with several bottles 
of wine until midnight. 

In many ways, the story of his involvement in the 
world of books from our initial introduction to them 
in the third grade is as interesting as Powell's. When 
Bill Jackson left South Pasadena for Williams College, 
his preacher father strapped himself to buy his son a 
wardrobe to take to college with him. When Bill arrived 
at Williams, he was immediately conscious that his funny 
western clothes were not being worn in the "Little Ivy 
League." He v;ent to the dean and applied for a loan of 
$500 with which he bought more appropriate clothing. 

As v;e sipped on our v/ine that evening he mentioned 
that he had promised his father on leaving for college 
that he v/ouldn't drink until he was twenty-two. As a 
non-drinker in his fraternity house of Alpha Delta Phi, 
he was able to observe the effects of drinking cheap 
prohibition bootleg v/hiskey on his fraternity brothers. 


Once he was able to drink, he resolved that he would 
never have anything but the best. He was granted a 
Rhodes scholarship, but never used it. Aboard the 
ship on which he went to England, he met a well-to-do girl 
from Hawaii. Instead of going on to Oxford, he married 
her. He pursued books and became preeeminent both as a 
librarian and a scholar in the field of bibliography. 
That evening almost altered the career of Lawrence Powell 
as, when we were finishing our last bottle, Jackson 
began to consider the possibility of luring Pov/ell back 
to Harvard. 

V/ith the third, fourth and fifth grades behind us, 
we became enchanted with Indian life and lore. Reading 
the books of James Willard Schultz and Ernest Thompscn 
Seton's Little Savages stimulated our imaginations, and 
we made the groves and wilderness areas of the south- 
eastern part of South Pasadena into our own hunting and 
stalking preserve. Our two closest friends in those 
days v;ere Roger Weldon and Pat Kelley, who were also 
loyal members of our tribe. 

The area in v;hich we lived was still primarily 
orange groves with only a sprinkling of homes built 
among the trees. Oranges were both our food and am- 
munition. Prom v/here I lived on lower Fletcher Avenue 
it was about a three-quarter mile walk to school, a 


part of It through the groves where we'd always peel a 
couple of oranges as we wandered schoolward and later 
homeward. Most of Fletcher was still a big grove, and 
here we'd gather from time to time to fight it out v/ith 
some other gang or group. We could dart around the trees, 
hide and stalk our enemy with an always ample supply of 
ammunition to pelt them. When the oranges were small 
and green, they vjere particularly lethal. For some 

reason it never occurred to us that these were not our 
oranges — it alv/ays seemed to us to be part of our 
heritage . 

The San Pasqual River at that time trickled down 
from Pasadena through our territory. It follov;ed the 
gulley east of Raymond Hill, down what is nov/ Stratford 
Avenue and then between Marengo and Milan where beyond 
Huntington Drive it became a deep gorge on one side of 
the old Southern Pacific Railroad track. Eventually it 
became lost to us in the wilderness of Alhambra. When 
I first attended Marengo School, the gulley still 
existed on the backside of the schoolyard and had to 
be traversed each morning, since we arrived through the 
groves on the backside. In rainy v/eather it v/as rather 
hazardous but ordinarily it was Just another interesting 
episode in our dally trip. We had created numerous 
shoe slides down the precipitous banks, which were often 


good for several rides before we would clamber up the 
far bank into the schoolyard. 

Eventually a six-foot drain replaced it dovm as 
far as Oak Street, and Stratford Avenue covered it. 
Below Oak, however, it was an open concrete flume as 
far as Huntington Drive where it remained in its natural 
state. The Powells eventually moved to a rambling house, 
surrounded by many large oak trees, on Marengo Avenue. 
Their property backed up on the drain or "sankey" as 
it was always knovm to us. How our particular little 
stream could have adopted and perverted this Mexican 
v;ord zanja , or irrigation ditch, v;ill probably remain 
unknown. The "sankey" became part of our domain. V/e 
could still walk up in the dark, covered part to Pasa- 
dena, I imagine, though we usually came up through one 
of the street drains farther up Stratford. Traveling 
south was more pleasant. There was a big drop below 
Huntington Drive and a pool v/here we could gather 
polliwogs and frogs. The Rust Nursery had several acres 
on the west bank where they grev; a profusion of trees 
and plants. It was a primeval forest for our Indian 
games . 

The country east of South Pasadena was then mostly 
groves and pastures with a few large estates. The 
Valentine, Urmston and Murray boys vjere brought to 


school by their chauffeurs and we'd occasionally bicycle 
out to their ample acres to play, but the best times 
were when v;e'd ride out to the Chapman ranch. Dick 
Chapman lived in South Pasadena and went to school with 
us, but his grandfather still operated a ranch on the 
east side of Pasadena. In the summertime when the water- 
melons were ripe we'd ride out there, go into the fields 
and gather a couple of dozen and take them to the 
reservoir into which gushed a volume of clear, cold 
water. We'd put the melons under this flow to cool. 
And then we'd strip and swim until we were tired. By 
then the melons were delightfully cold and we'd break 
them open eating only the seedless hearts. When full 
we'd have a battle v/ith the rest until we were exhausted 
and bespattered. Another swim v;ould clean us up and 
prepare us for the ride home. Summer was seemingly 
endless joy but v;hen schooltime came again v^e greeted 
it eagerly. 

In our final year at Marengo, we had become the 
top dogs and were undoubtedly obnoxious little kids. I 
remember our eighth-grade teacher, whom we must have 
aggravated beyond her endurance, telling us that she 
couldn't vjait until we went into high school and got 
our "comeuppance." 

We v/ere busy kids, learning to dance at the Women's 


Club House on Wednesday evenings, practicing football 
on the dirt fields of the neighborhood , carrying home 
enough of it to create parental disapproval. We were also 
creative and somehow managed to start a school publication 
It all started when 1 pecked out on my older brother's 
typewriter a page or two of gossip and jokes v;hlch was 
circulated around the eighth grade. It created enough 
interest for us to contemplate a regular publication. 
We talked to the local Abbott Printing Company and Mr. 
Abbott was willing to take a chance on us. We induced a 
number of local stores to take ads at twenty-five cents 
an issue and brought out a single-page issue which we 
sold on the schoolyard for five cents a copy. It v;as 
a complete success. We called it The Marengo Literary 
Leader . Pat Kelley and I v/ere the editors, but it was 
Powell's contribution that made it the great literary 
success it became. He v/as then avidly reading Sax 
Rohmer's Fu Manchu books and his serial. The Purple 
Dragon , could have come directly out of Rohmer. 

This started out as a private enterprise and was 
beginning to be financially quite successful for us, but 
we evidently became a bit too bold and when we light- 
heartedly commented about one of the teachers, the 
publication was lifted from our control and became the 
official school paper. While our names remained on the 


masthead, we lost interest and were no longer Involved. 
But high school was imminent and the contemplation of 
it offered a more interesting challenge. 

We managed the graduation from grammar school to 
high school with no more than the usual traumatic ex- 
periences. Nowadays there is not quite as abrupt a 
cleavage as there was in those days between the eighth 
grade and high school. We came out of grammar school 
still wearing knee breeches and only gradually acquired 
long trousers, which we could wear on special occasions 
until our boyhood wardrobe wore out. Hazing was then 
part of the ritual attending matriculation and it could 
be quite frightening to a green and trembling freshman. 
In retrospect it sometimes had a humorous side. I 
remember all the freshmen being herded into one of the 
tennis courts and being required to take off their 
shoes. These were gathered and taken to the stage 
of the Assembly Hall where with the rest of the student 
body assembled the frosh were led in to unscramble the 
pile and find their ovm footwear again. 

Powell's progress through high school was interesting 
He was yell leader from his freshman year on and for 
some odd reason was on the typing team during his 
junior year. For the most part, until his senior year, 
he enjoyed himself. His father, G. Harold Powell, was 


general manager of the California Fruit Growers Ex- 
change, known as Sunklst. He was being proposed as a 
candidate for United States Senator at a banquet at 
the old Maryland Hotel In Pasadena where he died of a 
heart attack In February 1922. I came to live with the 
Powells In their Marengo Avenue house a year or so 
later. My most distinct memory of Larry In the time 
immediately after his father's death is of a tiny fellow 
wildly driving his father's huge red Marmon automobile. 
His eyes barely caught the lower edge of the windshield, 
and as a driver he was hardly noticeable, with his head 
just protruding from the driver's seat. 

My fam.ily had m.oved to Los Angeles, but since I 
wished to finish school at South Pasadena I lived at the 
Powell home for my senior year. It was a mutually pro- 
ductive one. Powell was the "personality kid," full of 
pep and enthusiasm that attracted friends. He played 
the saxophone as well as the piano and he on the sax, 
Alonzo Cass on the drums and Malcolm Arnold playing 
piano formed "The Boneyard Trio," which was the popular 
and only dance band in South Pasadena at the time. 

Although fraternities were Illegal in California 
high schools, they still flourished. Alpha Gamma Rho 
had been founded in 1909 at South Pasadena High, and it 
attracted as members most of the athletes and student 


leaders. Since Its early years, the fraternity had a 
cabin nestled in the oaks by the stream that then gurgled 
down the Arroyo Seco. Keeping it in good condition gave 
the group a purpose and it kept the alumni Interested. 
It v;as a closely-knit organization and built long- 
abiding friendships. Powell's and mine were about the 
closest and most enduring, though Alonzo Cass, Pat Kelley 
and Dutch Groenewegen have remained through the years 
intimate and helpful associates. 

Powell's extroversion and predilection for play 
were hardly conducive to good grades, and he hardly 
cared, though his mother was determined that he attend 
college and graduate school. To Powell learning came 
easily. He read rapidly and avidly, but had little 
interest in normal classwork v.'hich his grades reflected. 
I was more plodding and thorough, and during our senior 
year, living together, some of my habits prevailed and 
for the first time he made the Honor Society. This, 
hov7ever, v;as not enough to qualify him for college, and 
despite the fact that colleges then v/ere eager for 
tuition-paying students, Pov;ell couldn't get an acceptable 
recommendation from Principal John Alman to compensate 
for his early bad grades. I remember his mother making 
a final gallant plea v/hlch effectively broke the resistance 
of old man Alman, and Larry v;as given a qualified 


recommendation to Occidental College. Poor John Alman 
was tragically shot before he could appreciate the 
wisdom of his decision. 

Powell carried v;ith him to Occidental the qualities 
attributed to him In the 192'l Copa de Pro , the high 
school annual — "The Personification of pep, the Essence 
of argumentation and the Embodiment of energy." 

In college we continued our close association, 
Joined by Groenewegen, and became knovm as the "Thi'ee 
Musketeers." We all lived at our homes in South Pasadena 
and drove to school together each day in a blue Nash 
roadster that I had inherited from an older brother. We 
took the same courses and since I was the only one of 
the trio who really studied it was incumbent upon me to 
tutor them as we drove to school. Powell's ability to 
read, and recall precisely, amazed me even in those days. 
I remember in freshman English, v/hen we were studying 
Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native , how Povjell in ^ 
the first classroom session after v/e'd received our 
copies of the book, sitting in the back of the room, 
oblivious to Professor Thompson's introduction, read 
the whole book during the hour. While the rest of us 
plodded through a chapter a session, Larry never looked at 
it again but could recall and elucidate on any incident 
in the book with more clarity and perspicacity than most 


of us who had carefully studied only the specified chap- 
ter the night before. 

Here again we mutually joined a fraternity. It 
was then called "Owl and Key," formed in 19OO by the boys 
living in the home of the father of Robert Glass Cleland, 
the historian and longtime professor at Occidental. Late: 
it became a chapter of the national fraternity of Phi 
Gamma Delta. 

Larry distinguished himself in many ways at Oc- 
cidental. In the fraternity of which he was president 
in his senior year, his early reputation was based upon 
his musical ability. He could sit at the piano and 
thump out all the current tunes with most of the brothers 
hovering around and humming snatches. It became a 
singing fraternity with one member, Ross Park, ending 
up with Fred Waring 's Pennsylvanians . Larry's saxophone 
would also rend the night air and he soon was part of 
a dance orchestra. During his sophomore year he skipped 
out and played aboard the steamship. President Harrison , 
as it toured around the world. He had never debated 
before, but vjith his natural aptitude for v/ords , v;hen our 
former high school friend and debater, Glen Lembke, 
called on him at the last minute to fill in for another 
contestant, Larry acceded and helped win a debate for 
Occidental, if not brilliantly, at least unexpectedly. 


In high school, he played the lead in the senior 
class play. Booth Tarkington' s Seventeen and at Occidental 
he had several roles in the Occidental Players and was 
a most enthusiastic member of the Rally Committee v/hich 
that year enlived the pre-game gatherings and estranged 
some of the faculty and the more conservative students. 

I am afraid that the trio of Powell, Ritchie and 
Gordon Newell, who replaced "musketeer" Groenewegen after 
he transferred to Stanford, bothered and worried Dean 
Cleland and President Remsen Bird more than we knew. Our 
activities and escapades in college at least brought us 
to the attention of the authorities and while they were 
somewhat horrified at the time, they later became close 
friends. President Bird, some ten years after his retire- 
ment, returned to the campus officially for the first 
time and addressed the student body in the assembly. He 
said to them, "I have watched many young people attending 
this college and 1 must admit that the three who in 
their college- days seemed most destined for failure 
because of their antics and attitude were Lawrence Clark 
Powell, V/ard Ritchie and Gordon Newell. It is impossible 
for me to explain how and why, but today in the world of 
literature and art they have become the most successful 
in my estimation of Occidental graduates." 

I graduated in 1928 and after a brief fling at law. 


at the University of Southern California, I decided 
that books were to be my career. Powell, because of 
his year on the sea, was not to be graduated until 1929. 
I studied the rudiments of printing at Frank Wiggins 
Trade School and with Larry rented one of the hillside 
studios that Clyde Browne had built above his printing 
shop in the Abbey of San Encino in what he called 
"Garvanza Olde Towne . " In this studio I set type and 
printed some booklets, most notably one by Robinson 
Jeffers called Stars , and Larry, I suspect, made love. 

Before he had graduated I got myself a job at 
Vroman's Book Store in Pasadena at $80 a month. The 
hours were from seven in the morning until six at night, 
six days a week except that on Saturdays we stayed until 
nine. I started in the basement, unpacking, sorting 
the books and arranging them on the shelves. They came 
from the publishers in great wooden cases. Upstairs, 
Leslie Hood, Herb Squire and Dave Jamison, v;ho had 
ordered the books from the publishers and were both 
acquainted with the titles and eager to sell them, would 
continuously call down to ask if such and such book was 
in. It was a computer situation with perhaps a thousand 
new books coming in a day with one being expected to 
remember all of them. I was happy when Powell finally 


graduated from Occidental in June of 1929, and I was 
able to recommend him for a job at Vroman ' s . He was 
accepted and I was elevated to the sales floor and he 
took over the basement chore. 

I am afraid that his heart was never in it. Above 

the book warehouse on Colorado Street was a music store. 
When too many huge crates of books stacked up Larry 
would say "to hell with it" and creep up the stairs to 
play the piano or hear a record. This, of course, created 
havoc in the bookstore. 

Crates arrived in abundance every day and were 
slid dovm the ramp into the basement. They had to be 
unpacked and distributed immediately. Under Larry's 
officiation they began to stack up out into the courtyard. 
If the rains came there were a lot of stacked books. 
Leslie Hood, who was a meticulous bookman with an un- 
matched memory for bibliographic detail, v/ould come dovm 
into the cellar when things got too fouled up and would 
spend a day showing Larry hov; to organize and arrange 
his little kingdom. Unfortunately with each of these 
crises, and they seemed to come quite often. Hood suggested 
a nev; method and arrangement, which only confused Pov/ell 
and led him more often to the music store upstairs. 

When Christmas Eve came and the season's mad and 
hectic rush v;as over^ the employees of Vroman' s had their 


own Christmas party. We were all given little gifts 
and Christmas Day off. Powell's present included a 
notice that he needn't return to work. However, many 
years later when Vroman's wished to have a history of 
their venerable bookshop they called upon their most il- 
lustrious alumnus to write it, and Lawrence Clark Powell 
did it. 

The Powells still lived in South Pasadena, though 
they had left the spacious home on Marengo Avenue for 
a modest hillside abode on the west side of town. Ger- 
trude Powell's ambition to have a scholarly son prevailed, 
and Larry v;ent back to Occidental for graduate work. 

I had continued printing at Clyde Browne's press on 
weekends and in pursuing my interest in printing I took 
leave of Vroman's in May of 1930 and v;ent to France, 
hoping to work v/ith the artist-printer Francois-Louis 
Schmied, which I was able to do. Larry's mother was 
still insistent that he get a doctor's degree; and since 
I was in France, Fay, his girl and eventual wife, was 
in Europe, and a friend from college, Mary Frances 
Kennedy , and her husband Alfred Young Fisher were at- 
tending the university at Dijon, he decided to come to 
Prance . 

We met in Paris. It was hot and sticky that August. 
V7e stayed at the small Hotel Galilee, right behind the 


Cafe Flore near the Boulevard Salnt-Germaln-des-Prls . 
It v/as a fairly quiet area at that time, not the turbulent 
place It Is today. Llpp ' s Alsatian brasserie v;as across 
the street where we would eat sauerbraten and sausage 
and drink huge steins of beer. The Deux Magots was 
at the corner of Rue Bonaparte across from the Eglise 
de Saint-German-des-Pres . This was a quiet, literary 
area at that time, away from the boisterous, noisy 
Montparnasse where we'd occasionally go, with Powell 
often quite belligerently taking on a half-dozen French- 
men while I would hurriedly round up an equal number of 
Americans to protect him. 

After a month in Paris together, Larry left to 
study for his doctor's degree at the University of Dijon. 
His thesis v;as on the California poet, Robinson Jeffers, 
also a graduate of Occidental College. The next year 
his m.other came to live v;ith him in Dijon and this 
severed his last connection with South Pasadena. He 
received his doctor's degree from the university and 
his thesis was later published under the title of 
Robinson Jeffers , the Man and his Work . 

His subsequent career as bookseller, librarian of 
the University of California at Los Angeles, dean of 
the Library School there and author of more than a dozen 
books is amply recorded in his autobiography. Fortune 


and Friendship . My recollections here merely amplify 
those of the boyhood days we spent together in South 

Ward Ritchie 



INTERVIEWER: James V. Mink, University Archivist & 

Director, Oral History Program, UCLA. B.A. and M.A., 
History, UCLA; B.L.S., Librarlanship , University of 
California, Berkeley; Certificate in Archival 
Administration and Preservation, American University, 
Washington, D.C. 


Place : Lav/rence Clark Powell's office, Powell Library, 

Dates : August 4, 1969-June 6, 1970. [August 4 (re- 
recorded April 30, 1970), 11, I8, 26; September 8, 15; 
October 21; November 11, 19; December 1, 1969; 
February 17, 24; March 10; April 23; June 5, 25, 1970.] 

Time of day , length of sessions , and total number of 
recordTnf: hour s : The interviewing sessions took place 
in the midmorning, and each session lasted approximately 
two hours. A total of sixteen hours were recorded. 

Persons present during interview : Powell and Mink. 

Following the publication of Lawrence C. Powell's 
autobiography ,' Fortune and Friendship , 1968, he was 
asked by the Interviewer to participate in a series of 
tape-recorded interviews designed to supplemenf^areas 
covered in his published work and also to record 
aspects of his career which were not documented. The 
interviewing sessions followed a chronological pattern 
and dealt in particular detail with his career as 
University Librarian at UCLA and other University 
relationships . 


Editing was done by Winston V/utkee , Assistant Editor, 
UCLA Oral History Program. The verbatim transcript 
was checked against the original tape recordings and 
edited for punctuation, paragraphing, correct spelling, 
and verification of proper and place names. The final 
manuscript remains in the same order as the original 


taped material. Words and phrases Inserted by the 
editor have been bracketed. 

Lawrence C. Pov;ell reviewed and approved the manuscript. 
He made minor corrections and deletions and supplied 
spelling of names that had not been verified previously, 

The index was compiled by Joel Gardner, Editor, Oral 
History Program. The introduction v/as contributed by 
Ward Ritchie, lifelong friend of the respondent. The 
manuscript was reviewed by Bernard Galm, Senior 
Editor. The Program's staff prepared the other matter. 


The original tape recordings and edited transcript of 
the interview are in the University Archives and are 
available under the regulations governing the use of 
noncurrent records of the University. 

Additional sources concerning Powell's life and his 
career at UCLA will be found in his personal papers 
(Collection 229) and in the Pov;ell family papers 
(Collection 230). The University Archives contain, in 
Record Group B l8, series 9, official records relating 
to his tenure as University Librarian. 



APRIL 30 J igrj^o* 

MINK: To begin, just for the record, I think you ought 
to put the date of your birth on the tape. 
POWELL: Well, all right, I was born--I think I remember 
the date--September 3> 1906, in Garfield Memorial Hospi- 
tal [Washington, D.C.]. And everything I have read in 
my mother's journals and notes, and everything she told 
me, was that I was a kind of a puny accident that came 
along, because she had had the two boys, Clark and George, 
in 1900 and I9OI, and five years later I came along. 
MINK: You weren't a planned child? 

POWELL: I don't think I was a planned child, and she was 
run-down in health and my father was away from home a 
great deal. I think I was born in September, and he left 
very soon thereafter on his field trip to California. No, 
that was during the years before. We all went four months 
after I was born--the first time that he had taken the 
whole family to his winter work in Riverside. So I made 
my first transcontinental crossing then in December, 1905. 
MINK: And of course you were totally oblivious. [laughter] 
POWELL: I was oblivious but apparently not silent. My 

*Tape I is a re-recording of subject material from the 
first interview session (August 4, 1959) • 

mother said I cried all the way across. I was not in 
good health the first two years of my life, she said. 
And I had what's called a diverticulum. What is that? 
Some strangulation of the navel cord? I had to have an 
operation on what's called the belly button. It's been 
great ever since, I assure you. I'm not like Lyndon 
Johnson--! won't show you my scar. My mother nursed 
me assiduously those first two years, and I think I owe 
my life to her, really, for what she did to keep me go- 
ing. I was puny and I was the runt of the family, be- 
cause I never grew over 5 '6", never weighed more than 
145 pounds in my life. I don't weigh that now, but I 
say this because I think it has some psychological im- 
portance. You've read studies of how little men think 
and act big to offset their own physical diminutiveness. 
I've read this was true of Napoleon and Caesar and Beetho- 

MINK: How about Barry Goldwater? 
POWELL: Barry Goldwater--he ' s not a runt! 
MINK: He's a pretty good size. 

POWELL: He's a pretty good-sized guy. He's perhaps a 
runt politically, but physically he's quite a man. VJell, 
I probably attach too much importance to this. I think 
our essential character and nature is what it is, regard- 
less of our physical package. I was born aggressive and 

persistent, and this would have operated even if I'd been 
6'6". I'd have been harder to handle if I'd been that large. 

I don't remember Washington, D.C., really, other 
than that old story of being awakened in the night in 1910 
and carried to the front window in my mother's arms to see 
Halley's Comet. In April, 1910. It was making its seventy- 
fifth-year return. You remember, Mark Twain had been born 
when Halley's Comet was in the sky, and all his life he said, 
"I'm going to die when Halley's Comet returns." And he did; 
he died in April, 1910 at age seventy-five when Halley's 
Comet had reached its — what's it called — perihelion? 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: I remember vividly seeing the tail of the comet. 
MINK: Surely you expect to see another one. 
POWELL: Well, that isn't so far off is it? I'm sixty- 
four this year. 

MINK: Just another ten years or so. 

POWELL: It's a date. I also remember the swallow's nest 
in the big wall at the foot of our steps. Then there's 
the story when about I96A we went back and visited the 
Castagnas in Baltimore. We all drove down to Washington, 
and I kept telling them that if the house is still there, 
there'll be a swallow's nest in the drain hole at the 
bottom of the wall. They all laughed. Sure enough, we 

found 1867 Park Roadj where we had lived across from Rock 
Creek Park; and, sure enough, the steps are there, the 
house is there, and the retaining wall and the drainpipe 
hole at the bottom of the steps are still there sixty- 
years later. We photographed it; Ed took our picture 

MINK: Were the swallows' nests there? 

POWELL: No nests in it; but this was in autumn. This 
was at Thanksgiving, and the swallows had flown away, of 

The third memory then is of President Roosevelt. 
MINK: Teddy? 

POWELL: Teddy Roosevelt riding by. Was he president 
then--1906 to I910? He went riding by on his white horse, 
Sunday morning, down Park Road to the park and waving 
to the children and people who stood on the terraces. 
I remember that. Those are my only memories of Washing- 
ton. We moved out finally in 19II to California. I 
never went back to Washington until 19'4-6 after the war, 
when on my first trip as Librarian I went into VJashington. 
I stayed in the old New Willard Hotel, and I went over 
to the Department of Agriculture to see the bronze plaque 
that had been put up to my father's memory. It was a sen- 
timental return. I went back two or three times to the 
Library of Congress and so on. But essentially I'm a 


Callfornian and a South Pasadenan, because there I grev; 

up and there my friendships and my proclivities were all 

formed and developed. 

MINK: Larry, when you came from Washington, you settled 

immediately in South Pasadena? 

POWELL: No, we settled in Los Angeles. We went to an 

apartment hotel at the top of the Angel's Flight, called 

the Cumberland Hotel. 

MINK: I don't suppose that's there anymore. 

POWELL: No, I don't think so. Bunker Hill is pretty 

much renewed. 

MINK: What were your first memories of Los Angeles in 

that period? 

POWELL: I have none. I have none at all, unless it's 

of the Angel's Flight, and those are probably later ones, 

because I used to go in and ride it. I remember the 

nickel round-trip that you could take on it. 

We weren't sure where we would settle. I remember 
my folks looked in Hollywood and in Pasadena. And it was 
fortuitous, really, that we settled in South Pasadena. 
The reason was that our next-door neighbor in Washington-- 
their brother--owned two houses in South Pasadena. He 
lived in one and v/anted to sell the other or rent it. I 
can't remember which. But in the beginning v;e v;ent then 
to South Pasadena to one of those two houses cvmed by 

the Ashleys. And it was simply that that led us there. 
MINK: It seems to me that this is true of many people. 
My family and all of our friends came here gradually, one 
because the other was there or lived there. 
POWELL: This is I'm sure an ancient thing in migrations: 
the families and the friendships and the connections lead, 
because it's a very difficult thing for strangers to go 
into a community and decide where to settle. My father 
knew that he wanted to be within commuting distance of 
his work. With the Pacific Electric, it was not a problem 

MINK: I think the Pacific Electric in South Pasadena had 
the ideal commuting program. There wasn't, it seems to 
me, in that little settlement there, more than a six-block 
walk to the car. It wasn't that big then. 
POWELL: From anywhere, you see, and there was a choice 
of lines, Jim. At Oneonta Junction the Short Line turned 
north and went to Pasadena. The Oak Knoll went out Hunt- 
ington Drive and then came up through what is now San 
Marino. But you could take any of the other fast cars 
out that were going on through to Sierra Madre, Glendora, 
Azusa, Monrovia; all came out Huntington Drive. They 
Were limited cars, but they would stop at Oneonta, and so 
you could get off at Oneonta Junction and v;alk to your 
home. Sure, it was a marvelous network. I loved the big 

Red Cars. You remember them. 
MINK: Sure. 

POVJELL: I knew the conductors^, and we had scrip books 
and half -fare for kids. I loved going into the city. I 
did this regularly as a kid. I was a junior member of 
the Los Angeles Athletic Club, and I would go in Tuesday 
afternoon (when the plunge and the handball court and so 
on were open to the boys) and on Saturday morning, those 
two times. I went in all through the years and learned 
wrestling and boxing and handball and calisthenics, swim- 
ming. I loved that big building there. 
MINK: Is this something your parents encouraged you to 
do or is this something you Just did on your own? 
POWELL: No, they encouraged me, I suppose, to take out 
this membership and to develop myself physically. 

I don't remember first settling in South Pasadena, 
Jim, until I got into school. Well, I guess I got in 
right away to kindergarten at Marengo Avenue School. I 
had those wonderful nine years in Marengo and then the 
four years in high school. I made friendships--particu- 
larly of Harry Ward Ritchie--that last to this day. It 
was a wonderful town to grow up in because there was no 
stratification of society, really. It was pretty homo- 
geneous and free. You could move around in the community, 
and it was very permissive, in a good sense. 


MINK: You could also know people all over town. 
POWELL: You knew people. You had friendships in the 
different parts of town^, and even in different schools. 
There were the three grammar schools. Of course, there 
was a bit of social grading: Marengo was the richer 
people. El Centre the poorer, and Lincoln Park then was 
for the minorities. 

MINK: And later Las Flores, where I went, was fairly- 
high class. 

POWELL: That was upper class. 

MINK: That was pretty upper class, like Marengo. 
POWELL: Because it was east of Fair Oaks Avenue. That 
was the dividing line, and of course Huntington Drive 
was the dividing line south. Alhambra started south of 
Huntington Drive, and east of Garfield Avenue was what 
became San Marino. 

MINK: Well, another thing--you know, in the business 
of talking about the proverbial railroad tracks ("on the 
other side of the tracks" being the lower-class community), 
I wonder if this didn't really apply in some cases to 
South Pasadena with the Santa Fe line that ran up the 
other side of Fair Oaks. 

POWELL: It ran the other side of Fair Oaks. It came 
across the Arroyo Seco at Mission Street and, well, Jim, 
I always thought of the other side of the Santa Fe tracks 


not as South Pasadena but as Los Angeles. It was another 


MINK: At that point there was no Highland Park per se. 

POWELL: Well, yes, I think there was; it was called Gar- 


MINK: Garbanza? 

POWELL: Yes. The place of the bean people. (Everett 
Moore would know about this. He grew up over there.) 
The Arroyo was an attractive place, and of course the 
Monterey Hills were our wilderness. 
MINK: Well, for me it was the Raymond Hill. 
POWELL: The Raymond Hill was a very exciting place, too. 
I had a great friendship there with the family of the 
head gardener, George Groenewegen, who came out here 
and planted and tended all of UCLA's trees in the begin- 
ning. He was in charge of all the planting here. Re- 
member George? Well, they had come to South Pasadena when 
I was a kid, he and his two sons and two daughters and a 
wife, from Holland by way of Texas; and I formed a friend- 
ship with Cornelius, the younger son. We were together 
a great deal through grammar and high school, and we went 
to Occidental. And when the father was running the Ray- 
mond gardens and all--he was in charge of everything--we 
used to go up to the big barn where they kept the horses 
and play there. And on the golf links, of course, we used 

to steal golf balls like mad, push them down gopher holes 
and then dig them out later. But it was quite a hill. 
Of course, the old hotel at the top was a romantic place. 
MINK: VJhen you were growing up in South Pasadena, the 
Raymond Hotel was still open during the season. 
POWELL: During the season. 
MINK: There were guests. 
POWELL: During the winter. But was it closed when you 

came along? 

MINK: Well, by the time I came along, of course, my youth 
in South Pasadena was the depression period, and the ho- 
tel was closed down. Finally, when I was still there, it 
was torn down. I remember its being torn down and the 
great auction of all of the interior furnishings and every- 
thing that was held when it was taken over by the Security 
Bank. And we used this as a great playground, and we 
weren't thrown off, of course, because the hotel was al- 
ready in the hands of the receivers. We had this area, 
and we flew kites. It was a great kite-flying area. 
POWELL: Yes. That would have been another romantic time. 
Of course, I enjoyed it in the late twenties, off-season, 
because we could take girls up to the top and park and 
neck. It was a great rendezvous, a romantic rendezvous 
at the top of the hill. You had this beautiful view over 
the valley. Our other necking ground was in the Oneonta 


or Monterey Hills. Those were more removed. You could 
do a little more intensive or in-depth lovemaking up in 
the Oneonta Hills, because on the Raymond Hill sometimes 
the city cops would cruise by. 

My good fortune was knowing all the city cops. They 
knew I was a nice, clean young man [laughter], and I had 
no problem there. I knew the police force early on be- 
cause I used to get into scrapes, and the neighbors were 
always blowing the whistle on me for raiding their fruit 
trees and stealing their drying salted almonds in the 
backyard. We raised a lot of hell as kids' gangs. I had 
my gang. ¥e played games, all kinds of gang games, Run- 
Sheep-Run, and Ditch. During World War I, we organized 
a little home corps of soldiers and drilled and made drums 
of five-gallon gasoline cans. Oh, it made a hell of a 
lot of noise. The neighbors would always call the cops-- 
"Quiet these boys down." I remember my mother said, "Oh, 
he's being patriotic; let him make a lot of noise. After 
all, he isn't shooting off guns." 

My mother was permissive in one sense, and yet I had 
a certain limitation of discipline around my life. If 
1 transgressed too severely I was punished, had to stay 
in at night, allov/ance was suspended, and I was sent to 
my room. My mother used to spank me sometimes. Her 
favorite method v;as to have me hold out my hand, palm up. 


and she would give It to me with a ruler. I made the 
mistake once of turning my hand over, and she caught me 
on the knuckles. I thought this wasn't fair. [laughter] 
But she was a good mother. My father was good to me be- 
cause he was rarely home. He traveled a great deal in 
his work for the Sunkist people. 

MINK: In his travels, were Sundays ever a time when he 
would take you out to drive, take you to Riverside or 
out through the valleys? 

POWELL: Constantly. Whenever he was home, Sunday was 
the day for driving. We had these new cars in the teens, 
Franklin air-cooled cars, and then Marmons . He was a 
great driver, loved to drive, taught me to drive at about 
twelve. I had my first driver's license at fourteen. We 
visited lots of the growing and packing areas this way 
when I was a boy. He'd call on the prominent growers, 
or he'd go to meetings, and often Sundays at churches. 

I had this wonderful early vision of Southern Cali- 
fornia from a fruitraan's point of view, the groves of the 
Santa Clara Valley--Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, and then 
the whole wonderful Corona-Redlands-Riverside area. My 
father had holdings in San Dimas and in Corona that we 
held right up through the Depression--lemons. It was 
the sale of some of that lemon-grove stock at Corona that 
helped me get through school and helped me get to Europe. 


My mother and father were happy in one sense. They 
weren't deeply in love^ I think. The great romantic period 
ended after ten years or so^ and it was a working marriage 
of kindness to each other and consideration for the three 
boys. I always had the feeling that home v/as serene. 
They weren't given to quarreling. They were kind parents, 
and I really loved them. And of course now that they're 
both dead--my father for a half century, my mother twelve 
or thirteen years--I have great nostalgic feelings for 
what they did for me to set me up in a world of culture 
and education and form my values early. 

MINK: What were the things that you remember in your ear- 
lier youth--grammar school and junior high and high--that 
your mother did to try to introduce you children to cul- 

POWELL: Well, books, I suppose. Books and music. The 
house was full of books, and we had a piano and we had 
piano lessons. Vie had the early phonograph, and my chore 
was to play concerts on it for my parents when they were 
home in the evening. I learned music early. We took a 
lot of this for granted, Jim. It wasn't any conscious pro- 
gram of culture or education. This was just a way of life 
my parents were [instilling]. 

MINK: Can you remember when your parents [bought] --or did 
they ever buy a radio? 


POWELL: No. The first radio I ever saw v/as at my uncle's 
in Berkeley^, ray Uncle Harold Clark, when I was working up 
there one summer in 1923 • He had a peanut set. I used to 
listen to the Fairmont Hotel's dance music broadcast, with 
a peanut set and earphones. We didn't have a radio until 
1929, I guess, when we moved over to Bonita Drive in the 
Oneonta Hills. My mother -and I bought a big Victor radio- 
phonograph combination. That was the first one we had. 
That was real late. 

I think that in grammar school the [best] teachers 
I had [were] Miss Crabtree, particularly, in the third 
grade and Miss Ballard, the Quaker principal at Marengo 
School. All through the grades I had good teachers, and 
I learned a lot in grammar school. In high school, my 
first three years, I didn't have what I regard as good 
teachers, and I was in conflict a good deal v;ith the tea- 
cher of mathematics. Miss Meek; the teacher of biology. 
Miss Bickford; and the teacher of French, Miss Price. I 
rebelled against their strictness and their system of mem- 
orizing and repeating back things. I'd been given a much 
freer education in grammar school, and I wanted this to 
continue, and when it didn't, I rebelled. 

I remember once in Miss Meek's class in algebra or 
■ geometry I was impudent or insolent or out of line, and 
she said, "Go to the office." I got up and left the room. 


slammed the door, and the v/hole plate-glass frame of the 

door fell in with an enormous crash. I didn't go to the 

office, I hightailed it for home as fast as I could. My 

mother said, "What now? What have you done now?" I said, 

"Oh, I slammed the door and the glass fell in." She said, 

"Let's go back together." So she got me reinstated. It 

was helpful, of course, to have my mother on the school 

board. [laughter] And my father was an important person, 

and George Bush, the superintendent of schools, knew this; 

so I had protection on a high level. 

MINK: Do you think the teachers looked upon you as that 

"rich man's brat?" [laughter] 

POWELL: Probably. I was probably heartily disliked by 

these teachers. 

MINK: Also, do you think that maybe you took a little 

more liberty with the teachers because you felt that your 

position was reinforced by your [parents]. 

POWELL: No, I don't think I was that sophisticated, Jim. 

I don't think I ever thought this through. 

MINK: Sometimes they say kids are smart. They get this 

early through intuition. 

POWELL: I don't think I was that smart, Jim. I think I 

was just operating on a series of violent reflexes. I was 

either for or against. 

MINK: There was no gray. [laughter] It was either black 


or white? 

POWELL: That's right. But the great positive year came 

in my senior year in high school v/hen I had tv;o wonderful 

teachers--well, several^ but two I rememher--Mlss Lora B. 

Evans in English and journalism and Mr. H. L. Wilson in 

history. These were more college-type teachers. They 

left a lot to the students. Ritchie and I were in these 

classes together. 

MINK: Did you do a lot of studying together? 

POWELL: We did a lot of reading, and that senior year in 

high school Ritchie was living with us, because his father 

had moved away. His parents had moved from South Pasadena 

over to the city, and he boarded with us. 

MINK: So he could finish at South Pasadena? 

POWELL: Yes. We were together constantly--classes, nights 

We even shared the same girl at one time! [laughter] 

MINK: That doesn't sound too good. [laughter] 

POWELL: Well, she was very accommodating and versatile. 

But we were always together. And he v/as smarter than I. 

He was more of a student. He had a better mind than I 

have--he still has. I had, I think, better judgment of 

people and a quicker instinct and more of an intuitive 

flair, but Ritchie had the better mind. I think I learned 

a lot from him. He was editor of the yearbook and of the 

newspaper, and I worked for him on these staffs, and I 


learned something about v/ritlng. Of course^ earlier than 
that, in grammar school, v/ith Pat Kelley, the three of us 
had founded the Marengo Literary Leader, a weekly literary 
newspaper. That was my first writing. 

And I flourished in my senior year. I got all ones 
(or A's) and ended up in a blaze of glory. I v;as a member 
of the honor society and everything else. I had my dance 
orchestra then with Alonzo Cass and Malcolm Archbald. Cass 
was the son of the head of the telephone company, and 
•Archbald was the son of a federal judge. 
MINK: It seems that at the last [August 4, I969] inter- 
view you spoke about Cass and the wardrobe that all of 
the children in the Cass family had. 

POWELL: Oh, the Cass boys were fabulous. There were 
eight or nine of them and two girls. They had the huge 
house at Fair Oaks and Oak, a great two-story, old-fash- 
ioned redwood house, and tennis court, and tangerine and 
loquat trees. All the things for a good life were right 
there--billiard table--and one great common v^ardrobe for 
all the boys. They were not too far apart in age. There 
were either eight or nine. And they had no individual 
clothes. They shared common suits, shirts, shoes, under- 
wear, ties, and handkerchiefs. Everything was in an enor- 
mous wardrobe. The laundryman would come and gather up 
everything and come back with fresh things, and v^hen they 


got up in the morning, the Cass boys simply v/ent to the 
wardrobe and grabbed the first thing they sav/ and put it 
on. Well, not only did the Cass boys share it, but we, 
the friends of the Cass boys, could come in and take any- 
thing we wanted. If we wanted to dress up a little and 
weren't home, we'd go into the Cass wardrobe. 
MINK: What if you came home with their clothes? What 
would your mother say? 

POWELL: Well, she'd say, "Well, these are the Cass' laun- 
dry marks, so you'll have to send them back." My mother 
straightened it out. They went on--all the Casses went 
on. Another interesting thing: as I said, A. B. Cass, 
Sr. was head of the telephone company; so they had a pri- 
vate line on which you could call toll-free anywhere in 
the United States. We didn't know anybody to call any- 
where in the United States, but we did a lot of local 
calling on it. I even remember their telephone number, 
Jim. It was 35553. It was a cancrizan, wasn't it, that 
went backward and forward. Our own number vms 35991. They 
put the Elliot prefix on that when you came along. Remem- 
ber Elliot numbers? Well, at any rate, the Cass' was a 
great headquarters for us. The Cass boys v/ere captains 
of the football team. 

Alonzo, who was our contemporary (Ritchie's and mine), 
was a remarkable boy, really--green eyes, red hair. He v;as 


the trap drummer In our orchestra. He went on to Stanford, 
became a leader up there, and he went on through Stanford 
Medical School, and became a noted pediatrician here in 
Los Angeles. He died just a year ago v/hen vje were in Europe, 
and Ritchie spoke at his f neral. He said there were more 
Casses at that funeral "than you could shake a stick at." 
They came out of the counties all over the Southwest, two 
hundred or three hundred Casses turned up for Alonzo's 

Well, 1 mention him at length because he became a 
crucial person in my life during the Depression. He lent 
us that $1,000, no strings attached, pay-back-when-you-can, 
that enabled Fay and me to leave Jake's and go up to li- 
brary school. It was Alonzo who did that. I took my time 
in repaying it--thirty years later! I'm glad I paid him 
back before he died. 

MINK: I think you told in the last [August 4, I969] inter- 
view about how he came to your house in Palms, wasn't it? 
POWELL: No, we lived over on Lakeshore Drive in Edendale 
at that time. 

MINK: Oh, you were in the kitchen with him. 
POWELL: We were in the kitchen drinking v;ine, I remember. 
We really celebrated. It was a great thing in 1935 to have 
$1,000 appear. You remember, Jim, money was scarce. It 
was a windfall. Heaven-sent. 


MINK: My father's salary was in the two-decimal bracket, 
under $100 a month. 

POV/ETX: VJell, I don't know how my father would have fared 
in the Depression (of course, he died in 1922), but in the 
teens we were rich because his salary then was $25,000 
a year. 

MINK: That's a very fabulous salary for that time. 
POWELL: It's a huge salary. The Sunkist people appre- 
ciated him. He earned it. He was great for them. We 
had lots of money. I didn't have it personally. I had 
a small allowance--fifty cents a week. That's all I had, 
and then later I began to earn money as a musician. 
MINK: Before you earned money as a musician, what kind 
of things did you do as a child to earn money? Did you 
go out and pick oranges? 

POWELL: No, I went out and gathered gunny sacks and 
bottles in the alleys. 
MINK: And newspapers? 

POWELL: I sold newspapers. We could turn in beer bottles, 
ajiy kind of deposit bottle. Gunny sacks were a nickel 
apiece. We used to scavenge the alleys with a little 
cart we pulled, and then we saved this up in the garage, 
and then the rag-bottle-sack man came around with his 
wagon and horse and bought these things from us. We used 
to make a dollar or so when that happened. I must say. 


Jim, in high school I also earned money in a more naughty 
[way], by shooting craps. We had quite a gambling circle 
at South Pasadena High School. 
MINK: Did they clamp down on you? 

POWELL: No, we never did it on campus. VJe left campus. 
We went to the place we called Crap Valleyo 
MINK: Crap Valley. [laughter] 

POWELL: You know where it was. It was just east of the 
Raymond Hill on the grounds of the Marengo Water Company. 
There was a well there that supplied water and a pump- 
house, and there was a kind of a creek and jungle to the 
east of the Raymond Hill. Right now the Pasadena Freeway 
bends around and goes through there. But it was remote 
enough . 

MINK: Was it east of Fair Oaks? 

POWELL: Much east of Fair Oaks. It was east of the Las 
Flores Adobe. The adobe was there then. And why we 
went there was for two reasons: it was remote; and then 
one of the reservoirs had a great concrete square plat- 
form over it, which was a marvelous place to shoot craps 
on. So you could throw the dice and a lot of people could 
gather around this rectangle, and we shot craps after 
school. I was lucky. I used to make a bit of money. 
What did I do v;ith the money? I suppose I bought candy 
at Merriman's stand at Fair Oaks and Mission Street. At 


Al Merriman's stand you could buy penny candy. I also 
■bought a light for my bicycle, a new pump, a horn, a 
siren that you'd pull with a string. It v;ent on the 
front tire and sounded like a police siren. I spent 
money for things like that. It wasn't big living, and 
I didn't have the feeling that I was a rich kid. We 
didn't live ostentatiously. We lived comfortably with 
a certain amount of quiet elegance. 

MINK: Do you think that the people that lived up be- 
tween Pasadena and South Pasadena east of Fair Oaks in 
that lower Orange Grove area were wealthier than you 
were, or did you think about it? 

POWELL: I never thought comparatively, Jim. It's curi- 
ous. I never thought comparatively of wealth. 
MINK: Our family did because we weren't as wealthy. 
POWELL: And I never thought of race. I never knew what 
a Jew was until I went to Europe. 

MINK: Do you think it was the Quaker background in your 
family that caused racial discrimination never to be 
brought up as a topic of conversation at home? 
POWELL: I think it had something to do v/ith this. My 
parents were simple. We had great friendships with the 
Japanese help. VJe had a Japanese maid, a Japanese gard- 
ener. And on Bank Street, our first home, I lived across 
the street from Rust's Nursery, and I had many friends 


among the Japanese gardeners. I loved to play there, and 
I had an early facility for friendship. If people liked 
you they let you do things, and I liked to play with my 
gang in the nursery. And if they hadn't liked me they'd 
have driven us out. But the thing was not to destroy any- 
thing, to play carefully; but, my God, I loved that nur- 
sery, the smell of wet earth and plants growing. 
MINK: I had an experience like that, too, when we lived 
on Brent Street, hacked right up to the nursery there that 
faced on to Fair Oaks on the west side. 
POWELL: Brent Nursery? 

MINK: There were a lot of nurseries around in South 

POWELL: That's right. Rust's was the most famous. E. 
0. Rust was a pioneer, one of the founders of the Pasa- 
dena Public Library, I think, with Abbott Kinney. And 
he was something of an antiquarian. I didn't know any of 
this at the time. I just remember him as an old man with 
a beard and a limp, who walked with one short leg. 

My friend across in the nursery there, the head 
gardener, v/as Gay Sugimoto. I remember that he would 
come over Sundays dressed in his good clothes, and he'd 
have lunch with uso My father was very democratic, and 
he was much interested in horticulture. Sugimoto was 
the Japanese foreman, who apparently knew a lot about 



Our cook then was a Lithuanian woman, Marie Elk, 
and we had many friends then of the Lithuanian colony 
who used to come and call on her. 

MINK: Where was the Lithuanian colony, generally speak- 

POWELL: I don't know, Jim. They must have come out of 
the woodwork. I don't know where they were. 
MINK: There wasn't a group together. 
POWELL: No, but they would come Sundays. I remember 
they would be wearing, not a native costume, but with a 
scarf or something that identified them as Slavs. Mrs. 
Elk was a very large, strong, powerful Slavic v;oman 
and was very good to me. We went to a concert. I remem- 
ber something I wrote about. She went with me to hear 
Rachmaninoff play. It was a great early concert that 
I've never forgotten. 

No, I didn't have any status complex at all. I 
mentioned the rich Cass family, but I also had a great 
friendship with a poor family, the Fugits. Mr. Fugit 
was a brakeman on the railway with the Southern Pacific, 
I think, and he was home occasionally . There were almost 
as many Fugit boys as there were Cass boys; but they 
were poor. They lived on Oxley Street, right where that 
little line of the Southern Pacific ran up through the 


city--not the Santa Fe, but that one track that goes 

right up through. 

MINK: It came up by Garfield Park and vient up over 

Raymond Hill. 

POWELL: That's right. That was the Southern Pacific 

spur that came up from Shorb up to where there was a 

Southern Pacific station in Pasadena. It was a feeder 

line to the main line, and they kept it for years to 

retain their franchise. 

MINK: And they ran a freight every day. 

POWELL: They ran a freight every day, exactly. So 

the Fugits lived right on the railroad track there. 

Oh, there were all kinds of Fugits--Harry, and two twins 

with lovely names, Rollo and Ralph, and an older boy's 

name was a marvelous name. Laurel Fugit. (Now was the 

father a Latinist or the mother a Latinist? ) Laurel 

Fugit. Isn't that a marvelous name? I've often wondered- 

I don't know what nationality they were. What would 

they be, Jim? 

MINK: Sounds English, possibly. I don't know. 

POWELL: Well, they were poor as anything; but, my God, 

they were good people. And I was welcome in and out of 

their home--Mrs. Fugit was a doll--and the house v;as 

very bare. They were poor but proud. They were very 

active in sports and everything we did. 


Then there was still a third family--a large farnily-- 
the McEniry family. They lived up on Stratford, I think. 
And there were masses of them. There was little Tommy 
and there was Kerwin and there v;as Jimmy and there was 
Bob and Julia and Mary, and they were poor Irish Catho- 
lics, very active in everything in the community, in ath- 
letics, in church, and so forth. Friendships operative 
then in the community regardless of wealth or position. 
MINK: Did you know the Bilheimer family at all? 
POWELL: I knew Ruth Billhelmer and Steven Bilheimer. 
Steve is president of the chamber of commerce now. Yes, 
I knew Ruth Billhelmer. She went to Occidental. 
MINK: Did you know the Hoppings--the Hopping family that 
had the foundry up in Pasadena? They lived in South 

POWELL: No, I didn't know the Hoppings. Oh, I could go 
through my high school annuals, or even grammar school 
ones and point out [others]. And that's why I want to 
write this boy a book that I have here in notes, which 
I'm not looking at, and try to bring some kind of a 
social milieu picture out of this, because it was an 
interesting community that hadn't stratified. At least, 
I wasn't aware of any stratification. 

We have got different insights into this, Jim, in 
our papers here. My mother's journals, which she kept 


all through these years^ would give the parents' in- 
sights into society and the family. My brother Clark-- 
we have only part of his journals here, tut I think 
those that he kept in the teens, when he was sixteen or 
seventeen, are here in the collection. And then my 
father' s--I've just been reading his early letters back 
from California to my mother when he'd come out alone 
in 1904 and I905 • He wrote some very interesting let- 
ters on what Southern California was like at that per- 
iod. It was, as you know, totally different from what 
it is now. It was pastoral. Tourists and agriculture 
were the things. There was no industry to speak of. 
The automobile v/as just coming in. It was a wonderful 
time to grow up, I think, and I'd like to try to get 
the real essence, the juice of it, if I can, not in 
these oral remarks which are too random and don't build 
to any points, but I think in writing I could put to- 
gether a book. And I carry these two pages of notes 
with me now everywhere I go, because I never know when 
the book is going to spring loose and I'll start writing, 


APRIL 30, 1970^- 

MINK: You were going to talk about the beaches and 
the mountains and some of your experiences as a [youn- 
ger man] . 

POWELL: We were fortunate in having a vacation cabin 
up in Big Santa Anita Canyon, and that meant a great 
deal to all of us, my father and my brothers and I. We 
were up there a good deal; and then on wonderful sum- 
mer vacations, every summer for a month or two, we 
either went to Balboa and rented a cottage, or to Big 
Bear Lake. Those are some of the great memories I have 
of my father--f ishing with him, or catching bait and 
selling sand crabs to him, or trawling for trout in 
Big Bear Lake, or going out for skipjack and albacore 
off Balboa. 

MINK: Do you remember your first trip to Catalina Island? 
POWELL: Oh, I didn't go over there until late. 
MINK: Not as a boy? 

POWELL: No. I went over there when I was in college, 
I think, one summer, to try to get a job. No, I haven't 
got any memories of Catalina. 
MINK: Do you have any memories of the harbor? As a 

*Tape I is a re-recording of subject material from the 
first interviev; session (August 4, I909) • 


child I was terrifically interested in the harbor, and 
my father used to take me to the harbor. 
POWELL: I never saw the harbor, Jim, until I worked 
on the Yale in 1928 and shipped out of San Pedro. 
MINK: You mean you lived in South Pasadena and you 
never went down to the San Pedro Harbor? 

POWELL: No, I want to Balboa and to Newport. Our orien- 
tation was to there. I had one great summer East when 
I was about twelve. My mother and I went back to her 
girlhood scenes outside of Buffalo. She'd moved as a 
girl from Cornwall-on-Hudson to Buffalo. Her father 
was a lawyer and had gone up to Buffalo to practice. 
There was a family farm at Collins, twenty miles from 
Buffalo, and it was still there, and we went back one 
summer. It was my first grown-up (at this age of twelve) 
experience of a summer in the East, of trees and fields 
and all the rich lushness of a summer countryside in 
New York State. 

I had a great time that summer on the farm. I 
learned some of the facts of life, I think, from the far- 
mer's boys and girls. It was a key summer, I think, in 
my growing up. I remember also going into the nearest 
town, which was Gowanda--all those Indian names--and 
going to a music store and buying sheet music. I was 
interested then in popular music and was beginning to 


play popular music on the piano. My brother had already 
begun to teach me the saxophone. 

Other memories I have that I haven't spoken of is 
the work I did. You asked how I earned money. I said 
I got allowance, I scavenged bottles and sackS;, I made 
some money shooting craps; but I had two jobs as a boy. 
One was selling newspapers at Oneonta Junction. I got 
a roll of twelve Evening Heralds at about four o'clock 
every afternoon, and I vfould go up, and they would toss 
them (rolled up) off the car. I would ujiroll them and 
sell them. It would take me an hour or so. Lord, I 
think of the pitiful amount I must have made--maybe 
ten cents or twelve cents--maybe a penny a paper. No, 
I couldn't have made that much, because the paper sold 
for a penny. 

MINK: Yes. You must have had more than twelve, Larry. 
POV/ELL: Well, I must have, but I didn't have a big roll, 
I remember. The high point of that, of course, was once 
when I sold a paper to a man on a departing streetcar. 
He leaned out of the window and handed me v;hat he thought 
was a penny; and, lo and behold, it was a five-dollar 
gold piece. I must say, Jim, I ran after the car, but 
it outdistanced me. It left me behind. Here I v;as v;ith 
this marvelous five-dollar gold piece. Do you remember 
gold pieces? They had a two and a half-dollar piece. 


a five-, a ten-, and a twenty-dollar piece. It was 
lovely money. 

MINK: What did you do with that $5.00? 
POWELL: I probably bought books with it, Jim. I like 
to think that I was serious and motivated early. [laugh- 
ter] I don't remember what I did with it. I had lots 
of toys that I played with, a steam engine, and actually 
a steam engine that fired up and made steam and ran, and 
then I had an electric train, and I had a magic lantern. 
I used to give shows to the neighborhood kids with a 
sheet for a screen, showing postcards that my father 
had sent home from his foreign trips, charge two pins 
or a penny for admission--all these simple sort of things, 
Do children do them anymore? 

MINK: I wonder if they do. Did you put on plays? I 
bet you did. 

POWELL: We did a play at Camden Court there in the park- 
way; Pat Kelley and I put on one. It was a kind of an 
Oriental fantasy. 

MINK: Did you write them as well? 

POWELL: We wrote it and directed it and charged ad- 
mission. It was kind of a Schehera zade . I don't re- 
member any details of it other than the pretty little 
girl we dressed in mosquito netting and called her an 
Arabian dancer. She caught cold and had to go to bed 


for a week. 

MINK: You mean you just had her in mosquito netting? 


POWELL: That's all, yes. She was a little kid of 

about seven. She was a slave girl. You knov;, these 

were innocent times. I wasn't a dirty little boy. 

MINK: You didn't play hospital. 

POWELL: Well, I showed them mine, and they showed me 

theirs, some of those little games. [laughter] But 

it was an essentially innocent childhood. VJe had play 

with each other. The little kids used to play v/ith 

each other. Hell, I was certainly involved in this in 

a normal way, and it wasn't until later though that I 

learned it was much more fun to play with little girls. 

They weren't little anymore. I was grovm up more when 

that delight came into my life. 

The other job I had was at Taylor's Drugstore jerk- 
ing sodas. 

MINK: Where was Taylor's located? 

POWELL: Taylor's was at Huntington Drive and Fletcher. 
MINK: That's getting down toward Los Angeles. 
POWELL: It's a part of Huntington Drive which is not 
in Alhambra. 

MINK: By that time did you have a car that you could 
go to the job in, or did you walk down? 


POWELL: No, I walked over from Camden Court, or v;ent 
by bicycle. I was a great bicycle rider. 
MINK: Kids didn't hitchhike then, did they? There was 
no such thing as hitching a ride. I mean with the thumb 
up, you ki^iov;. 

POWELL: Very little of it. I remember one time Pat 
Kelley and I--I don't know how we did--got a ride back 
from Huntington Gardens to South Pasadena, and were 
picked up by a dashing man in a great open roadster; 
and, lo and behold, it was the movie actor Jack Holt 
who played in Westerns. We recognized him because we 
were great movie fans around age twelve, and he said 
he'd send us an autographed picture of himself, and he 

I jerked sodas there and ran deliveries, bicycled 
deliveries, and it was quite a rendezvous place because 
they had a good magazine stand. My favorite magazines 
then, as I remember, were Detective Story magazine, 
which printed the Fu Manchu, Sax Rohmer stories, serials ; 
Adventure, which was printing Harold Lamb; Blue Book ; 
All Story; Ainsley ; The Red Book --a lot of those pulps 
that we collected here years later in Special Collections. 
I could read them free in the drugstore on the magazine 
MINK: So that was one of the fringe benefits of the job. 


POWELL: Fringe benefit. Exactly. And then being 
able to jerk my ov;n soda now and then. 
MINK: V/ould you say that they did a pretty good busi- 
ness in this store? 

POWELL: It was a very prosperous business. It was the 
only drugstore in South Pasadena south of Monterey Road. 
MINK: Did you get the job through your friendship with 
people your own age in the family? 

POWELL: I don't remember. I probably v/ent in and said^ 
"I want a job," and they knew that my father and mother 
were good customers. 

MINK: Generally speaking, what was the opinion of the 
Foothill Review among the people in the town at that 
time? Do you remember people talking about it? 
POWELL: There wasn't any Foothill Review then. It 
was called the Record . 

MINK: It was called the Record , the South Pasadena 
Record . Later it became the Foothill Review, I think. 
POWELL: Oh, we read it for society news, I think. I 
know I got my brother Clark awfully mad at me once. 
He was at Cal in agriculture, and he used to bring home 
foreign students on vacations or v;-eekends, and one in 
particular named Ahmed K. Ghamrawy was very highly con- 
nected in Egypt, v/e learned. His father v/as minister 
of agriculture, and he was wealthy , and he brought us 


presents. I remember when I graduated from high school 
in 1924 J Ghamrawy gave me a camera^ which I'm still us- 
ing. It was an Eastman folding Kodak. 

Well, at any rate, I was impressed by his Egyptian 
connections and I wrote a kind of a phony society note 
and sent it into the Record . They printed it, about 
"Prince Ahmed Ghamrawy from the Egyptian dynasty visit- 
ing the Pov;ells. He will return soon to Egypt to his 
houseboat on the Nile." It was a crazy sort of thing, 
and the damned paper printed it. My brother Clark was 
absolutely furious with me. 

That was another time he said to my mother, "If 
you don't do something about that boy, he's going to 
end up in San Quentin." And of course I did, forty 
years later. I was on the governor's commission on 
prisons and institutional libraries. We visited San 
Quentin on an inspection tour that year. John Henderson 
was on the committee, I remember, and I thought of my 
brother's prognostication. There I was behind bars. 

I went to San Quentin another time earlier. I 
was interested in prison libraries when I was working 
here at UCLA in 1938 or 1939^ and I v;ent up and visited 
the San Quentin library, intending to v/rite an article 
about it, and it was so bad--this was before Warden 
Duffy, I think, had reformed the prison. It v/as a 


tatterdemalion collection of public library discards. 
They had no librarian other than a "lifer" v;ho v/as in 
charge of it, and what he wanted to shov; me was the 
electric chair, or was it the hangman' s? --v;hatever 
they were doing then in 1938. It was before the gas 

MINK: Electric chair. 

POWELL: But it was so bad that I never wrote the ar- 
ticle » It was horribly depressing. 


AUGUST 11, 1969 

MINK: In [Robert G.] Cleland's history of Occidental 
College, I noticed that he speaks about this decade in 
which you attended Occidental, beginning what September 
of. . .? 
POWELL: 1924. 

MINK: Yes, September of 1924, as a decade when the 
college came of age. Would you say from your experien- 
ces there that that's true, really? 
POWELL: Well, I think it made great strides under 
Remsen Bird is what he meant . I think that was attri- 
buted to Bird, who was certainly Presbyterian-trained. 
He was a doctor of divinity, but he was also reaching 
out more and more into the community and bringing Occi- 
dental into the cultural stream. Before his time, under 
whomever it was--John Willis Baer— -it had been really 
a parochial school and integrated only with the religious 
community. But Dr. Bird kept growing culturally, and 
inevitably the college grew with him. I don't think 
Dr. Cleland had much to do with this. He didn't start 
growing until after he left Occidental and went to the 
Huntington; then he broke through and entered the main- 
stream of western civilization. 

But, Jim, I don't kj-iow. I was an undergraduate 


and I wasn't av/are of any of this at the time. I was 

simply doing my thing, you see, as an undergraduate. I 
wasn't aware of the role of the college one way or ano- 
ther, except when it repressed me, when it cracked down 
on me for being a little too adventurous, too bold, too 

MINK: Yet, didn't Bird, in a way, through his addres- 
ses to the student body through the chapel sessions try 
to convey to the student body that this was so, and the 
reaching out into the community, the Occidental family, 
the whole bit? 

POWELL: I don't remember. He probably did; but it 
didn't impress me at the time. I was impervious to 
moral uplift or cultural uplift. I wasn't awake really 
in those early years. I was just a green kid from South 
Pasadena, and the growth I experienced came through my 
classes with Stelter and Maclntyre, Fred Bird in po- 
litical science, George Day in sociology--these [men] 
had nothing to do with religion. These were all agnos- 
tic professors I'm sure. Well, George Day wasn't. 
George Day was a Christian, but he was a radical Chris- 
tian, remember. He led early parties into the Soviet 
Union, and he encouraged the most outspoken discussion 
in class. Did you have Fred Bird in political science? 
Frederick Lucian Bird was a marvelous lecturer and a 


crltiquer of reputilicanism, I remember. He was outspoken. 
He wasn't a socialist; he was critical always of the sta- 
tus quo. And he taught us to examine the status quo, 
politically, always. I found him a very exciting pro- 
fessor. Cleland wasn't; Cleland was dull In his English 

MINK: That's what you said in your book. 

MINK: But I didn't find him dull. 

POWELL: Well, he was beginning to grow when you came 
along. You came along ten years after me, didn't you? 
MINK: 1941. 

POWELL: Well, you see. Sure, Cleland was being swept 
into the stream then. When I had him in 1924, and I 
think I had English history all my sophomore year, may- 
be 1925, he completely plodded through a textbook. I 
don't remember which book it was, but it was dull, and 
I had come full of hope of majoring in history. My 
first year I had had Dean Irene Meyers, the dean of 
women, in medieval history, and it was hopeless. Most 
of it she spent in disciplining the girls on the front 
row who v/ore too much lipstick or who rolled their socks. 
She was brutal really, dismissed girls, sent them from 
class, and was a tyrant. Was she still there when you 
came--dean of women? Well, these two courses in history— 


Meyers, medieval; Cleland, English--killed me off for 


MINK: It really turned you off on history. 

POWELL: They turned me off, and Maclntyre and Stelter 

turned me on. They were great teachers. Did you have 

either of them? 

MINK: No. 

POWELL: Mac had gone. Stelter had retired? 

MINK: He had retired. What did Stelter look like? 

POWELL: Stelter looked like a shot-putter--a great 

big Hercules. He was blond and must have weighed two 

hundred pounds, 6 '2" or 3", and had a great bull head and 

neck. He was just a powerful fellow who used to sit 

at his desk, and every now and then he would stretch 

and the whole desk would go up and down where his knees 

moved it. He was a very impressive figure in class, and 

he taught the course on Robert Browning, and he put 

everything into it. He taught it like a shot-putter; 

he really made it alive and electric. I think someone 

who carried on his tradition that I think of whenever 

I've seen him on television is Frank Baxter of USC; 

they look much alike, and they have some of the same 

magnetism in teaching. 

MINK: Larry, Ritchie said that Stelter never forgot 

anything, and in a v/ay this was a great thing for him 


as a teacher, but it was a shame for his creative genius. 
What do you think he meant by this statement? 
POWELL: Well, he had total recall of literature, that's 
all. He memorized everything, and he had an apt quo- 
tation and an illustration from literature for every- 
thing that was happening. He read the newspaper every 
morning, and then he came to class and related it to 
the stream of English literature. He brought poetic 
commentary on everything that was happening in the world, 
and he made literature part of life. This is why he 
was an important teacher--he didn't teach literature 
historically; he taught it as a living thing. 
MINK: Not in a vacuum, in other words. 
POWELL: No, not in a vacuum, right in the world. And 
of course he was always ridiculing and teasing Presby- 

MINK: This made you happy? 

POWELL: Oh, it made me happy because I was courting 
a Presbyterian girl then, Florence MacLaughlin, from 
Glendale, and she was very orthodox. Her father was 
an orthodox physician and she was an orthodox Presby- 
terian, and Stelter knew this. She was a top student; 
she was Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year, I think. He 
was always needling her and teasing her. 
MINK: How v\rould he do this? 


POWELL: Oh, he would pick out comments in Brovming that 
were critical of orthodox religion, and he v/ould read 
these and say, "You see what the master says." He'd 
tease her that v;ay. And she'd get awfully mad at him, 
hut she was a lady. She never broke out until after 
class; then she'd go up and just light into him. I loved 
all this, because I was courting her on the side, you see, 
and Stelter was helping me. 

MINK: But to come back to the statement that Ritchie 
made, do you think that Stelter had creative writing 

POWELL: I never saw any instance of it. He didn't 
publish anything. As far as I know, the only thing he 
ever published was his doctoral dissertation, his con- 
cordance to Browning, which he and Lane Cooper did at 
Cornells He was like our Majl Ewing here at UCLA. He 
taught and flourished; it wasn't publish or perish, it 
was teach and flourish. He was a great teacher, and it 
would have been very sinful if he had been expected to 
publish. He was creative in a teaching sense, which I 
think in college is just as important as publishing--even 
more important, I think! 

MINK: Well, certainly Ritchie speaks of Mr. Stelter as 
being one person v;ho influenced him, the other being, of 
course, Maclntyre. He has quite a bit to say about Maclntyre, 


and I wonder if you would begin by telling me what you 
think Maclntyre looked like. 

POWELL: Well, he looked like a sort of a junior Mephis- 
topheles. He really was a wicked-looking man. He was 
tall and gaunt. He was as tall as Stelter, but he v/as 
very thin. He was built like a stork. He had v/icked 
eyes that drooped at the corners and a very thin mouth 
and almost a hatchet face. And he was constantly on the 
move. He never sat still. Stelter came in the class, 
sat at his desk, and he never left it. He didn't ges- 
ture; he stretched now and then as I said. Maclntyre 
came into class, and he moved along the blackboard con- 
stantly, slouched along the blackboard. He was a great 
blackboard chalk- talker, and he had his own shorthand, 
which was a combination of Greek letters and his own 
English shorthand, and he illustrated everything with 
quick symbols on the board. He diagrammed the poetry 
and literature with all kinds of little hieroglyphic 
caricatures. He was a v;onderful chalk-teacher. 
MINK: Could you understand what he was saying? 
POWELL: Not in the beginning, no. We were completely 
baffled by him. 

MINK: Well, how did you learn? Would he explain, or 
was he impatient with a person? 
POWELL: Oh, he was terribly impatient. He slaughtered 


you if you showed your Ignorance. I don't knov/; v/e 
learned to be crafty. We learned to take him as he 
was. I suppose it took some time; but in the beginning 
it was the most exciting and fantastic sort of teaching 
we'd ever experienced. But we knew that something was 
happening. Anyway, he illustrated things from life, 
but generally from his own life. He made himself out 
to be a kind of a Don Juan and was always insinuating 
that he was debauching a different Presbyterian girl 
every night, that they used to queue up and apply for 
debauchery. [laughter] Oh, he was wicked. 
MINK: They were knocking at his door. 

PO'kiJELL: Knocking at his door, and I guess it was partly 
true. He lived out at La Crescenta about fourteen miles 
from the college, which he said was a safe distance. I 
think he was wicked. I don't think he was bragging. I 
think he was a real operator. 

MINK: Well, if these Presbyterian girls were going up 
to his house, even being very orthodox during the day, 
I can imagine how you might be turned off by the hypo- 
critical kind of atmosphere that existed. 
POWELL: Well, 1 suppose it was true of all of America 
at the time. There was a secret life. Now the sexual 
act is more open. I think it's healthier, but it's damn 
certain it isn't as exciting. 


MINK: You used to go with Ritchie to visit Maclntyre. 
Was this at his invitation, or did you just decide to 
go up there and see him? 

POWELL: Oh, v/e probably did once and he told us, "Don't 
ever do that again. You let me know v/hen you're coming." 
And we went after that by invitation. 
MINK: Ritchie points out that occasionally you'd go 
up there, maybe on a Saturday, and you'd knock on the 
door and there wouldn't be any answer and you'd know 
that Maclntyre was inside. 

POWELL: I don't remember instances such as that, but 
I do know that he was leading a very active life off 
campus and making wine in Prohibition. He had his own 
grapes. Well, his house was on the edge of a vineyard, 
and he used to buy grapes from the Italian farmer, and 
he made his own wine and made his own beer. We drank . 
a little; we never drank very much. We weren't drinkers 
in those days. But it was exciting and wicked, of course, 
to go up there to this professor and have beer and wine 
and cheese and rye bread and poetry. He loved cats; 
he always had a houseful of cats--beautiful things that 
he brought back from Europe when he was at Marburg. He 
wasn't a typical American at all. 

One course he taught was in comparative literature, 
and it was Greek and Roman and Egyptian even. He brought 


us out into a much wider stream of literature. Stelter 
had been purely English lit and Mac was world lit, and 
this was why he was terribly important to us. It v;as 
he and Stelter who both encouraged me--and Ritchie, too-- 
to go abroad. He was disappointed, though, that I didn't 
go to Germany. He thought it was a great betrayal of 
him that I went to a French university. "Damn frogs," 
he says, "frog women '11 pox you. The German women are 
much cleaner." [laughter] Apparently he'd been poxed. 
MINK: About his influence on getting you interested in 
books, do you really think in looking back that he really 
had much influence on you? 

POWELL: Oh enormous, Jim, enormous influence. Yes, 
he encouraged us to collect books, to buy our own books, 
not depend on the library, and to build our own library. 
He posted reading lists, I remember, that were very 
exciting, unorthodox kinds of reading lists. He would 
post them in the library, needling the library generally. 
"You won't find any of these books in this library," he 
said, "but go out and find them." And he sent us first 
to Louis Epstein, a bookseller on Ninth Street, who be- 
came one of the great commercial booksellers of Southern 
California. Louie in those years had a little hole-in- 
the-v;all shop, and he specialized in literature, and Mac 
always sent his students to Louie. 


MINK: What did Louie look like? 

POWELL: Well, Louie looked something like Mac. He was 
tall, thin, stork-like, not wicked though. He was, I 
think, probably an orthodox Jew. He was a very moral 
man, and he still is. Louie's been a great and good in- 
fluence here, as you kvnow, in Southern California. But 
he was a great kind friend to young college kids that 
were looking for out-of-print books. "Oh, you come from 
Maclntyre? Good, I've got a little shelf of things that 
he wants you to have." And Louie would help us. That 
was my first introduction to the antiquarian booktrade. 
MINK: I can see. Was he generous with you in the amount 
that he charged you? 

POWELL: Oh, very. Yes. He wasn't greedy. He was like 
Jake. We met Jake Zeitlin a little later. Jake hadn't 
come to Los Angeles that early, but Jake was generous 
in the same way. They were interested in people far 
more than in buying and selling and a quick profit. They 
were interested in people, yes. Well, this was Mac's 
contribution I think to us. He shoehorned us into the 
book world as nobody else did. 

MINK: You know, you mentioned the library. I believe 
it was around 1925 that Elizabeth McCloy was appointed 
acting librarian at Occidental, and you said that Maclntyre 
was needling the library and the librarian. 


PO/JELL: Yes, she came actually, Jim, in 1924; she came 
in September V7hen v;e did. She was appointed then, and 
she succeeded Dr. [George F. ] Cook, v/ho was professor 
of classics and was still there as librarian emeritus, 
a little old faded, weatherbeaten, wrinkled old man 
with a skullcap. He used to sit there at a desk, and 
God knows what he was doing- -probably annotating Horace-- 
but he was there quiet and remote. Really, I should have 
come to know him; he must have been a terribly interest- 
ing man. I came to knov; his son Laurence Cook who was 
at the college later as alumni secretary. But Dr. Cook, 
I suppose, had been the first librarian. Did he go back 
to the beginning of the academy and the college? 
MINK: I'm not certain. 
POWELL: Must have been. 

MINK: What did you think of Elizabeth McCloy? 
POWELL: I didn't have any impression of her at the 
time. I didn't come to know her. 
MINK: What did she look like? Can you remember? 
POVffiLL: VJell, yes, she was a mouse. She v;as a librari- 
anous mouse. [laughter] Terribly mousy. She was a 
little Scotch woman. She was born, 1 think, in St. 
Andrews, Scotland--Elizabeth McCloy. And she was very 
precise and punctilious and proper and ladylike, and 
yet when I came to know her later, she had a sense of 


humor. She had a spark in her, and she did the best she 
could on what the college did for her, which was damn 
little. They didn't support the library as many colleges 
did in those times. It eked along on a limited budget. 
I came to know her later when I worked for Jake and was 
selling books. Then I used to go out and sell books to 
Miss McCloy, and she encouraged me, and Stelter did» 
But this is getting ahead of myself. I went into li- 
brary work, and she said, "Yes, by all means," and Stelter 
said the same thing. They were great encouragers fif- 
teen years later., 

MINK: Well, I don't suppose maybe at the point you were 
a student, but later in your contact with her, would you 
say that she was depressed by the fact that she had so 
little and that there was so little support. 
POWELL: I don't think she was depressed. I think she 
was naturally unimaginative » I don't think she had any 
large sights. I wouldn't compare her, for example, to 
Dorothy Drake, the librarian of Scripps College, who is 
not a mouse and is imaginative; and if she didn't have 
enough she darn well went out and got it. But Miss 
McCloy, as a conservative little Scotch woman. Just 
didn't operate this way. She did the best she could. 
But I don't suppose an imaginative person would have 
lasted there„ You see, Maclntyre only lasted four years. 


and then only because Stelter gave him protection. If 
he hadn't had Stelter to protect him, he wouldn't have 
lasted a year pirobahlyo 

MINK: Did you have any run-ins with the lihrarian? 
POWELL: No, I don't think so. I didn't use the library 

very much. 

MINK: You would have thought that an English major would 


POWELL: Well, I was getting my own books. 

MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: And Maclntyre encouraged us, but Ritchie even 
more. Ritchie was a great book collector from the very 
beginning. He was buying books o He had apparently more 
allowance than I hado 

MINK: Was his family wealthier than yours? 
POWELL: Well, noo I think we were about in the same 
bracket, but I think I was- -what was I doing with my 
money? --probably spending it on girls. And Ritchie 
wasn't. He was spending his on books. I think it was 
probably our different tastes, and then of course I used 
Ritchie's books a lot. We were very close, and he was 
very generous. I was in his home a great deal in South 
Pasadena, and his room upstairs was just loaded with 
books. He was buying constantly, putting everything 
he could, I think, into books. Interesting enough. 


most of those books have found their way back to Occi- 
dental. He's been giving thetn to the college over the 
years 5 and so have I. 

MINK: I think Ritchie has pointed out in his interview 
that he attributes his big awakening and interest in 
book collecting to Maclntyre. 

POWELL: VJell, I'm glad that we're in agreement, because 
I feel the same between Maclntyre and Ritchie. It v/as 
Ritchie's copies of Robinson Jeffers that I first read. 
The college library wouldn't have had them then. They 
wouldn't recognize Jeffers as an alumnus in those years. 
MINK: This brings up a kind of an interesting point. 
You had mentioned Cleland in your book and made reference 
to his orthodox Presbyterianism in connection with one 
run-in you had with him. I would like you to describe 
this in a little more detail in a minute. But I think 
also you mentioned that when you proposed to do your 
dissertation on Jeffers, Cleland was turned off by the 
idea because he felt that Jeffers was unorthodox, that 
he was, in fact, an atheist. How do you account then 
for the fact that in Cleland 's history of Occidental 
College he included two poems by Jeffers in the appen- 
dix. These two poems which he included were "Shine 
Republic" and "The Rock and the Hawk." 
POWELL: Well, Jim, I take some of the credit for 


enlightening Cleland. 

MINK: This was 1937, hy the way, when it was published. 
POWELL: Actually, I'd done my work and it had come out 
and it had been i^ecognized. You see, Cleland didn't 
discourage me when I proposed this; I didn't even pro- 
pose it to him. I was working on him [Jeffers] in France 
and I v/rote to Cleland about 1931 or so for a reminis- 
cence of Jeffers, and he sent me a good one which I used. 
But he said at the end, "I recognize Jeffers' genius, 
but I would to God he had put it to better use." 
MINK: Well, that's what you were quoting in your auto- 
biography then. You didn't really have a face-to-face 
discussion with Cleland, then. 

POWELL: No, this was by mail, and of course I didn't 
use that in my dissertation. That wasn't for publica- 
tion. I used his other tribute, which was good. Well, 
all right, my dissertation was published, and then Ritchie 
published an edition of the book. When I came back to 
this country in 193^, Dr. Bird gave a reception (for 
Ritchie and me) at which Dr. Cleland was present, and it 
was the first public college recognition of Jeffers. 
This was in 193^ when the Primavera Press edition of 
my book had come out. Cleland began to realize that 
Jeffers was an important literary figure, and naturally 
he sought in his work poems that weren't unorthodox and 



that he could accept. And I think that "Shine Republic" 

and "Rock and Hawk" are examples of Jeffers' stoicism 

and pessimism that Cleland found acceptable. I think 

Ritchie and I^ and Stelte'r, of course, who originally 

put me on to working on Jeffers, should have some credit 

for having moved Cleland along, and Cleland was a big 

enough man to grow. 

MINK: It's interesting, ^arry, that in the book I found 

no explanation of why these poems appear there, really. 

POWELL: No. I can't account for this; this was in that 

1937 history of Occidental College? 

MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: I don't know; maybe he thought he'd better do 

this, and maybe Dr. Bird said maybe you'd better put 

something in on Robinson Jeffers. I don't know the 

story. You really ought to go up and interview Dr. Bird 

in Carmel, There you'd get a marvelous tape, because 

he has a marvelous recall. He's in his eighties now, 

but he's still very much alive. Fay and I visited him 

just last September. 

MINK: Well, we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, 

but I thought that was an interesting point. 


MINK: Now, describe Dr. Cleland. What did he look like 

when you first encountered him in that English history 


class? Was he a young man? 

POWELL: No, I don't suppose so. He was probably in early 
middle age. He was very homely. He had a kind of a Nean- 
derthal underslung jaw, and very bad skin. I think he had 
some kind of a skin eruption that mottled his complexion, 
and he was an ugly son of a bitch. He really V7as! [laugh- 
ter] God, Fay couldn't stand him; she thought he was a 
terribly ugly and unattractive man. And he was always 
taking this fatherly interest in her, you see, and try- 
ing to guide her along the path. She didn't like him 
one bit. 

MINK: Do you suppose that Fay's aunt and uncle may have 
prevailed on Robert Glass Cleland to do this? 
POWELL: No, I don't think so. I think he took it on 
himself. They left her quite free. But I think it was 
his feeling that he owed this to the chairman of the 
board of trustees to look after his niece. 

MINK: Because Occidental v/as [being helped by the Bells]. 
POWELL: They were receiving benefits certainly from the 
Bells all that time, and Cleland and Alphonzo Bell, Sr. 
were good friends. They played tennis and they fished 
and they were socially compatible. No, Cleland was Just 
doing v^'hat he regarded as his duty, and he had good rea- 
son to because I was a potential wicked influence. 
MINK: Let's get a little more about that v/icked deed 


that you did. 
POWELL: Which one? 

MINK: You were brought up on the carpet because you 
taunted the Sigmas. 

POWELL: Well, that was just one of those examples of 
youthful exuberance. It was pledge day, I think, and 
we'd swept the campus and taken about fourteen pledges, 
and most of them away from the Sigmas. They were across 
the street from us there at Campus Road and Alumnio 
MINK: Kappa Sigma. 

POWELL: Yes, they became Kappa Sigma. Ironically enough, 
that was my father's and my brothers' fraternity; they 
all three were Kappa Sigmas. My father was a grand presi- 
dent of Kappa Sigma at one time, 

MINK: Were the Sigmas the athletes at Oxy at that time? 
POWELL: No, the Apes were, the ATOs, the Apes. We were 
Owls and Apes in those, the two locals. No, the Sigmas 
were the goody-goody Christers, [laughter] Anyway, it 
was pledge night, and when I came back--I'd been out 
playing at a dance--and I came in there about midnight, 
the boys were feeling no pain, and I just happened to 
have a five-gallon jug of wine in the trunk of my car, 
and I brought it in. 

MINK: Where 'd you get all that wine in Prohibition days? 
POWELL: Cucamonga, out at the winery. VJe used to go 


out to Cucamonga, and there was a little Italian out 
there that you bought it from. 
MINK: Was it Illegal to sell it? 

POVJELL: YeSj sure, it was bootleg. Or we would go down 
to Alpine Street off North Broadway, and there was an 
Italian there that sold us this awful stuff. Cucamonga 
was better; it really was good red wine. At any rate, 
they all drank a bit of this wine, including myself. 
MINK: Five gallons? 

POWELL: Five gallons, and most of the football team was 
there. We had a lot of football players in the house 
that year. Glen Rozelle and Jack Schurch and Launce 
Millar; and, Christ, they were big as a house, enormous 
guys. Finally we surged out of the house and across 
the street and began to heave dead cats through the 
Sigma windows and say, "Come out and fight, you yellow 
bastards o" The Sigmas, of course, did nothing of the 
kind. They sat tight, and so there was a general in- 
sulting uproar, and I suppose some Sigma got on the phone 
to Dean Cleland as dean of men and said, "Look, we're 
being assaulted by the Owls, and they're being led by 
their president, Larry Powell." 

Well, my God, I was on the carpet the next morning, 
nine o'clock in Cleland 's office. He v;as dean of men 
then; he wasn't dean of the college, he v;as dean of men. 


And he just said, "I want you to give me the names of 
all the members of the fraternity that were involved." 
And I said, "Well, no, I really can't do that. I'm 
not an informer for your office." He said, "Well, I 
expect you to resign; this is disgraceful; this whole 
episode is a disgrace to the college, and I expect you 
to resign as president of the house." (He was a member 
of the fraternity, too; so he had [force]. He was an 

old Owl and Key. ) 

I said, "Well, I'll do that if the chapter wants 
me to, but I'm beholden to them, sir, not to the school 
in this matter, and if they ask for my resignation, I'll 
give it to them, but I won't give it to you." God, he 
turned purple, and he was ugly to start with. When he 
got mad, he was uglier, livid with rage. This was at 
the football season; this was in the autumn. We were 
coming up to the big game, and I was anxious to keep 
the team intact „ So I said, "Look, I'll take the rap 
and let's forget the other boys, it's all my fault." 
Well, everybody clammed up, and when the house learned 
that I was fronting for them, they said, "No, you won't 
resign; you'll stay in. We need you as our fall guy." 
So I didn't resign; they insisted that I not, and 
I took the blame. It wasn't a terribly noble thing to 
do. There I was. Cleland suspended me from campus for 


a week, I guess. So I just stayed down at the fraternity 
house, and the boys brought me assignments, and I kept 
current in the work. Of course. Fay came down to see 
me. We went out for a ride and I weathered it. It was 
no great scandal, because nothing really happened. It 
was just a general rout of the Sigmas and we were re- 
joicing. I think the Sigmas were a little unhappy about 
the whole thing. ^They thought the whole fraternity should 
have been suspended, you see, and their pledges should 
have been given to them. That's all, Jim. It was a 
typical coonskin coat prank of the twenties. 
MINK: I noticed on the roster of the senior Phi Gams 
in that year that there were so many. I thought I'd 
just jot them down and perhaps you could, for purposes 
of the record, discuss some of these people briefly. Per- 
haps you can say whether you think they were significant 
or not. Maybe they came to nothing or maybe they had 
an important influence on you, or maybe they've had an 
important influence on the community » Bob Donaldson, 
for example. 

POWELL: Bob Donaldson and I roomed together in the fra- 
ternity house, I think, my senior year. He went on and 
worked for the Com.raittee on Economic Development. He 
became their field man and was very important in the 
forties in establishing CED programs on American college 


and university campuses and did a lot of work traveling. 
I used to see them in New York^ he and Carolina, his 

MINK: So you came full circle with him? 
POWELL: Yes, we saw each other in the forties a good 
deal. He unfortunately fell ill, and the last five or 
ten years even, he's been semi-invalid, I think, in 
Pasadena. He may have had a stroke. I see him at 
Alumni Day, but he is very withdrawn, and not at all 
well; but he did well. 1 remember him chiefly, Jim, 
because we were the same size and we shared a wardrobe. 
MINK: I think you mentioned this in your autobiography. 
POWELL: Yes, we had a common wardrobe; v/e could wear 
each other's shirts and suits. That gave us double 
sartorial splendor, you see. 

MINK: So it was like the family you were mentioning at 
our last interview. 

POWELL: The Casses, yes, with the big com.munal wardrobe. 
MINK: What about Jim Campbell? 

POWELL: Jim Campbell became a high school teacher in 
Glendale, period; that's all I know about himo 
MINK: And v;hat about Clifford Harao 

POVJELL: Cliff Ham v/as a New England boy, and as I un- 
derstand it he went back to the family fortune in Connec- 
ticut and has been living on it ever since. Ham was an 


incorrigible bummer of cigarettes. He never would buy 
a cigarette, and he always lived off the others. I re- 
member about the close of the school year, v;e decided 
to reward Clifford Ham; so he was seized upon by those 
he had bummed cigarettes from and tubbed. Do you know 
what "tubbing" is? 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: He was tubbed, and when he came out of the tub, 
dripping wet, he was handed one cigarette. And that's 
the way we revenged ourselves on Ham. He was a charming 

MINK: What about Don Imler? 

POWELL: Imler became a captain of detectives with the 
Sheriff's Department here. I think he is captain of 
detectives in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, 
Every now and then I get a message from him. We've 
never seen each other in all these years. Every now 
and then somebody comes along. Of course, if I was ever 
stopped by a county sheriff, I would say, "Oh, yes. 
Captain Imler o . ." 

MINK: [laughter] You haven't had a chance? 
POWELL: No, I haven't had the chance yet. 
MINK: What about Thomas Capstick? 

POWELL: He was a New Jersey boy who, like Ham, v/ent 
back and lived off the munificence of his family. I 


don't know what became of Capstick. VJe pledged him 
actually because he had an attractive Chrysler roadster, 
and we thought we needed a good-looking car parked out 
in front of the house, so we pledged Tom Capstick and 
said, "Look, Tom, all you have to do for the fraternity 
is leave your car out front to give us tone." 
MINK: [laughter] What about Berl Goodheart? 
POWELL: Well, Goodheart — we've kept in touch. He was 
captain of the track team, a great 830 man and miler, 
and a very attractive boy. He was from Sausalito. He 
came down from the north and went into the fire insurance 
business, and he's still in it . He's got a big agency 
over in Inglewood, I think, and every now and then he'll 
call up and we'll have a little chat. He's a very sweet 
guy, and he's never set the world on fire. You're not 
supposed to if you're a fire insurance agent, Jim, but 
he's prospered. 

MINK: And what about Sidney Edmundson? 

POWELL: Sid Edmundson, now there's an interesting chap. 
He was from down Compton way. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: The last I heard of him--and I saw him here 
on campus about ten or fifteen years ago--he was the 
secretary or manager of the fisherman's union of San 
Pedro. He got into union work and v;as representing the 


big canners and fishery workers' union, and he was here 
for the Institute of Industrial Relations. And we looked 
at each other and both scratched our heads in disbelief. 
He'd become a union agent and I'd become a librarian, 
but we shook hands and agreed that we'd done all right. 
He and I used to play tennis together. We were tennis 

MINK: All in all, I would say that you probably had 
them all beat as far as the good life and success was 

POWELL: Well, superficially maybe, Jim; I don't know. 
What you need to make you happy--some people don't need 
as much as I've had. They're happier on less, and can 
you say that they're less happy? No, I don't think so. 
That's the class of 1929- Of course, I regarded myself 
also as a member of the class of I928, because I started 
in 1924, and should have graduated in I928, but I took 
that year out to travel. So, I've kept in touch also 
with 1928, which was Ritchie's class, Gordon Newell' s. 
And in some ways I feel closer to those people I started 
with and particularly to Ritchie and Newell. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: We are closer now I think forty-five years later 
than we were at the time. 


AUGUST 11, 1969 

MINK: Nov;, you've been mentioning on the other side of 
the tape that you really identified more with the class 
of 1928, and with Newell and Ritchie, than you did with 
the twenty-niners. Nov;, that brings me to ask you about 
that year that you took off; you explained it in your 
autobiography as to why and how it came about. There 
was one statement that you made that I found difficult 
to understand: you said that you were not introspective 
and that all these places and the sights and sounds that 
you saw made no impression on you. I just can't believe 
that, you know, a person at nineteen with the opportunity 
to make an around-the-world trip, which is really v;hat 
your mother wanted you to do. 
POWELL: Yes, yes. 

MINK: It was what Maclntyre wanted you to do? 
POVJELL: I probably was too extreme in that statement. 
What I meant is that it didn't impress me as much as it 
would have if I'd have done it ten years later--that is, 
when I went to Europe later in 1930. Everything meant 
much more to me. I'd come more awake; I guess this is 
inevitable. I was just not as sensitive to things at 
nineteen. Still, they did impress me, and I have memories 


of all twenty-six ports, particularly the crew on the ship. 
MINK: Well, why don't you try to recall if you can for 
a few minutes about that, because really you dismissed 
this with three lines in your autobiography. I don't 
think that that's enough. I mean, that may be reasonable 
in a short autobiography that you were trying to write. 
On the other hand, if you could do it now on the record • • • • 
POWELL: Well, I did a foreword to one of Jack Reynolds' 
catalogs once which was a bit about that around-the-world 
trip, and about some of the reading I did. The people 
that I remember from that trip were some of the crev;. 
For example, the refrigeration engineer was a German. 
MINK: Can you remember his name? 
POWELL: His name was Ernie. 
MINK: Last? 

POWELL: I don't know his last name; it was just Ernie. 
And he was reading Jean-Christophe , of all things, and he 
used to come up from the engine room, dripping with oil 
and grease, and swab himself off and settle down in his 
bunk and read Romain Rolland's Jean-Christophe o And we 
talked about reading and literature, sitting out on the 
hatch in the tropical sunsets. I remember him very well. 
I remember the radio operator. I don't remember his 
name other than "Sparks." All radio operators were called 
"Sparks." I used to go up into the radio shack, and we 


used to talk. I don't rememlDer what we talked about^ but 
I had good sessions with this guy. He was a philosophi- 
cal and thoughtful man. 

Another great friend on the ship was the barber. He 
was, I suppose,, a German Jew and was very shrev;d. He 
was running a trading business all the time. He ran a 
shop in his barber shop, and in the foreign ports he'd 
buy works of art and things and sell them. So he said, 
"Any souvenirs and things you want on shore, my boy, you 
just give me your commission and I'll get them for you." 
And he did^ he bought things. My aunt and uncle and my 
mother gave me a little money to spend for them. I put 
it in the hands of the barber, and he bought me crystal 
and cloisonne. He was very shrewd, and I believe he was 
honest. He probably made a profit on me. But I liked 
to go and sit with him in the barber shop. 

We ate together--the barber, the stewards and the 
musicians all ate at an early table in first class be- 
cause the musicians had to be ready for the passenger 
serving. We played, you see; so we ate early. But I 
got to know the barber through this, and I don't remem- 
ber his name even. V/ell, these musicians themselves, 
the chaps I went with, I wasn't close to. It was a 
throw-together-band. '' 

MINK: You'd never known any of them before you went on 



POWELL: Not really, no. We knew each other casually in 
South Pasadena, but I never had played with them and I 
never played with them again. It was a put- together-band 
for this occasion. 

I think I remember Honolulu, for example, coming 
in there. The first sight of a tropical island was ter- 
ribly thrilling, and I've been back two or three times 
through the Island. When we went ashore, we'd go to the 
leading hotel there. The Dollar Steamship Lines ship or- 
chestra always had an engagement with the leading hotel 
because they were an American band that was desirable. 
So we played when we were ashore there at the Moana, which 
is still an old stylish hotel at Waikiki. Probably it's 
doomed now by high-rise. It was a very beautiful, old 
wooden building, and two or three years ago. Fay and I 
spent Christmas in Honolulu, and I went back to the Moana, 
sat there and listened to the orchestra play, and I thought, 
"Jesus, the wheel's really come around." And all the 
smells and sights came back. That was a poor statement 
in the autobiography. Of course I was impressed by this; 
I foreshortened it all there, ridiculously. I could go 
through all the ports on the trip. 

I think the tremendous im.pact was Europe. Genoa and 
Naples and Marseille, the first ports there in Mediterranean 



MINK: Well, if you landed there today, you knov; and I 
know what the first things you'd do would be. Did you 
think about doing some of the things then that you would 
do now? I suppose not. 

POV/ELL: Well, the first thing we did in Marseille, v;e 
made for a barber shop. [laughter] We had the works; 
the franc had just been devalued and we had tremendous 
treatment in the barbershop. Then we made for a side- 
walk cafe, and then we went out to the Chateau d ' If where 
Dumas [pere] had written The Man in the Iron Mask, and 
we went up Notre Dame du Mont, the cathedral. We did 
orthodox tourist things as kids, but it was terribly 
exciting to hear a foreign language, to hear French spo- 

Genoa was so beautiful, the arcades, and the tre- 
mendous meals of pasta, and the colors, the colored 
stuccos and all. These were all exciting to an American 
from the Far VJ'est--to see the old world for the first 
time. Sure, I was impressionable. Don't believe a word 
about what I said in the autobiograhy, it just ain't true, 
MINK: You think that your decision to go back to France 
later was in any way dependent on this sojourn? 
POWELL: Subconsciously, perhaps, I felt at home there. 
I think Ritchie influenced me, because he planned to go 


there^, and then M. F. K. Fisher and Al Fisher, who were 
in residence in Dijon, influenced me. They said it's 
cheap to live here and there's a good liberal professor; 
you can work on a contemporary figure in the department. 
That was probably the strongest factor. 

MINK: But when you were in Marseille in 1925, you'd 
never heard of Robinson Jeffers. 

POWELL: No, I don't think so. I probably heard about 
Jeffers that year I came back as a sophomore at Oxy and 
was in Stelter's class. You see, his first commercial 
volume was published in 1925 ^ Roan Stallion . That's 
right, I wouldn't have heard about him, no, not until 

MINK: Well, were there any of the other ports that 
particularly impressed you? 

POWELL: Boston. We came into Boston in January in the 
dead of winter, and it was terribly cold. VJe went over 
to Harvard, I remember, because the former president of 
the Owl and Key House, the Phi Gam house at Occidental, 
was a graduate student in business at Harvard, Jack Cos- 
grove. And we went over and looked him up and called 
on him. That was my first visit to Harvard, first view 
of the Widener. I can remember its pillars--! don't re- 
member its books, but I remember the great pillars-- 
walking up the stairs into the Widener. Like going into 


a church. I thought about this a lot last summer when 
I was teaching at Simmons. They did a little oral his- 
tory tape on me there at New England, the editor of the 
Bay State Lihrarian . 

MINK: Here I thought you were a virgin, 
POWELL: No, sir, I've been had by Ken Kister. Didn't 
you ever see that in the Bay State Librarian? They did 
an interview based on this book; it was only a couple of 
hours. It was a good one; I'll show it to you. 
MINK: Then did you come by train back across the country? 
POWELL: No, we went on to Cuba, Havana, Panama, through 
the canal--completely around the world. And I was in 
New York for a week. The Dollar Line's Harrison was in 
port. That was the day I visited my father's sister. 
Mabel Satterlee, and my Grandpa and Grandma Powell. 
MINK: Is this the first time you were there? 
POWELL: It was the first time I'd been in New York, I 
guess. Maybe I was there as a child, but I didn't remem- 
ber it. However, we went to musical comedies, and I was 
entertained there by my relatives. But it was cold as 
hell and I didn't like it--too cold! I didn't want to 
write about it; I cut that all off in the book because 
you see it would have opened a whole area that probably 
should be written about in another context, that youthful 
trip aroand the world. 


MIM: Well, in what context would you v/rite it? How 

would you cast it? 

POWELL: Well, I don't know, Jim. When I come to it, 

I'll lenow. I don't know how I'd do it, but I'd like 

to do it in an expansive way, maybe a first trip to 

Europe and then returns to Europe, and write a kind of 

a European saga. But it didn't fit in the book I was 

writing. That autobiography is more a librarian's career 

kind of thing, and it didn't seem to fit. 

MINK: Well, when you got back, it was in the early 


POWELL: The spring of I926 . 

MINK: And you went right back in school? 

POWELL: No, I was working as a musician all that spring 

and summer. 

MINK: Where? 

POWELL: Up at Big Bear, mostly Big Bear Lake at various 

camps up there, with a different orchestrao I think it 

was largely a Pomona College group. 

MINK: How did you get connections for jobs with these 

orchestras? Did everybody just know everybody else? 

POWELL: Everybody knew. It was a netv/ork. You had a 

card file, really, of tenor sax players, alto sax players, 

trap drummers, pianists. 

MINK: I see. 


POWELL: We did a lot of sv;itching around iDetv/een Pomona, 
Oxy, and UCLA. 

MINK: What on earth ever made you decide to take up the 

POWELL: My brother George was a saxophone player. 
MINK: Did you like the way it sounded? 
POWELL: Yes. I liked the way it sounded. I liked the 
way he played it. He was good. He played at Stanford a 
lot and in hands, and he taught me. I never took a les- 
son, I learned on his and I bought my own. I ended up 
with four or five, I guess. Lord, it took a pickup truck 
to carry all my instruments. It was imitative, following 
in my brother's footsteps. We were very close as young 
ones, my brother George and I. He was a natural playboy. 
MINK: And you thought you wanted to be like him. 
POWELL: Yes. I wanted to be like him, and I started out 
that way, but I didn't stay with ito I was more serious. 
I don't know why; I branched off, I suppose, because I 
had this friend Ritchie and I had these good teachers. 
If he'd had this same experience of going to Occidental 
and having these teachers maybe he would have. I very 
nearly went to Stanford. VJhen I got back in that spring 
he wanted me to come up. He was working in San Francisco 
for Dean VJitter, I think, and he v/as living dovm the 
peninsula at the Kappa Sigma house and playing in orchestras 


So I applied and was admitted to Stanford, and then my 
Uncle Harold, who was still in [the] Link Belt [Company], 
wanted me to come to Berkeley. So I was subsequently brain- 
washed by him, and I applied to Berkeley. I very nearly 
went to these two northern schools, and then at the last 
minute I said, "No, I'm going back to Oxy." 
MINK: Have you ever regretted that you couldn't have 
said that you were a graduate of Stanford or Berkeley? 
POWELL: No, by God, no! I am very happy in the whole 
Occidental experience and in my relationship v/ith the 
college since. I think it did an enormous lot for me, 
Jim, and I am grateful and loyal, and I like the way 
the college has gone, you see, under Bird, under Art[hur 
G.] Coons, under Dick Gilman. I think the college has 
gone farther and farther into the mainstream. I'm proud 
of it — aren't you, as an Oxy alumnus? 
MINK: I'm not an Oxy alumnus. 

POWELL: What do you mean you're not an Oxy alumnus? 
MINK: I graduated from UCLA. 
POWELL: You went your first two years? 
MINK: Yes. 
POWELL: I see. 

MINK: V.'hat about Morgan Odell? Was he around when you 
were there? 
POV/ELL: I think he v;as an instructor starting out. In 



MINK: Yes; the man impressed me very much v/hen I was 

POWELL: No, I never had any classes from him; but Merritt 
More was an instructor. 

MINK: Was Robert Freeman instructing there when you were 

POWELL: No, he was just a name as a Presbyterian minis- 
ter in Pasadena. Merritt Moore was a young professor of 
philosophy that I enjoyed. He's Everett Moore's cousin, 
incidentally. I took philosophy from him in my senior 
year, I guess. 

MINK: What about John Willis Baer? What did he look 

POWELL: Oh, I don't think I have any memories of him, 
Jim. I've seen pictures of him, but I don't remember 
ever seeing him, unless he was a chapel speaker. No, 
I don't rememher him at all. 

MINK: And then Fred McLain would have been coming along 
about then. 

POWELL: Fred McLain v/as the young assistant controller. 
MINK: You probably didn't have anything to do with him. 
POWELL: No, I didn't; I came to know him later, as an 
alumnus. There was Lowell Chawner, the registrar. 
MINK: Florence Brady became the registrar about the time 


that you were going. 

POTOLL: She was assistant, yes, and she succeeded Lov/ell 
Chawner, who was professor of economics. But the only 
contact I had with the registrar's office later was send- 
ing for my grades and getting Jeffers' transcript of 
record. I did all these things from France. 

You know, if my father had lived, I think I v/ould 
have probably gone to Cornell. I would have follov/ed in 
my parents' footsteps and gone East. 

MINK: Your mother never urged you to go to Cornell? 
POWELL: No, I don't think she urged ms to do anything 
like that. I felt that I should stay close to home. My 
brothers had gone and my father was dead and my mother 
was alone, and there was the opportunity to be with 
Ritchie--to go to college together and live at home with 
my mother. All these things conspired to keep me there, 
and not reluctantly at all. I was entirely reconciled 
to all of this. 

MINK: Can you describe for a minute some of your ex- 
periences during the summer? Now one summer you worked 
up on the ranch up north, near San Quentin. 
POWELL: No, it was in Kern County. The Di Giorgio 
Ranch. Well, that was as a high school boy, really. 
Those were summers between my junior-senior high school 
and betv;een my senior-freshman year, I guess. My brother 


Clark was up there as the Mexican foreman, and I v;ent 
up and worked as a roustabout on the Di Giorgio Ranch. 
My Godj, I can still smell the sweat. 

MINK: Could you remember about the general labor situa- 
tion up there at that time? Did you know the discontent 
that always seemed to foment in that area around laborers? 
POWELL: Well, I wasn't aware of it, and the laborers 
were mostly braceros . My brother was Mexican foreman; 
he spoke Spanish, and he had charge of all the Mexican 
crew., But they were a gay bunch. They were right up; 
they didn't speak any English, and I wasn't aware of any 

We lived rough. It was a sweaty, hot, wonderful 
life. I suppose the IWW's were moving in, but I was 
too young to be aware of it. We were protected as kids 
from social troubles; we were insulated by our youth and 
were able to be free and happy. That's why it's such a 
wonderful nostalgic time of life; we were without respon- 
sibility, without any social awareness; we were just 
young animals. I was one. 

MINK: Well, I know that in your autobiography you describe 
a meeting of a Miss Shoemaker, who subsequently became 
your wife. But maybe you could describe in a little more 
detail how you first met her. When v;as the first time 
you ever sav; her? 


POVJELL: On campus, I think, running betv/een classes, 
wearing a short red coat and her hair streaming out be- 
hind her, running like mad. I guess she v;as late for 
class--she alv/ays was. 

MINK: Did she notice you first, or did you notice her 

POWELL: No, she didn't notice me; hut she knew who I 
was. She had her cap set for me, she told me later. 
MINK: Do you believe that? 

POWELL: Yes J I believe that, because I'd played at a 
dance at Marlborough School where she was a senior, 
and she knew who I was. Then when she was going over 
to Occidental as a freshman (and it was my senior year), 
she was talking with her cousin, Minnewa Bell, who was 
at Oxy then, too, and they were talking about dates they 
were going to have. Fay told me she'd said to her cousin 
Minnewa, "Well, you can have whoever you want, but I'm 
going to go with the president of the Phi Gam house." 
I met her formally then, I guess, through Willy Goodheart, 
who knew her through her brother Norman, who was a fresh- 
man at the same time. He took me up to the dormitory 
where she livedo It was actually Orr Hall. It was a 
new dorm, wasn't it? 
MINK: Yes. 
POWELL: Very elegant and attractive place. 


MINK: Did the guys make fun about it the way that v/e 

POWELL: Yes, "Whore" Hall. [laughter] "It v/as good to 
have a whore hall on campus, have them all grouped to- 
gether! " And then of course the one they built the next 
year, we made fun of because it was called "Turdman." 
Whore and Turdman. So I met Fay up at the dorm, I guess, 
the first time when I was summoned up there to make a 
bid on playing for a dormitory dance. I guess she was 
on the social committee. We had this confrontation, and 
I got rid of her brother and Goodheart somehow, I guess, 
and said to Fay, "Let's go for a ride." So we went out 
for a long ride. 

MINK: I think you said in your autobiography that it 
was full of non sequiturs. 

POWELL: That's right. She was a very difficult girl. 
She didn't want to be questioned, and if you asked her 
a question, she made an irrelevant reply. She was very 
independent and skittish and a wild and untamed creature; 
but still she had all the social graces when she chose 
to exercise them. But she was a very difficult kid; 
she was only seventeen then. And I was, I guess, twenty- 
one., But she took me home then. She used to go home 
weekends to Bel-Air, the Bell house, and I met Mr. and 
Mrs. Bell. 


MINK: Can you describe what Mr. Bell looked like? 
POWELL: Oh, he was a very handsome man, Jim. He was 
very fine- looking man, with a large head and very fine 
Roman features, a Roman nose, and always elegant and 
courtly and gentle. He was a very attractive man, and 
of course Mrs. Bell was equally attractive as a woman. 
She was very dark, Spanish looking. They v/ere an elegant 
pair, very gracious, and they lived without any osten- 
tation. They really had a big house, of course. Capo 
de Monte was a big place, and they had a staff. But 
they were comfortable people. They lived with their 
affluence very comfortably, generously, and I liked to 
go up there because of the swimming pool and the tennis 
court and the big grand piano, which I used to play. 
The wheel came around of course years later when all the 
Bell family came apart and the houses were all sold and 
the grand piano v;as given to us by Mrs. Bell in later 
years--a beautiful ebony Steinway. But I used to play, 
and Mrs. Bell liked music. She still does, bless her. 
She's still living--ninety-three this summer--in a re- 
tirement home in Culver City, and we go to see her. She 
phones us, and we still have after these forty and more 
years pleasant family social contacts. 

Oh, it was a lovely home there, Jim, that Capo de 
Monte--land3caping and all the trees and the beautiful 


view out over the plain. It was a lovely place to go, 
a lovely place to court a girl. Tennis and swimming, 
music, the beach nearby. We were very fortunate, I think, 
in this kind of a beginning. VJe didn't knov; how far we 
had to go and what we had to suffer, really, before V7e 
finally came together. We didn't know and that was a 
blessingo But, Lord, we were happy as kids, wonderfully 

MINK: So you'd go over there just about every weekend? 
POWELL: Yes, other times she would stay on campus because 
of social events at the dormitory or in the gymnasium. 
I was busy as a musician, but we found time to do things. 
We used to go to Balboa to the big Bell house on the bay 
front. We used to go down there unchaperoned; but we 
weren't wicked or wild kids. She didn't drink or smoke, 
and I did very little of either. We lived a very simple, 
sweet kind of a kid life. At least, this is the way I 
remember it. 

MINK: What did your mother think about it? 
POWELL: My mother was tolerant. She didn't think I 
should marry, not only not Fay, she didn't think I should 
marry anyone. She thought I should not marry young. I 
don't think she was possessive, but she'd seen some 
problems that had occurred to my brother Clark who married 
at eighteen. I guess she didn't want to see that happen 



MINK: By this time Clark was gone. 

POWELL: Clark was gone off to South Africa. But every- 
thing came around, and my mother became a very good mother- 

MINK: What do you mean "everything came around." Were 
there difficulties? 

POWELL: Well, the Depression and the economic uncertain- 
ties and all of the problems of getting established, and 
my mother's suffering, losing her money in the crash. 
They were difficult times, and they brought us closer--all 
of us, I thlnk--and we all came together closer as a 

MINK: This is one of the things that I was curious about o 
You used to write to your mother, and it was "Dear Mother," 
and all of a sudden it became "Dear Gert." 
POWELL: Gertie. 

MINK: Whatever made you decide to call her that? 
POWELL: I don't know how it started. I think it was 
when I grew up and I felt more co-equal with her as a man 
and a woman, and not as a son-mother. I don't know how 
it happened, Jim, but from college age on, I suppose, I 
was calling her "Gertie." 
MINK: She didn't object to this. 

POWELL: Oh, she liked it, and to the boys she was "Grandma 
Gertie." I don't knov; hov/ it originated, but there it was. 


AUGUST 18, 1969 

MINK: This morning, before we leave the Occidental period, 
I wonder if you could comment some on your participation 
in drama and music at Occidental. 

POWELL: Well, they both came out of my high school ex- 
perience, of course. I'd been in dramatics at South Pasa- 
dena, and when I went to Occidental, I tried out I think 
for what they called the Occidental Players. I was fur- 
ther taken by the drama coach. Miss Joyce Turner, who 
was a graduate of UCLA, and this was her first job I 
think, coaching drama at Oxy. She was a beauty--young 
and vivacious, dynamic--and a very strict disciplinarian, 
no nonsense; she wasn't giddy or flighty. She was a 
damn good, driving, drama coach., And she liked me and I 
liked her, and we did three or four plays together, I 
think, right up through my junior year. I played the 
young ingenue roles, of course--that ' s all I was good 
for--but I enjoyed it immensely. It gave me an opportunity 
to show off, which is what I always wanted to do. 

At the same time, I participated in debating. I was 
on the debating squad, I think, with Kenneth Holland who 
became president of the International Educational Union, 
or whatever it is, Kenny Holland. And in music, I had 
my own outside orchestra and I also got together an inside 


orchestra, which Included Kenneth Holland and a chap 
named Cline, Benny Nehls, v;ho became manager of the tele- 
phone company; and we played for rallies and gymnasium 
dances and campus activities. So I was leading an on- 
campus and off-campus musical life. I never thought of 
the stage as a career. I wasn't good enough. In music 
I could have had a career as a dance musician, but it 
ceased to satisfy me in my various needs, so that tailed 
off. But that's really all it was, Jim. 
MINK: Let's see, about that time, Fred Lindsay would 
have been coming in^ 

POWELL: Fred Lindsay was the voice and speech coach. 
MINK: Did you know him? 

POWELL: I knew him. He was my debating coach. I de- 
bated with him. We became good friends « He was a dis- 
passionate friend to me, because he actually flunked me 
in my senior year in a course in public speaking, I think. 
I got so wrapped up in courting Fay in that year, that 
I neglected my studies except those for Stelter and George 
Day in sociology = I found the way Lindsay v;as teaching 
public speaking to be very dry and boring. 
MINK: Could you tell me a little about that? How did 
he go about teaching public speaking? 

POWELL: He did it, and then he said, "Do it the way I 
do it." That is, he would speak a passage and then say 


imitate me. And I didn't think this was the way to do 
it. I think he didn't recognize individual abilities 
and talents enough. He intended to standardize it. I 
liked him more on the outside. I thought in the class- 
room he was rather pedantic, and I suppose in my inimi- 
table humble way, I told him so. He says, "All right, 
an F for you." And so I dropped the course, and he 
flunked me. 
MINK: I suppose at that time they didn't have recording 


POWELL: No, nothing. You heard him ! He was your echo. 
MINK: I take it you didn't for instance have to prepare 
a speech and have it recorded so that you could listen 
to it. 

POWELL: No, they didn't have anything like that, Jim. 
These were the primitive days, pre-electronic days. I'd 
like to go back to them myself; then we wouldn't have 
this nonsense that we're doing noWo [laughter] 
MINK: I wonder if you could say just a little more 
than you did in your autobiography about Clyde Browne 
and about the studio and your experiences there. 
POWELL: Well, I went to the studio first when I was a 
reporter on The Occidental , the newspaper. I v;as assis- 
tant sports editor, hah! 
MIl\fK: Is that the first time you ever met Clyde Browne? 


POWELL: I met Clyde Browne v;hen I went over to read 
proof or to take over copy. I was a runner, I guess, 
for the editor. I can't remember who the editor was. 
I think it was [J.] Phil Ellsworth, who became the grad- 
uate manager, the track man. I met Clyde then, and I 
was in and out of the Abbey San Encino. I was printing 
for the college yearbook and magazine then. In my senior 
year we had a comic magazine called the Tawn y Cat , and 
I think Charlie Plummer was the editor, and I was a staff 
writer. I think one issue was suppressed by the college. 
MINK: Why? 

POWELL: Well, I think we had a naked something on the 
cover o I've never looked at those again, I remember I 
did a review of moving pictures for one issue. It was the 
first year of the talkies; I thought this was a terrible 
new trendo I did some book reviews. I don't want to 
confuse this with the Sabre Tooth , which was a literary 
magazine. And I did book reviev;s and poetry in it. I 
remember I reviewed Maclntyre's book which Ritchie and 
I published that year. 

MINK: Did you work v;ith Ritchie at all at the Abbey in 
setting up type? 

POVJELL: No, I never set type in my life. I didn't be- 
lieve in getting inky fingers. ^ 
MINK: So you weren't at all interested in what he was 


doing in that area. 

POWELL: Not technically, no; I was interested in v;hat he 
was doing in a literary sense and in a publishing sense. 
But for typography as such, I never cared and 1 never 
have. 1 don't know anything about setting type. I don't 
have a mechanical gift. Ritchie had a great mechanical 
gift for working with material, but this didn't make us 
any less close, because we had all these other bonds. 
MINK: Well, I know Ritchie pointed out that he set up 
in type a poem by Robinson Jeffers. I think it was the 
first thing he did. 

POWELL: Well, not quite; it was one--"Stars" it was called, 
MINK: He pointed out that he had a great deal of trouble 
with it, and after he sent a copy to Remsen Bird and 
Cleland, it turned out that there were a lot of errors 

in it. 

POWELL: There were about seven misspellings in two sonnets 

Every time we'd look at it we'd find another one. 

MINK: Didn't you ever help him with the proof? 
POWELL: Well, I tried; God damn it all, don't blame that 
on me! He never showed it to me until he had it finished. 
This was a kind of a surprise, I think, and then I really 
blew up when I saw all these misspellings. Ritchie still 
can't spell. He's a lousy speller, and he's issuing books 
today that somehow get through with horrible misspellings. 


He's a genius certainly, but a hell of a speller. 

We shared that studio for the simple reason that 
neither of us could afford the rent. VJe had to divide 
the rent. I think it was $15.00 a month. We each paid 
$7.50. It was a place to keep our hooks and a jug of 
wine, and while he was working at the press downstairs, 
I used to read and write and play music on a little phono- 
graph. Fay and I used to go there and read and have a 
picnic supper, and I would go down and practice on the 
pipe organ in the chapel. I took lessons, I remember, 
on the organ from--oh dear, what was her name? --Edna 
something; she lived in Highland Park and taught the 
pipe organ. I took a weekly lesson from her, and I paid 
fifty cents an hour to Clyde Browne to practice on the 
pipe organ for the use of the electricity and the instru- 

It was a very nostalgic time, Jim, with the press 
grinding away, and when the press was going the whole 
damned Abbey shook. Then I'd get up on the big pipes 
on the organ, and it v^ould shake the Abbey even more. 
Ritchie every now and then would turn off the press and 
come up and say, "For Christ's sake, stop that noise, I 
can't hear the press." [laughter] And I'd say to him, 
"VJell, God damn it, Ritchie, turn off the press. I've 
got a priority here; this is a chapel, a religious place. 


Don't make so much racket!" So we had a very good time, 
really, between us. 

MINK: During this period, Ritchie, as you had indicated 
in your autobiography, was promoted at Vroman's and you 
came in and took his job. That would have been in the 
fall of 1929. 

POWELL: After I graduated in the fall of 1929- 
MINK: I wonder if you could describe in just a little 
more detail v/hat went on there, what your work was and 
how it. . . 

POWELL: How it came to end? 
MINK: How it came to the end. 

POWELL: How I had a severance notice. Well, Jim, I 
took the job because it promised a continuing association 
with Ritchie. We simply liked to do things together. This 
meant we'd ride to and from v;ork together, and it led me 
a little deeper into the book world that Maclntyre and 
Stelter and Ritchie had inducted me into--and, of course, 
my parents. The whole trend was toward a bookish life, 
I can see now. And 1 thought, "My God, I'll be down in 
the shipping department of Vroman's where all the new books 
come in; I can read. Employees get a twenty percent dis- 
count on purchases; I can add to my library. I'll be able 
to drive the delivery truck." It seemed to me an ideal 


And it would have been if it hadn't been for the 
manager, Leslie Hood, a little wiry gamecock of a son of 
a bitch. He really was. He was highly organized. He 
could carry the whole book stock in his mind. He was a 
bear for procedure. He didn't need any computers of any 
devices in his time. Old Leslie Hood had it all in his 
head. He had ulcers. He was a very sick man, I realized 
later, and harrassed and fidgety. 

He gave me a brief training of how to unpack books 
and arrange them on the great table in the order of the 
invoice, not check them off the invoice until they're all 
in invoice order. Well, I wasn't very systematic; I used 
to open the case and take out the first book and then look 
for it on the invoice. It of course slowed up the work, 
but I simply worked that way. And he didn't want me to; 
so we clashed. 

The volume kept increasing as Thanksgiving and Christ- 
mas neared, and the books just poured down that chute from 
the back alley. I was swamped, and they piled up all 
over the cellar and Hood would come down and rage at me. 
I got so I liked to be outside of the store on deliveries, 
our over-town days twice a week. Ward and I went in the 
big Dodge truck, anything to get away from Hood, to get 
him off my neck. In the meantime the books piled up, and 
he used to come down and light into them and in half an 


hour he could do work that took me a day. He was good 
and I v/asn ' t . 

And then there was the incident of delivering Lady 
Chatterly ' s Lover and parking on El Molino under the cam- 
phor trees and reading it and forgetting to deliver it. 
The man who ordered it kept phoning, "Where is my book?" 
I got back to the store at closing time and Hood just 
looked at me and said, "You're a fine delivery boy, you 
are." And I knew that my goose was cooked. At any rate, 
after Christmas, I got my notice. It all turned out for 
the best, Jim, because I went back to college then, for a 
graduate spring semester at Occidental, and this meant 
that I could be close to Fay. 

MINK: Is that really why you went, or did you really want 
to go? Had you really thought about taking a master's at 

POWELL: Yes, it was to get a teaching certificate. Mac 
and Stelter said you'd better get a teacher's certificate 
so you can get a job in a high school or junior college. 
MINK: Did you think you wanted to teach? 

POWELL: Well, it seemed to me the thing to do. I appar- 
ently wasn't fitted for business and I wasn't a writer 
then that could earn a living. It seemed to me a v;ay out 
or a way in. And to get a teaching credential, you had 
to take the required courses in education. That's vihere 


I ran into trouble. James Sinclair and Martin Stormzand. 
I had courses from them--Sinclair in Introduction to Edu- 
cation and Stormzand in Educational Statistics. Oh, that 
was a fiasco, really. First of all, I didn't care for 
education, and second, I had no gift for statistics. 
MINK: What did you think of them as teachers? 
POWELL: Oh, they were routine. They were interesting 
men, but they were routine educational pedagogues, I 
guess. And in Sinclair's course, I think we had to visit 
a kindergarten and evaluate the teaching methods. I 
thought this was the end. What the hell was I doing 
evaluating kindergarten teaching. 

I went to Stelter and he said, "A bunch of nonsense, 
Powell. Why don't you drop it?" And at the same time I 
was taking his seminar in Poetics, I guess, and loving it, 
and so I dropped Stormzand and Sinclair. I didn't flunk. 
I took withdrawals, and concentrated then on Stelter' s 
seminar and I did very well indeed in it» I got top grade 
from him, and at the same time I was reading Jeffers and 
coming closer, you see, because in Stelter' s Poetics we 
were studying Aristotle and the theory of poetry. And 
all of this tied in beautifully with what I was to do 
later on Jeffers. 

MINK: Well, Larry, at this point, in reading Jeffers, I 
was wondering: I think that you had said in your 


autobiography that Ritchie actually introduced you to 

Jeffers. But I'm wondering if it wasn't really Gordon 

Newell, inadvertently, that did it, because Newell had 

fallen in love and wanted to give a volume to his young 

sweetheart. Ritchie recommended Edwin A. Robinson's 

poetry and suggested that Newell buy a volume of it, but 

by mistake he bought a volume of Jeffers. Ritchie took 

the volume and started to read it, and then he handed 

it to you. 

POWELL: I don't remember it that way, but if Ritchie says 

it, it's gospel. It could well have been; it was all 

sort of intertied. I just don't remember, Jim. That's 


MINK: It was Roan Stallion . 

POWELL: Yes, Roan Stallion , Tamar, and Other Poems . 

MINK: V/as that the first of his poetry that you ever 


POWELL: Yes, Ritchie's copy; and of course at the same 

time, Stelter once asked in class did anyone know who 

Robinson Jeffers is. I said, "Oh yes, that's the who 

wrote a poem about a woman who fell in love with a horse." 

And of course the seminar laughed and Stelter slapped me 

on the wrist, but he said, "Did you know, Powell, that 

he's a graduate of this college?" "Well," I said, "No," 

He said, "Yes, he's the class of I905 . Why don't you 


go over to the registrar's office sometime and look up 
his transcript or record. Do me a paper on it." V/ell^ 
I don't think I actually did a paper, but I did look up 
and verify this. I went to see Lowell Chavmer and Miss 
Brady, and in the library I think I looked up some of 
his things he'd written for undergraduate magazines. 

So the lines were coming together, you see, from 
Stelter, from Ritchie, from Newell, all drawing together 
with me caught in the middle. It seemed inevitable that 
I'd end up working on Jeffers. The big push came after 
graduation when I went up and visited Newell at Carmel, 
spent a week with him. I can't remember if he'd married-- 
no, he wasn't married then, he was still courting Gloria 
Stuart. She became the actress. (Incidentally Jim, she 
lives over here in the Village now, next door to my late 
uncle's duplex--right next door.) Gloria Sheekman, her 
name is now. 

MINK: Well, what did Newell really think of Jeffers at 
this point? Or did he think anything of him? 
POWELL: I don't know. I don't remember. But he was 
trying to impress his girl, Gloria, who v;as quite liter- 
ary. She wrote poetry. I've got some of her unpublished 
poems here in my files, as a matter of fact. I think he 
was Just trying to please her in the literary sense. 
MINK: VJell, when you v^ent to visit Nev;ell, I think that 


you said in your autobiography, and just a minute ago, 
that this was what sort of crystallized it. By this time 
was Newell pretty hung up on Jeffers. 

POWELL: Yes, he was. He was caretaker in Carmel of a 
model golf course, a miniature golf course. It opened 
only I think in the late afternoon and early evening, and 
he had all the rest of the time free. He v;as living in 
a little cottage in the pinev/ood, and he was a sculptor 
then. He already was. I don't know how he got started 
being a sculptor, but there he was. The job he was work- 
ing on was a redwood beam for the dining room of Stelter 
on Escarpa Drive across from the college. This was a 
commission Stelter had given him. You see, Stelter was 
always trying to help us, and he said to Newell, "Carve 
me a beam and I'll pay you for it." (Newell, inciden- 
tally, had carved me a pair of bookends at that time, 
which I have. He did me a bookplate. He was an artist.) 

So Newell and I spent a lot of time together in that 
week. After he got off the golf course, we used to walk 
around Carmel. That was the summer of 1929* The Jeffers 
were in Ireland, and the house and tov;er v;ere deserted, 
and we walked down there. A new book of Jeffers had come 
out, called Cawdor and Other Poems , and I read the whole 
darn thing aloud to Nev/ell evenings V7hile he was carving. 

Then in the morning we drove dovm the coast. That 


was my first experience dovm the coast road. It went 
down then as far as Pfeiffer's Point, out of Big Sur 
Canyon, and up over the point and then it became a wagon 
trail. Nev;ell and I drove down there, and there was a 
wrecked steamer, I remember, off Point Sur. Newell said, 
"Look, we'll swim out to it and lay salvage claim to it." 
I said, "Newell, you do it." I'll be your representative 
on shore. [laughter] But Newell put one foot in the 
water and thought better, because you know the water along 
that coast is icy the year round. 

Well, this was all tremendously exciting and forma- 
tive and critical, because I said, "Well, Lord, this is 
a poet that can be read in depth; it can be related to 
this landscape." And I determined then and there that 
if I went on for graduate work, this was what I was going 
to write about. 

MINK: Well, would you agree with Ward's statement that 
probably Jeffers more than anyone else influenced your 
life and his? 

POWELL: As a writer, yes; as teachers, Stelter and Mac; 
as friends, Gordon; and certainly as women, my mother and 
Fay. Those are the influences you see that were all 

MniK: Well, what about the poetry of Jeffers. V/hat is 
it about the poetry of Jeffers that turned you on and 


turned Ritchie on? 

POWELL: Oh, I don't know, Jim. Frost said something about 
it. He said, "When you find the poetry that turns you on, 
you feel as though the top of your head had come off." 
It's some kind of a kinetic experience; it thrills you. 
It was both the form and the content and the relationship 
to a landscape--I think, and maybe that latter most of 
all--the sense of place that you always feel when you go 
to Big Sur, even today, that, my God, here's the inevi- 
table spokesman for this coast--the granite, the hills, 
everything about it--here is the inevitable expression of 
it. It was one of those mysterious catalytic coalescences, 
not at all reasonable, but a very deep and instinctive 
thing and has endured, because I feel this way forty years 

MINK: You say at the same time, or within a very short 
time after that, that your meeting with [John] Steinbeck 
and Steinbeck's work was in a v/ay influenced by the same 
kind of coast area. 

POWELL: Yes, yes, the same area, inland a bit, of course, 
as I've written. Steinbeck was the poet of the land over 
the Santa Lucias and the Salinas Valley and the San Joa- 
quin. Yes, that happened certainly. As I v;rote in a 
Westv/ays chapter last winter, my introduction to Steinbeck 
was by Paul Jordan- Smith. He came into Jake's shop once 


about 193'^j and he says, "Powell, you like Jeffers, don't 
you?" "Yes J sir." (Jordan sort of reviev;ed my Jeffers 
wonderfully well in the Los Angeles Times \rhen the Prima- 
vera edition came out in 193^0 He said, "V/ell, you'll 
like this," and he handed me a copy of Steinbeck's To a 
God Unknown. He said, "Here's the prose laureate of that 
region, just as Jeffers is the poetical laureate." And 
he was right. I read To a God Unknown, and that led right 
on into all of Steinbeck's work. Then he v/as absolutely 
unknown, except to a few discerning critics like P. J. 
Smith. I'm glad to hear you're going to tape him, be- 
cause I think more than any other literary figure in this 
community, Paul Jordan -Smith has had the influence on 
all of us. He's a very great man and. Lord, get him 
while he's still able to talk, Jim. 

MINK: Ritchie spoke about William Van Wyck, who was 
more or less a dilettante and wrote a book about Jeffers. 
Did you meet him? 

POWELL: I met Bill Van Wyck years later, I think, or 
maybe it was in Paris. He was living in Paris. I think 
Maclntyre sent Ritchie and me to him, and I think we all 
met at a cafe. Of course, the little book on Jeffers 
came years later, way into the thirties. 

Incidentally, it's a very beautiful little book, 
because it's the first book on which Alvin Lustig, the 


type designer, worked. This was a landmark book, really, 
and Ritchie discerned this kid Lustig, v;ho's dead now un- 
fortunately, and had him decorate this little book. Lus- 
tig also did the Huxley's Words and Their Meaning and 
then Fisher's The Ghost in the Underblows , then became 
designer for New Directions and for Yale. He had a tre- 
mendous career, and died young. But it was Bill Van Wyck's 
little book on Jeffers that launched him. 
MINK: Well, could it have been that Van Wyck was struck 
by the fact that here was a young American in a French 
university writing a doctoral dissertation about an 
American poet, Jeffers. Did you discuss this with him? 
POWELL: No, I don't think I discussed it with him. 
MINK: Maybe Ritchie did. 

POWELL: Ritchie might have. I'll tell you one person 
I did discuss it with in Paris. It was the head of the 
American University Union, or whatever it was called there 
on the Boulevard St. Germain. This was Horatio S. Krans. 
He had done his doctoral dissertation at Columbia in I910 
or so on Yeats, He was, I guess, a Quaker, and my Aunt 
Mabel had sent me to him v;hen she learned that I was to 
go down to a provincial university^ So in the summer of 
I93O5 I checked in with Dr. Krans at the student union, 
and I really was told off by him. He said, "Powell, don't 
leave Paris. Don't go into the provinces; that's the end. 


There's no Intellectual life outside of Paris on this 
street and the Boulevard St. Michel." He said, "if you're 
going to study in France, go to the Sorhonne. For God's 
sake, don't go to Dijon. In the second place," he said, 
"you're wasting your time to work on a contemporary poet. 
It isn't possible to come to a judgment v;hile a writer's 
still writing." I said to myself, "Hey, bud, hov; about 
your dissertation on Yeats?" [laughter] He was very much 
alive in I910, but I didn't say anything about that. But 
I didn't listen to him; I didn't pay any attention to ei- 
ther of his advices. I went to Dijon and I worked on 
Jeffers, and I never saw Dr. Krans again, 
MINK: Well, of course, your decision to go to Dijon v/as 
more or less influenced by Mary Frances Fisher. 
POWELL: M. F. K. Fisher and Al Fisher. 
MINK: This was because of the fact that there at Dijon 
was a Frenchman teaching English who understood and appre- 
ciated American literature. 

POWELL: Yes, he was liberal and permissive. The Fishers 
were there, and the cost of living was very cheap. These 
were factors--certainly the strong factor. Another v/as 
that after a month in Paris with Ritchie, and a couple of 
weeks with Fay before she went back to America, I realized 
that it v/ould be very difficult for me to settle dovm and 
study in Paris. There was just too much doing. There 


were too many cultural distractions, and my best bet 
would be a kind of a self-imposed exile in a quieter 
town. I had the wit enough, thank God, to realize this. 
I never would have made it in Paris. 

MINK: Well, weren't there two students there in Paris 
that you met while you and Ritchie were there, from 

POWELL: Whatever Ritchie said is a bloody lie. [laugh- 
ter] I hereby categorically deny it. I don't know what 
he said, but it's a lie. 

MINK: Well, weren't there two young girls? 
POWELL: Jim, Paris is made up of young girls! 
MINK: They were from Occidental College and had come 
over and you saw quite a bit of them, you and Ritchie 

POWELL: No, no. Categorical denial. No. Ritchie may 
have. Ritchie probably had a dozen girls, but I was, 

remember, going into exile as a recluse, an ascetic, 

a devoted scholaro 

MINK: I see. 

POWELL: Interest in girls, nonsense! 

MINK: We'll let that gOo [laughter] 

POWELL: You tried, Jim- -by God, you've tried. I'll 

have to read what Ritchie said. 

MINK: You said that after a month in Paris you decided 


that Dijon v/as really where you wanted to go? 
POWELL: Yes. Well, I knew it in the beginning, really. 
I was just having my last fling in Paris. Ritchie was 
writing poetry--to these girls! --and I v;as vjriting my 
first novel about music and jazz. I used to go to the 
Luxembourg Gardens and rent a chair--one of those iron 
chairs that you rent from the custodian, the old harpie. 
I'd sit there and write. Ritchie would be v/riting and 
we'd read to each other in the evening. 
MINK: This novel and some of the earlier things that 
you did don't show up in your collection. What happened 
to them? 

POWELL: Hah! Right here in these files. 
MINK: You kept this material; you just have never turned 
it over to the Library. 

POWELL: Some I destroyed that was hopeless, and a couple 
later versions I think are still there in the files. 
I'll turn it all over eventually because it's interest- 
ing practice work. I kept trying over and over; I must 
have written it three or four times over the next two 
or three years. It was good apprentice work, and it 
was getting stuff out of my system. 
MINK: You said you wrote about the jazz age? 
POWELL: Yes. Well, one is called Jazz Band . It's 
thinly disguised autobiography, dance musicians of the 


twenties. I didn't do a Dorothy Baker Young Man With a 
Horn , nothing as good as that; but I think it might be 
interesting in a period sense, eventually, shov;ing some 
of the folkways of college dance musicians. 
MINK: Well, when you got to Dijon, I think that you de- 
scribed quite well in your autobiography what went on 
there. I was wondering one thing--maybe two, one at a 
time: you said that the Fishers were the only Americans 
in Dijon, did you have any worries about going to a French 
university where you would be the only American? Do you 
feel you were accepted? 

POWELL: Oh, I suppose I had some qualms, but they were 
not very deep. Remember, I was very young, and you don't 
worry when you're young. You have great resilience and 
confidence, and doubts haven't eaten away at you yet, 
and I just felt full of confidence. I took the summer 
courses for foreigners. Then there were a great many 
foreigners there, you see; there were Czechs and there 
were Egyptians and there were Germans and Poles and some 
Africans. The courses v;ere specially to help you learn 
French and an introduction to French culture and litera- 
ture. And I faithfully attended those courses, I suppose, 
during all of latter August and September. The term 
didn't start until October fifteenth. So I had six weeks 
at least of five, six, seven hours a day of these courses 


for foreigners. And this was my indoctrination. I'd 
seen Dr. [Georges] Connes and told him v;hat I wanted to 
do. He said, "VJell, go home and v/rite me a precis of 
what you want to do." And I took about six v/eeks to do 
that and then got his OK to go ahead. But It was a rash 
thing to do. If I hadn't been young and lgnorant--Yeats 
says J "Young, we loved each other and V7ere ignorant." 
But I had the luck, the fortune, and the friendship, you 
see. Fisher had gone on and broken the way for me and 
was an enormous help. He was the next great influence 
in my life, Jim, because he taught me to organize my 
thoughts, to outline my work, and to proceed with clarity, 
And of course I was in the ideal environment in which to 
do this, because this is the whole French way. 

But Fisher was very patient with me, and I tried 
ideas on him. V/e talked and we were together hours. He 
was working on Shakespeare, doing his dissertation, and 
I volunteered to be his typist. I typed his v/hole disser- 
tation twice--An Introduction to Shakespearean Comedy . 
And I saw him through, was at his soutenance . We were 
very close; we were as close in Dijon as Ritchie and I 
had been in California. And of course Ritchie was still 
in Paris that year, and he used to come dovm sometimes 
for weekends and we'd have reunions. 
MINK: VJell, after you'd been there about six months or 


so, did you have the same feeling, or do you think Dr. 
Krans was right, or was he wrong [about life In the pro- 

POWELL: Well, I thought he was wrong, completely wrong. 
I think this was so because my teacher Connes and the 
faculty there--Plerre Trahard, the dean, and Charles 
Lambert In classics, and Jardelller in current affairs, 
and Gaston Roupnel in folklore. Mademoiselle Bianchis 
in comparative literature--were all exciting people and 
lecturers. It was small, Jim. You see, it wasn't like 
the Sorbonne with 30,000 students. 

MINK: Well, it would have been more like Occidental, 

POWELL: It was more like a college, because the univer- 
sity was divided into faculties; they were all separate. 
The faculty of Science, of Law, and of Letters were all 
in three different places, and I had to do only with Let- 
ters. The student body there must have been well under 
a thousand. There were fewer than a thousand--oh, there 
must have been three or four hundred in Letters. It 
was a very good environment. 

MINK: You didn't speak much in your autobiography about 
the other students. Was it sort of Just you and Fisher 
and his wife and Ritchie? What about other students? 
POWELL: No, I didn't make any strong friendships. I 


had some acquaintances with the student body, with French 
and with some of the foreign students. We met at the 
students' club, but I v/as withdrawn in a sense. I had 
been a great mixer at Occidental, and I found that that 
dissipated my energy and thinned out my work. I was 
really changed, because at Dijon I was single-minded 
and concentrating on this work I wanted to do on Jeffers 
and on learning French, and I just didn't have the con- 
tacts. No, I didn't write about them because I really 
didn't have them in any deep sense. 

My best French friend, of course--and I did write 
about him in the book--was Jean Matruchot, the professor 
of English in the Lycee Carnot, the boys' high school. 
That's the school that Henry Miller wrote about in Tropic 
of Cancer , you see. Matruchot and I formed a very deep 
and wonderful friendship. I think 1 told in the book, 
when he first saw me, it gave him a great start, because 
I was the spitting image of his brother. He was a young 
sculptor, an apprentice of Rodin, who had been lost in 
World War I, and 1 with my beard and my dark complexion, 
you know, Matruchot said, "My God, it's my brother!" And 
he was drawn to me instantly; a man twenty years older 
than I, I guess, a bachelor, a misanthrope, a very dour 
and ponderous man superficially, but with a very tender 
side and with a vast knowledge of our literature. So he 


would hear me endlessly on Jeffers and on concepts in 
Jeffers. We met tv;ice a v;eek for two and a half years. 
In one meeting we spoke in English and then the second 
meeting in the week we spoke in French. This was to help 
him with his English^ although he didn't need my help, 
really. He liked to learn American idioms from me, but 
it was an enormous help to me in learning French. We 
translated many passages of Jeffers into French. That's 
the way to learn English, certainly, to translate passages 
into another language, then you learn what it means in 
English. Well, he was my best French friend. 

Connes, my professor, I had no personal relationship 
with; you don't have that in France. You have a strictly 
student-teacher relationship. I never saw him outside 
of his office and in a classroom until I'd finished my 
degree, and then he gave us a celebration and a supper. 
Then after that, in all these years, until now, we've 
been close personal friends. A very great man in my life 
certainly is Georges Conneso 

MINK: I was wondering: you grew a beard and donned cor- 
duroy » 

POWELL: I went native. 

MINK: You went native. Why did you do that, really? 
POWELL: VJell, the reason I grev; the beard v;as that in 
the pension my room was on the third floor, no running 


water and no hot water in the house, except downstairs 
in the kitchen, and you can imagine what shaving would 
he in the morning with cold water in winter, or a vmlk 
down three flights to the kitchen and bring up a pot of 
hot water. I said, "To hell with it. I won't shave; 
I'll let it grow." It was simply that. It wasn't the 
Bohemian, and it certainly wasn't artiness. It v/asn't 
any striving for effect. It was just because, damn it 
all, I didn't have any running hot water to shave with, 
and I have a stiff beard. And the corduroys, well, 
they're practical clothes, Jim. You don't have to press 
them, and a dark worker's corduroy doesn't show spots. 
You don't have to fold it up at night, you just stand 
it in the corner. I had a beautiful blue corduroy suit 
made for twelve dollars. I was just realistic and I merged 
with the population. I didn't want to be outstanding. 
I didn't want to be the show-off and the extrovert that 
I'd been at Occidental. You see, it was a revulsion 
against this whole role; it was another life, and this 
is the way I lived it. 

MINK: Do you think that the necessity of learning the 
language, of being able to manipulate your academic life 
in this language, made you more attentive to the lectures? 
POWELL: Oh, very much so. Yes, very much so. You hung 
on every word and you sought to penetrate the meaning. 


The big breakthrough came, Jim, not in class but in 
the movies. I v;ent many nights to the movies, and they 
were the talkies, remember. They'd come in then; and I 
went to the French moving picture theater and listened 
to the sound tracks--the Actualite (the newsreel) . I 
remember Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (Les Lumieres de 
la Ville ) . I went five times to that wonderful picture. 
And one night I didn't understand what the sound track 
was, and then the next night by magic it all came clear. 
And I think this is an experience in learning a foreign 
language. You come up to a point of total breakthrough 
and then it all makes sense. Well, this was my experience 
in French, and after that, and to this day, I can under- 
stand a rapidly spoken and a complex French. The only 
trouble I would have would be when the dialect or patois 
or argot with unknown words is used. But it was a great 
joy v/hen I realized that I knev/ what they v/ere saying 
and that I could say it back. 

MINK: Well then do you feel that at the point that this 
happened, maybe that your work in school began to improve? 
POWELL: Oh, definitely. Then I got my confidence, you 
see, and I could face my final examinations with equani- 

MINK: How soon did this occur? ^ 
POWELL: Six months after I reached Dijon I probably 


attained comprehension, yes, and then I had another two 
years, nearly, to live in this milieu. It v/as probably 
six months, probably by Christmastime. But, mind you, 
I was living in a pension with the Fishers in v^hich we 
didn't speak English » All the language at table was 
French; the people of the pension , the owners, didn't 
speak English. This was the advantage. The Fishers 
and I, when we were together privately, spoke English 
of course; but when we were with the others we all spoke 

MINK: You all ate together. 

POWELL: We ate together in a common dining room v;ith 
the family. 

MINK: How was the food? 

POWELL: Oh, my God, how was the food? Jim, it was 
heavenly! Madame Rigoulot (she became Madame Bonamour 
later) was a great cook, and the husband was a great 
cook of omelets o He always did the omelet. And the 
food just floated through the air. You reached up in 
the air and drew it down--marvelous food. And you want 
to know what we paid for that pension , room and board, 
three meals a day, not including laundry? V/e paid thirty 
francs a day which, with the franc at 4 cents, was $1.20 
a day, for complete room and board. Laundry then would 
run about a dollar a month, and Madame v;ould do our 


shirts and socks and things. It was incredibly cheap. 
MINK: I'm interested in just what you had to eat? I 
think that it would be good to have some sort of descrip- 
tion of what provincial cooking is like. 
POWELL: Well, you'd go down for breakfast at any hour. 
The French don't have formal breakfast, you know. They 
would put out rolls and jam and butter on the table and 
milk. I would have a simple breakfast, then. Any time 
you arose in the morning you could go to the little din- 
ing room for that. Then lunch at tv;elve thirty and 
dinner I suppose at six thirty or seven were full courses, 
but boarding-house style, with everything put on the 
table, and you helped yourself. But it would include 
soup--always a soup--and then a salad, and then meat or 
fish or fowl or poultry, and dessert, and always wine 
with the meals, and then coffee afterwards out in the 
patio, in the courtyard, if you wished it. But there 
was lots to eat, Jim, lots to eat. And alv/ays on special 
occasions, birthdays or Christmas, there v/ould be abso- 
lute banquets. 

These people that were keeping the pension were not 
ordinary people. They'd fallen on evil times. They 
were doing this to make ends meet. The madame was the 
daughter of a confiseur, or a candy-maker, from Montbeliard, 
which is over in Franche Comte, near Switzerland, at 


Belfort, and she brought a large dowry to the marriage. 
Her husband had been the Peugeot garageman of Dijon, 
the agent; but he was a drinker and he'd gone through 
her dowry and was a pretty rough individual--Monsieur 
Rigoulot--and he was a woman chaser. They had three 
children, and life was pretty hard for Madame, v;ho was 
having to keep the pension . She and her daughter would 
do a lot of the housework, and the dowry was gone. She 
still had fine linens and silver; so we had wonderful 
sheets and pillowcases and towels and service at the 
table, but they needed the money from the pension people. 
There were the Fishers, and occasionally there 'd be 
another foreign student or two. But it was a wonderful 
abundant household in spite of hard times. They didn't 
stint us, and I was fortunate, really, being cared for 
that way by this family. 

MINK: Larry, we know what life is like in the univer- 
sity here, but did you find it somewhat different in 
the way that classes are conducted and in what you're 
expected to do? 
POWELL: Totally. 

MINK: Your examinations, for instance, and your assign- 
ments, how do they differ? 

POWELL: Oh, it's very permissive. There aren't speci- 
fic assignments o You have a general area to cover. I 


wasn't enrolled in classes as such. I simply would be 
held accountable at the time of my final examinations 
for certain subjects in Anglo-American literature. So 
I took any courses that I could take that would help 
throw light on this and that would improve m.y knowledge 
of French, but you weren't in actual course enrollment 
as a doctoral candidate. 

MINK: In other words, you just went and paid a sum of 
money and went to school. 

POWELL: That's right. And I was a graduate student, you 
see, which is much more permissive. There aren't the 
units and the credits to get through as there are here 
in that program that I was in. But the day of reckoning 
comes, of course, when you have your final oral examina- 
tions. Then if you've paid attention and if you've had 
courses or lectures from faculty that are on your examin- 
ing committee, you have an insight into their mind. But 
you don't know who's going to be on your examining committee; 
so you go across the curriculum as widely as you can, 
sampling different professors. This is the v;ay it was. 
MINK: There v;ould be no grades at the end of the term 
or anything like that? 

POWELL: No, nothing like that in the doctoral program. 
No, it was utterly different from the American v/ay--your 
dissertation and your defense of it and your subsidiary 


theses. I had two subsidiary theses, one on Shelley 
and Byron and the use of incest in their poetry, which 
tied in with Jeffers' treatment of incest, and then my 
other subsidiary thesis was the Pacific Coast in Whit- 
man's work. 

MINK: Yes, you've mentioned this. Is there a deadline 
on the subsidiary theses? 

POWELL: You're subject to examination on them at the 
same time that you're examined on your printed thesis, 
but you select them early. 

MINK: When do you hand them in? At the same time you 
hand in your main thesis? 

POWELL: You don't; they aren't written. They're oral. 
You're not required to hand in subsidiary theses; you're 
simply required to defend them orally at the time of 
your examination. But you notify your professor what 
you've chosen, and you get his advice on choosing them-- 
this was Connes and I worked this out--things that would 
relate to my main thesis, you see, the theme of incest 
and then the theme of the Pacific Coast. 
MINK: Well, why does the theme of incest relate to 

POWELL: Well, he treated this in "Tamar" and in an 
early poem called "Rosalind and Helen." He had been 
influenced by Shelley's Cenci and Byron's Manfred or 


whatever it was. Byron^ of course;, not only v;rote about 
incest, but he was said to have practiced it with his 
half-sister. In the Bible, too^ you see the theme of 
"Tamar." All these things Jeffers had been Influenced 
by, so the point was to try to pin down these influences, 
I actually wrote out in French two statements of my sub- 
sidiary theses. 

MINK: Did you hand those in to Connes? 
POWELL: Tentatively he approved them, and then at the 
final examination I read them two subsidiary statements-- 
a precis of what I had done--and then waited for ques- 
tions and discussion. Although I wasn't required to 
turn them in, I had them prepared in French, This was, 
I think, Connes' advice and Fisher's advice--not to 
leave it all just to oral chance, but to have them be- 
fore me. I have those somewhere here in my papers. 
MINK: Was this perfectly acceptable that you do this? 
POWELL: Oh, yes. 

MINK: Is it customary, or was this exceptional? 
POWELL: I don't remember. But you can have all your 
notes, anything you want in front of you. 
MINK: At any time during the exam? 

POWELL: Yes, at any time. Oh, yes, sure. I was for- 
tunate of course in having Georges Connes as my maitre. 
He wanted me to pass, of course. It's the same here. 


isn't it? 
MINK: YeSj sure. 

POWELL: You have a protector in a sense if it gets 
rough, and he advised me in the beginning. He said, 
"Now let the chief examiner talk; don't interrupt him." 
The chief examiner was a Monsieur Cestre, who was head 
of American literature in the Sorbonne, Charles Cestre. 
He was a famous man in American studies in France, be- 
cause he was old (he must have been seventy), and he'd 
held the chair for forty years. He wrote an occasional 
column in the New York Times Book Reviev/. He'd written 
a book in English on E. A. Robinson, which I had of 
course. He had made his start, incidentally, in the 
high school, Lycee Carnot, where Matruchot taught. He 
was a Burgundian, and his first teaching had been in 
Dijon; so in a sense this was a homecoming for him. 
Cestre came down. You see, in a doctoral dissertation 
examination, they bring from any one of the sixteen 
French universities the person best qualified to head 
the jury. 

MINK: Too bad they don't do that here. 
POV/ELL: Yes. And this was, you see, the top man in 
American studies in France. He came down and headed 
the jury. Connes said, "Let him talk; don't interrupt 
him." So naturally when Cestre had the word, his first 


remarks were how good it was to be back in Dijon, and 
he began to reminisce of Dijon in the I89OS. And no- 
body said a word. Then he gradually picked me up in 
his sights and brought his guns to bear on me. And I 
was flabbergasted. 
MINK: What did he ask you? 

POWELL: Well, he said, "Now, Monsieur Pov/ell, it's very 
interesting what you've written about the Carmel coast. 
Of course, it's not foreign to me," he said, "I remember 
my summers, teaching at Stanford, during v/hich I went 
down on that coast." And he said, "It seems to me, 
sir, that you've not paid enough attention to the ef- 
fect of fog in Jeffers' poetry." [laughter] He said, 
"I remember the sea fogs at Carmel. They came in and 
they stayed in; they never receded. I never saw any- 
thing but fog there. Don't you think, sir, that the 
weather had something to do with Jeffers' pessimism 
and made this man morbid." 

And, my God, he launched into a whole speech about 
how weather affects poetry. And I said, "Of course, 
you're absolutely right." (" Vousavez bien raison .") 
I encouraged him, and, my God, he gave us a dissertation 
on weather. He went back to [Robert Louis] Stevenson, 
of course, on the sea fogs, how they came in over Sil- 
verado, up in the Napa Valley, and he ranged up and down 


California. He wanted to show off his knowledge of 
California; and. Lord, I let him! But I think the 
wicked one on the jury was. . . 
MINK: There's always one, isn't there? 

POWELL: Yes. It was the dean, Pierre Trahard . He was 
the dean of the Faculty of Letters. _I1 etait bien 
mechant. He was a man who looked like a fox. He had 
a fox face--a red face, long nose, bristling mustache-- 
and he was a purist. I'd been to his lectures on what 
he called "La sensibilite f rancaise au dix-septieme 
Siecle ." He was a great one on the seventeenth century-- 
on Racine, Moliere, and Corneille. I'd been to those 
lectures. He was also a great one on the French Sym- 
bolists. I'd followed him closely. He was a purist. 
He had no truck with slang or with any corruption of 
the language, and I could see the expression on Pierre 
Trahard 's face when he heard me speak French. It was 
like a man passing a peach pit. [laughter] His face 
screwed up; and, God, I could see the pain in it, and 
he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, it's the best 
the boy can do apparently. We'll have to put up with it." 
I was fluent, but I had an American accent, and this 
pained Trahard. So he bore in on me, I think, a little 
on the subsidiary thesis. He said, "You haven't paid 
enough attention, sir, to the Bible and examples of 


Incest in the Bible." He said, "What are they? Can 
you enumerate them?" Monsieur Connes interrupted and 
saidj "My dear colleague, I don't think this is rele- 
vantj is it? The subsidiary thesis is Byron and Shelley 
and incest, not the Bible." Trahard says, "Now wait 
a minute. . ." I just kept quiet, and the two of them, 
you see, got going at each other, Connes trying to get 
him off me because Trahard was trying to open up a 
whole new area. 

MINK: Who won? I guess Connes did. 

POWELL: Well, Connes said, "No, sir, I cannot allow 
this. This is a departure and I think it's entirely 
unreasonable. Monsieur le Doyen, to expect of my candi- 
date." I said, "If you will allow me. . ." Connes says, 
"Nonsense; quiet. Let me settle this." [laughter] And 
God there was all this wonderful conflict on the jury, 
you see, and then Cestre said, "Now, now, gentlemen." 
He said, "My boys, let me have the word again. I want 
to go back to this matter of fog." [laughter] God, the 
audience of course was loving it. 
MINK: They don't say anything. 
POWELL: Oh, no. 
MINK: It's absolutely quiet? 

POWELL: Absolutely quiet. A roomful. It's a little — what 
they call a petit amphitheatre, the small assembly room. 


MINK: Where do they seat you? 

POWELL: Well, you sit like this at a table on the 
floor facing the jury, v/hich is on a raised platform. 
MINK: You have your back to the audience. 
POWELL: Back to the audience. You're dov/n there, a 
poor isolated little bastard, and the jury of four are 
seated up there. You look up at them, and they look 
out at the audience. Jesus, it's like a trial. 
MINK: But of course you'd been to Fisher's before. 
POWELL: I'd been to Fisher's. I had observed it. 
MINK: How did he make out? 

POWELL: Oh, he did very well. He had Connes protect- 
ing him, and then as chief advisor he had the head of 
English studies in the Sorbonne, Emile Legouis, a great 
authority on Wordsworth. And Legouis, incidentally, was 
Connes' father-in-law (Connes had married his daughter 
when he had been at the Sorbonne); so this was a family 
affair. Legouis then must have been seventy-five, a 
very distinguished man and a great authority, too, on 
Shakespeare. That was a very interesting examination, 
because Fisher was loaded with knowledge of Shakespeare 
and Connes had written a book on Shakespeare and Legouis; 
and, my God, they really took off. They dominated the 
whole discussion. The rest of the jury v;as wiped out. 
I'd seen all this happen. 


MINK: Fisher didn't get much of a chance to say anything 

POWELL: Well, he said just enough at the right times, 
but he let Legouis do most of the talking. That's the 
secret, of course, Jim, in any examination; it's true 
here in doctoral examinations that I've been through. 
MINK: Many that we know about in the history department 
are very similar. 

POWELL: I've sat on some of those committees with John 
Caughey and with Frank Klingberg once. 
MINK: Later, we'll want to talk about them. 
POWELL: That's getting ahead, isn't it? 

MINK: Your mother had come and the Fishers had departed. 
POWELL: They were in Strasbourg. 
MINK: So Fisher didn't see your exam. 
POWELL: No, he was in Strasbourg, I think. 
MINK: When your mother came to take up cooking for you, 
there's something that I was curious about. She apparent- 
ly later became interested in writing about this experience, 
Was this her own idea, or did you encourage her in it? 
POWELL: I encouraged her later. She kept a diary all 
through this, and back in the United States in the De- 
pression, when she was feeling blue and cut off and would 
have liked to gone back to Europe, I suggested that she 
occupy her time with writing up her journals. 


MINK: Sort of a vicarious kind of thing. 

POWELL: Yes, that's right--reliving it that way. That's 
how she did it. Yes, I encouraged her very strongly and 
offered to type it all up for her. Of course, I started 
and I never finished it and then It got sidetracked and 
put away, and I didn't find it until after she died. 
MINK: And then you did have it printed o 
POWELL: I had it printed, and I always regret that I 
didn't do this in her lifetime, although she might not 
have agreed. Incidentally, Jim, it has been a very 
successful hook. It's been read a great deal by people 
here and there that have written me. I put some in li- 
braries and gave many away, and it's been a book that's 
made a good impression, because it's a very sweet quiet 
book. The title was mine-- The Quiet Side of Europe , a 
good Quaker title, 

MINK: Also meaning, though, life in the provinces, 
in the quieter area? 

POWELL: Yes, that's right. Yes, sure, a double meaning. 
MINK: During that time, she did all your cooking. 
POWELL: We took over the Fishers' apartment, v^hich had 
a little kitchenette. The pension was closed actually 

MINK: Had they just gone broke? 
POWELL: No, they moved in with her parents, who had 


come to Dijon then, the old mother and father who still 
had some money. I think she was in the process of di- 
vorcing her husband, and the pension quarters they just 
rented. The other rooms were rented, and my mother and 
I rented the Fishers' top-floor apartment, which had 
this little kitchenette, as I say. There v/as running 
water; but by that time I didn't intend to shave, so 
I just let the beard grow. 

MINK: What did your mother think when she saw you with 
a beard? Of course, she knew you had it, I'm sure. 
POWELL: I think she was a little conventional about 
it. She preferred a clean-shaven face, but she never 
nagged me. 

MINK: Then to write your dissertation, I believe you 
said you went to the Riviera. 

POWELL: Part of that spring of 1932, I guess, my mother 
went over to London to be with my brother Clark, who 
was up on sick leave from South Africa. 
MINK: Had this been after Clark's accident? 
POWELL: No, before. You see, he didn't die until I938. 
This was well before, but he had a sabbatical, or I 
think he had some kind of sick leave, too, and he came 
up to England o So my mother went over to visit with 
him. The Fishers had left Strasbourg and gone down to 
this fishing port and said, "Come on down." So I was 


down there about six weeks. 

MINK: You said that by this time Al Fisher had grown 

more Introspective; what did you mean by that? 

POWELL: Wellj he was^, I think, reluctant to go back 

to the United States is what it was. He was brooding 

over that. The Depression was really deep, and he 

didn't see any job. He liked France very much. He 

liked the way of life. He's stopped writing the long 

poem "The Ghost" and was writing novels. I think he 

wanted to stay on and make his life in France, but he 

couldn't see it clear. I think he was very unhappy 

about this. 

MINK: How was he getting along financially, anyway? 

POWELL: Well, they weren't doing very well; I think 

her parents were sending them some money, and maybe 

his mother (his father had died)o But I realized that's 

why he was unhappy. 

MINK: Well, they were subsequently divorced, and I 

had wondered if this was leading up to that and if they 

were having marital problems? 

POWELL: It could have been, but it wasn't obvious. 

They were still apparently happy. This came later in 

the thirties when they v/ere living at Laguna. 

MINK: Did you actually do some of the writing of your 

dissertation while you were down there? 


POWELL: Oh, yes. I wrote every morning on it. I had 
a little summer house there next to the pension with a 
workroom. I was working on the first draft, a marve- 
lous work period, and then in the afternoons, I'd walk 
on the beach or in the hills and go into Nice on the bus. 
MINK: Well, all told, how long do you think it took 
you to write it--six months, a year? 

POWELL: I think probably nine months. I probably started 
in January of 1932 and was working right up to October. 
MINK: Well, it seemed to me to be such a short book. 
It didn't seem to me it would have taken you so long. 
Was writing hard for you at this point? 

POWELL: What do you mean a short book, Jim, for Christ's 

MINK: It's not as large as your autobiography, for 

POWELL: Yes, it was. [tape recorder turned off] 
MINK: The point here is that the book is really (now 
that we turned the tape off and looked at it closely) 
packed. Is that it? 

POI-JELL: Well, it's concise. It's not padded. It's a 
concise introduction to the poetry--what his poetry con- 
sisted of, what his sources were, what his practices 
were, his vocabulary, his philosophy, a criticism of 
it. It's a concise introduction, boiled down. I suppose 


one point was that I had to pay for the printing of a 
dissertation, and costs were such--oh. Lord, but it v:as 
cheap, Jim. 

MINK: Was this a sine qua non of getting the degree? 
You had to have a printed book? 

MINK: Packaged to deliver? 

POWELL: Yes, you had to furnish eighty copies to the 
university for distribution to French universities and 
foreign exchanges. Incidentally, that's a sore point, 
because the University of California, Berkeley, was on 
their exchange list to receive French doctoral disser- 
tations. When I became a library school student later 
at Berkeley, I tried to find that dissertation that they 
had received, and they couldn't find it. 

MINK: It was probably bogged down in the works someplace, 
POWELL: I suppose. But you furnished eighty copies, and 
I had it printed there at the same print shop that had 
been owned by Darantiere, who had printed Joyce's Ulysses 
and Hemingway. Darantiere had left and it was owned by 
Bernigaud and Privat, but it was the same shop. 
MINK: This was in Paris. 
POWELL: No, Dijon. Rue Bossuet. 

MINK: How come you didn't have it printed by Ritchie's. , 
POWELL: [F. L. ] Schmied? 


MINK: Schmled, yes. 

POWELL: Oh, he was a fancy printer. 
MINK: He would charge you too much. 

POWELL: Oh, he wouldn't have done it. [laughter] He 
was a deluxe art printer. No, this was a working French 
provincial print shop. And I liked to think that it 
was out of this shop that Ulysses came and Hemingv^ay's 
first book, and I was a little follow-up. They didn't 
speak English. The monotype operator (it was set in 
monotype) knew no English, and sometimes the proofs 
were a bit sticky. But I'd typed it myself; it was 
pretty good copy. I loved going there to the print 
shop--the clanking of the linotype and the monotype-- 
picking up the galleys, going and sitting on my ass at 
a cafe and reading proof, drinking a Vin blanc-cassis, 
the Dijon cocktail of white wine and cassis. Those were 
my drinking days then; I could take a bit of alcohol. 
It was a good life, Jim, there in Dijon--quiet, unin- 
terrupted, no distractions. 

MINK: Did Connes advise you in this, or did he leave 
this entirely up to you? Just say, "Monsieur Powell, 
you must have your dissertation printed up." 
P0V7ELL: That's right. He said, "if you v;ant advice, 
come and I'll talk with you, but this is your show." 
You outlined and you submitted trial sections. I gave 


him some vrork in progress at different times. He said, 
"Go ahead, go ahead; you're doing all right." 
MINK: Well, here it's a little different, isn't it? 
Your thesis is typed up and then it's sent to the v/hole 
committee who reads it, and you don't have the go-ahead 
signal until then. What about there? 

POWELL: Well, if you're admitted to candidacy and you 
submit specimens of your work, you're assumed to be com- 

MINK: Well, when are you admitted to candidacy? 
POWELL: Whenever your professor decides that you are. 
MINK: Well, how did Connes decide that you were? Did 
he talk to you? 
POWELL: Well, yes. 
MINK: Did he ask you questions? 

POWELL: He approved a precis or outline or whatever, 
and you get an advancement to candidacy at some certain 
point. God, I don't remember when it was, Jim. But he 
says yes, go ahead. The time will be set up, and roughly 
it'll be in the autumn of 1932. But they don't tell you 
until about a week before. 
MINK: Probably just as well. 

POVffiLL: Oh, it's just as well. My God, it's just as 
well! You'd suffer agonies because it ' s a rather fright- 
ening thing if you have any weakjness, or if you haven't 


done your work. There you are, before a jury, not your 
peers but your superiors, and with an audience in back 
of you. You can be made a monkey of, and they do it, 
Jim. My God, they do it. They slaughter some of them. 
They absolutely slaughter them and wipe them out. So 
it's playing for keeps. The secret is to be prepared, 
to know your subject, to have absolute depth knov^ledge 
of what you're presenting, and I had this, by God. I'd 
had it, Christ, I'd lived with Jeffers. I'd just satu- 
rated myself. 

MINK: Not physically, though? 

POWELL: Not physically. I never met him. I had his 
work in my mind, backward and forward and related; and 
I'd sweated over it and annotated it and distilled it 
in this book, and I was prepared. 

MINK: Well, now, for the sources, aside from the work 
of Jeffers himself, what else did you use? Commentaries 
on his work? 

POl'ffiLL: There weren't many, but I had the ones that 
there were: George Sterling's book, Louis Adamic's 
book, and periodical writings; reviews by Mark Van Doren 
and Babette Deutsch and James Rorty. I had copies and 
I read all the magazine reviews. You see, I could go 
up to Paris to the American Library in Paris. 
MINK: The Dijon library, I take it, was not very helpful. 


POWELL: NO; not at all, only for encyclopedias or 
reference works, and any reading on classical themes-- 
incest and that sort of thing. But I had my own Oxford 
text of Shelley and of Byron. I had works of Nietzsche 
and works on science--Eddington and Jeans--that I thought 
had influenced Jeffers' cosmic views. I had Aristotle 
on Poetics . I have a list here of books that I owned. 
It's interesting, I came across it the other day in my 
file. [tape recorder turned off] 

MINK: Meanwhile, you were corresponding v;ith Jeffers; 
so I suppose that the correspondence in a sense was 
what you might call primary research material. 
POWELL: Oh, it was wonderful. I had two or three letters 
from him, and a number from Una, and they've been printed 
in the Johns Hopkins' volume of his letters that came 
out last year [I908] . 

MINK: I was wondering what Connes might have thought 
about this kind of source material? You know, you're 
writing a book on a poet, and he's commenting on what 
you're v^riting. How valid is this for an appraisal of 
his work, because you're commenting on a self-appraisal. 
See what I mean? 

POWELL: Well, I don't know what's wrong v;ith that, Jim. 
That's what it is, sure; you take it for v/hat it is. 
It's not definitive. It's simply tentative. I v/rote 


questions to him and he responded, particularly about 
influences--Freudj Nietzsche, the Bihle. 
MINK: VJhat he thought had influenced him? 
POWELL: Yes. And his letters to me--I gave everything 
to Occidental. Incidentally, all my notes on my dis- 
sertation and on Jeffers are at Oxy; they aren't here. 
I put them over there because all my Jeffers' stuff is 
over there. There's a box a foot high, really, of my 
working notes <, My copies of his books that are anno- 
tated I've kept because I want eventually to do a final 
book on him, and I suppose those would go to Occidental. 
Isn't that right? Most of my collection is here at 
UCLA, but the Jeffers' things, it seems to me, belong 
at Oxy. 

MINK: I think so. 

POWELL: V/ell, he wrote me finally, "When you come back 
to the United States, if you're ever up this way, come 
and see us." And that's why I did. 

MINK: I wonder if you would talk about that first visit 
for a fev/ minutes. 

POWELL: Oh, it was really a wonderful sort of a frost- 
ing on the cake at the end, to go there v;ith the v/ork 
done, and to meet him finally and to discover what a 
sweet v/onderful guy he was. 
MINK: You had sent him a copy of the book? 


POWELL: I think so, yes. 

mink:: So he had read it by the time you met him? 
POWELL: Well, I doubt that he had read it, Jim. He 
didn't read things about himself, really. I think Una 
read it; but I'm sure he didn't. 
MINK: Really? 

POWELL: No, he didn't read stuff about him. He may 
have looked at it, but he said that to read what's 
written about him interferes with his work, and he 
just didn't try to do it. He depended on Una. Then 
the twelve years he lived after she died, he just 
didn't pay any attention. He didn't ansv;er letters and 
let everything slide. 

But it was a marvelous thing to come back to Carmel 
in, I guess, the autumn of 1933. I was broke; I'd 
hitchhiked across from New York. Well, I'd ridden 
the train to Chicago and stayed with Merritt Moore, who 
had been my philosophy professor at Occidental (he was then 
teaching philosophy at the University of Chicago) . I 
stayed with him. We went to the World's Fair there in 
Chicago. I remember we saw Sally Rand, the fan dancer, 
[laughter] Then by some connection, I got a ride from 
Chicago to Berkeley v/ith a Pomona College student who 
was coming back to school in a Ford V-8 roadster, and 
he really drove like a maniac. We made it across hightail. 


and he dropped me off in Berkeley. I slept on the sofa 
in my Aunt Marian's apartment, and then I caught the 
Greyhound bus down to Carmel. I arrived there in the 
late morning, dumped out on .the street. Newell wasn't 
there then, but he had referred me to a Helen Haight, 
who lived down near the point where Jeffers lived, v;ith 
a Norwegian carpenter named Helmut Deetjen, and she 
would put me up and give me a bed for fifty cents a 
day or something. 

So there I was on the main street in Carmel with 
two suitcases, a briefcase and a typewriter, and no 
transportation. The chief of police came along in a 
prowl car and I looked suspicious 1 guess. He said, 
"What are you doing?" I said, "Well, I want to get 
to Miss Haight's." "Well," he said, "jump in; I'll 
take you." This was a wonderful welcome, really. The 
chief of police [laughter] took all my bags and drove 
me down. This wasn't police brutality, this was police 
gentility; and I stayed then, boarded as it were, with 
Helen Haight and Helmut Deetjen for a week. 

I knew that Jeffers had a sign on his gate, "No 
Visitors Until After 4 PM," and I had a date set up for 
my first visit; but God I couldn't wait until four, I 
turned up at three, and Una Jeffers chewed me out. She 
said, "I knov/ you've come a long way and you're eager 
to meet the poet, but can't you read?" [laughter] And 


she said, "Besides, I'm not dressed." She had on an 
old grey housedress, and her braided hair hung down 
(she hadn't put It up); and that's what she was mad 
about, really, that I'd caught her before she v;as ready. 
But she said, "Come on In." 

And then I met Robin, and he filled the room, really, 
Jim, with his presence. There he was, and you were aware 
of him. He was very handsome and quiet and a relaxed 
man, but absolutely at ease and not embarrassed at all. 
He just wanted to talk about friends and his student 
years in Switzerland at Laussane, Zurich, and he got 
to reminiscing of what it had been like to live there. 
He wanted to know what Dijon was like, and had I been 
to Switzerland. We talked about everything but his 
poetry. He didn't want to talk about his poetry, but 
I asked him about his reading. (I wrote it all up, 
Jim, in that chapter in the American edition of my book. 
There is an Introductory chapter which appeared first 
in Westways. It was my first contribution to Westways , 
193'^* The whole story's there of what we talked about.) 

I went back every day for a week; they were very kind 
and we drove down the coast, he and Una and I. I was 
working on another edition of the map that Ritchie drew 
eventually, and we'd stop everywhere. He'd say, "VJell, 
I thought of this place as the setting." And he would 


comment and I would ask him, "Where did you place this 
action?" "Well," he said, "it was a bit of a composite 
of these canyons." And it was a helluva good topogra- 
phical and poetical tour of the coast. 
MINK: How far down the coast did you actually go? 
POWELL: We went down to Pfeiffer's Point. 
MINK: That's as far as you could go? 

POWELL: The road was under construction, the big road. 
It wasn't open until 1938, I guess, through to San 
Simeon; but we went clear on down, I think, to where 
it was barricaded. It was very foggy one day that we 
went down; we couldn't see a damn thing. But, of course, 
it gave us a great opportunity to talk. He was a very 
kind and gentle man. 

MINK: Did you say anything to him about the episode in 
your final examination of the fog? 

POWELL: I think we probably talked about that. He was 
terribly amused. "Oh," he said, "no, my pessimism, if 
that's what you want to call it, is probably inherited. 
It's from a long line of Presbyterian clergymen." [laugh- 
ter] And he had a sense of humor; he could turn a joke. 
But he said, "No, actually, I love the dark v;eather; I 
do my best and I write well when it's socked in." Of 
course, I feel the same way, Jim. I like the foggy 
mornings up the coast. I do my best work v;hen I can't 


see anything but the pencil and paper in front of me. 
Oh, that was really a great reward. Probably the cli- 
max of all my academic work was to go there and spend 
those days with Jeffers, and then to go back and put 
the final notes together and get the American edition 
of my book. I sent a draft of that chapter about Jeffers 
to Una, and she tore hell out of it. 
MINK: She did? 

POWELL: Yes, she annotated it and scratched it through 
and sent it back, "You can't say this! Why do you say 

MINK: Did she like you? 

POWELL: Yes, she liked me. She was critical though. 

She was defending him and protecting him and always 

on the defensive. She liked me, sure; v/e were friends 

right up to the end. She wrote me an enormous number 

of letters. They're all over at Oxy. I accepted a 

number of her criticisms , of course, and I didn't print 

what she said not to; that annotated chapter is over 

at Occidental in the archives. Somebody ought to publish 

it sometime--"Una on Powell on Robin." [laughter] 


AUGUST 26, 1969 

MINK: To begin this morning, would you talk a little 
bit about the Primavera Press and the people who were 
involved with its establishment, including, of course, 

POWELL: Well, I came later; I wasn't an establisher. 
MINK: Yes. [laughter] 

POWELL: Well, I came back to Southern California in 
1933* I met Fay again and we were married as soon as 
it was possible. My hope v;as to make a living by writ- 
ing, editing--free-lance, or any kind of writing. I 
would have taken a teaching job, but there weren't any. 
I talked with Stelter at Occidental right away. He 
wanted me to come into the English department there, 
but there wasn't any job of course. This was a deep 

MINK: Well, even if there had been, do you think you 
might have encountered some opposition from Robert Glass 

POWELL: I don't know; that's possible. But Dr. Bird 
was on top then. He was the very strong man at the 
college, and he was very much taken with my work on 
Jeffers. He gave a reception for us, and Ritchie was 


there and Cleland was there. It was at the Birds' home, 
and we really started to make it up then. No, I don't 
think I would, Jim. I think it would have v/orked out, 
particularly in view of the fact that I vjas married to 
Fay and that her uncle was still chairman of the board 
of trustees. Cleland recognized then that that was it. 
But the opposition would probably have come from Fay. 
She didn't want to go back to the college. She didn't 
want to be in the shadow of her aunt and uncle. And 
she didn't think it was right for us to go back there, 
and I think she would have objected to this--wisely, 
too, as I see it now. 

MINK: I suppose it would have meant for her the role 
of a faculty wife and all that goes with that. 
POWELL: Yes. She didn't want that. She married me, 
I think, for the Bohemian that I was, in the good sense 
of the word, and she wanted a free life, not structured 
in society and things that her aunt v;ould have wished 
for her. 

MINK: Before we get to the present, while \ie are talking 
about Fay, I hadn't realized that she had been married 
before. Was your meeting with her then accidental, or 
did you purposely seek her out? 

POWELL: Oh, Jim, I don't think I want to get into the 
details of this. Let's say it was an inevitable meeting. 


and we realized that we were meant to live together and 
work together. And I still think it was right that we 
had the separation and the experience that befell both 
of us. It made us better prepared to marry. 

Well, at any rate, I had a little v/indfall then-- 
oh, something connected with the family--from either my 
brother or my mother, it was about $200, and with the 
chapter on Jeffers that I'd sold to Westways to Phil 
Hanna, we had about $250 capital., So we went to Three 
Arches, which is now South Laguna, and v;e rented a fur- 
nished cottage for three months for the grand total of 
$45--$15 a month, furnished--and we set up housekeeping 
there, and I was writing. I was writing a number of 
things, travel pieces and starting a book on D. H. 
Lawrence, revising the book on Jeffers, getting it ready 
for American printing. I'd applied for a Guggenheim 
Fellowship, and we had plans to go back to Europe. 
MII^TK: You haven't made it clear, have you, just exactly 
how it was that you became interested in D. H. Lawrence. 
When did this interest first occur? 

POWELL: I think it was at college through reading. I 
think Dr. [Henry G.] Bieler--and I ' ve never talked about 
him; I should because he was a great factor in my life, 
and still is--I think it was in his waiting room that 
I picked up copies of The Rainbow and Sons and Lovers , 


but it might have been in reading for Percy Houston or 
one of the teachers at Oxy. At any rate, I found him 
very sympathetic in his essays, his travel pieces, his 
novels. Back in England on my way home, I met some of 
his circle, although (he'd been dead since 1930) I never 
met him. At any rate, there we were at Laguna, and the 
Fishers v/ere living there then, Al and M. F. K. Fisher. 
MINK: Would you think that in any v;ay, in this writing 
that you were doing at that time, that you were influenced 
by or trying to emulate what D. H. Lawrence had done? 
POWELL: Not consciously. Possibly unconsciously. I 
was still working on the novel about the musical days, 
the third draft, and it kept getting a little better, 
but still not good enough. I'd sent out a lot of pieces 
to Eastern magazines--travel pieces. 

MINK: You were discouraged, I suppose, during the De- 
pression. Rejection slips were standard. 

MINK: Were many people writing then? 

POWELL: I was too young to be discouraged, Jim. I didn't 
know what discouragement was. Youth has resilience, 
blindness, all the marvelous built-in protections that 
come with youth. We didn't even know what the Depression 
was, except v;e didn't have any money; but then you had 
other things. We made it on the very margin, but v;e were 


happy then. We were preparing a Jeffers book, as I 
said, for publication by Primavera Press, v;hich then 
was under Zeitlin, Ritchie, Carey McV/illiams, and Phil 
Towns end Hanna. 

MINK: How had they all happened to get together? 
POWELL: Around Jake's shop. Jake was a great catalyst. 
And it was a little shop then at 705 1/2 West Sixth 
Street, just west of Hope. It was a great meeting place, 
and Ritchie and I'd go in there when we v/orked for Vro- 
man's in 1929» That's when we first met Jake. We used 
to rendezvous there. Jake was an exotic, fascinating 
character, generous and interested in all kinds of 
cultural things that were going on, and he had imported 
books, one of the few bookshops in town that stocked 
Oxford University Press books, Faber & Faber's books. 

At any rate, Jake had the idea of a regional press. 
I don't know where he got it. You'll have to find that 
out from Jake. And Hanna was also interested, because 
Westv/ays was then very much of a regional historical 
magazine. Carey McWilliams, who was a young lawyer 
with Black, Hammack and McWilliams, was interested in 
literature. He had v;ritten his book on Ambrose Bierce, 
which came out in 1929jj and he was working on a book 
on Yeats. It was before McWilliams became interested 
in labor and its problems; the Depression brought that 


about. He was a man of purely belles lettres at that 

timej and Ritchie was valuable to them all because he 

was the printer; he was starting with his shop. 

MINK: Could you describe Carey McVJilliams as you knew 

him then? VJhat did he look like? 

POWELL: He looked like a college professor. He was 

a big chap with horn-rimmed glasses, and he was neat 

and precise, very much of a lawyer, not a Bohemian--not 

a literary figure at all--but a real crackling sharp 

mind and a tremendous flair for research. He could 

have had a great literary career if he'd chosen. 

MINK: What about Hanna, what did he look like? 

POWELL: Well, Hanna, of course, had been stricken down 

very early by some spinal ailment, and he had very 

acute spinal arthritis. He walked almost doubled over; 

he was far more stooped than I am. He was way over to 

the ground. But, my God, he was a handsome man, a 

Roman head, a Roman nose, the patrician of the highest 

sort, an expert on food and wines and Spanish language 

and literature and Western topography. 

MINK: How was it that he came to be associated with 

the Automobile Club of Southern California? 

POWELL: Well, he succeeded Bill Henry, I guess. Bill 

Henry, the sportswriter, was the editor of Touring Topics 

and I think Hanna was a young public relations journalist. 


got on the staff, and just stayed on and viorked up. 
MINK: He probably must have had the job that Bill Nev;bro 
had, being in charge of the public relations department 

POWELL: He did; he was public relations director and 
editor of Touring Topics . Newbro succeeded him, I guess, 
in the public relations end. Well, at any rate, here 
they were gathered around, and Jake knew I was back, 
and Ritchie knew we were running out of money; and, 
lo and behold, Jake needed a typist-secretary-flunky, 
and Ritchie knew, furthermore, that I had worked in the 
early 1920s in my teens for my uncle in San Francisco 
as a stenographer at Link Belt [Company] . 
MINK: You worked there in the summers. 
POWELL: I worked there summers, and I was an expert 
typist through South Pasadena High School commercial 

MINK: Did you like working up there? 
POWELL: In San Francisco? 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: Oh, yes, I had a helluva good time. I lived 
in Berkeley with my uncle and commuted on the Key System, 
and it was a very beautiful experience riding the ferry- 
boat, going to the B & G Sandwich Shop for lunch, and 
then sitting in the lobby of the Palace Hotel. I v/as 


there when Harding died, 1922, I guess. Yes, that vms 
my first taste of San Francisco, and I loved it. 

But Jake needed a typist, a flunky. I needed money 
We v/ere running out. Ritchie was the go-between. I 
came up once I remember for an interview with Jake. We 
sat on a bench in the Public Library park to get out of 
the shop, right around the corner. We talked about wha 
I could do. He was impressed also with my doctor's de- 
gree. He thought this would be a nice addition to his 


MINK: Prestige element? 

POWELL: Yes; prestige item for Jake, who's always felt 
his lack of formal education, and he liked people around 
him who have it. 
MINK: I sensed that. 

POWELL: It was an inferiority complex, if you will, 
and Ritchie and Hanna and I, all of us, enhanced Jake-- 
gave him more security, which is good. I'm not criti- 
cizing; I'm just stating it. So, lo and behold, down 
at Three Arches one day when v;e were down to the last 
nickel, we got a telegram from Jake: "Telephone me 
collect." I think Ritchie was there at the house having 
dinner v/ith Fay and me at the time, and I went out and 
phoned, and it was Jake saying, "Come to work Monday." 
I said, "Well, I don't v/ant a full-time job. I want to 


be a writer." He said, "Good^ I can't pay a full-time 
salary; work half time." 

MINK: Presently, how much was he making on the shop, 
or was he just making it? 

POWELL: I don't know. I think Jake was profiting then. 
I think he was having a very good period, even in the 

MINK: Was he always very closemouthed about his finan- 
cial transactions? 

POWELL: Yes. He didn't share the Information, but he 
was paying alimony to at least one wife. He was married 
to Gina then and they were living well. Not Jake as 
much as Gina--I think she was a rather a. . .not a 
spendthrift, but she liked good living. So the living 
was taken out of the shop primarily by Jake, and then 
what was left over, his employees got. 
MINK: You described him in your autobiography as a 
"more than exotic character." What did you mean by that 

POWELL: Well, I meant he was a man of character and 
of humaneness; he was interested in people and in fur- 
thering people's careers and talents and building a 
cultural center in the city. He v/as very exotic, cer- 
tainly; but he was also a man of great character and 
genuine philanthropic cultural drive. He helped Paul 


Landacre. He helped Ritchie, of course; he gave Ritchie 
job after job to do printing. 
MINK: How did he help Landacre? 

POMELL: He showed his work; he showed the woodcuts, 
had exhibits, and sold them. 
MINK: In his shop? 

POWELL: In his shop. You see, it was a little art 
gallery as well as a bookshop. That's hov7 we got Rock- 
well Kent to illustrate my book when it came out. He 
had a little show in Jake's shop, and Jake said, "I'm 
publishing a book on Jeffers. Will you do chapter ini- 
tials?" We all met at Ritchie's press, and that's how 
it came about. 

MINK: It would be well at this point to describe Rock- 
well Kent, what he looked like. 

POWELL: He was a little guy, bald as an egg. He didn't 
look like an artist; he looked like an outdoorsman or 
maybe an ice skater or a trapper. He wore rugged out- 
door-type clothes. He wasn't a typical artist. But he 
was very sharp. Well, artists rarely look like artists-- 
that is, the real ones. 

MINK: Was this venture in woodcuts for the Jeffers' book 
your sole contact with Kent, or did you have others? 
POWELL: I had others later, because we had exhibits of 
Kent's work in the shop, and I corresponded with him for 


Jake, and I sold his books, pushed his books, and sent 
them back to him for autographing; but it was my chief 
contact with him. Well, at any rate, Jim, I went to 
work then in June or July, 193'^^ for Jake, half time, 
which was from nine o'clock in the morning until one 
in the afternoon. 

MINK: You were commuting from the beach? 
POWELL: No, we moved up. We had to move to town then. 
Lord, we went out in the Edendale district. I think 
it was either Ritchie or Gordon Newell who found us a 
house at 2306 Loma Vista Place, which is off Alessandro 
Street. And it was across the canyon from Jake. Jake 
lived over on Echo Park Hill. We were on Loma Vista 
Hill. It was quite a colony. Landacre lived on the 
Echo Park side, and Newell' s studio was in that area, 
and Ritchie's press; there was kind of a colony there. 
It now borders Silver Lake. I was going to do a piece 
on it for VJestways once, a kind of a literary map of 
this downtown art colony. I don't know why I didn't 
do it. 

MINK: Who else was living in that area besides you 

POWELL: That's all I can think of at the moment, Jim. 
There must have been others--! know there were others-- 
I had a list of them somewhere that I was going to go 


around and interview and talk to. Anyway , rents were 
cheap. We paid, I told you, $15 for the furnished house 
in Laguna, but for the house on Loma Vista Place, $10 
a month. The little house was owned by the Bank of 
America. Why? Foreclosure! My God, they ovmed half 
the city, and they wanted people in their houses; so 
they would rent them cheap, semifurnished. And we 
scrounged other things of our own. My mother came back 
from Europe. We settled her up on the top of Loma Vista 
Hill, and she lived there for many years . This was a 
good arrangement with Jake. It gave us $30 a month, 
which we could live on--$TO rent and then $20 for the 
other expenses. 

And I did everything. I typed, I delivered, I 
drove his little Ford delivery car, I dressed windows-- 
I was a factotum. And I was learning all the time 
because Jake wanted us to read; he encouraged us. It 
was everything that Vroman's wasn't. You see, there 
was no such thing as getting sacked for reading on com- 
pany time. Jake wanted everyone around his place to 
read and to learn and to pool their knowledge, and it 
was really a wonderful climate. 

VJell, the Primavera Press came on, and I came clo- 
ser to it because, you see, the books were largely printed 
at Ritchie's press and stocked there and shipped from 


there. Orders didn't go from the bookshop^ although 
that was the address of Primavera Press. The real cen- 
ter of the press v/as at Ritchie's press on Griffith 
Park Boulevard. Fay and I found ourselves in charge 
of shipping. We used to go over in the evenings to 
Ritchie's press with the orders that had come in during 
the day to Jake's shop and hill and wrap and get them 
ready for the express pickup or take them to the post 
office. And Ritchie said, "Well, gosh, we ought to pay 
you for doing this, Larry. I'll take it up with the 
board of directors." 

MINX: That being McWilllams, Hanna, and. . . 
POWELL: . . .and Jake and Ward; so he did. And, lo 
and behold, we were added to the payroll at $7.50 a 
month. That brought our income up to $37.50. I kept 
working at this and doing their correspondence, and they 
finally voted me in as a director. In lieu of more 
salary, I was rated director. There was another chap 
who was in the press that we haven't mentioned that I 
mentioned earlier. It was Jim Groenewegen, the big 

MINK: How did he get in there? 

POWELL: VJell, he was with Arthur Andersen, a certified 
public accounting firm downtown; he was vrorking at that, 
graduated from Stanford, and v;e decided that the press 


needed an accountant. So, Jim Groenewegen, through his 
friendship with VJard and Jake and me, took that on as 
almost a volunteer thing. He audited and kept the books. 
So he was brought in, I think, and made a director, al- 
though I don't think his name ever appeared on the let- 
terhead. But C. E. Groenewegen was our fiscal authority. 
He went later with Federal Housing or whatever, and he's 
still with them. 

MINK: Let me get this straight, Larry. This Primavera 
Press really then became Anderson, Ritchie and Simon? 
POWELL: No, it was a publishing device; it wasn't a 
printing outfit. It was just a publishing device, and 
Ritchie at the same time was printing books for other 
publishers, or designing, and gradually for himself . The 
Ward Ritchie Press really succeeded the Primavera Press. 
MINK: Yes. Then were you really a director for the 
Ward Ritchie Press or an investor from the very outset? 
POWELL: No, not until 1966 . I was close to it and 
just a colleague and proofreader and a "pickerupper" 
of scraps off the floor, all of which are at the Clark 
Library now in my Ritchie collection. But I never had 
a share in the press until I took some of Caroline An- 
derson's stock in 1966. No, the Primavera Press, I guess, 
just faded out in the thirties, ran out of manuscripts 
perhaps. Carey McWilliams became more and more interested 


in the migratory labor problems. He became Commissioner 
of Housing under Governor Olson, and he split off, even- 
tually went East, you remember as editor of the Nation . 
MINK: He still is. 

POWELL: Still is. And Jake went through fiscal diffi- 
culties, a couple of bankruptcies. 

MINK: How did this happen? Of course, Jake will pro- 
bably describe this, but how do you feel? What was the 
main contributing factor? 

POWELL: Well, the main contributing factor was that he 
didn't pay his bills. He bought and didn't pay, and he 
owed very large sums. This wasn't dishonesty on his 
part. It was just that he didn't have any money. He 
spent it for more materials where he had to pay locally. 
But his creditors that were out or town, who couldn't 
come in and knock on the door--I'ra thinking of the English 
dealers, Maggs, Robinson, Pickering and Chatto--those 
were his big creditors. They finally lowered the boom 
on him, and he went through bankruptcy at least twice. 
MINK: VJould you say this was more due to his acquisi- 
tive nature, just the desire of seeing and handling 
these nice books, or was it more due to the fact that 
he wanted to build up the stock and expand his business? 
Do you see what I mean? 
POVJELL: Yes, I don't know, Jim. I think Jake v/ould 


have to answer that; what his driving force was. He 
never really got solvent and made a go of it until he 
married Josephine, his Dutch farmgirl wife, who took 
hold of the business fiscally and insisted that he he 
current. Jake is really heroic in surviving these vicis- 
situdes. He always landed on his feet, and he kept his 
friends even among his creditors, and certainly of us who 
went through it all with him. I used to get tired of 
writing letters to creditors, stalling them off. My 
God, I typed scores of letters. And Jake would try to 
pay, but of course he had salaries to meet, and sometimes 
we went without pay. Oh, hut Jim, the contacts, the 
friendships I made there--I brought this out in my book-- 
the people I met there were absolutely crucial in my 
subsequent career, like Elmer Belt. 

MINK: I think, too, it would be good to describe the 
appearance of Robert Cowan, although we have a portrait 
of him, but his personality, as much as you could. 
POWELL: He used to come in the shop Saturday afternoons, 
I guess. Everyone had a fixed time for coming in. Paul 
Jordan-Smith always came in on Wednesday, after he "put 
the Sunday paper to bed." He would walk up Sixth Street 
doing the bookshops, and end at Jake's. He would come 
in talking and he stayed talking and he vralked out talk- 
ing. He was a marvelous talker. And Cov:an would come 


in Saturday afternoon. Now theoretically I worked half 
time, but I'd get interested, and I'd get talking, and 
I rarely got away. And Saturdays I would often be there 
for a long time, meeting the people and talking with the 
people. Everett Moore used to come in v;hen he was teach- 
ing at Webb School; that's where I saw Everett again 
after we'd known each other at college. 

Cowan was a real sartorial, elegant person. He 
dressed beautifully, always with matching colors, and 
his goatee always beautifully trimmed. Hell, why shouldn't 
he. He was on a $l,000-a-month salary in the Depression; 
he was a rich man. Anyone who had any kind of money at 
all in the Depression, you see, could live like a prince. 
So Cowan lived like one and showed it. He would come 
in with his Havana cigars and flick the ashes on the 
carpet, and I would go around afterwards and either 
grind them in or sweep them up, I can't remember which. 
And he'd be talking with Jake; they were working on deals. 
They were working on one deal, I remember--the Lieuten- 
ant Archibald Gillespie papers. 
MINK: How much can you tell me about that? 
POWELL: Jim, I can't tell you anything, except that I 
typed up descriptions, and they were selling them to 
Bancroft, v;eren't they? 
MINK: Didn't Cowan and Zeitlin make a trip up to 


Sacramento? Cowan had to leave and Jake was to be the 
front man . 

POVJELL: Yes, that may have heen after I left the shop, 
but it was cooking, certainly. Jake, you see, was always 
cooking dishes and getting things ready, and it was al- 
ways a wonderful air of bibliographical intrigue in the 
shop that I loved. I was really privy to it because I 
typed everything. 

MINK: Didn't Jake subsequently sell these manuscripts 
to the husband of Catherine Coffin Phillips as a Christ- 
mas gift? 

POWELL: Mrs. Lee Phillips. Yes, and then what happened 
to them? Did she give them to the Bancroft Library or 
sell them? 

POWELL: We have them here? 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: That's right. That's all coming clear now. 
And of course Mrs. Richard Dakin was an angel for that. 
MINK: Did she come into the store? 

POWELL: She used to come in. I don't remember her well, 
but I knew her later. She came in--oh, everybody came 

MINK: Did Henry VJagner come in? 
POVJELL: Oh, Wagner was in the shop. I remember once. 


my God, Jake said, "Look, here we have a Spanish derretero 
(a sailing guide) to the V/est Coast; I don't know v/hat it 
is, and it's a difficult manuscript and all. Hightail 
it out to Henry Wagner and ask him if he will give us a 
quick description of it." 

So I got in Jake's old 1931 Ford roadster and v;ent 
barreling out to San Marino, Winston Avenue, and called 
on Henry Wagner. I think it' was the first time I'd met 
him. And he said right away, "Look, what's the pitch. 
What do you want out of me? What's Jake up to? Do you 
want me to buy this? So I'm not buying; take it back." 
And I said, "No, sir, Jake would like your opinion of 
it: is it genuine? Is it valuable? What is it?" Wagner 
said, "Oh, he wants to use me, does he?" And old Wagner 
was salty as hell. He says, "Well, goddamn it, he 
ought to pay me for this." I don't know how I got around 
it. I soft-soaped a little. I said, "Well, you are the 
authority. Everything ends up here. We need your help." 
So I didn't leave, and he finally got interested and 
looked at it, and I took notes on what he said about it, 
wrote them down hastily, and then hightailed it back to 
Jake, typed them up, bucked it into Jake, and then Jake 
offered it, I think, probably to [Herbert E.] Bolton. 
MINK: At the Bancroft? 
POWELL: Yes; I think it may be up there now. That's 


the kind of thing we v/ere always doing, picking brains. 
MINK: Whose other brains did you pick? 
POWELL: Well, Elmer Belt, certainly, on anything that 
related to Leonardo (he had started his collection then). 
On the history of medicine — Nathan Van Patten, the li- 
brarian at Stanford University, who was a steady custo- 
merj Dr. Le Roy Crummer of Kansas City; and Dr. Harvey 
Gushing, great brain surgeon from Boston, who was a cus- 
tomer of Jake's. Jake then had a growing interest in 
science which now, of course, is overriding; but he was 
developing literary, historical, and scientific interests. 
They were all going forward together, and that's why 
Jake was unusual. He had a wide capacity for learning. 
He should have been a scholarly rabbi and a teacher, 
you see. He was a natural in that area. 

Another great friend I had then was Bishop Stevens, 
the Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, V/illiam Bertrand 
Stevens, who I came to know because he was a college 
fraternity brother. He'd been a member of Phi Gamma Delta 
at Columbia, as I remember, and he used to come to the 
chapter house at Occidental and give us spiritual gui- 
dance, I suppose. At any rate, he used to come in Jake's 
and buy books, and he took a fondness to me for some 
reason, Jim. I guess he read my book on Jeffers and was 
interested in literature. I remember we used to go across 


the street to the Dairy Lunch and sit on a stool at the 
counter and have a glass of milk and a carrot salad. 
There was the Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, with his 
great big ass perched on the stool, and I sitting there, 
and we had a helluva good time. He was a wonderful, big, 

burly, lovely man. 

MINK: Would you categorize him as an intellectual? 
POWELL: No, he wasn't an intellectual; he was a social- 
religious figure that was intrigued by this literary 
milieu. I think he liked the rub-off. He wasn't an in- 
tellectual but he was a learned man. 
MINK: Was he a promoter of converts to the faith? 
POWELL: No, not at all, no. We never talked religion, 
really. I remember my friend Newell, who had separated 
from Gloria Stuart, was teaching sculpture at Chouinard. 
He had a beautiful young Russian woman pupil, and he 
fell in love with her. They wanted to get married, and 
we thought we'd have a wedding at the Ritchie Press. 
The Russian girl wanted some kind of a religious wedding; 
she didn't want a civil wedding. She wanted a minister 
to marry them. So, hell, I called up Bishop Stevens, 
because you know, we were all members of Phi Gamma Delta, 
and I said, "Gordon and Ward are here and we all want 
a marriage at the press." And he wanted to know a little 
about the groom and bride. Gordon had been divorced. 


and he said, "Well, this really isn't quite comme _11 
faut, but I'm fond of you boys." So he got in his little 
car and came tooling out, and we had the marriage there 
at the press, v;ith the press still going, I think; and 
Bishop Stevens married them. Then we had a little snack 
lunch. Fay was there, of course, and Ritchie's wife, 
Janet Hathaway Smith. It was a very wonderful milieu 
that we were operating in. Of course I romanticized it 
and I think back on it with nostalgia. 
MINK: Back to Robert Ernest Cowan: I understood that 
he was a little bit grabby in the store--that is to say, 
he would follow people around to see what they were look- 
ing at, and then if it was something he wanted, he would 
grab it out of their hands. Is there any truth in this? 
POWELL: I didn't see it happen, but I've heard that he 
was. He was always a bookseller. He'd been a bookseller 
when Will Clark hired him as a librarian, and he was al- 
ways ready to buy and sell. And he was aggressive, cer- 

MINK: Well, his final bibliography, published by Nash, 

was done in 1933- That would have been several years 


POVJELL: Just a year before I was there. 

MINK: Were you familiar with him? I suppose you were, 

working with him. Did you discuss it with him? 


POWELL: Yes, we had a copy, and Jake v;as always turning 
up things not in Cov;an and then challenging him- -"Why 
didn't you include this?" It's an imperfect bibliogra- 
phy because basically it's a bibliography of Cowan's 
collection. He didn't attempt, unwisely, to [do a com- 
prehensive bibliography] . 

MINK: How did Cowan defend himself in this? 
POWELL: Oh, I don't think he would; I think he would 
ignore you. He wouldn't stoop to argue over this; he'd 
say, "Well, take it or leave it. It's a beautiful book 
isn't it?" 

MINK: Was he disposed to continue to acquire things 
not in his bibliography, or had he stopped collecting 
by this time? 

POWELL: No, he was collecting all the time. He was 
buying; Jake was selling. He ran an account constantly 
at Jake's, and I think at Dawson's. 
MINK: Did his son accompany him into the store? 
POWELL: I never met his son until later, the young 
Bob; no, I don't think so. 

MINK: It would be your opinion, then, that young Bob's 
interest in Californiana was acquired later, after 
the senior Cowan's death? 

POVJELL: It v;as scraps and leavings, you see, up in 
the attic, the things that really should have come to 


us at UCLA in the purchase of the Cov;an collection. In 
a sense, we were had, Jim. Mr. [John E.] Goodwin didn't 
really go after this thing aggressively; he should have 
gone after Cowan and gotten the things that Cowan was 
holding back. He thought he was buying the whole collec- 
tion, but he sure as hell didn't. Cowan held out a num- 
ber of things. 

MINK: On the question of Jake, I've heard it said that 
in Myron Brinig's The Flutter of an Eyelid , Jake appears 
as a character. Is this true? 

POWELL: Oh, yes, definitely; and Jake took action and 
had the first issue suppressed. There's a first issue 
that was withdrawn when Jake threatened libel, and it 
was revised, then, and issued. Farrar and Rinehart, I 
guess, published it. I don't remember who Jake's attor- 
ney was, probably Homer Crotty or Will Clary. Those were 
the two best lawyer customers that Jake had. 
MINK: Well this suggests, doesn't it, that Jake was 
involved in a lot of hanky-panky. 

POWELL: Well, I don't know. This v;as Brinig's view of 
it, and you ought to hear Jake on Brinig, because he 
believed that Brinig libelled him--that is, he didn't 
tell the truth. He made a gross exaggeration of things 
that he had observed. He'd been a hanger-on. Jake's 
story was that Brinig was a hanger-on, picking up literary 
copy, and then he exploited it. But I wouldn't pass on 


the veracity of it all. 

MINK: Did you know Brinig personally? 


MINK: Never met him? 

POWELL: No, I never met him. I don't think he ever 

dared show up in Jake's shop. When was the book published^ 


MINK: Somewhere in there. 

POVJELL: Right in there^ yes. I think we have a first 
issue here. I collected it and put it in Special Collec- 

MINK: Wellj one of the things that you bring out in 
your autobiography is the fact that you were working^ 
dressing windows and doing all of this--a factotum-- 
and then all of a sudden you went on to outside work, 
totally. Did you and Jake disagree? What happened? 
POWELL: What do you mean, "went on to outside work?" 
MINK: You describe the fact that you were assigned to 
outside selling exclusively. 

POVJELL: Ah, yes. Well, the whole of Jake's drive was 
that as he was sinking deeper into the slough of debt, 
was to increase sales. He had to bring in more sales 
volume, and he wanted everyone in the shop to be a sales- 
man. VJe had a daily sales sheet that the bookkeeper 
produced every morning, showing the previous day's sales: 


who had made them; the gross profit and the net profit 
on everything. There was a running balance, and Jake's, 
of course, always led the rest by an enormous amount. 
It was a one-man business as far as sales went. 

Jake would try to give us jobs. I remember he gave 
me a couple of opportunities that I carried off. One 
was to sell the proof copy of the Constitution of the 
Confederate States of America . This was a nice item 
that had come in, and I was attempting to sell it to 
the Daughters of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, 
and I think I did, finally, for $500. I was then on 
a fifty percent of the gross profit. That is, if he bought 
It for $200, and we sold it for $500, there was a $300 
gross profit, of which I got $150. The temptation in 
this kind of a sale was always to raise the sale price, 
to make as large a margin as possible. 
MINK: Would Jake set the price, or would he leave It 
to you to set it? 
POWELL: I think we would do it together. 

I had another good deal. I can't remember from 
where — I think a dealer in Rutherford, New Jersey, had 
advertised manuscripts of Thomas Wolfe. I'd read Look 
Homeward , Angel and was quite steamed up, and I wrote 
and got these manuscripts on consignment. It included 
an early notebook draft of Look Homeward, Angel , and I 
think I sold this eventually to Harvard. I think it's 


in the Harvard College Library collection of Wolfe. 

One other thing--a marvelous event--someone pulled 
up in front of the shop in an old sedan and honked the 
horn like mad. Jake said, "Go out and see v;hat they 
want." So I go out on Sixth Street, and it was some 
old character. He says, "I got a whole carton of old 
pamphlets in here; what '11 you give me for 'em?" VJell, 
I jumped over in the back seat and fished around in there; 
and, by God, there must have been 300 or 400 libretti of 
nineteenth-century English operas, what they call bur- 
lettas--little burlesque operas that were popular in the 
nineteenth century. There was a whole carton of them, 
and I rushed back into the shop and I said, "Well, it 
looks good; it's a great lot of nineteenth century opera 
libretti, and burlettas. What '11 I give for 'em?" Jake 
said, "Oh, give him ten dollars." So I go tearing back 
out to the car and I said to him, "We can pay ten dollars." 
And he said, "No, I want more than that." I said, "How 
much?" Well, he said, "Fifteen dollars." So I rushed 
back into Jake and I said, "It's worth fifteen dollars." 
He says, "Take the money out of the cash drawer." I go 
tearing out with fifteen dollars and paid for it and 
rushed in with the stuff. 

We emptied the whole damn carton out on the floor, 
Jake and I on our hands and knees, poring through it. 


"Well," he says, "this is a natural. You get the sale 
now. I think you can sell this right av/ay to Stanford 
University. They're collecting this kind of thing; I 
know from Nathan Van Patten." Well, I did. I sold it 
for $500 to Stanford University. So I had 50 percent 
of the gross profit between a fifteen-dollar purchase. 
I had 50 percent of $485. It's that kind of thing that 
makes the book-trade exciting, of course. You never 
know who's going to drive up and honk the horn. 

Well, Jake finally said, "Look, I used to call on 
the studios and on collectors and all with my book bag." 
(And that's the way Jake started, as a peddler in the 
1920s in Los Angeles.) He said, "I can't get around 
this way. You go out, Larry. You take the bag and go 
out. Here's a list of people to call on." Jules Furth- 
man at MGM. . . 

MINK: I wonder why he decided all of a sudden that he'd 
done it, now you should do it? 

POWELL: Well, Jim, people came into the shop and they 
wanted to see Jake; he found he had to be there more and 
more. He was pinned down; he couldn't be out. In the 
early days, he didn't have a shop when he v/as peddling; 
he v/as vrorking out of his home. So he got me out, and 
I didn't like it. 
MINK: Vmat didn't you like about it? 


POWELL: Wellj I didn't like to have to wait on people 
and just sit on my ass in a waiting room maybe for an 
hour or two. I didn't like it; it offended my person- 

MINK: Damaging to your ego? 

POWELL: Damaging to my ego, yes, that's right. I 
wanted to be welcomed, I wanted to be treated as a co- 
equal, not as a goddamned peddler. I don't know, maybe 
it was in his blood, that he had a certain Jewish tradi- 
tion of selling that I just didn't have. 
MINK: You didn't think you were a good salesman? 
POWELL: Well, I was if I was properly received. Elmer 
Belt, across the street in the Pacific Mutual Building-- 
he and Dr. Donald Charnock had this clinic together. 
MINK: If you want to call it that. 

POWELL: Yes, that's where they treated doses of clap, 
[laughter] But they were primarily book collectors and 
then doctors; so any time Larry Powell came in with a 
book bag--the old patient lay there waiting--and they 
said, "What are you bringing us?" Elmer was marvelous. 
So was Don Charnock, bless him. He died last year. I 
loved going over there. 

Another chap I liked to call on was Grant Dahlstrom, 
who was working then for Young and McAllister; he was 
their designer. I used to take him around the Limited 


Editions Club books and books on typography. He was a 
very sweet and wonderful guy. Delmer Daves, the film 
director J was another. I used to sell to Paul Landacre. 
He was beginning to make a bit of money and would buy 
things . 

I told the story, I think, of once going out to MGM 
and being made to wait by Jules Furthman, v/ho was one 
of their top screen writers. I had this first edition 
of Shropshire Lad , and it was $225 or $250. And Furthman 
wanted to chisel me out of a sales tax. Sales tax had 
come in then. So I picked the book up and started out. 
Christ, he followed me out to the parking lot. He says, 
"No, I'll pay it; come on back." Oh, I came to know 
Furthman later, and he gave us a number of things here, 
didn't he? 
MINK: Yes, he did. 
POWELL: For Special Collections. 
MINK: He's a generous donor. 

POWELL: Yes. And, of course, the things Belt did for 
us eventually came out of those first contacts that I 
made through Jake. Also, my friendship with Paul Jordan- 
Smith. It was a very decisive, key time. 

Well, at any rate, I got more and more fed up with 
the outside selling. 
MINK: VJell, you say in your autobiography that. . . 


POWELL: Well, if I say it, it's true! 

MINK: You said that you were unhappy about the idea of 
having to deal in the kind of living that involved buy- 
ing and selling; but what really you were unhappy about 
was that you didn't like the kind of relationship that 
you might be thrown into in this kind of a thing. 
POWELL: Yes, that's part of it. 

MINK: In other words, I think maybe you're saying that 
you didn't have as thick a skin as is necessary to be a 

POWELL: That's probably true. I always wanted people 
to have what they needed, and if some poor bastard came 
in and really coveted something on our shelf and couldn't 
afford it, I was always inclined to mark it down. 
MINK: I suppose Jake didn't care for that? 
POWELL: He said, "You can't remain solvent if you do 
this, Larry. You can't give this stuff away." And we 
were incompatible in that sense. So it was inevitable, 
I guess, that I point toward library work. 
MINK: And I suppose that this really came, as you said, 
in the person of Mr. Read. 

POVJELL: Albert Read v;as the first one that said, "You 
ought to be buying, not selling, and you come with me," 
and he grabbed me and took me right through the door 
from the Order Department of the Public Library to Miss 


Warren's office (they connected with a door), and then 
she charmed me. 

MINK: Was that the first time you ever met Althea [Hes- 
ter] V/arren? 

POWELL: Yes, I think so. When did I do the Lawrence 
exhibit? Oh, that was 1937 j at the Public Library; yes, 
that was the first time I met her. Albert Read took me 
in, and I went on, then, for advice, to see Stelter. 
We were still close. Fay and I used to go over and see 
them; he and Mrs. Stelter were very kind to us. I re- 
member he got me one lecture on Jeffers to a women's club 
in Highland Park. It paid $7.50 for an hour's lecture. 
He was always trying to help us get established. He said, 
"Yes, sure, there's a great field for male librarians. 
I think it's a great idea. Go over and talk to Miss 
McCloy in the Occidental College Library and see what 
she thinks." And Miss McCloy was encouraging. She said, 
"Yes, this is a good idea; get your degree." She said, 
"You have to get a library degree; Miss Warren is right." 
So those two people advised me. Fay teased me, of course, 
but she really was [for it]. 

MINK: Was her feeling that it wasn't a masculine thing 
to do? 

POV/ELL: Well, she'd had a bad time at the College Library. 
The assistant librarian at Occidental was a mousy little 


woman named Miss Fales; she was employed because she v;as 
the sister-in-law of Dan Hammack^ one of the trustees-- 
it was a kind of little sinecure. She had given Fay a 
bad time because Fay laughed aloud in the library and 
hadn't paid her library fines or something. Fay just 
had no use at all for librarians^ and she recalled that 
image, you see, whereas I saw the image of Althea Warren, 
She was very vivacious, and yea-saying, a wonderful, 
red-headed woman. 

So we began thinking, you see, and corresponding, 
then, with [Sidney] Mitchell at Berkeley for the cata- 
log and all. But the money was a problem until Alonzo 
Cass came to the rescue that one night we had dinner. 
He was a member of the South Pasadena Casses. He was 
a young intern or resident physician at Hollywood Hos- 
pital then. He said, "I'm coming into a legacy in April, 
and would $1000 help?" "Good Lord," I said, "sure." 
So he said, "There it is." And it came. 
MINK: That's when you threw the glass of wine against 
the wall? 

POWELL: Oh, God, yes. We started all over again. Cass 
Was a wonderful high-spirited guy. He died just last 
year. Ritchie spoke at his funeral. It happened when 
we were in England, otherwise I would have been there, 
and I wanted to speak, too, because I loved the guy. 


Very generous^, wonderful man. Then, of course, v;hen v;e 
finally went up to Berkeley, bless her, Mrs. Bell helped 
us, too, with an allowance, as did my Uncle Harold. I 
remember we found a flat in Berkeley that was $37.50 a 
month--a furnished flat. I said, "All we can pay is 
$30 a month," and Uncle Harold said, "I'll pay the $7.50." 
We had help, sure, and then I worked. 

MINK: You worked at the [University of California] press. 
I was wondering if you could tell me during that year 
in library school, when you were working with the press, 
some of the people that you became associated with? 
POWELL: Sam Farquhar was really the only one and Hazel 
Niehaus who has just retired, I think. 
MINK: Is that the first time you met Sam Farquhar? 
POWELL: No, Sam, you see, came out of Jake's shop, be- 
cause he was a great crony and customer of Jake's. 
MINK: That's how you got the job then at the press. 
POWELL: Yes, exactly, and also how I came to call on 
Bolton. Jake said, "Look, you're going to library school^ 
you represent me. I'll send materials up and you show 
them to Bolton. I'll pay you a commission." And I said, 
"No, I don't think I want to do this. I'll go and talk 
to Bolton about anything that you write me about, but 
I'm not going to peddle stuff to him." At any rate, I 
went in to see Bolton. Of course, by that time Bolton 


was turned on, and never turned off. You never could 
get a v;ord in; he was just talking all the time. 
MINK: Did he have his map up on the board v;ith his pins 

POWELL: Where his boys were? 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: Well, I think so; but I don't remember it clear- 
ly. But he was a dynamic, dominant sort of figure. The 
other man that I enjoyed on the faculty there was T. K. 
Whipple in American literature. I had that funny ex- 
perience of auditing his seminar, and he thought I was 
an FBI agent. 

MINK: Beyond that, did you get acquainted with him af- 
ter you told him that you were just a library school 

POWELL: Not outside of class, but I sometimes went 
to his seminar. And he spoke well of my book on Jeffers. 

The other faculty member I had contact with was 
the young instructor in German. You see, I took German 
through the whole year because I'd never had it as a 
language, and Mitchell said, "You have to have German." 
So I took it for credit all through that year. What 
was his name? Melz, I think, and he came and taught 
here one summer session at UCLA. I knew him later. 
So I had a full year, Jim, between the curriculum, the 


German, and auditing Miss [Edith] Coulter's seminar 

in bibliography. 

MINK: I see I've written dovm a question here. 

POWELL: Yes J better get it in. 

MINK: What is it about the Berkeley library school 

anyway? Why is it so bad? Did you find it that way 

when you were there? 


MINK: Well, let me put it another way, were you dis- 

POWELL: No, I wasn't disillusioned, because I didn't 
expect anything. I had no idea of what to expect. I 
had never been conditioned to expect anything. 
MINK: Well, what would be your assessment of that year 
as far as contributing to your overall knowledge of li- 

POWELL: Well, it was a good introduction, Jim. It 
taught me the field of personalities, the pioneers of 
librarianship, an overview of the literature. The great 
lack in the year, of course, was Mitchell's absence. He 
was on sabbatical; he was at Yale a good deal of the 
time, and Miss Delia Sisler was in charge. 
MINK: She was acting dean? 

POVffiLL: She v/as acting dean or director. She v/as small 
caliber, let's face it, and she was really hostile toward 


men. There 'd been some duds going through--there' d been 
some good ones, too: Ed Castagna had gone through and 
Ed Coraan and John Henderson. But there 'd been some duds, 
and Mitchell was tending to admit them whether or not 
they were good, just to have men in the profession, and 
Miss Coulter and Miss Sisler were against this. So in 
Mitchell's absence, they, in a sense, ganged up on me, 
who was the oldest man in the class. They just resented 
men coming in and picking off juicy jobs. 
MINK: Then there was a controversy about that, just as 
there was a controversy later on in the School of Li- 
brarianship. Why has the Berkeley school always been 
so controversial? Why have they had all this trouble? 
POWELL: I don't know, Jim. Mitchell could have exer- 
cised stronger leadership, I think, but what weakened 
his leadership in this field was his increasing interest 
in horticulture. He gave so much of his time to horti- 
culture, not to librarianship. He was editor of the 
California Horticultural Society quarterly or bulletin. 
He was breeding, and he was a great man in that field. 
But inevitably, he left a number of things in librarian- 
ship to these two women. Coulter and Sisler. 
MINK: VJell, besides them, who else was there on the 
POWELL: Well, there was May Dexter Henshaw, v;ho came 


down from the state library and lectured on state library 
law; and there was in Mitchell's absence that year, and 
who was ray saviour, really, was Katherine Anderson who 
came down from the library association of Portland and 
taught Mitchell's courses. She and I hit it off. And 
there was a wonderful secretary of the school, Karen 
Loynd, a Scandinavian woman who did for the school what 
Flo Williams has done for ours. She was a sort of consoler 
of bruised students. 
MINK: Picker-up of the pieces. 

POWELL: Picker-up of the pieces; that's right. [laugh- 
ter] At any rate, I think that was part of the trouble. 
MINK: Well, did you sense a decided antagonism in these 
people against Mitchell? 
POWELL: No, not a decided antagonism. 
MINK: Not an outward antagonism. 

POWELL: No, but I sensed a latent resentment of a lot 
of Mitchell's ideas. And then there was the conflict 
between the library school and the library. 
MINK: That was raging early then? 

POWELL: It was strong, because, well, I don't know the 
whole background of it; but [Harold] Leupp v/as there 
then and Peyton Hurt was his associate librarian, who 
had no use for the library school. Miss Coulter, you 
see, had been chief reference librarian, and a lot of 


the library staff still would come and cry on her shoul- 
der. Leupp wasn't a strong leader. There was too much-- 
oh, what shall I say--intrigue and crosscurrents and 
strife between the factions there. 

MINK: I've often heard it said by students at the Berke- 
ley school that the great highlight of their year there, 
and one of the redeeming features of it, v;as the course 
in reference which Miss Coulter gave. 
POVffiLL: I think that's true. 

MINK: Yet, you're rather disparaging of her, I think, 
in your book. You just sort of dismiss her. 
POWELL: Yes, I know it; I didn't do justice to her in 
the book, and I tried to right that in this Coulter 
lecture that I gave--did you hear that? --the Coulter 
lecture I gave a year ago at San Diego. That's in press 
now. Grant Dahlstrom is printing it for CLA [California 
Library Association], and it should be out this fall. 
I want you to read it, because I try to make up for 
this. Well, you see, I should have treated her more 
fully in the book. I had these ambivalent feelings about 

MINK: Why? 

POWELL: VJell, they came later because of her attitude 
toward UCLA. She had no use for UCLA — it was upstart; 
it was going to take away their advantages at Berkeley; 


it was going to undercut them. 

MINK: Was this in the formation of the library school 

h3re, that this came out; or was this before that? 

POWELL: Even earlier. And another thing: she thought 

I should work at the Huntington Library, and I think 

she even maybe took a step or two to see that I might 

have a job there, a bibliographical job. 

MINK: You didn't want to work at the Huntington? 

POWELL: No, I didn't want to work there. 

MINK: Why? 

POWELL: Well, I wanted to work for UCLA, Jim. 
MINK: Well, say, if you'd been offered a job at the 
Huntington, before you came to UCLA, would you have 

taken it? 

POWELL: No, I don't think so. I wanted to be more in 
the midst of things. I thought it was too much of a re- 
treat, as it was in the 1930s. It was a very remote 
place. It hadn't been opened up. 

MINK: By the same token, wasn't the job you were offered 
at Scripps in the same category? 

POWELL: No, I don't think so; it was less so. It was 
a college after all, Jim, with students; Huntington Li- 
brary had no students. 

MINK: Well, then the thing you really were interested 
in was working v;ith people? 


POWELL: With people and working at UCLA; I wanted to 
work here. I just knew It from the time I v/alked in 
this building in 1935. I noted in my journal at the 
time: This is the place . It was one of those deep, 
instinctive pieces of prescience. I knew this was the 
place I should work, and I applied for a job here when 
I was still in library school. I wrote to Mr. Goodwin. 
MINK: Did you get an answer? 
POWELL: No, I never got an answer. 
MINK: Was he inclined not to answer his mail? 
POWELL: Yes, he was careless about his mail. It piled 
up on his desk; I remember when I was applying at the 
library school, you see, for admission in the spring 
of 1936, Mitchell said, "Write to Goodwin and go out 
and see him for an interview." Well, I wrote and I 
never had any reply. So I wrote to Mitchell and I said, 
"Well, he doesn't answer me; what '11 I do?" And Mitchell 
said, "Write again." So I did; I wrote again, and I 
got a reply right back, because Mitchell had called him 
up, I know, and needled him. 

But when I did go to see Mr. Goodwin, he was very 
kind, and that was the first time I came in this build- 
ing. That was in the spring of 193^, I guess. I just 
knew that this was the place, but I wasn't sure that 
I'd get the chance; I wanted the chance, but I said. 


"It's fifty-fifty whether I get it or not," 

No, I didn't want to work at the Hu-ntington; so 
when I told Miss Coulter that I v/anted to work at UCLA^, 
she said, "Oh, you mean the Clark Library?" "No," I 
said, "I mean the main campus. I want to work out there 
with the growing library." She said, "Oh, it wouldn't 
interest you; they don't have any books." "Oh," I said, 
"then I'll get them some." I said, "I'm interested in 
order work and acquisitions work; that's the job I want." 
She said, "Well, if there is a vacancy in the acquisi- 
tions department" (and I think the grapevine had told 
her that John Lund would probably leave eventually) 
"you'd be overqualified for it; you wouldn't be happy 
in it." Well, it was true: I was overqualified, and in 
a sense I was unhappy in it, but still I took it. 

So we had had antagonism between us, I think, and 
we made it up a bit in 1938, 1939, 19^0, and 19^1. She 
came down a summer or two and taught here. You see, 
Mitchell wanted a statewide school. He was giving these 
summer sessions at UCLA, two summers of v;hich equaled 
the first semester at Cal. You didn't take those; you 
came later. Well, '." any rate. Miss Coulter came down 
and taught, and we h?.d her to tea v/ith us. Fay and I 
did. I used to go see her every time I v/ent to Berkeley, 
which was many times, on work I was doing, and we alvjays 


talked of the work I was doing, but never of UCLA. I 
realized I shouldn't bring this up. That v;ent on until 
I became Librarian here, and then our friendship lapsed. 
I suppose she thought I'd sold out to the enemy. [laugh- 

MINK: Well, did you feel the same way about her reference 
course that so many of the graduates have spoken about? 
Did you have the feeling that it was a great course? 
POWELL: It was a good course. She taught it with a 
great deal of wit and sparkle, and we certainly kept 
awake. But as I told in my Coulter lecture, I didn't 
approve altogether of her methodology. There was too 
much emphasis on Mudge ' s Guide to Reference Books , a 
rather cut-and-dried procedure; and we differed some- 
times over that. You'll have to read my Coulter lec- 
ture, Jim, and then we can talk about it sometime. But 
ultimately we were reconciled, and the last time I saw 
her was a very sweet occasion. She was certainly the 
outstanding teacher of the school--she and Mitchell. 

Miss Sisler, no; she was old-fashioned pedagogue, 
and yet there was a wonderful side to her. 

Do you know the story of her legacy to Helen Hen- 
drick? Mrs. Hendrick was in the acquisitions depart- 
ment with me here at UCLA: we were colleagues there for 
five or six years with [Seymour] Lubetzky. And when 


Miss Sisler came down and taught in the summer session 
here^ about 1939 or 19''i-0, she fell ill. Mrs. Hendrick 
was kind to her and helped her up and dovm the stairs. 
Jo[hanna] Tallman was her catalog assistant that summer. 
Anyway, Miss Hendrick was very good to her. Ten years 
later, when Miss Sisler died, lo and behold, there was 
a legacy in her will of $5,000 to Mrs. Hendrick: "For 
your kindness to me one painful summer. Take this money 
for a trip around the world. I remember you spoke of 
your desire to do that." This was a rather wonderful 
thing of Sisler to do. So, my judgment of her certainly 
is biased, as it is of all people. 

MINK: I think our judgment of the library school facul- 
ty is inclined to be biased because of the position we 
see them from. 

POWELL: That's right; they're much better than we give 
them credit for. 

MINK: Well, would you describe in a little detail your 
work at Los Angeles Public Library after you were hired 
there--people you met and the trouble you got into, if 
you got into any. 

POWELL: I never got in any trouble, Jim^. I was a cer- 
tificated librarian then; I was clean. [laughter] I 
was in acquisitions and the order departm.ent primarily, 
but I was also on call for branch library relief. Somebody 


fell ill, and I was on a temporary civil service appoint- 
ment, and I went out to San Pedro, to Van Nuys, to Uni- 
versity branch, which was across from USC, to Eagle 
Rock--for a day just at each. Of course I had to get 
out there on my ovm; they didn't pay travel, and I was 
at $125 a month. 

MINK: You would he in public service work? 
POWELL: That's right, on desk work; but my chief work 
was in acquisitions, and I was listing and v/orking over 
gift collections that were coming to the public library. 
Mr. Read knew I'd had bookstore experience in evaluating. 
He said, "Sort out the sheep from the goats, and any- 
thing you think should be put through, put it through. 
The rest put in this room, here, and we'll have booksellers 
come in," So I did a lot of that work for Albert Read 
and his assistant, Elsie Truesdale, who succeeded him 
as head of order department, and Miss Warren and Ann 
Lydendecker, head of science and industry. I came to 
know her. 

Oh, my God, Jim, I forgot to say my very first 
job there in the public library was in the teachers' 
and children's room with Rosemary Livsey who was head 
of that. Ruth Hudson was my superior; and Rosalie Higgs, 
who is working upstairs in the library school now as 
librarian, was in that department. Those were friendships. 


particularly with Rosemary Livsey, that lasted all through 
our careers. We've hoth retired nov;. 

But it was an exciting place to he because of Miss 
Warren. She would come charging in and out of most any 
department saying, "Hello and greetings." I guess I 
learned from her the advantages and the desirability of 
getting around, getting out of the office. She was very 
much aware of her staff. 

MINK: That and the fact that Goodwin himself never did. 
POWELL: No, he didn't do it; it wasn't his nature to 
do. It would have been wrong for him to try to do it; 
it wouldn't have rung true. What you must do is to learn 
who you are and be true to who you are, and Goodwin cer- 
tainly was true to his own nature and was a very kind man 
in his way; but it certainly wasn't my way. 
MINK: Larry, did you know at the time that you worked 
in the public library that discontent with the city ad- 
ministration about what the library was getting in the 
way of support and so on [was going on]? 
POWELL: No, I was insulated from that, you see, down at 
the bottom of the totem pole, and I wasn't aware of 
this. I was aware of the awkwardness of the building, 
which has come out now of course in an enormous contro- 
versy » It's a very difficult building to v/ork in. 
MINK: More difficulty than this building--the Pov;ell 



POWELL: Yes, much more; it's a bigger building, and 
there's less articulation between the floors and the 
departments. You sure as hell could get lost there. 
And it's like working in a mausoleum or a great big 
Egyptian tomb. I think it's a lousy building; I don't 
think it's an architectural monument at all, and I don't 
think it should be torn down. First of all, it ' d cost 
too much dynamite to blast it; it should be used as a 
gallery or an archives or a museum. But as a public 
library, it ' s a flop. 

Well, let me say this: Miss Warren hired me on 
tolerance only. She said, "You don't belong here; you 
belong in a university library field." And she said, 
"I'll give you the job as long as I can, but you're going 
to get in the other field." She said, "Let's look at 
the university and college libraries in Southern Cali- 
fornia, at the age of their incumbent librarians, and you 
can see that you have a good future here somewhere." She 
was very realistic. We looked over USC and Claremont 
and UCLA and Occidental and Redlands and Whittier. 

It was sometime in that year that I did exhibits 
for her, one of D. H» Lawrence's manuscripts and one of 
my Steinbeck collection. The public library issued my 
catalog of the Lawrence manuscripts which I'd done for 


Jake when I got out of library school. Elmer Beit and 
Susannah Dakln paid for itj Ritchie printed it, and 
[Aldous] Huxley wrote the introduction. And vfe opened 
the exhibition with a public meeting at which Huxley 
spoke, and I introduced him. 

MINK: How did you first become acquainted with Aldous 

POWELL: Through the catalog. 
MINK: Through Jake? 

POWELL: Yes, through Jake. Jake had brought Huxley to 
Southern California to work in films; because Jake was 
the entrepreneur and sold Huxley, I think, to MGM, or 
somewhere, as a scenario writer. Jake had sold Huxley's 
books--all the modern firsts of the English authors Jake 
knew. But this was bold of Miss Warren, you see, to do 
Steinbeck or to do D. H. Lawrence, to do these exhibits. 
MINK: Was there any concern about security at that time 
in the exhibits? 
POWELL: No, I don't think so. 

MINK: The thought of exhibiting D. H. Lawrence manu- 
scripts in the public library bothered me. 

POWELL: I don't think anybody really cared. There wasn't 
the attention paid to him then or to valuable manuscripts. 
MINK: One other question about the library dovm there: 
you said that you worked with the gifts, and I v;ondered 


if you could assess the quality of gifts that the library 
was getting then. Were they rich gifts? 
POWELL: No, low. 
MINK: Low quality? 

POWELL: Yes, low quality; a lot of stuff came in from 
residents--"Come and clean out our attic." 
MINK: Did you ever get in on any of these attic clean- 
ing expeditions? 

POWELL: I went up on Bunker Hill to a couple of them. 
Albert Read sent me up; I picked up stuff, but it was 
junk. There was never anything; there were no treasures. 
Read, you see, was an old bookseller; that's why he'd 
been sympathetic to me. He'd been with Fowler Brothers. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: When he retired there, then he went to work at 
the public library. And of course after he retired from 
the public library, he went to Dawson's, and he finished 
his career again as a bookseller. I used to go in then 
as Librarian of UCLA and buy books from Albert Read, We 
often talked of how our roles were being reversed. He 
was a very sweet guy, wonderful little chipmunk of a 

MINK: VJell, I'm beginning, I think, to understand the 
statement that you made in your autobiography about your 
decision that you were going to be the Librarian at UCLA 


the first time you walked in the building. 
POWELL: It wasn't a decision, Jim; it was an instinctive 
feeling that I would like to be. 

MINK: Well, I thought that this was a little bit "pre- 
sumptuous" perhaps, but I see that if you sat and talked 
with Miss Warren about coming into a place where the li- 
brarian soon would be retiring. . . 

POWELL: Oh, but I had the feeling even before I knew her. 
I had the feeling, you see, when I came out to be inter- 
viewed by Mr„ Goodwin. That was before I met Miss Warren, 
No, that didn't have anything to do with her in the be- 
ginning. It was just what I felt. It wasn't presump- 
tion; it was a deep feeling that this was where I belonged. 
And I hoped that I might have a chance. I didn't say, 
"I'm going to take this place over, goddamn it." No, 
that would have been presumptuous. No, I just said, 
"Jesus, this is it." That's what the old Mormon felt when 
he came over the Wasatch Mountains. Brigham Young said, 
"This is the place." 

MINK: When you came to work then in February of 1938, 
where was it in this building that you worked first? 
POWELL: In acquisitions. 
MINK: The acquisitions department. 

POVffiLL: Yes, which v;as then on the main floor, back of 
the Librarian's office. It's v;here the College Library 


has space now. There was the Librarian's office and 
the acquisitions and then the bibliography room and then 
the catalog department; v;e were in tandem. And I had a 
desk there--John J. Lund's desk. Remember, he had a 
Ph.D. in Germanic languages and taught Swedish, and was 
junior librarian. He had been here a year. He and [Gus- 
tave 0.] Arlt had published this very critical article 
in the Library Journal , and Goodwin encouraged him [Lund] 
to leave, and he went to Duke. Well, that was the vacan- 
cy that Mitchell saw coming up. 

MINK: Well, what was it that Gustave Arlt published in 
the Library Journal ? 

POWELL: It was an article on university libraries. It 
wasn't specifically on this one, but it was on the way a 
university library ideally should be organized and run. 
Lund collaborated with him, and Goodwin took it as what 
it was--a critique of the UCLA library--and he was mad 
as hell about it. 

MINK: Did he call Lund on the carpet and chev/ him out? 
POWELL: Probably. I don't know actually that he did. 
MINK: This was before you arrived. 
POWELL: Yes, before I arrived; it v;as in 1937. 
MINK: Did Goodwin ever speak about this to you? 
POWELL: No, Goodv/in never spoke to me, period! We 
never talked about things except some of the exhibitions 


I was doing. And then about a couple of the unhappy ex- 
periences we had over the Upton Sinclair possibility and 
over the Western Worker. I told those tv;o stories in the 

MINK: Yes. I've wondered if the notes that Goodwin left-- 
that Fanny Coldren Goodwin brought to the library later, 
little jottings and ref lections--say something about Good- 
win's personality. There are so many comments about being 
on the downhill side of life, the sunset side of life. 
Would you think that he might have been a disillusioned 
person, or do you think by nature he was a retiring in- 

POWELL: I think both by nature, and the two things that 
hit him (that I escaped as my careers opened up) v;ere 
the Depression and World War II. Those V7ere two body 
blows. They meant cutback of budget, of service, of the 
building program. I think these were the things, Jim. 
These were very bad blows in a career that in the be- 
ginning promised great expansion. He didn't get the money 
to buy things^ He couldn't complete the building. 
MINK: I know there was one particular note which in a 
way is ironic--the fight that he had with President Sproul 
about where the Cowan collection was to be placed, in 
the Clark Library or here. Did you have any knowledge 
of that? Did he ever speak of that to you? 


POWELL: No^ not at all. We never spoke of it, and it 

was a mistake, of course, to disperse the collection. 

MINK: If it had been placed in the Clark Library, it 

would have been kept together, undoubtedly. 

POWELL: Yes, but there wasn't the reference material 

to supplement it. It would have been in a vacuum. It 

belonged here, and it belonged in a special collections. 

But he wasn't ready for it, you see; he wasn't ready for 

any of these special things that were coming. 

MINK: Was it that he wasn't ready for it, or that he 

saw the budgetary message on the wall? 

POWELL: Both, I suppose; but he didn't believe in special 

collections and rare books. He believed the Huntington 

and the Clark should do these things, and that he should 

run an across-the-board university library. The only 

place for segregating and safeguarding here were tvjo cages 

in the stacks--one on the fifth and fourth level, I guess, 

and one up on the seventh. 

MINK: He also had a safe in his office, too, didn't he, 

where he kept things? 

POWELL: No, no. Miss Bryan did at the loan desk. She 

had a locked cabinet. She kept the sex books there. I 

don't know v;hat else. 

But it was awful, really, the things that happened 
to materials in the Fiske collection and manuscript volumes 


of Fiske. The first edition of Bernal Diaz ' s True His - 
tory of the Conquest v;as stamped, perforated, pocketed 
and run through to the stacks. It's a book of great 
value, both for itself and the fact that it was Fiske 's 
copy. I found it badly mutilated. And then, of course, 
the WPA project was just butchering hell out of the pam- 
phlets and other things. No, Goodwin wasn't ready for 
this, and none of his staff were. There was no one on 
the staff that had the least feeling for the book as 
something that should be cared for. 

I found for example in the reserve book room- -even 
under Deborah King, v;ho was a good librarian, but she 
couldn't care less about the format of a boGk--a beauti- 
ful Grabhorn Press edition of Tivo Years Before t;he Mast , 
brought dovm from the stacks to the reserve book room 
and worn out, when there V7ere texts available. You could 
go to a bookstore and buy a reprint of it; that's all 
the reserve book room needed. But to take a Grabhorn 
edition--it v;as this insensitivity that bugged me, and 
of course bugged collectors and many people. Jake I 
k.nov; was unhappy, Randolph Adams came--they all thought 
it was a kind of a butcher shop. Nobody gave a darrui. 
I gave a damn, but I was keeping pretty quiet about it. 
I realized I vfould get farther if 1 didn't say too much, 
just go ahead and do what I could quietly. 


And they did encourage me. Goodwin said, "Well, 
what should we do about these pamphlets?" And I said, 
"Well, we'll make boxes, slipcases, or folding cases." 
Of course he immediately responded to any artifact or 
craft problem. When I got the Nash books from William 
Randolph Hearst, that was amusing because Goodwin said, 
"Oh, you couldn't write Mr. Hearst." I said, "May I?" 
And he said, "Oh, go ahead, but you won't get an answer." 
Good God, the two books came back, the biography of 
Hearst's mother and father. I took them into Mr. Goodwin. 
I kept my big mouth shut. He sort of grinned. He said, 
"Well, look, the covers are warping; I can fix that." 
He tucked the books under his arm and went trotting down 
to the elevator, down to the receiving room. I'm tagging 
along behind (he had a workbench down there), and right 
away he designed these boxes that they're still in, aren't 

MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: They are plywood v;ith strings that keep their 
bindings from warping. 

Oh, he designed a lot of things. He did the return 
chute at the loan desk. Goodwin designed that and had 
the carpenters build it. Remember, he couldn't get 
money for card trays in the bibliography room, so he made 
those out of towel cartons. They were cardboard trays. 


Jim, of heavy cardboard, folded In the form of a tray 
and with a wooden handle. Goodwin designed and had them 
made out of discarded heavy cartons that the paper tov/els 
for the restrooms came in. Well, this was creative li- 
brarianship in the Depression. He made do. 

And, Jim, we must get this Linda West biography 
finished, because full justice must be done to this man. 
I haven't done it, certainly. I've seen it through my 
own eyes and made myself out the tin Jesus, which isn't 
true. He built this buildingo And when it was named 
for me, I had this terrible feeling that we were over- 
looking the old man; and I tried in my time--Fanny Alice 
[Goodwin] asked me to see if I could get it named for 
Goodwin, and I tried. Max Dunn, Westergaard and I recom- 
mended this to the regents, but Sproul turned it down. 
MINK: Why? 

POWELL: Well, he wrote and said that our policy is 
against naming a general service building for anyone j and 
it was true at that time. I took this to Mrs. Goodwin. 
MINK: Well, they had named the Doe Library for Doe. 
POWELL: He gave it. 
MINK: He gave it. 

POWELL: Yes, and he paid for it. At any rate, I took 
Sproul 's letter to Mrs. Goodv;in and I said, "Look, can't 
we have a plaque or something to him?" She says, "No, 


it's all or none." Of course, she blamed me for this, 

and when I retired and Bob Vosper came, she v;ent to 

Vosper apparently and Bob tried to have it named for 

Goodwin. And it was turned down again, Vosper told me. 

It was turned down twice. 

MINK: By this time, Kerr would have been president. 

POWELL: Yes, but it was turned dovm twice, and then 

it was named for me. Well, I, of course, had the relief 

carving of him done, which I thought was the wise thing 

to do in the beginning. I had David Kindersley make 

that marble likeness. 

MINK: This was after Mrs. Goodwin's death. 

POWELL: Oh yes. This couldn't have happened in her 




POWELL: I didn't come here with the determination that 

I was going to be the Librarian; I realized that it was 

a very risky thing and a lot would depend on what I did 

in the next half a dozen years. 

MINK: Did you ever have any doubts about your ability 

to do the work? 

POWELL: Oh, no, I never had the slightest doubt at all 

about my ability; I was completely protected by a kind 

of blind faith in myself. It was a kind of blind faith 

in myself that is both good and ba,d. What it does is to 

protect one against self-doubt. Self-doubt is a terribly 

weakening thing. And an absence of self-doubt, of course, 

makes one often insufferable and overbearing and impossible, 

and that's why people tend to take an extreme view toward 

me; they either like me very much or not at all, you see. 

And I'm reconciled to this, because this is my nature. 

MINK: When you came in, your immediate supervisor was 

Virginia Trout. 


MINK: Just an interesting question here: did Goodv/in 

take you around and introduce you to her first, or did 

he just go and say to Virginia, "I hired this man." Did 


she have any say in your hiring? 

POWELL: I don't know, Jim; I really don't knov/. I 
don't remember exactly, but I rather think that he v^as 
courteous and punctilious. I think he v/ould certainly 
have walked me through and introduced me, and maybe at 
the time he was interviewing, but I don't think so. I 
think he and Mitchell made up their mind that they v/ere 
going to hire me, and he told her. I don't think she 
participated in the decisions before they were made. 
But certainly once I came to work, he treated me cour- 
teously and introduced me to her, and then I didn't see 
him again for a long time. 

MINK: Well, what was your first opinion of her? 
POWELL: Well, she was a cool number; she was a very 
attractive young woman, very cool and self-possessed 
and efficient. 

MINK: What did she look like? 

POWELL: Well, she was sort of a sandy blonde, and she 
dressed beautifully. She spent a lot of money on her 
clothes. She was very well groomed and precise. I 
didn't care for her rather thin lips. She was the thin- 
lipped type of female, that you can tell a great deal 
about. She was not voluptuous or seductive in any vray: 
she was a good little business woman and a tremendous 
asset to Goodv;in. She was orderly. 


MINK: That's what they needed then, I suppose. 
POWELL: They needed that. She was really the secretary 
to the Library Committee. She did all the paperwork for 
the Library Committee, and there was more red tape in pur- 
chasing then. In other words, the committee approval 
had to be got, secured, obtained, for purchases over "x" 
dollars, and she'd present offers to the committee. She 
didn't attend committee meetings, but she fed everything 
in. Goodwin attended and took the minutes. 

What I learned from her, Jim, was one very interest- 
ing thing--to never go home at night until the top of my 
desk was clear. She worked that wayj she came to work 
in the morning, got her work out of her drawer or her 
files, and worked hard on it all day, and by the time 
she was through at 4:30 (when we used to quit), the top 
of her desk would be absolutely clear, except for her 
pencils and her clocko She didn't say to me, "Do this," 
but I observed that this was a good working system and 
I used to follow that. I learned that from her. 

And she taught me bibliographical checking. You 
had to initial your cards, your initials up in the top 
left-hand corner, and there are still some in the v/ants 
file I think with the V. T. or P., and she taught me 
precision in bibliographical checking. I really didn't 
learn this in library school. And she taught m.e hovi to 


go to bibliographical sources. VJe had a good collection 
in the bibliography room, and she wasn't intimidated by 
me and my advanced degrees. She schooled me, corrected 
me when I was wrong, and I took it from her. 
MINK: What was her education, qualifications, and ex- 

POWELL: I think none other than a Berkeley B.A. and a 
Berkeley Library School degree, and came right to work 
here as a girl of twenty or twenty-one. It'd been en- 
tirely here under Goodwin. But that was good training 
because this was his prime. Those were the twenties and 
early thirties; he was in his prime then, and she learned 
everything, I'm sure, from him. She was a good super- 
visor in that she laid out the work--that is, we'd check 
in at her desk in the morning, and she'd give us the 
batches of cards we were to check, the departmental re- 
quests for books. I always did the French, and I did the 
Latin and Greek and Italian and Spanish. I did the Ro- 
mance languages . Elsa Leocker, the German girl that was 
here, did the Germanic languages. 

Between us and Miss McCleary (there were the three 
of us checking) we did the continuations. Those came in 
on trucks, and we accessioned continuations and gifts. 
So we had the two jobs: one, of checking the current 
orders; and two, carding up and checking the continuations 


There was no serials department then, you see; all con- 
tinuations came into the Acquisitions Department. And 
we carded; in other words, we had a typewriter and a 
table and a desk, and we divided our time between typing. 
And she said, "Don't spend all your time doing one thing; 
break your work." So I checked for a couple of hours 
at the public catalog on current orders, and then I'd 
go back to my desk and card. 

Well, I was carding Cowan and I was carding the 
Harding Unionist collection, and I helped card some of 
the Germanic collections when Elsa Leocker was swamped. 
The Burdach-Bremer-Dahlerup and, oh, all kinds of gift 
collections were coming in. You remember, Berkeley was 
very good to us. For example, James Westfall Thorapson-- 
duplicates for the Thompson and the Morrison collection 
of the Morrison Reading Room at Cal. They had a great 
deal of the duplicates of it in storage, up on the mez- 
zanine level, and those were all bucked to us. The big 
crush came, Jim, toward the end of the fiscal year when 
Goodwin and Trout wanted to build up the statistics for 
the year. 

MINK: That sounds familiar. 

POWELL: [laughter] Still goes on? Well, Christ, the 
trucks would pour into the Acquisitions Department, and 
Miss Trout said, "Can't we get one more truck through?" 


And we'd go crazy the last few weeks of June. 
MINK: Accessioning? 

POWELL: Accessioning. Beefing up the old statistics! 
This was important, and of course I encouraged. . .what 
the hell's that squeaking? 
MINK: That's the tape recorder. 

POWELL: Oh, that's just the tape. I wouldn't want the 
transcriber to think this was Powell wheezing. [laughter] 
There are different ways I came to know the faculty; you 
asked about how I came to know the faculty. 
MINK: In retrospect, in that period, when you were reach- 
ing out. . . 
POWELL: Growing. 

MINK: . . .1 gather you were trying to get out of doing 
the kind of routine work that you were doing in the Ac- 
quisitions Department, that you were more interested in, 
oh, for example, exhibits and that sort of thing; did she 
resent this fact? 

POWELL: Yes, yes, surely. I was resented by all of the 
older women. Every young man who came was. John Lund 
before me had felt this and had left, and everybody had 
their eye on Mr. Goodwin who was aging and on the young 
men who were coming along. And there was a tension al- 
ways. I don't think it's quite right to say I wanted to 
get out of this work, because this v;asn't true in the 


beginning. I was terribly happy in the routine v/ork. 
I really felt that I was in a green pasture when I came 
to work here in 1938, because I hadn't held a job that 
was on appointment and that paid. You see, I'd been all 
through the Depression, all these years, and I'd never 
had a steady job, really. 

MINK: Did you feel that there was some amount of pres- 
tige connected with being a member of the university staff? 
POWELL: Yes, of course, I did; it was a fine place to 
be. I was proud of it, and the campus v;as a proud place. 
The library was large and impressive and professional; 
the basic collection was good. So in the first couple 
of years, I was Immersed in it and happy. Well, then, 
opportunities started to come right av7ay. I hadn't been 
here more than a few months when I was approached by MGM 
studios to be their research librarian at $50 a week. 
MINK: You were on like a moonlight job? 
POWELL: No, it was a full-time job. 
MINK: Pull time? 

POWELL: Yes, a full-tim.e job; that's the job I guess 
Elliott Morgan has now„ V/ell, at any rate, I went over 
for an interview. This came about through Stelter. One 
of Stelter's (and Occidental's) old students--his name 
was Chick--was a producer at MGM in charge of the library. 
So I had that in. They offered me $55 a v;eek, but no 


contract. VJell, I went to see Mr. Goodv/in, and he 
said, "Well, I can't promise you anything; you haven't 
been here long enough for me to know your v7ork. I would 
think you'd better stay here and grow with the place." 
He encouraged me to stay. 

MINK: But he didn't offer you any more salary? 
POWELL : No . 

MINK: After all, this was the Depression still. 
POWELL: That's right. 

MINK: By the time you'd come the salaries had heen re- 
stored that were cut. 

POWELL: Yes, they'd been restored, but still they didn't 
amount to anything. 

Well, then another offer that came soon was from 
Knox College. Merritt Moore who had been a philosophy 
professor at Occidental was at Knox, and he v;anted me 
to come back there. It was a half-time appointment, a 
half-time assistant librarian and a half-time professor 
of something--English, I suppose. I met with the presi- 
dent. Carter Davidson, dovm at the Biltmore, and I said 
I wasn't interested, really, in going to a split appoint- 
ment. If he could offer me the assistant librarianship 
full time, v;ith the opportunity of succeeding the li- 
brarian in another year, I would come. The salary that 
he offered me for the split appointment was $2,400 a year. 


which was about $800 more than I was making at UCLA. 

So that joh didn't pan out. 

MINK: Of course, you told Goodwin about the job. 

POWELL: I told Goodwin about this, and then Macalester 

College in St. Paul, Minnesota approached me. 

MINK: What did Goodwin say about the BInox job? 

POWELL: Well, again he said, "It's up to you, Powell, 

but it's better to stay in one place a little longer." 

And he was right, of course; it was too soon to leave. 

He said, "You must stay somewhere until you make a record." 

He encouraged me in that sense, not with promotion in 

mind, but just to stay. 

MINK: You said something about Macalester? 

POWELL: There was aji offer from Macalester; then a 

fourth came from the Beverly Hills Public Library, to go 

over there as a kind of an assistant librarian. 

MINK: Who was the librarian? 

POWELL: Oh, it wasn't Lura Wallace; it was Lura Wallace's 

predecessor [Mary Boynton] . At any rate, these things 

kept coming along. 

MINK: Did you keep all these in a file the way many 

people do? 

POWELL: The file's right here in back of me. It's some- 
thing I've never turned over; but I've got a folder there 
on employment opportunities. 


MINK: Correspondence on that. 

POWELL: Yes, correspondence. It's all documented, and 
this will come to Special Collections eventually, of 
course, with all my papers. 

MINK: Well, what isn't documented, of course, is your 
opinions about these things. 

POWELL: Well, these were good; these kept me stirred up 
and gave me a feeling that I was in the stream, and that 
if I didn't make it here I'd make it somewhere else. 
MINK: So that built your confidence then^ 
POWELL: Yes, that's right. Other people wanted me; 
therefore, sure, my confidence was built up. 
MINK: Another question, too, while we're still talking 
about these early years: you were mentioning a minute 
ago how the Faculty Library Committee had so much more 
say [on purchases]. How did you feel about what they 
were acquiring? Did you resent in any way the way it 
was being built up through the Library Committee? 
POWELL: No I didn't, because they were doing some great 
things. The bulk of the money, Jim, was going for sets. 
And this was proper. They were buying; they were put- 
ting, I would think, the bulk of the budget into sub- 
scriptions, current subscriptions, and into back files 
of sets. And they were buying excellent things--from 
Gottschalk, from Stechert, from Harrassowitz, and from 


all the dealers. International dealers v/ere offering 
sets. I recognized this as a basic acquisitions policy. 
Now, I had a great time, because Mrs. Trout encour- 
aged me to make recommendations for bibliographical items, 
monographs, current and retrospective. And I was con- 
currently checking wants as I was doing the faculty cards. 
In other words, I had two projects going, and I was mak- 
ing want slips as I went along and filing them with her. 
And I will say that she never turned down a thing. The 
six years I worked for her she filed every recommendation 
I made, and I must have added thousands of bibliographi- 
cal items--bibliographies, bibliographical v;orks of vari- 
ous kinds in Letters and Arts and Social Sciences, We 
were very poor in all these fields. 

MINK: I wondered about gifts. Were you able in this 
time, and did you purposefully, if so, encourage people 
or solicit on behalf of the library for gifts? 
POWELL: Only in the cases when I showed exhibits. That 
led into some gift solicitation. Oh, I told you the 
story the other day about the Hearst books, that I wrote 
to Hearst. I must have written to a lot of people from 
the acquisitions department, requesting. I used to fol- 
low the "P. W." below the line, things that v;ere free. 
We had a request postcard v;e'd send out. "Will you favor 
us?" And it was signed by the Librarian, per L.C.P. 


And I did soliciting around the country, and they en- 
couraged me to do this. 

MINK: Did Goodwin solicit gifts? I mean, did he go 
outside the library; did he make any purposeful solici- 

POWELL: I don't think so. 
MINK: Was Lindley Bynum then the man? 

MINK: He wasn't yet appointed. 
POWELL: Lindley came about 1941 or 1942. 
MINK: Yes, and you hadn't yet been appointed. 
POWELL: Not yet. 

MINK: So there really was no one here at that time who 
was working on gifts. 

POWELL: No. There wasn't a gifts librarian then. Wasn't 
Wilbur [Smith] the first appointment to that? 
MINK: I think Neal Harlow. 

POWELL: Neal Harlow was in Gifts and Exchanges. Well, 
exchanges were handled by little Catherine Phillips, and 
Neal came in and widened us a bit. We ought to come to 

MINK: We will. 

POWELL: Damn it all, Jim, I want to talk about the 
MINK: All right. Talk about your first faculty contacts 


in the library. How do you first meet them? By meeting 
them at the catalog? 

POWELL: Partly, but the very first came through the 
poet, C. F. Maclntyre, who had been fired from here. 
The year he was fired, in 1938, he transferred to Berke- 
ley, and he got a Guggenheim Fellowship. That all 
happened at the same time. Before he left, when I was 
at library school and he was still on the faculty here, 
he'd written Mr. Goodwin and said, "You'd better hire 
Larry Powell." In other words, Mac was in there pitch- 
ing for me. Well, this was a kind of a questionable 
reference. [laughter] Mac was on his way out, but Mac 
had a very loyal following here in the faculty, notably 
Fred Carey in classics; Majl Ewing in English; Bill 
Buell, in English; and I guess that was about it. [laugh- 
ter] Oh, Ernest Carroll Moore was fond of Mac. 
MINK: That's strange, isn't it? 

POWELL: Well, he recognized his scholarship; Mac was 
a scholar and Ernest Carroll Moore recognized this. Well, 
at any rate, Majl Ewing was one of the very first that 
came to see me, and he said, "I heard about you from 
Mac." Majl was an instructor then. And he was to give 
a summer course in twentieth-centuiy literature for 
the first time. It had never been given in the English 
department. And he came in to the department absolutely 


indignant and said, "There are no books." And he went 
storming up to Mrs. Trout and to Mr. Goodwin. They 
didn't have Hemingway or Joyce or D. H. Lawrence. A 
lot of these things were lacking. And Majl could be 
quite impressive when he was riled. 
MINK: I kvnow. 

POWELL: They placated him with, I think, a $500 grant. 
MINK: Where did they get it? 
POWELL: Well, out of the Librarian's Fund. 
MINK: The Librarian's Fund, I see. 

POWELL: They gave five hundred extra dollars to use for 
his materials for his summer course, and I did the card- 
ing up for this. Majl gave me some rough notes, and I 
did the cards and spent it all. 

MINK: Did you suggest books? Did he have a list? 
POWELL: I suggested some, but he was on top; he knew 
what he wanted. And then another key person came. I did 
the same thing for him; that was Dixon Wecter who came 
from Colorado as a full professor at age thirty-two to 
teach American lit. And he came in the department and 
threw up his hands and said, "My God, there 're no books." 
So they gave him money. 

MINK: Do you remember how much they gave him? 
POWELL: Oh, they gave him probably $500; that was the 
old standard amount. [laughter] Goodwin kept $500 gold 


bars in his desk and he handed those out. Wecter v;ould 
do anything but work bibliographically. He was a born 
person to get other people to do the bibliographical 
work. Ewing was different; Ewing did a lot of it him- 
self; and it was Ewing as the departmental chairman for 
books who did a lot to build up the library. Well, the 
word got around that there was a young man in the Ac- 
quisitions Department--it was called Accessions Depart- 
ment then, remember--vmo v;as interested in books. And 
the word spread and I got to know gradually more and more 
of the faculty, the young ones particularly, although 
through my work in exhibits I came to know Joseph Lockey 
and Waldemar Westergaard; and then Frank Klingberg in 
history discovered me. I guess it was through work I 
was doing in accessioning a collection of English histori- 
cal materials, and Clinton Howard probably told Klingberg 
about me, and Klingberg said, "Will you come and talk 
to my seminar about the holdings of the library in his- 
tory?" So I did that twice a year, I guess. Klingberg 
used to meet downstairs here in this building. (He had 
Helen Livingston as his secretary.) I sat in with that 
seminar; Sam McCulloch was a member of it. Oh, there 
were a lot of the first early Ph. D.'s here in history. 
Well, it was this kind of recognition; and then of course 
the Fiske project that Lockey blessed, and the research 


committee gave me the travel money to go to Boston, 
against Goodv;in's advice. That was a key paper, I think, 
in what I did here, that paper on John Fiske. 
MINK: On the Fiske collection, there is one anecdote 
I'm sure you're familiar with which maybe you would com- 
ment on. In Moore's book, 1 Helped Make a University , 
Moore pointed out that he had gone to the California 
Club, in the washroom of the California Club he encoun- 
tered Colonel Seeley Mudd, and he spoke to him of the 
collection and the money came in that way to buy it. 
Is this true? 

POWELL: I'm sure it is; it's characteristic of Ernest 
Carroll Moore « He and Rufus von KleinSmld operated in 
the same v;ay, off campus and downtown; they used their 
contacts--the California Club, the University Club, and 
Dawson's Bookshop. This, of course, is what Goodwin 
should have been doing. 
MLMK: Moore was doing it for him. 

POWELL: I suppose. But most of those early collections, 
the big collections that came, were the faculty's or 
Moore's or regents' work. Goodwin's great contribution 
was, I think, first of all the building, the basic biblio- 
graphic collection, and then the sets program. The Cowan 
[collection], you see, didn't come through Goodwin; it 
came, really, through Ernest Dawson who recommended it. 


Wellj the exhibits came about because nobody else wanted 

to do them. 

MINK: Were you asked to do them, or did you go and say, 

"I'll do them?" 

POWELL: I don't remember, Jim. Maybe I volunteered. I 

think I came to work and saw empty cases standing in the 


MINK: Nothing in them at all? 

POWELL: Nothing in them; and I probably said something 

to Mr. Goodwin, "Well, who does the exhibits?" And he 

said, "Well, we can't seem to get anybody to do them; 

would you like to?" Oh, I think he saw in my letter of 

application that I'd done exhibits at the [Los Angeles] 

public library. 

MINK: Oh, yes, you did. 

POWELL: I think that's how it came about, and he asked 

me, "Would you take this on?" And I said, "Yes." Then 

of course Mrs. Trout was very unhappy about this, because 

it cut into my work; so she really begrudged me any time 

to do it, and in order to have a better atmosphere I would 

come in on Saturday afternoons, and Sundays even, and 

put the exhibits in. I really did them on my own time. 

MINK: And you v/ould type the captions? 

POWELL: I would type the captions; I did all the work. 

This made me enormous friendships among the faculty. 


Well, I did one when Lockey's book on Pan- Americanism 
came out. I did an exhibit on poetry v/hen MacLeish 
was Charter Day speaker. One on Rilke, Yeats, and 
MacLeish. He came over to see it. We did the Hersholt 
collection of Hans Christian Andersen, v;hich was Wes- 
tergaard's delight. And I did one on the moderns when 
Ewing was giving the summer course. I did an exhibit 
on Hemingv^ay and Joyce and Lawrence that enchanted, of 
all persons, Jens Nyholm, the head cataloger. He really 
hadn't known me before that. He said, "My God, you're 
interested in all these things?" And he was very ex- 
cited; he translated some of these moderns into Danish. 
He was a great friend to me and Seymour Lubetzky in those 

early years. 

MINK: Nyholm was also a good friend of Westergaard' s 

I imagine. 

POWELL: Yes, he was indeed, and Westy in a way would 

have liked to have seen Nyholm become the head librarian. 

MINK: Was it really through Nyholm that you got to know 


POWELL: No, it was through Jean Hersholt. I met Hersholt 

at Jake's, you see. 

MINK: I see. 

POVJELL: I knew he had this Hans Christian Andersen 

collectiono And when I was given exhibits to do, I 


found there were so few collections in the library that 
were exhibltable j the fine books had been chewed up^, 
stamped, and perforated. I deliberately went outside, 
then, and made these borrov/ings. 
MINK: Oh, you would borrow books. 

POWELL: Oh, hell, I borrowed Hersholt's; I borrowed 
Ned Metcalfe's T. E. Lawrence collection and R. F. 
Burton, and Elmer Belt's Leonardo da Vinci. 
MINK: This is interesting; did you ever get turned down? 
POWELL: No, I never got turned down because I never 
asked anybody that I figured would turn me down. [laugh- 
ter] In other words, I prepared the ground. 
MINK: I suppose these people, private collectors, 
would be flattered to be asked to exhibit their collec- 
tions in the library. 

POWELL: Of course they were. That's right, and I didn't 
make any bones about that we would like to see them 
come closer to the library. And of course in Belt's 
case this is what happened. Tv/enty years later the whole 
Vinci collection came to us. In the beginning it was 
just the facsimile of the Codice Atlantico . I carried 
the whole goddamn thing out in the back seat of my 
little Studebaker sedan, and the car was right down on 
the axle. [laughter] My God, this was heavy, and Belt 
was delighted. Well, these were contacts, you see. 


that came out of the early bookshop days. 

MINK: Larry, were you given any money for your exhibits? 

POWELL: No, I wasn't given any money. 

MINK: I mean for paper; did they give you anything to 

do it with? 

POWELL: I'll tell you what happened: First of all, the 

exhibit cases that were empty, Goodwin had bought; they 

were Weber showcase and fixture cases that he'd gotten 

at a sale. 

MINK: Were they really more for department stores? 

POWELL: They were jewelry cases! 

MINK: These are the old cases that are still up in the 

College Library. 

POWELL: Yes. They had three shelves in them so when 
you put books on the top shelf, you couldn't see the 
bottom shelves. I knew very well what I v^as doing. So 
I said to Mr. Goodwin, "These cases need a little car- 
pentry and redesigning. We need to tilt the top shelf 
and we need to take the two bottom shelves and combine 
them with a little guard in the middle so books won't 
slide down, and make one big bottom shelf tilted and one 
top shelf." "Well," he said, " that is a challenge." 

Right away he started redesigning them. He called 
the head carpenter, Clarence Brown, and Brov/n came up. 
And Goodwin said, "Look, now you do this and this," 


and he was very clever and quick with a penciled sketch. 
By God, those cases were out the same day, down to the 
carpenter shop. They were redesigned and brought up, 
and Goodwin was pleased as punch. 

And I said, "It really isn't proper to put typed 
headings when we have a distinguished collection. We 
ought to have some printed placards that identify the 
collection. Can't we have the University Press do this." 
And he said, "Well, I think so; just send it into me 
and I'll send it up to Berkeley." So Mr. Goodwin got 
all my printing done for me. Yes, he backed me, and 
I always went to him. Of course this probably didn't 
make Mrs. Trout happy, but she didn't have any interest 
or any sense about these things. He was the one. 
MINK: Did she think it was sort of useless? Fool's 


POWELL: That's right. It cut into my time, and it was 
unnecessary foolishness. But before I was through, I 
did fifty exhibits. 

MINK: We have a record of those in those volumes, show- 
ing the exhibits as well as the publicity. 
POVreLL: That's right--the scrapbooks. And then I think 
there are my working notes that I kept on all the exhi- 
bits. It was a deliberate thing I did to make myself 
useful and advance myself, but it also was a natural 


thing. It was something I liked doing. It wasn't just 
sheer ambition manifesting itself. It was something I 
got a helluva lot of fun out of. Now I think the work 
that's done in exhibits in the library by Marian Engelke 
and Roberta Nixon and the others is wonderfully sophis- 
ticated and advanced, but it comes out of a tradition 
that we had here of displaying what we had and what we 

MINK: Well, as long as we're on the subject, after you 
became University Librarian, the work of exhibits sort 
of fell to Everett Moore, really. 

POWELL: I made an exhibits committee and made him chair- 
man, and then it was up to him. The problem always, of 
course, was to get someone to take the time, because 
it took time. We had a number of committees and people-- 
Bill Bellin, remember, did tremendous things for exhibits, 
and his art work. 

MINK: Whenever we've had people on the staff who've 
had an artistic inclination, I think that they have 
joined in. 

POWELL: That's right; the tradition is very much alive, 
and of course they're infinitely better now than any- 
thing I ever did. But, damn it all, I laid the founda- 
tion for it and made it something. I did a piece in the 
UCLA magazine you remember on the exhibits. There were 


pictures and an article by Johnny Jackson. 

There's something I regret: I didn't give credit 
enough to the alumni In writing that book--the Alumni 
Library Committee that I formed--Johnny Jackson, Hansena 
Frederlckson, Ann Sumner, Barbara Lloyd, Teresa Long, 
and Margaret Duguld Michel. I had them meet here quar- 
terly or so and take an Interest In the library. I 
wrote for the magazine^ I talked to Bruin Clubs; I be- 
came a life member of the Alumni Association. And I 
was pulling them toward the eventual founding of the 
Friends of the Library, which came about years later. 
MINK: Well, Larry, it was through the exhibits, then, 
that you made the faculty contacts, partially. What 
was your next move? 

POWELL: Well, to publications, I suppose. I think it 
was Ewlng who said to me, "You've done a book on Robin- 
son Jeffers and you've done a book on D. H. Lawrence's 
manuscripts, and these are well and good, and as a tea- 
cher of modern literature I appreciate them., but you 
ought to do something more orthodox in research and 
publish something." And I think the Flske paper came 
out of this suggestion, which was an orthodox biblio- 
graphical paper. 

MIKK: Could you get very turned on about Flske? 
POVffiLL: Oh, I did before I was through. 


MINK: Well, did the subject suggest itself to you, or 

was the subject suggested to you? 

POWELL: I suppose looking through the locked cage on 

the fourth level, I saw some of the Fiske scrapbooks and 

photograph albums and materials that had been shut up 

and became interested in him. 

MINK: Well, you accessioned the Fiske collection? 

POWELL: No, it was done in the twenties. 

MINK: Oh, that's right; it was an earlier gift. 

POWELL: I suppose it came about just through my seeing 

this material. 

MINK: But weren't you responsible for getting back some 

of the materials that had found their way into the 


POWELL: Yes, that's right. And we bought more material; 

we bought some Fiske manuscripts from dealers. 

MINK: I see. 

POWELL: But the most substantial research work I did 

was on [Charles Edward] Pickett- - Philosopher Pickett . 

That came about simply through my work on the Cowan 

collection, I saw in the Cowan collection bibliography 

his note on Pickett. It Intrigued me. I handled a fev; 

of the Pickett pamphlets; I read them. It interested 

me and I just [kept going] „ 

MINK: Did you ever go to talk to Cowan about it? 


POWELL: Sure, I went to talk to Covjan, and he said, 

"Well, let me go upstairs," and he v;ent up to his attic. 

He came down with these letters of Pickett to Kern and 

William Heath Davis. They'd heen in the Davis papers. 

MINK: Well, why didn't they come in 193o? 

POWELL: Because he didn't sell any manuscripts then. 

He sold some manuscripts, but he held out a whole swatch 
of them, don't you remember? --that v;e bought from the 
son in 1944 or 1945 for $6,000. 

MINK: Oh, that's earlier then. 

POWELL: That v/as a sticky thing, because Goodwin thought 
he was getting everything Cowan had. But Cowan didn't 
part with these, and these included the Pickett letters, 
and they're now here. Well, at any rate. Cowan let me 
print those. I went to Bancroft--not in the Bancroft, 
it was in the University Library at Cal--and I found in 
the Collis P, Huntington collection half a dozen pamph- 
lets. (Collis Po Huntington bought them from Cowan in 
1895.) This gave me a bit of disillusionment in Cowan, 
because I found in Cowan's own 1895 collection at Cal 
many items that he hadn't put in his bibliography. I 
realized then that the Cowan bibliography is very large- 
ly a checklist of his collection that he had in 1930. 
MINK: As it existed at the time. 
POVJELL: That's right. And he'd overlooked or forgotten 


or ignored earlier material. First of all, I thought 
I'd do a paper for the Pacific Historical Review on 
Pickett. It kept grov;ing, and I realized that I had 
enough material for a monograph, for a small book. So 
I took my vacation in 1939^ as I remember, and went to 
Berkeley (it may have been 1940) and I bunked with Jens 
Nyholm, who had moved up then as assistant librarian. 
I worked in the Bancroft and in the main library and 
did my work on Pickett, and then I went to the Califor- 
nia State Library. The whole project--the research and 
the writing of it and everything--I did in about eight 
or nine months; it was a real push. 
MINK: You must have worked steadily. 

POWELL: Yes, steadily — a crash program. And I had a 
book manuscript and we were going to publish it here 
through Wctrd Ritchie. Majl Ewing said, "Nothing doing. 
You send this to the University Press; it should have 
the University Press imprint on it." So I did, and it 
was approved by the committee. The chairman of the 
Publication Committee was Gustave Arlt. I remember he 
called me and said, "It's been approved." I found later 
that the outside reader (they always send a manuscript 
to an outside reader) was Charlie Camp. He told me 
years later, "I read your goddamn manuscript, Powell. 
I told them to publish it." [laughter] Remem.ber, he 


came and talked at our one-millionth volume dedication-- 
Cheyenne Dawson. That's v;hen Charlie Camp told me, and 
I shook his hand and I said, "Thanks, Charlie. You did 
me a good turn." Well, they accepted it, but it was 
three years before they published it. It was the old 
lag there, and it was 19^2 before it came out. Well, 
the thing that Goodwin did to help me--by God, the more 
I think of it, the more kindly I feel tov^ard him--I told 
him that we had half a dozen of the Pickett pamphlets 
here in Cowan, but there were as many more again in 
Bancroft and State, and I said, "We ought to add those 
in photostats. Would the Library pay for this?" He 
said, "I think it would." And he did; he bought the 
photostats for my use, and then I added them. They must 
be in Special Collections. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: One of them, of course, is a unique pamphlet. 
It's Pickett's pamphlet on Fremont--a campaign pamphlet, 
anti-Fremont. The only copy located was in the Cali- 
fornia State Library. We photostated that. And in all 
my subsequent work on Pickett ajid the correspondence 
and reviews and all, no other copy ever turned up. It 
is apparently unique. And I must say, although I did 
a quick job on Pickett, it's a definitive job. Nothing 
that's turned up in the twenty-five years since then 


changes it in any way. A fev; more citations to him and 
some more of his published letters in the press have 
turned up, but no more manuscript material. So it was 
done and it was well received and it led to friendship 
with Pacific Historical Review , which was edited then 
by Louis Koontz. 
MINK: Louis Knott Koontz. 

POWELL: Koontz suggested this article that I did for 
them in 1942 on "Resources of Western Libraries for Re- 
search in History," which was my first survey type of 
article. I corresponded with about fifty Western li- 

MINK: Did you go to visit any of them at that time? 
POWELL: I visited the local ones, and Berkeley of course, 
and I visited everything in Southern California. I 
published that; and it's a good article as far as it 

Then another friend I made in history was your 
former mentor, John Walton Caughey. This came through 
reviewing what I was doing for the Los Angeles Times . 
I did quite a lot for Paul Jordan-Smith in those years. 
He sent me Caughey' s one-volume History of California , 
19^0, and I gave it a good reviev;. 
MINK: This is the one that's used as a text here? 
POWELL: Yes. I gave it a good reviev;, because it is 


a good 'book. John Caughey v;as teaching in the summer at 
Albuquerque, New Mexico^ and in my copy of Caughey 's 
book up there on the shelf there is inserted a letter 
from John, from Albuquerque, thanking me. Someone had 
sent him this clipping, and that led to friendship v/ith 
John and La Ree Caughey. Caughey, of course, was bitter 
about the dispersal of the Cowan library. 
MINK: Oh, he was? 
POl^LL: Yes. 

MINK: He felt it should have been kept in one place? 
POWELL: Yes, and he said so in his biography of Ban- 
croft, I think. "The wanton dispersal" he called it. 
I used to say to John, "Well, it wasn't v;anton; it was 
dispersed according to the Library of Congress classi- 
fication." "Well," he said, "you know what I mean." 
So all these threads, you see, were tying me closer to 



POWELL: Well, Jens Nyholm, the head cataloger, the 
"Great Dane, "--I may have spoken earlier of how he wanted 
to recruit either Luhetzky or me from acquisitions into 
catalog, and Lubetzky went. 
MINK: Right. 

POWELL: All right; a year or so later, Harold Leupp 
reached out and plucked Jens Nyholm out of the cataloger 
joh and made him assistant librarian at Gal; that's when 
Peyton Hurt had left and gone down to Williams College 
Library; that left a big vacancy. 

MINK: Poor Nyholm having to go and work for Mr. Leupp-- 
he was a difficult man I am told. 

POWELL: That's right. So Jens went up as assistant 
librarian in charge of technical processes. Now he was 
on top of cataloging, but he didn't know a goddamn thing 
about acquisitions work. So we had lunch together when 
he was about ready to move north. And he said, "Powell, 
you come with me and you'll be head of the Order Depart- 
ment at Calo Mr. Bumstead is retiring." (Frank Bumstead 
was head of the department.) And he said, "I'll make 
you head of the department at x dollars." I don't remem- 
ber what the department head then got. I think the 
minimum department head's salary was $2,700, and I was 


still at $1,800 or whatever it was; I went up $10 a 
month every year, from .$1,500 to $1,900 before I left. 
This was, as I see it, a kind of a major decision. And 
if it had been just to work with Jens Nyholm I think I 
might have considered, but there was the vision of Harold 
Leupp. [laughter] I'd seen him when I was a library 
school student, and he was pretty grim. He was a tyrant, 
and I'd heard about him from Mitchell, and his reputation 
had permeated the library. He was a martinet. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: He advised everyone how to dress and how to 
behave, and he was just a tough cookie. So I said, "No. 
The person to get is Frank Lundy," who was head cata- 
loger then at the Clark. He'd had acquisitions experience 
at Arizona, and sure enough that happened. Nyhclm took 
Lundy up as head of the Order Department at Gal. Well, 
this was of course good for my cause because it elimina- 
ted two men in one stroke from the hierarchy at UCLA. 
I didn't deliberately think of this; but it's what hap- 

If Jens Nyholm had stayed as head cataloger of 
UCLA, he v;ould have been successor to Goodwin. There's 
no doubt about it. Westergaard, v:ith his strength, would 
have thrown it behind Nyholm as a Pan- Scandinavian, and 
he would have been in. Certainly he had seniority, he 


had more experience, he had administrative experience, 
he had everything. I didn't have any. He v;ould have 
had faculty support, but Nyholm apparently didn't have 
this feeling that UCLA was lihe place for him, and he v/as 
enchanted by the San Francisco Bay region. And it was 
a quick advancement, because nobody knev; v;hen Goodvfin 
was going to retire. The war was deferring this. So 
Nyholm went. I must speak perhaps of a confrontation 
I had with Mr. Goodwin. 
MINK: Well, you had a number of them. 

POWELL: Yes, well, when I turned down a couple of these 
earlier jobs, I said to him, "Well, you're encouraging 
me to stay." I think when the Macalester College thing 
came along, he said, "You'll eventually be a contender 
for my position." He was not reluctant to speak of this, 
and I said to him, I think, "Well, I really should have 
some intermediate experience, [laughter] I'm at the 
bottom and I've been here four or five years now, and 
I'm still at the bottom." Finally, I think, when I told 
Mr. Goodwin that I was turning down Nyholm' s offer and 
I was going to stay, I said, "Well, nothing's really 
happening to me here. I'm still at the bottom of the 
heap." He said, "Well, Pov^ell, the women won't stand 
for your being promoted over them." Gee, I was mad I 


MINK: I don't blame you. 

POWELL: No, I was mad. And he turned his back on me 
and went and looked out the window. And I said, "Well. . ." 
MINK: Probably he was as upset about it as you were. 
POWELL: Yes, he was; he was caught, you see. 
MINK: But you couldn't see that then? 
POWELL: No, I couldn't see that he was embarrassed. 
But he knew the faculty was building up support back of 
me, that Lockey and Westy and Klingberg and Hussey and 
Caughey had all spoken about me to him--and Fred Carey. 
I said, "Well, Mr. Goodwin, I feel I've got to go and 
tell my troubles to President Sproul." I said, "I think 
you've let me down." He said, "Well, feel free to," and 
that was all. So I went to see Bob Sproul; it was the 
first time I'd met him, I guess. 

MINK: Did you go to see him here when he was on campus? 
POWELL: It was here, because he was running both cam- 
puses then. There was no provost then; this was before 
Clarence Dykstra. 

MINK: So you would have gone to see him in his office 
there in front of the College Library^ 
POWELL: It was over in the new Ad Building. 
MINK: At this time he was in the new Administration 
Building and had a office there. 
POVJELL: Well, I called Hansena [Frederickson] , of course; 


and she knew who I was because of the UCLA Alumni Maga - 
zine article I did. She said, "Yes, I can get you an 
appointment with Mr. Sproul." So I saw Sproul. 
MINK: This was the first time you ever met him. 
POWELL: I guess so. That must have been about 19'^3« 
And he said, "Well, you seem to be upset, Powell. What's 
the matter?" I said, "I've just gotten screwed." [laugh- 

MINK: You put it that way? 

POWELL: No. I said, "l just had a dirty deal." He 
says, "Well, tell me about it." I says, "Well, Mr. Good- 
win encouraged me to stay here and turn dovm other jobs, 
but he won't promote me." He told me once I'd be a pos- 
sible successor to him, but he doesn't do anything for 
me." He said, "That's Goodwin's business , not mine. 
What do you want of me?" I said, "Well, would you regard 
me, sir, as a candidate for Mr. Goodwin's position even- 
tually?" And he looked at me and he said, "Yes, I would." 
And by God, he wouldn't say anything more. He wouldn't 
do anything more. I was quiet, and then he laughed, a 
great big belly laugh, and I knew that was m.y cue to 
get out. I said, "Thank you, Mr. President." I got out. 

MINK: That v;as a short interview. 
POWELL: Yes, it v/as a short interviev/; but at least he 


didn't say, "VJell, Pov;ell, you'd better get the hell out 
of here." He was Interested in me. He knew v;ho I v;as; 
he'd heard about me from the faculty, I know. This v/as 
his way of encouraging me. "Yes," he says, "you'll be 
a candidate," 

MINK: You couldn't do that these days, could you? 
POVffiLL : No . 

MINK: The university was much smaller. 
POWELL: Smaller and run much more in a tight, short 
chain of command. 

MINK: Sproul didn't say anything to you about v/hy you 
didn't go and see Ernest Carroll Moore. 
POWELL:" Oh, he was out. 

MINK: That's right he was out, excuse me. 
POWELL: Yes, Hedrick, you see, had been provost. 
MINK: At this time the university would have been run 
by the committee--the Second Committee. 

POWELL: Yes, with Sproul visiting the campus. That was 
probably in 19-^3 • Then all kinds of offers began to 
whiz. I was seeing quite a bit of Henry Wagner, and he 
was looking for [someone] « They were looking for a suc- 
cessor to Lav;rence Wroth at the [John] Carter Brown 
[Library]. Randolph Adams had become interested in me. 
I'd done those papers--oh, I didn't mention that--I'd 
done tv;o papers on the problem of rare books in the library, 


They were read: one to the College and University Section 
of ALA and one to the Southern California Conference of 
College and University Librarians at Redlands. Both had 
been published: one in the Library Journal , one in Col - 
lege and Research Libraries j volume I, no. 1, 1939^ I 
guess. And these had given me some national contacts, 
particularly with Bill Jackson and Randolph Adams. Adams 
had come out to see me through Jake Zeitlin, and we'd 
gone to see Mr. Goodwin, and Adams had said, "Let Powell 
have a free hand here with rare books." 

Mitchell all this time had me typed, you see, as a 
rare books librarian. He didn't think of me as an adminis- 
trator at all. We had very little contact for several 
years. In fact, we had no contact. 

There was a chance to go to the Library Company of 
Philadelphia; Adams was stirring these things up. I had 
other possibilities of going to libraries in the East; 
and then the Harvard one that I wrote about was put off 
by the war. Bill Jackson wanted me to come there. 
MINK: As a what? 

POWELL: As head of Order Department for the Harvard Uni- 
versity Library. Philadelphia and Providence and then 
the Clark was coming vacant, and there was a committee 
on the Clark Library made up of Westergaard, Louis Wright, 
and Sigurd Hustvedt. They met and met and met, and nothing 


happened. Hustvedt was trying to put in his man from 
Philadelphia, and the other two on the committee were 
blocking him. So Westergaard said, "VJell, there's a 
place for you, Powell, over, at the Clark Library, but 
Just be patient; we'll bring it off." He thought of me 
as going there, and I kjriow he was thinking of Nyholm 
coming back then as University Librarian, and then he 
could control him through their common knowledge of Scan- 
dinavian languages. [laughter] 

MINK: Do you look upon Westergaard as an empire-builder? 
POWELL: Westergaard was probably the most single impor- 
tant powerful faculty member here in those years. Sproul 
told me this. 

MINK: Do you think Westergaard did this purposefully, 
or did the mantle more or less fall to him? 
POWELL: Both. He was a very good politician. He was a 
very genial and sophisticated man. He was a scholar. He 
was a good seminar teacher. I know he brought people to 
his home, to his big library there, and he was active in 
all the key committees--research, budget, the committee 
on committees. And I know Sproul told me this. His 
appointment as chairman of the committee to select the 
University Librarian bore it out. Sproul said, "This 
is a key man." 

The other key man, a little more junior, was Gustave 
Arlt. Those v;ere two men that Sproul regarded as the m.ost 


able on this campus. They weren't political; they v;ere 
free of political leanings^ I mean, in the sense of party 
politics. They v;ere true university men. 

MINK: You were talking about the Clark Library committee, 
and you had said that Westergaard asked you simply to be 
patient. Meanwhile, you spent sometime in Westergaard 's 
home, didn't you? 

POWELL: Oh, that was later. That was in 1945 or 1945. 
MINK: After you'd been appointed. 

POWELL: Yes. We leased his home for a year while he was 
in Denmark as our cultural attache. No, the whole thing 
came about through Bill Jackson. Edward Hooker, the 
Dryden scholar, who was on sabbatical at Harvard, and 
Leon Howard, professor of American literature at North- 
western, v;ho was at Harvard, they all had dinner one 
evening at Bill Jackson' s apartment. Leon Howard said to 
them, "I'm chairman of a faculty committee at Northwestern 
to bring a successor to Theodore W. Koch who is retiring. 
Who's a good man?" Jackson and Hooker both said, "Larry 
Powell." Hooker knew me here through English department 
contacts. Northwestern had also, through Leon Howard, 
approached Randolph Adams, and he said, "Larry Pov/ell." 
They had approached Louis Wright and offered him the job 
(Louis Wright was then research man at the Huntington), 
and Louis had turned it down, saying, "Larry Pov;ell." So 


from all these sources the word came in to Northwestern^ 
"Get Larry Powell." Well^ it was in about July 1943, 
that the telegram came in from Homer Vanderblue, dean of 
the College of Commerce at Northwestern and chairman of 
their committee to select a librarian. Vanderblue said, 
"Will you come back for an intervievj?" VJell, that was 
the big decision then, and I realized that I had no fu- 
ture with Goodwin at UCLA. 
MINK: So did you go in and see Goodwin? 
MINK: No? 

POWELL: No, I didn't even go see him. I talked with 

MINK: In other words, I take it then that after he turned 
his back to the window you just figured you were going 
to get nowhere with him^ so you didn't have anything 
more to do with him. 

POWELL: That's right. Well, he said as much. He said, 
"The women won't stand for this; take your case to Sproul. 
I'm through with you." 
MINK: Did he actually say that? 

POWELL: Noo He wouldn't ever say anything like that. 
But this was clear, that there was absolutely no hope. 
VJell, Fay was a very strong factor in this. She said, 
"You've taken enough you-know-what from him, and you 


either go back and take this job or resign. But you're 
through at UCLA." And I said, "Yes, I knov; it." So, 
through Charlie Adams of the Santa Fe, I got a reserva- 
tion back to Chicago on the Super Chief. 
MINK: How had you gotten to know Charlie Adams? 
POWELL: Through the Zamorano Club. In 19^0, I joined 
the Zamorano Club through V/ard Ritchie's recommendation. 
MINK: Ward Ritchie was in, and he wanted to get you in? 
POWELL: Yes, I've been active in the Zamorano Club since 
1940. There again this brought me close to the leading 
bookmen of the region. 

MINK: Did you feel at that time that joining the Zamo- 
rano Club would help your career here, or didn't you 
think a thing about it? 

POWELL: Oh, no; naturally, this was obvious. You didn't 
think about it; it was just obvious that it would, be- 
cause it put you in contact with all the local biblio- 
philes. Yes, sure, all these things are obvious things. 
You don't even think about them, you just do them because 
they're the obvious moves to make. It wasn't the sole 
reason I joined the Zamorano Club; it was because these 
were my friends, this v/as a community that I v;as [familiar 
with] . 

MINK: Well, I know you always felt that people on the 
University Library staff here during the years you were 


Librarian should join because it does. 

POWELL: Yes, that's right. It's a key. So, as I took 
the train from Union Station to Chicago, I dropped my 
resignation in the mailbox. 
MINK: Oh really? 

POWELL: Yes, to Mr. Goodwin. "Dear Mr. Goodwin, I re- 
sign, I quit, je quit." [laughter] I didn't give any 
reason; I just said, "This is July. I will take my va- 
cation in August, and would you terminate me September 
1." I went off very light-hearted on the Super Chief 
and had blueberries and cream for dinner. I got along 
just fine at Northwestern. Vanderblue was very kind to 
me, and I met v;ith the acting librarian, a woman who was 
holding the front. 

MINK: She was not a contender, I take it? 
POWELL: No, she was an older woman; she'd been Koch's 
assistant librarian. And she said, "We need you here; 
I hope you'll come." I spent the day v/ith them and with 
the staff and with the faculty and with President [Frank- 
lyn D. ] Snyder. 

MINK: Did you not like the idea of living in the Midv/est? 
POWELL: That didn't bother me. Fay was born there, 
and we could have made out there. Evanston, [Illinois] 
was attractive; the Deering Library v/as very attractive. 
The librarian's office had a fireplace in it. [laughter] 


And looked out on the lake. So I came back, then, with- 
out an offer in writing, but Snyder said, "Well, I'll 
present this to the trustees, and I'm sure v/e want you. 
Will you come?" And I said, "Well, I have to see Presi- 
dent Sproul first. I want to tell him what I've done." 
So when I got back, I called Hansena, and she said, "VJell, 
Dr. Sproul' s in Berkeley; you'll have to go up there and 
see him." I said, "I'm willing to; I'll go up there and 
see him." She gave me an appointment about a week hence. 
MINK: Did you tell her all the time what you were doing? 
POWELL: I don't know if I did; I don't remember. I 
suppose I talked to Hansena. People did talk to her, 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: This helped. She liked to know what was up. 
MINK: This was her job, after all--to keep her finger 
on the pulse of the university here. 

POWELL: Yes, that's right. And she inspired confidence. 
She is a wonderful gal. So when I went to Berkeley, then, 
to see Sproul a week or so later, he said, "My God, all 
hell's broken loose. All the faculty at UCLA are writing 
me angry letters-- 'Powell' s resigned; why have you let 
this happen?'" He said, "I haven't had such a snowstorm 
of letters since we fired Eric Beecroft." [laughter] I 
said, "Good. That's great." He says, "Well, you've got 
an offer to go back to Northwestern." "Yes, sir." He 


said, "Do you want to go?" I said^ "V/ell, I'd like to 
stay at UCLA. I'd like to come back to UCLA." And he 
said J "But not as junior librarian?" I said, "No, sir. 
Nor as senior librarian." He says, "You want to come 
back as head librarian." "Yes, sir." 
MINK: As a matter of fact that's what he said? 
POWELL: Yes. I said, "That's right." "Well," he said, 
"you've got an awful lot of support, Powell." "Good," 
I said, "the faculty know v;hat they want. It's their 
job; I hope you'll listen to them." He said, "Well, I 
always do. I'd like to take this under advisement; I'd 
like to have a committee of the faculty, a formal com- 
mittee appointed to make a search." 

MINK: Well, had Goodwin already indicated he was going 
to resign by this time? 
POWELL : No . 
MINK: I mean retire. 

POWELL: Yes, in probably another year. 
MINK: I mean, he had served notice then to Sproul that 
he was going to retire. I wouldn't think Sproul would 
appoint a committee, would he? 

POWELL: Well, Goodwin was already over retirement, you 

MINK: Oh, I see. 
POVJELL: He'd been called back because of the war, and it 


was just a matter of another year. I'm sure it was un- 

MINK: He must have been around sixty-seven then. 
POWELL: Yes. So Sproul said, "How long have I?" "VJell," 
I said, "the Northwestern trustees are meeting in another 
three weeks, and I told them I'd give them my answer then." 
He said, "Good. Three weeks it is." So I came back to 
Los Angeles, and my contact then was through Lindley 

MINK: He had already been hired then by President Sproul? 
POWELL: Yes, he'd been hired, and we were good friends. 
We'd come together. 

MINK: He had become disenchanted with the Huntington? 

MINK: How had that come about? 

POWELL: Well, I suppose the same problems that he had 
when he came here. He hated like hell to make a report 
in writing. He hated like hell to do anything formal, 
and they'd pressed him to make formal reports of his ac- 
tivities, and he said, "To hell with it." So they let 
him go. 

MINK: They really let him go; he didn't resign? 
POWELL: No, he didn't resign. And Sproul jumped in and 
hired him. 
MINK: On the condition he wouldn't have to make any 



POWELL: Probably. At any rate, "Pinky" and I had be- 
come acquainted clear back in the thirties through my 
work on Jeffers. Lindley was quite an aficionado of 
California literature. 

MINK: And yet, I suppose, too, at that time he was a 
member of the Zamorano Club, finally. 

POWELL: Yes, I guess he was. I knew him in several as- 
pects, and he told me, "Well, Larry, I once thought I 
would succeed Goodwin and become University Librarian." 
He said, "I realize there's too much work involved. I 
think you'd better do it." He was joking and he said, 
"Now I'm on the committee; Mr. Sproul's appointed me to 
the committee." 

MINK: Was he the outside man? 
POWELL: He was Sproul's man on the committee. He wasn't 


MINK: Well, he'd be outside the faculty. 

POWELL: That's right; he was Sproul's representative 

on the committee. The others were Hustvedt, Westergaard, 

Huberty, Barja and U. S. Grant. And I've told the story 

in my book of how they met and how finally Hustvedt was 

outsmarted by We sty and Powell. And that's how it came. 

Franklyn Snyder of Northwestern was giving me trouble 

because he wanted a decision out of me, and I was holding 


off to get Sproul's v;ord; so for a time I didn't have 
any job. 

MINK: V7ell, this committee then was the committee that 
was to find a new University Librarian. 

MINK: But six months before that, before you became 
Librarian, you were appointed Librarian of the Clark. 
POWELL: Well, the committee recommended only the uni- 
versity librarianship. So I went to Sproul after this 
recommendation had been made, and he said, "Well, I have 
two jobs that I can offer you. The Clark committee has 
met for a year now and hasn't come up with a recommenda- 
tion, so I'm going to act for them. I'm fed up with their 
delay and I'm ready to offer you that position January 
1; or the university librarianship, July 1, 1944. Which 
one would interest you?" And that's when I said, "Both." 
I said, "Put them together." "Oh," he said, "that is an 
idea." And I explained to him the advantages of coordina- 
tion and elimination of duplication. I said, "They need 
to be coordinated by a single person." And he saw it 
immediately and he said, "All right. I have the power 
to do this now. Let's talk about salary." So I agreed 
to start January 1 at the Clark as the Director for $4,000 
a year and July 1 as University Librarian and Director 
of the Clark at $6,000., So that was the way it was 


Then I told Franklyn Snyder of Northv/estern that 
I'd accepted the UCLA job. He said, "Have you got any 
recommendations?" And I said, "Yes, Jens Nyholm, the 
'Great Dane' at Berkeley, would be an excellent person." 
And Snyder made a note of this, and Nyholm got the job 
and held it for twenty years. So I was able to pay my 
little debt to Nyholm of his friendship and interest in 
me by swinging that job to him. 



MINK: Larry, what was Cora Sanders like? 
POWELL: She was a lady. 
MINK: In a real sense. 

POWELL: Yes, in a deep sense she v/as elegant and well- 
bred, kind, discreet, was a wonderful person for VJill[iarn] 
Clark, I know. You see, she was a kind of a social front 
for him. She gave the library that kind of tone and 
quality that no one else could have given it. 
MINK: Do you think that he was a homosexual? 
POWELL: Well, I don't know, Jim; I never knew him. 
MINK: You never met him? 
POWELL: No, I never met him. 

MINK: Well, you know this book that came out. 
POWELL: Yes, Mangam's book. 

MINK: Mangam's book. The Clarks , an American Phenomenon , 
and the story about the fact that he was advised by his 
attorneys to give the library to the university. 
POWELL: Yes, Ed Stressing. 

MINK: This was in order to whitewash what v/as going on 
in his backyard. 

POWELL: Well, this was probably true. He suffered tv7o 
losses--two wives died, one of cancer, one in childbirth-- 


and then his only son was killed in a plane accident. 

And after all these things, I think he turned to drink 

and to young men. But I don't think in the beginning he 

was; I think he was a perfectly normal man that tragedy 

and too much money drove in this direction. But I don't 

know anything about that other than hearsay. And of 

course Miss Sanders was a model of discretion; she never 

gossiped about Will Clark. 

MINK: Did she ever mention this? 

POWELL: No, oh no, and I would never mention it of 


MINK: I see. 

POWELL: You were very careful of what you talked about 

with Cora Sanders, because she was fiercely loyal to 

Will Clark. 

MINK: VJhen did you first meet her? 

POWELL: I first met her in I938 or 1939 when I first 

came to work at UCLA. Jens Nyholm, who was the head cata- 

loger, had never been to the Clark. 

MINK: He'd been here and he'd never been to the Clark? 

POWELL: Well, he'd been here a year or two and had 

never yet gone. And I hadn't been, so he said, "Let's 

go over." So Mr. Goodwin gave us the afternoon off and 

we went over to the Clark. I think our names are probably 


In the guest register there; you can pin it down. Miss 

Sanders greeted us and gave us a tour of the library. 

Now that was the first time I met her. 

MINK: You knew the Clark existed even before you came 

to work, didn't you? 

POWELL: Yes, I knew of it through Jake and the shop and 

Cowan, you see. 
MINK: Of course. 

POVJELL: The librarian, Mr. Cowan, used to come in Jake's, 
and I knew about it. But I didn't know about it as 
Ritchie did; Ward was over there way back in the 1930s. 
He took printing over to Mr. Cowan and to Mr. Clark. 
His name and Gordon Newell' s are in the guest book way 
back about 1934. But, you see, in my work here from 1938 
to 1943 in the Acquisitions Department, I did the biblio- 
graphical checking for Clark orders. All the cards for 
Clark purchases came to the order department and I was 
the checker for them. So, I knew the Clark's intake over 
those years. 

MINK: Were you Impressed? 

POVJELL: I was impressed because the book selection was 
done by two people: Cora Sanders and Sigurd Hustvedt. 
Hustvedt was on the Clark committee, and he and Miss 
Sanders were the chief book orderers. They did marve- 
lously well in building up Restoration drama, in building 


up all the minor figures of the age of Dryden. 
MINK: Were they, at that time, giving attention to Wilde, 
too; were they building the Oscar Wilde collection? 
POWELL: Yes, but not as actively as I did later. No, 
they were concentrating on Dryden because of Hustvedt's 
interest. And I think Miss Sanders felt that they had 
enough of Oscar Wilde, and maybe his and Clark's interests 
were a little too compatible. So when I became director 
of the Clark, we concentrated on Oscar, filling in gaps, 
translations particularly into foreign languages, and 
original material. So by the time I became director 
of the Clark, January 1, 19^^^ I knew the library's hold- 
ings, particularly in recent years. I knew the book- 
dealers, of course, from way back, and I knew sources. 
I was in a good position to carry on this fine program. 
MINK: I suspect the guest book would tell us; but what 
are your recollections of the people who were coming then 
to use the resources of the Clark? Were there distinguished 

POWELL: No, there weren't any; there wasn't anyone com- 
ing, really. 

MINK: It wasn't well used. 

POWELL: No, it wasn't. Miss Sanders, you see, didn't 
encourage its use any more than Clark had--that is, they 


were friendly if someone came, but they never sought 
people to come. In the ten years she was curator ( 193-4-- 
1944) J she still regarded it in the sense that it was 
Mr. Clark's private library. And she had a running feud, 
and properly so, with Grounds and Buildings, particular- 
ly with Mr. [A. E.] Davie, "Deacon" Davie--remember him? 

MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: He was the superintendent of Grounds and Build- 
ings, a rough, hard-shelled construction-foreman type, 
and he wanted to treat the Clark as another piece of 
Grounds and Buildings. She said it cannot be treated 
this way; it has to be treated with care and with ele- 
gance. So she virtually barred the doors to him and 
appealed to President Sproul to keep this roughneck out. 
Well, they would tear up the plumbing, they would tear 
up the brickwork, they would do all kinds of crude things; 
and she fought against this. And she was right, Jim; 
she was right. 

MINK: So then early in 1937 Ralph Cornell came as con- 
sulting landscape architect, and he v;as anything but 


POWELL: They completed the landscaping of the grounds 
that hadn't been finished. He laid out a plan, and they 
spent quite a lot of money on this., Unfortunately, all 


the coast live oaks that he put in the four corners of 
the big lawn eventually died. VJe had to replace those; 
Cornell and I worked together when I became the direc- 
tor. We put a whole new planting scheme in there v/hich 
is operating now. But we owe Miss Sanders and President 
Sproul the credit for holding the line for ten years on 
the Clark, to keep it from being pulled apart, bulldozed 
under. Everybody in the community wanted a piece of it, 
you see. The faculty was pulling and hauling on it; they 
wanted to make it a typographical museum, they wanted 
to make it an Americana collection, and Sproul just sat 
on it for ten years. 

MINK: What did Davie want to do with it? 
POWELL: Well, he didn't want to do anything other than, 
when something went wrong, he wanted to send a crew over 
and do a crude repair job. He didn't realize that it had 
to be maintained on a different scale than campus main- 
tenance. That was the crux of the matter. In other 
words, the marble in the entryway was flaking, it had 
to be treated, and he said, "Oh, we'll just bring a 
spray gun over there and shellac it." And Miss Sanders 
said, "You v;ill not." So she did nothing. And when I 
came, I looked i^nto the m.atter and got an expert on marble 
to come. He said it must be treated with a thin kind of 
rubber glaze to prevent it from temperature change. In 


other words, we brought in specialists; we didn't depend 
on Grounds and Buildings. So she was an invaluable per- 
son, Jim, for those ten years. Anything could have 
happened to the place without her discreet and firm cura- 
torship; and in this President Sproul backed her up. He 
was a great strength, as he was, indeed, later to me. 
MINK: And you say no one was using the Clark Library; 
is this why the Clark Fellowship was established? 
POWELL: Yes, one reason. You see, when I came in in 
19'^'4-, I had a whole notebook full of ideas, things that 
needed to be done. From talking v/ith members of the 
English department, chiefly Edward Hooker, the BryJen 
man, and with Regent Dickson, and with I don't know who 
else, I had ideas of what should be done. I was able 
when I negotiated the position with Sproul to mention 
some of these, and he said, "Well, I want you to meet 
with the committee on the Clark Library and then later 
with the Southern Committee of the Board of Regents and 
outline these things that you want to do. They included 
a fellowship; an annual open house, called Founder's Day; 
a publication, the first ten-year report; and an accelera- 
ted buying program. 

MINK: Well, I suppose the idea behind all this vras to 
make the university community, as well as the community 
at large, more aware of the Clark Library. Is that what 


you had In mind? 

POWELL: That's what I had in mind, and Edv;ard Hooker 
wrote me, or he may have viritten it to the president 
who gave it to me, what he called a "modest memorandum" 
on the Clark Library, which urged that v;e undertake buy- 
ing not of high spots or expensive first editions, but 
of the minutia of the period, the bread and butter books; 
this was Edward's idea, and I took that over. 
MINK: These wouldn't be rare books then? 
POWELL: Not rare books, they would be early books; they 
would be seventeenth century books. 
MINK: I see. 

POWELL: But all of that I call the mulch of the period, 
you see, the ground strata in which literature grew. 
And as a result I began to concentrate more on the chea- 
per material--sermons, pamphlets, and theological works, 
culminating in the year I spent in England, 1950-1951. 
During that year, we bought thousands of books. 
MINK: Yes, 

POV/ELL: Well, Edward Hooker deserves a great deal of 
the credit for this. But of course he v;anted this mater- 
ial for the edition of Dryden; they needed it. The Clark 
had the high points of literature, but it didn't have 
the ground v/orks, and we bought a lot of reference books 
and a lot of common books of the seventeenth century to 


try to make it more useful to scholars. One reason 

scholars didn't come to use it was the books weren't 

there--that iSj the vrorking books of the period--history, 

philosophy, and travel. 

MINK: At this point were there any people in the history 

department or the English department that were holding 

seminars at the Clark? 

POWELL: No, I don't think so. The first seminars that 

I recall being held there were--now wait a minute, Hust- 

vedt may have. And Hooker may have. That was before 

I came. After I came, I began to encourage this more, 

and Clinton Howard was one of the most active users. 

He'd have a class over there every week for years. 

Clinton was one of the first of the faculty to seize upon 

the Clark as a laboratory for students. 

MINK: Yes, you were close to Clinton because Clinton was 

one of those that was always coming into the library. 


POWELL: He and Charlie Mowat . They were inseparable; 

they'd been Rhodes scholars together, or Clinton was 

tne Rhodes scholar, I guess. 

MINPv: Was Clinton instrumental in bringing Mowat here? 

POWELL: I doubt it. He was too young; he didn't have 

enough influence. It was probably Klingberg with his 

interest in Anglo-American humanitarianism.. Well, another 


thing, Clinton lived in Beverly Glen. We v/ere neigh- 
bors in the Glen, and we used to see them there. Well, 
at any rate, a lot of the people who came into the li- 
brary, of the few who came, were visitors. 
MINK: Periodically, you mean? 

POWELL: Yes, well, not entirely--but people sent by 
Regent Dickson, by Ernest Carroll Moore. Both of them 
used to come and bring visitors. It was the thing to 
do (now we have Disneyland). But they used to bring dis- 
tinguished visitors. Sproul did, too. A lot of the time 
of the staff was spent up in showing visitors through, 
rather than users of the library. This gradually changed. 
MINK: When you became librarian of the Clark, was it 
physically inside about as it is now? Was that basement 
room there, for example, being used for a reference li- 

POWELL: Miss Sanders had done that. They installed what 
is said to be the first fluorescent lighting in a public 
building in Los Angeles in that reading room in the raid- 
1930s o The reference collection was downstairs in that 
storage basement. I rearranged the drawing room. I hung 
more pictures. VJe developed some exhibit cabinets and 
storage cabinets, but basically the library is as it was 
in Clark's time. 
MINK: Was the idea of having the reference room downstairs 


to keep people out of the nicer shov/ part of the li- 

POWELL: No, not necessarily; it was to provide work 
tables. You couldn't put work tables up in tne drawing 
room; there just wasn't room for them. It was really 
a matter of common sense, developing an area where you 
could have work room and staff room, all the processing, 
you see. 

I used to consult with the architect, Robert Far- 
quhar who was still living then. He used to come by 
and we'd talk about it. People were pressing me to use 
the drawing room more, not as a reading room, but just 
as a meeting place, talking and so forth. Farquhar 
said, "Well, that's fine; but please don't change it 
architecturally." He said, "it's a beautiful room. 
Please leave it the way it is." And of course we have 
left it. He was sweet; the old gentleman used to come 
by and he said, "Well, of all the buildings I've designed, 
this is still my favorite <> This is the only time in my 
architectural career that I was given an unlimited com- 
mission. Clark said, 'Build me an elegant building and 
damn the cost. ' " 

MINK: Well, most of the materials that v^ent into the 
Clark were imported. 


POWELL: Imported and handmade^ that's right. It cost 
Just short of a million dollars in the mid-twenties. 
And of course it could never be built again. 
MINK: Wellj did you have ideas about hov; to use the 
drawing room? 

POWELL: VJellj I wanted to use it for music and lectures 
and evenings. For example, I held a meeting of the 
Zamorano Club there in the early 1940s. It's a beauti- 
ful room at night. We had some discussion meetings up 
there; we had seminars, of course, in the rare book 
rooms upstairs. But I gradually introduced more and more 
use of the drawing room, and this has been carried out, 
of course, in the seminars that we've held, these invi- 
tational seminars. We had folding chairs that could 
be brought in. But what I was trying to keep it from, 
and Sproul helped me in this, was its unlimited use by 
the community as a meeting place--that is, the Native 
Daughters of the Golden West and the church groups, and 
anybody that wanted to come in and just have a place 
to meet, we were opposed to this. 
MINK: Did you have many requests? 
POV/ELL: V/e had a lot of requests. 
MINK: That presented a hard problem, I imagine. 
POVJELL: I know it did; it was a problem of public rela- 
tions. Sproul and I agreed that we would encourage use 


that was related to the library and its collections and 
its use, and not make it just a meeting room. And v;e 
decided to do the Founder's Day, to have one great big 
smashing elegant open house, once a year, rather than 
a series of open houses. That's how we did that. 
MINK: Now, the Founder's Day was commemorating what? 
POWELL: It was in honor of Will Clark, and we tried to 
hold it on the date that we received--well, it was the 
date of his death, I think, June l4, 193'^* We used to 
hold it in mid-June in honor of Clark. He left the li- 
brary in honor of his father, but we made the Founder's 
Day in honor of him; I worked programs out with Theatre 
Arts, with Music, with Ralph Freud and with Walter Rub- 
samen--those were my henchmen--and we did some elegant 
things: Dryden's All For Love and Oscar's Importance 
of Being Earnest . And in 19'4-9j) remember, v;e did A Live 
Woman in the Mines , Alonzo Delano's wonderful play. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: We did Patience , Gilbert and Sullivan's satire 
on Oscar. I loved working with Ralph Freud, who was a 
great theater man, and with Walter and Robert Nelson in 
the music department; they were seventeenth century buffs 
We had some great times there--Alumni Day, Founder's Day-- 
helping each other. 
MINK: What was Alumni Day? 


POWELL: Well, we held it together v;ith Founder's Day, 
and we had 2,000 people there one year. 
MINK: VJell, what do you mean by Alumni Day? 
POWELL: Well, I don't know, Jim, except that alumni 
were encouraged to come, a homecoming. 
MINK: Oh, you mean alumni of UCLA. 

MINK: What about Goodwin, did he ever manifest any in- 
terest in the Clark at all? 
POWELL: Well, you mean before ray time? 
MINK: Well, after you'd come there to work, if you can 
POWELL : No . 

MINK: Did he ever go down there? 

POWELL: As far as I know, he never came there again. It 
was a strange place to him, and he was out of place at 
the Clark. He didn't understand it. He didn't have any 
feeling for special collections or rare books or special 
problems of research materials. He was embarrassed by it, 
Jim, really. And that's why he never developed a firm 
policy for it; he didn't know. 

MINK: VJell, we know for a fact that when the Cowan col- 
lection vms purchased in 1935--the books--Sproul was un- 
der pressure to put them in the Clark, and Goodwin opposed 


POWELL: Wellj I think he knew that it was a seventeenth- 
century library primarily, and that it was an anachronism 
to put Western Americana there. 

MINK: The Montana collection, which V7as Western Ameri- 
cana in a sense, was there how? 

POI'ffiLL: It was an accident, really; Cowan bought it. 
MINK: He did? I thought it probably belonged to Clark. 
POWELL: No. Clark had no interest in it; he had no in- 
terest in his native state, really. He left them nothing. 
Cowan was a dealer before he became Clark's librarian, 
and he never stopped being a bookseller. He was buying 
and selling all the time on the side, and Charlie Kessler 
of Montana had this collection for sale, as I understand 
it, and Cowan bought it as a good buy. He thought it 
would honor Clark, and there it was. We haven't trans- 
ferred it--have we?--it's still at the Clark„ But it 
wasn't Clark's, it was really Cowan's hobby. Clark wasn't 
interested in the West. His interest was in drama and 

MINK: Well, when you came to work at the Clark as the 
librarian, Cora Sanders had retired; you were really re- 
placing her. 

POWELL: We overlapped a week or two. She stayed on, or 
I came early. I guess I came early in December at her 


MINK: You really weren't to come until the first of 
January . 

POWELL: Yes. But she said come over a week or two 
early and I'll work V7lth you every day, or maybe it was 
the last week in December and the first week in January. 
Anyway, she made every effort to turn over things to 
me. The only bad thing she did, Jim--and I don't know 
this; I'm told this by the staff that was there--she 
went through the files during her last month and de- 
stroyed everything that she thought was irrelevant. 
MINK: She was her own records manager, 
POWELL: Yes, she was her own records manager, and she 
apparently destroyed a great deal of interesting material. 
MINK: Well, Larry, the same accusation has been made 
against you. 

POVreLL: Hah, against me? Good God! 
MINK: Yes, by of all people, Alice Humiston. 
POWELL: What did she say? 

MINK: She said that when you became University Librarian, 
which would have been six months later, that they didn't 
know what you were doing. You were in the office there 
and they knew that cardboard box after cardboard box 
of correspondence came out of the office and went onto 
the trash heap. 
POWELL: Oh, no, that isn't true, Jim! 


MINK: Why don't you set the record straight then? 
POWELL: No, it isn't true. I think Miss Bradstreet 
would be the one to verify this. 

MINK: I think this v/as in relation to our discussions 
that we had about the history of the library--Alice Humi- 
ston and I, you know, worked very closely on this. 
POWELL: Well of course it was my idea that she do it; 
I put her to work on this because she had to have some- 
thing to occupy her. 
MINK: Well, this wasn't true then. 

POWELL: No, it wasn't true. We found very little in 
the way of records in the office. Mr. Goodwin had not 
kept records in depth. I don't know what he had removed. 
I think he removed his personal papers, that came back 
to us later from his widow. But I spent--and Miss Brad- 
street would verify this--the first several weeks going 
through the files. And the chief value of the files was 
the personnel records (he had kept these; he hadn't al- 
tered any of these, and I read through them all), and the 
files on the Library Committee, and certain correspondence 
files. But as far as I remember. . . Lord, that would 
be against all my nature to destroy any records. I wish 
there 'd been more of them! But let me ask this: what 
is in the archives for the Goodwin years? What did I 
turn over? 


MINK: That would bear out what you said; there's very 

little. The question of course is why, and now you've 

cleared this up. I hope you don't mind that I've brought 

this up. 

POWELL: Of course not. 

MINK: We have to understand why things are the way they 


POWELL: That's right; no, I'm not sensitive. I'm slight- 
ly indignant. There must have been some basis for Miss 
Humiston's remarks because she wasn't a dreamer. 

MINK: No. 

POWELL: Brady would probably [know]; I'll ask her 
when I lunch with her this noon. What we probably threw 
out was closets full of furniture and equipment catalogs. 
This was never one of his great interests, and one of the 
great problems of opening this library was to equip it. 
As I remember, he kept every dealer's catalog clear back 
to the 1920s, and there was a closet full of this mis- 
cellaneous out-of-date equipment material. It must have 
been that, and that kind of housecleaning that we did; 
but anything related to the operation, administration, 
and history of the library, good Lord, we pounced on, 
and I read them and we segregated them. 
MINK: Well, v;hen you came to the Clark after that tv;o- 


week interlude with Cora Sanders, v/ho were the other 

members of the staff there at that time? 

POWELL: Well, Mate McCurdy was the head cataloger and 

Mary Louise McVicker was her assistant cataloger. In 

other words, there were two catalogers, and their typist 

was Theresa Forbes. 

MINK: And that was the staff? 

POWELL: No, there was Mrs. Davis. 

MINK: Oh, Boffie. 

POWELL: Yes, who was the reference and order librarian. 

That was the staff. Then there was Bill McKeown who 

was the custodian. 

MINK: He was in no sense then a book restorer. 

POWELL: No, but Miss Sanders was encouraging him. She 

was the one that deserves credit for encouraging him 

to go to night school. She knew some of the books needed 

attention and some cloth cases needed to be made, and 

because she had an interest in handicraft, she encouraged 

Bill McKeown to do this on his own time. 

MINK: Where 'd he go, Frank Wiggins Trade School? 

POV/ELL: He went to Frank Wiggins or one of the night 

high schools in Inglewood where he lived. I just pushed 

this a little farther and gradually made him--I realized 

that it wasn't a full-time custodial job, that he was 


not goofing off, but he had a lot of free time. 
MINK: Well, why would they need a custodian if they 
had the Buildings and Grounds Department? 
POWELL: V/ell, Buildings and Grounds never cleaned the 
building; they came over on special repair jobs. McKeown 
was in charge of dusting and sweeping and window washing, 
that kind of thing, that Mylan does now. So I gradually 
got Bill McKeown to do more of this, and it led even- 
tually to establishing the shop out in the carriage 
house. We made that the bindery for about ten years; 
then he worked on backlog. Eventually he was full-time 
binding, and we had a replacement custodian. 
MINK: I never thought that he was very imaginative in 
his repair work. 

POWELL: He wasn't at all; he was a routine, and he had 
to be watched very closely or he'd be downright destruc- 
tiveo He didn't appreciate original condition, but we 
were very careful with him„ VJell, now, the staff, you 
mentioned--Bill Conway was a member of the staff on 
war leave. He was in the army in Europe, and I corres- 
ponded with him as soon as I became director. He wrote 
me and said he was coming back, would there still be a 
place for him. And I said, "indeed there will. There'll 
be a place for you, and you'll get your salary increases 
that you would have gotten if you'd been here." He came 


back; and then we were overloaded v/ith catalogers. I 
think we transferred Mary Louise McVicker out. She 
didn't have the seniority. Mate McCurdy stayed, and she 
ana Bill were there for a time. 
MINK: Mary Louise came back to UCLA? 

POWELL: Yes. Eventually Mate McCurdy came back here 
when Bill Conway came, and then Archer. You see, I 
brought [H. Richard] Archer in on July 1, 19'4-4. 
MINK: Where did you dig him up? 

POWELL: Well, I dug Archer up off Sixth Street. He'd 
been at the College Book Company up from Jake's when 
I was at Jake's, and we knew each other as fellow book- 
sellers. He'd gone back to library school, following 
my example, the same way Everett Moore did. He was 
then at Cal finishing; he had to go back and get his 
A. B„ He did two years for his A. B., and then he did 
three years during the early 19-^03, working part time 
in the student bookstore at Cal. And I needed a bookman. 
I needed somebody with book knowledge and an interest in 
printing and bibliography and book knowledge, and he 
developed this very strongly at Cal. In the library 
school he was the president of the Book Arts Club. He 
seemed to be just the person I needed. 
MINK: Did you tell him that if he came to work there 


he would have to get his Ph.D.? 

POWELL: He was working on it. I guess I got him from 

Chicago, actually. He had finished at Berkeley and had 

gone to Chicago and was working on his Ph.D., and our 

agreement was that he would complete this. 

MII^: Did the Clark committee feel that there should 

be someone with a Ph.D. there? 

POWELL: Yes. I think the feeling of Hooker and Hustvedt 

was that there should be someone with research experience 
in addition to myself. 

MINK: Well, now there's something I can't understand 
here. I assume that your idea was ultimately that 
Archer would take over the Clark Library and be the di- 
rector, and yet you had argued with Sproul that. . . 
POWELL: No, Jim, that was never my understanding. I 
wasn't going to be superceded by Archer or by anyone. 
As long as I was there I was going to be director. Where 
did you get that idea? 

MINK: Well, then why would it be necessary that there 
be two with a Ph.D.? Why would Archer have to have a 


POWELL: He would be the one that would be working daily 
with scholars. You see, I was there once a week, and I 
think they wanted someone in the situation. . . 


MINK: Right there. 

POWELL: Yes, right there. I didn't train him to succeed 
rae--my God, no! 

MINK: Well, were you satisfied with Archer's perfor- 

POWELL: I was in the beginning, yes; he was eminently 
satisfactory in the beginning, because he established a 
number of the routines there in processing, in biblio- 
graphical checking, in buying, and in catalog searching. 
He was a wonderful catalog searcher and orderer, and he 
brought an interest in the graphic arts and printing that 
had been one of Clark's major interests, but which none 
of the English department had ever shown or have shown. 
MINK: While we're talking about this five-year period 
up to the time that you went to Britain, is it true that 
when you went to England in 1950-1951 you came back and 
found that he'd spent the entire Clark budget on graphic 

POWELL: No, no! Jim, that isn't true. 
MINK: We're exploding a lot of myths today o 
POWELL: Yes. No, he hadn't had any money to spend that 
year, really; the money was all placed at my disposal. 
I spent it in England, and I spent some of it on graphic 
arts. But, no. Archer never did that. He had his hands 
full checking lists and offers that I sent back. And I 


bought I don't know how many--I must have spent up to 
$50,000 that year. I overspent. Sproul covered this 
and gave me more money. 

MINK: You were spending it on what you called the "mulch." 
POWELL: That's right. The Harmsworth books of theology, 
and all kinds of seventeenth-century material; but I 
did start the Eric Gill collection that year. I bought 
some original Gill' s--blocks and books. 
MINK: Were you Interested in Gill, or what made you 
think that this was something that ought to be at the 

POWELL: Well, first of all, we started collecting Golden 
Cockerel Press seventeenth-century reprints. They'd 
done some seventeenth-century texts in modern, and we 
saw Gill's work illustrating some of these books. I 
don't know, Jim; I think it was just my flair and feel- 
ing which Archer supported. 
MINK: Was he interested in Gill? 

POWELL: He was interested. He was a very able and good 
assistant in those first years. We had an excellent 
working relationship. And of course the planning of the 
first underground annex was carried on in those years 
after he came, because he sav; right away that v;e needed 
more space. Bill Jackson had come out as a consultant. 


Informally, and advised us to go underground, and the 
year I was in Britain, Archer and Mrs. Davis and Mrs. 
McCurdy--if she was still there then--had the respon- 
sibility for building this. Construction work was car- 
ried out while I was abroad. What else do we want to 

MINK: I wonder if you would say something about the 
Harding collection, which came I think about that time 
in 1950--isn't that right? 
POWELL: Harding? 
MINK: The pamphlets.. 

POWELL: Oh, yes; no, those came earlier. 
MINK: Earlier? 

POWELL: Those came in the early 1940s when I was still 
out here at UCLA. 

MINK: Oh, is that when that began? 

POWELL: I can't remember who was responsible for that 
purchase; it was some professor that was abroad who wrote 
to Goodwin and said Unionist Library was bombed out or 
had to be moved and Harding, the bookseller, had the 
responsibility for selling it. It was not only pamphlets, 
but it was bound books, thousands of them; and we bought 
the thing for some ridiculous sura. 
MINK: That would be a matter of records. 
POVJELL: It v/as some ridiculous sum. It was delivered 


and it was covered with soot and dirt. I accessioned 
it out here, but that came much before the Clark period. 
MINK: Hov; did the faculty buy the idea of graphic arts 
at the Clark? VJere you criticized for this? 
POWELL: Not to my face. I was probably criticized for 
everything behind my back. This is always the way. 
MINK: Yes. [laughter] 

POWELL: But I have a thick back and I never paid any 
attention. I went ahead and did what I thought was pro- 
per. I was following Clark's interest in this; he'd 
been tremendously interested as one of the patrons of 
John Henry Nash and as a collector of Kelmscott and Doves. 
And I concentrated, of course, on local Southern Cali- 
fornia printing. I was the first librarian, I think, 
here, that developed a strong regional collection of 
printers. And to spark this I gave the library my own 
Ward Ritchie collection, which is now priceless and ir- 
replaceable because it has all of the so-called Ritchie 
incunabula--everything that he did when he was learning 
to print that I collected. 

MINK: V/ell, I was thinking particularly of the Ritchie 
collection, that perhaps some of the faculty might have 
felt that this was sort of perpetrating the buddy system? 
POVfELL: Well, sure, but he was also a great printer. 
MINK: But I wonder at that time whether he v;as recognized 


as such? 

POWELL: Wellj no, great printers rarely are in their 
time, when they're actually producing. It's posterity 
that hails them. But I knew Ritchie was good and was 
important, was a leading figure here in graphic arts, 
as he has panned out to be of course. The buddy system 
meant that I had this marvelous opportunity to collect 
his fugitive material, which otherwise would have been 
lost--the pamphlets and the very early, privately prin- 
ted books. And of course I gave these to the Clark Li- 
brary, and Ritchie continued the gifts; he has never 
cost the library anything. 

Most of the local printers' materials were dona- 
tions. So we spent very little, actually, on local. Saul 
Marks, Will Cheney, Grant Dahlstrom, Richard Hoffman, 
Gordon Holmquist and Merle Armitage--that v/hole collec- 
tion was a gift. The money we spent was on completing 
earlier collections--Golden Cockerel and Nonesuch. I 
never collected Grabhorn Press because the Huntington 
was so strong, but we were given many Grabhorn imprints. 
We have the Indianapolis Grabhorn imprints because Charlie 
Rush, v;hen he retired at University of North Carolina, 
knew that I was interested in printing. And v;hen I v;as 
visiting him at Chapel Kill, he said, "Wouldn't you like 
these." He had been the librarian of the Indianapolis 


Public Library when the Grabhorns were there. And he 
gave us these priceless Indianapolis Grabhorns. So 1 
did a lot of receipting for gifts in those early years. 
MINK: There had been, I assume very little in the way 
of gifts to the Clark in this period? 
POWELL: Little or none. 

MINK: Or is the area so offbeat that as far as what 
the resources of private collections would be in Southern 
California would be limited? 
POWELL: Very limited. That's right. 
MINK: Well, you started at the Clark on the first of 
January of 19^^, and you started as University Librarian 
on the first of July of 19^4. Here you were working at 
the Clark, going there every day, and all of a sudden 
you had this much bigger responsibility and you couldn't 
go down there, how did you feel about that? 
POWELL: Well, I don't think that troubled me particu- 
larly. I had Archer coming and Mrs. Davis had been there 
and Mrs. McCurdy, and they were very capable of carrying 
on, indeed as Mrs. Davis has proved to be all these years, 
Weil, Conway must have come back about that time in 19'^5j 
maybe six months later. And I went once a week. I v/ent 
over traditionally on Wednesdays, went to the Zaraorano 
Club lunch, visited the bookstores. I felt it was a 
natural step to take and that I could handle both jobs. 


MINK: Well^ actually, I suppose that this job as Uni- 
versity Librarian at that point wasn't the job that it 
is today. 

POWELL: No, the library was much smaller. The v/ar was 
not yet over, and the campus population v;as down, and 
it was more like a large college library. The staff was 
small. I was young, Jim, and I had all kinds of energy 
and ideas, and I wasn't troubled by the split assignment 
at all. In fact, I thought this was great o 
MINK: Well, now the staff here--what did you think about 
them? Was there anybody in particular you thought ought 
to go, or did you think that generally it was a pretty 
good staff? 

POWELL: Well, I respected the staff. I'd known themj 
I'd been one of them for five years, whatever it was. 
But the one I thought should have gone--v;ho has gone-- 
was Mrs. Trout. She transferred to San Diego to the 
Navy Electronics Library to finish out her twenty years 
service; then she could retire. And that left this open- 
ing that I filled with Bob Vosper. Miss Bradstreet, Mr. 
Goodwin's secretary, had come over to see me at the Clark. 
MINK: Oh, she was Mr. Goodwin's secretary? 
POWELL: She had been for six months only. 
MINK: But you hired her. 
POWELL: No, no. 


MINK: No? 

POWELL: Miss Coldren had hired her; she was the assis- 
tant in the Reference Department, the clerical assistant, 
and then she transferred to Mr. Goodwin's office. And 
she was half time his secretary and half time Mrs. Trout's 
accountant for keeping the book fund straight. In fact, 
there 'd never been a full-time position in the Librarian's 
office. There 'd been a split appointment with Order De- 
partment and Librarian's office. And I told Miss Brad- 
street when she came over for interview--and this inter- 
view was arranged by an invaluable person to me. It 
was Mildred Foreman, the personnel officer. She and I'd 
been classmates at Occidental. (Here was the buddy sys- 
tem again, Jim.) We knew each other well, and Miss Fore- 
man kept sending me tips that Miss Bradstreet would be 
the ideal person and wanted to work for me and would I 
interview her. And then she came over to see me. In- 
cidentally, she came to be interviewed on the same day 
that Bob Vosper came down from Stanford. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: That was an interesting conjunction, the three 
of us that day in the spring of 19'^4. So I told Miss 
Bradstreet I wanted her full time as my secretary. I 
needed a full-time secretary, and moreover, I thought 
we'd need student help for her. I saw the office expanding. 


and this pleased her. And of course Vosper then would 
have a secretary full time of his own. This pleased 
him; neither of us wanted to share a person. We saw 
that it would be impossible with the load v;e v/ould have. 
MINK: This brings up a question: you were telling me 
last week about going to see Sproul, saying, "I'll take 
this Northwestern appointment unless you do something for 
me," In accepting the appointment and combining the 
two into one job. . . 

POWELL: All right, Jim, you're sneaking up on me now. 
Go on. 

MINK: Did you make any demands on him as far as extra 
personnel was concerned? 

POWELL: Oh, I'm sure I did; I'm sure I said that I would 
need them. Yes, I did. I said I would need to expand 
this half-time position to full time. He said, "Well, 
we'll work this out; this '11 work out." I didn't make 
any enormous demands on him; I told him I was going to 
replace Mrs. Trout. But Sproul wasn't interested in the 
details of thiSo He knew that I would need a little more 
help, and he said sure and I had no problem there. 
MINK: Now sort of a general university question: could 
you tell me, if you can, did you sense what his attitude 
toward UCLA was at that time? Do you think he thought 
it was just still a boondocks type operation? 


POWELL: No, I don't think he did, and I never had the 
feeling that he was looking down his nose at this cam- 
pus. No. 

MINK: Too many people have, you know. 
POWELL: I don't think that's right; I think he wanted 
the place to grow. Well, I know he did, because he gave 
me the support that I needed to make the library grow. 
He never boggled at this, or said, "Look, Berkeley's 
going to have the big cut, and you'll take what's left." 
No, I had the feeling always in dealing with Sproul that 
he was statewide In his vision. 

I apologized I think, one of the times I went in 
and said I wanted some more money for something. He 
said, "Don't apologize, Larry. If you don't ask for 
it, who will?" He said, "I employed you to tell me what 
you need. If you can justify it and make a good case, 
I'll give it to you. But," he said, "make damn sure 
you make a good case. I won't give you a blank check." 
So everything I asked for I prepared carefully; he 
taught me to document whatever I wanted. And I suppose 
I overdocumented. I used to come in with masses of paper 
and stuff. He said, "Well, you say it's good; is it a 
good buy? Will this enrich the library?" "Yes, sir." 
"All right, here's the money." He was very good to me 
that way. 


MINK: Did he ever turn you dovm? 

POWELL: No J he never turned me down. He stalled some- 
times. He took longer than I liked him to, "but he never 
turned me down. 

MINK: Would you say that he was an easy man to reach? 
POWELL: He was for me, because Hansena liked me appar- 
ently. Miss Frederickson always helped me as did Miss 
Robb, his secretary at Berkeley. 

MINK: Well, would you say that things piled up on his 
desk, oh, for months, and you didn't get any action on 


POWELL: I'm sure this is true of some departments; hut 
I don't believe I found this true. I think that I got 
action from him. The only delay that I remember, really, 
that annoyed me and kept me hung up was when we asked 
that Neal Harlow be raised from head of Special Collec- 
tions to assistant librarian. 

MINK: Would that be the first assistant librarian that 
you had? 

POWELL: No, it was the second; Vosper was the first. 
I needed this other one, and Sproul didn't reply to me. 
And it came up to 1950 or 1951. We were opening and 
dedicating Special Collections with those speakers and 
others that were here, and I wanted to announce that day 
that Neal Harlow would be assistant librarian and Andy 


Horn would be head of Special Collections. And I didn't 
have any reply. Sproul had told me orally on a visit 
to Berkeley that this would be OK, but I didn't have the 
paperwork on It. 

MINK: Would this have been a regental appointment? 
Would he have had to take this to the regents? 
POWELL: I suppose so. But I didn't have the paper on 
It and I was reluctant, and I called Miss Robb at Berke- 
ley and I said, "The president told me this was OK, but 
I haven't had the transfer of funds form approval." 
She said, "Well, he's got It with him and he's on vaca- 
tion." I said, "Well, where Is he?" She said, "He's 
at Echo Lake" (up by Lake Tahoe, where he has his cabin). 
And I said, "Well, I've got to reach him, because I must 
announce this now and I must have his final approval 
before I do." She said, "Well, you call him at your 
peril, but here's his number." So I telephoned him at 
Echo Lake and got him out of the hammock. "Larry, haven't 
you gotten that notice?" He said, "I told them to put 
it through two weeks ago! Of course," he said, "I ap- 
proved It. Go ahead, yes, announce It." He said, "You'll 
have the paperwork on It." Bang! He hung up! And so 
I did; that was enough for me. But I was alv/ays very 
nervous when I didn't have approval In v/rltlng of any- 
thing. But he never went back on his v;ord and he had 


a memory as long as a horse, or Is it an elephant. 
MINK: Well, one other question here: you told me in 
1961. . . 

POWELL: You've got a memory like an elephant! 
MINK: . . .when you were turning over records to the 
University Archives, the records of your administra- 
tion. . o 

POWELL: You mean everything I hadn't burned? 
MINK: . . .you told me that Goodwin didn't speak to 
you for six months after you were appointed as the Uni- 
versity Librarian. 

POWELL: Oh, six months--probably longer than that. I 
don't remember when it was that we made it up. 
MINK: Well, what was the hang-up? 

POWELL: Well, he didn't approve of my appointment. 
MINK: Why? 

POWELL: Well, I was an upstart. I'd had no experience. 
I suppose that was the excuse. But it was less personal 
than professional. I think he thought, and probably he 
was right, that I was totally inexperienced administra- 
tively. It was a risky appointment, and it was more or 
less done over his head. This is, the faculty committee 
had not consulted him. 
MINK: Did he want to name his successor? 


POWELL: No, he'd had this tragedy, you see; he never 
took any steps to name anyone. He'd had Jens Nyholm 
here, and he could have made Nyholm the assistant li- 
brarian, and it would have assured his succession to 
Goodwin, inevitably. That's why Jens left and went to 
Berkeley, because Goodwin wouldn't promote him from head 
cataloger to assistant librarian. 

MINK: Had Nyholm worked on Goodv/in to try to get him 
to do it? 

POWELL: He asked him. Before he left, he said, "Is 
there a future for me here as assistant librarian?" Good- 
win said, "Well, I don't see it." Nyholm said, "Well, 
I'm leaving." It was, I think, an inability to face the 
fact that he had to be succeeded and to take the neces- 
sary step. He had worked so long with this group of 
women--Miss Coldren, Mrs. Trout, and Miss Bryan--that 
was his administrative hierarchy, and he couldn't en- 
vision changing it. And I think it was that which kept 
him from it. 

MINK: Well, certainly Miss Coldren was a capable person. 

MINK: She was a fine reference librarian, I suppose. 
POWELL: She was tops. 

MINK: Ultimately she married Goodv/in. 


MINK: Would you consider Elizabeth Bryan as a good 

POWELL: No, I don't think so; I think the place outgrev; 
her. She may have been in the beginning, but it became 
too much for her. She became more crotchety and more 
prejudiced, and she favored people and she was not an 
objective administrator. Miss Coldren was infinitely 

MINK: And yet Miss Bryan was head of the circulation 
department in a far more distinguished library than UCLA, 
at Urbana. 

POWELL: Urbana, yes. Well, maybe this was her prime. 
Maybe those were her best years. I don't know. But be- 
tween the two of them. Miss Coldren was by far the bet- 
ter; and the staff she built, of course, was a testimony 
to this. 

MINK: Tell me, who would you say for examples were good 
selections on the part of Fanny Coldren? 
POWELL: Well, Hilda Gray was certainly tops and Gladys 
Coryell. Ardis Lodge, Esther Euler. 
MINK: All those people viere employed by her. 
POWELL: That's right. 

MINK: Some of them of course while you were here. 
POV/ELL: No, I think they were all here before I came. 
MINK: They were all here in 1938. 


POWELL: Yes^ they'd all come in the early thirties. 
MINK: I see. 

POWELL: And in the Catalog Department there was Sadie 
McMurry; she was head classifier. 

MINK: Yes, except that she wouldn't have a responsibility 
for hiring people in the Catalog Department. 
POWELL: No, that's rights Philip Goulding hired her; and 
he was apparently an outstanding person. Goodv^in, I be- 
lieve, had brought him from the Huntington Library. 
MINK: You didn't know Philip Goulding? 
POWELL: No, he died while I was in library school; he 
died in I936 or 1937, but he built up that staff of Sadie 
McMurry, who was a very bright person; Alice Humiston, 
who was certainly good in her time. But we didn't fin- 
ish on Goodwin, how we made up our differences. 
MINK: Yes, well, go ahead. 

POWELL: Well, it came about I think through Sydney Mit- 

MINK: Was Mitchell aware of this? 

POWELL: Yes, of course; he knew it from me and he knew 
it from Goodwin. He was friend to us both. He was Good- 
win's oldest friend, actually. They went to library 
school together. 

MINK: Well, then you're making your assumption, basing 
it on what Goodwin told Mitchell, that it was more 


profession, really, than It was personal. 
POWELL: Well, I don't know, Jim. I don't knov; v/hether 
Mitchell ever said this. I think this was just my as- 
sumption. I think it all came about this way: I had 
arranged through Dr. Bird of Occidental to give Sydney 
Mitchell an honorary doctorate. This was my finagling. 
MINK: At Oxy? 

POWELL: At Oxy. When Mitchell v/as retiring, or near 
that time, he and Mrs. Mitchell had come down. We put 
them up in the motel over at Beverly Glen and VJilshire, 
and I think I gave a luncheon in his honor. Sproul at- 
tended, Westergaard, Jean Hersholt--and at Mitchell's 
suggestion I asked Mro Goodwin. And Mitchell said, "He 
certainly won't turn you down when I'm the guest of honor." 
So I asked Mr. Goodwin if he would come to this lunch 
which I gave in Westwood, and he did; he accepted. He 
was gentle and friendly; and we smiled at each other 
and shook hands and sat at the table. Sproul was genial, 
and Mitchell was animated, and Jean Hersholt told wonder- 
ful stories. I don't know v;ho else was there; maybe Bob 
Vosper was there, because I tried to include him in all 
the things that I did. This must have been in 19'^5 or 
19^6. We were then building the east v/ing of the library. 
It was partly built, and I said to Mr. Goodv/in, "Would 
you like to see the east wing?" And he said, "I'd love 


to." So as I remember J we came back to campus together, 
and we walked through the unfinished east wing in v/hich 
we are novi sitting. Every square foot of it v;e covered, 
and he was full of great interest. 
MINK: This would be his bag. 

POWELL: That's right; this was his bag. And I think 
I might have asked Neal Harlow to join us, v;ho was in 
charge of the building construction. We walked through 
it; I remember the plaster was wet and some fell on Mr. 
Goodwin's forehead, and I took my handkerchief and wiped 
the wet plaster off his dome. [laughter] So Goodwin, 
you see, was in his element; he was very pleased. He 
said, "Yes, this is good; this is the way I foresaw it." 
I saw him one other time. That was when he and Fanny 
Alice announced their engagement. 
MINK: Fanny Alice Coldren? 

POWELL: YeSo Fay and I were then living in Westergaard ' s 
house, while he was in Denmark. Fay and I gave a recep- 
tion to the library staff and faculty in honor of them. 
They were either newly married to going to be married. 
We had a beautiful corsage for Fanny Alice, and a bou- 
tonniere for Mr. Goodwin » And we had a lot of his facul- 
ty friends there--Burton Varney and Frank Klingberg from 
across the street--and it was a very happy occasion as 
I remember it. 


MINK: Now this would have been after the luncheon. 
POWELL: Yes, this v/as after the luncheon. Then they 
were married^ and I don't know how much longer Mr. Good- 
win lived. 
MINK: Not much. 

POWELL: No. And the next time I saw him, I guess, it 
was at the funeral for him over here at Kingsley and 
Gates o But I'm awfully glad, Jim, that v;e had this re- 
conciliation. I guess Miss Bradstreet was terribly pleased, 
and Hilda Gray, and the old-timers. Everybody was happy. 
He realized by then that the library wasn't going to 
hell and damnation, that I hadn't fired anyone. 
MINK: Well, were these his fears, do you think? 
POWELL: Oh, I'm sure that the whole staff felt that 
there was going to be a shake-up, and Powell's going to 
take vengeance on some people who didn't bear the guns 
for him. 

MINK: Well, Larry, you know you gave us that impression 
when Mr. Vosper came. [laughter] 

POWELL: I gave the impression that what would happen? 
MINK: Well, that things might be different. 
POWELL: When he came, he came in 19^-^. 
MINK: No, when he became University Librarian. 
POWELL: Oh, you mean he gave that impression, 
MINK: No, you gave me that impression. 


MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: Well, it wasn't true was it? 
MINK: No. 

POWELL: No, he kept them, and he's kept now most of 
the team that we had. 

MINK: I think the only people that he eliminated were 
Bradstreet and Rosenberg. 

POWELL: Yes, well that was proper too, I think. 
MINK: Why? 

POWELL: Well, they were of special use in relationship 
to me and you couldn't transfer that very personal rela- 
tionship, personal-professional, that operated between 
us. And of course I wanted Betty. Well now, he didn't 
turn her out; I took Betty into the library school. 
MINK: You wanted her? 

POWELL: Yes, and she worked for him part time. Of course, 
Brady left out and out. Well, this is always a shaky 
period--isn' t it?--in a change of administration. 
MINK: It's a transition. 

POWELL: Yes, a transition; there's gossip, there's ru- 
mor, and it's a shaky time. 

MINK: So I can imagine that the staff probably felt this 
way about Goodwin. 
POWELL: They were loyal to him and they had no reason 


to be loyal to me. I had to win their loyalty. 
MINK: Exactly what was it about Miss Bryan that ulti- 
mately ledj, speaking about loyalty, to her having to 
choose between retirement and becoming librarian of the 
University Elementary School? She's dead nov;. 
POWELL: She's dead, bless her. We were incompatible, 
you see, because in my years here as a junior librarian, 
she sensed--she had women's prescience--that 1 was going 
to rise up here, and she didn't want this to happen. I 
don't know what she wanted to happen. But at any rate, 
she was nervous. And Deborah King's star was rising. 
She was head of the Reserve Book Room. And I found 
that all the general assistance funds--student wages 
and all--were administered by Miss Bryan. 
MINK: That's a very strange way of doing things, isn't 

POWELL: Well, it was a working thing between her and 
Goodwin. It worked for them, but I thought all the 
general assistance money should be operated out of the 
Librarian's office; because the way it was the other 
department heads complained to me that Miss Bryan was 
taking it alio In other words. Catalog and Reference, 
Miss Coldren was unhappy about this. Vosper said, "Look, 
I haven't any student money. It's all going to Miss 
Bryan." I said, "Of course it's going there; she 


administers it." So I simply said to Kiss Bradstreet, 
"Look, we're going to take this over and administer it." 
And Miss Bryan fought like a steer--no, not a steer, 
a heifer-- [laughter] against this, naturally. This 
was cutting down on her empire, and I think that's v/here 
she began to buck and resist. 

And I didn't approve of some of her staff. There 
was Helene O'Brien, remember? She was the blonde v/ith 
the hair piled on top of her head. She was classified 
as a librarian, senior grade, and as far as I could make 
out, she did absolutely nothing. She was a real goofer- 
offer. I think I suggested to Miss Bryan that she be 
transferred or counseled out, and Miss Bryan opposed 
thiSo But I found that there was great slack of adminis- 
tration within her department, which was verified by 
things that were reported to me. Oh, I wanted monthly 
reports from department heads, and Miss Bryan didn't 
want to make one. So it was a series of things; and I 
felt we were going to have to replace her and promote 
the most efficient person that I saw in the circulation 
field--that was Deborah King--to be head of the depart- 

MINK: Did you talk to Debbie about this in advance? 
POWELL: I don't remember, Jim. I suppose I did. I sup- 
pose I felt her out: did she want to do this? would she 


take it over? 
MINK: Of course she did. 

POWELL: Yes. She wrote me a whole series of memos 
when I was working at the Clark that six months, and 
they must be in the archives. I don't think I ever 
destroyed them. Debbie wrote me typical memos from 
King. Remember how she used to pound them out on the 
typewriter--of her plan for enlarging the library, that 
is, the physical enlargement of the library and all 
kinds of ideas she had for extension., I listened; I 
received them and listened to her because she'd been 
here from the beginning. She had a good head. And of 
course she and Neal Harlow planned the building expan- 
sion together. Those two were in charge of it. So I 
suppose I simply told Miss Bryan, "Here it is; I'm going 
to relieve you as head of this department, because I 
think that it's too big for you now, and I don't feel 
you have proper control over your employees or the use 
of them. You can either retire or take this lesser de- 
manding job in the UES." Then of course all hell broke 
loose. She appealed this and went to Mrs. Sproul and to 
faculty v;omen, and she did all kinds of things to block 
this. But I cleared it with Sproul beforehand. (I guess 
Sproul or Dykstra. Dykstra was probably here by then.) 
Anyway, I had clearance all the way. 


MINK: Dyke was here Toy then. 

POWELL: Dyke was here. We ought to talk about him, 
Jim. He and I had gotten along very well. But that 
was really the most unpleasant top-level experience I 
had in all my years here. 

MINK: Let's talk about something more interesting. 
When you came, where did you think the big gaps were 
in collections as you had seen them? You certainly v/ere 
at a good vantage point to look at the collection, be- 
ing in the Order Department. What did you think as 
University Librarian you would want to build? 
POWELL: I don't know; there were gaps everywhere, Jim. 
The sets--the want list that Goodwin and Trout had pre- 
pared--our learned society publications was far from 
completed; I thought that must be continued. The British 
Empire collection, the Pacific, the folklore (Wayland 
Hand was coming on). I think Vesper's earlier reports, 
his early acquisitive notes, would indicate the things 
that we were concentrating on. 

MINK: Those were the things you were concentrating on, 
what about the things that were not here, but should have 
been here? 

POWELL: Oh, gosh, I don't kjnow, Jim. History of science, 
American lit, certainly, bibliography. Jim, I'd have 
to go back in my memory on that. It seemed to bust out 


in everything. We needed everything and more of every- 

thing--Continental publications, the wartime gaps we 

had to fill, you see--the money that Sproul gave me for 



OCTOBER 21, 1969 

MINK: Well, Larry, you probably have heard that recent- 
ly John and La Ree Caughey formed a foundation--the John 
and La Ree Caughey Found at ion --and have given the li- 
brary $5000 for the collection of material on the loyal- 
ty oath. I think I mentioned this to you some time past, 
and at that time you gave me orally some of your recol- 
lections of your involvement with the loyalty oath. I 
wonder if now you would try to summarize some of the 
things in which you were involved at that time. 
POWELL: Yes, I became involved by a direct approach 
to me from Regent Dickson. He called me at home one 
Sunday and said, "Larry, I'm getting a group of faculty 
together who are going to take a page advertisement in 
the Los Angeles Times in support of the regents' posi- 
tion on the loyalty oath, and I'd like to include your 

name . " 

Well, this put me in a difficult position, because 
I was opposed to this special oath, and yet I was a 
friend and in a sense a proteg^ofMr. Dickson. Well I 
hemmed and hawed for a m.oment, and he pressed hard and 
he said, "VJell, you'd better knov: that it's going to 
go hard with those who don't sign." And then he said. 


"I think you have a responsibility as an administrator 
of the library not to take any position v;hich v/ill jeo- 
pardize the recommendation in your budget." 
MINK: You might say that was a little blackmail. 
POWELL: Yes. Well, that was politics, and Mr. Dickson 
understood them. He brought pressure v/here he thought 
he could get results. I said, "Well, I'd rather not 
do this. My private feelings are that we don't need a 
special oath; we already have an oath to support the 
Constitution as state employees; we don't need a special 
oath for the university. And I don't want to take a 
position in this as an administrator; I want my staff 
to feel that I'm not coercing them one way or the other." 
"Well," he said, "I'm warning you." I gathered my for- 
ces and said, "Well, I just can't do it." "Very well," 
he said. 

As I remember the chronology, Jim, I called a staff 
meeting that week, I think, after that Sunday, and it was 
over here in the Physics Building; do you remember that 
by any chance? 

MINK: I wasn't here at that point. 
POWELL: Nineteen fifty, I guess. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: We had a staff meeting. I can't remember who 
spoke at it, but I think some member of the faculty that 


I Invited to speak. It may have been John Caughey. 
MINK: The record will show. 

POWELL: Yes, the record v;ill show that. There was 
some kind of a meeting, and I don't know if I told them 
of the pressure on me by Mr. Dickson--! don't think I 
did--but I said that my position was difficult because 
I didn't want to jeopardize the library program by tak- 
ing a militant stand. My main concern was the expan- 
sion of the library. Therefore, what I was going to do 
personally, I was going to sign the special oath and 
accompany that with a letter to the regents that I was 
signing it under protest. I wanted to go on record; I 
was going to, in other words, walk the fence. But I 
told the staff, as I recall, that "you're free to do 
whatever you have to do in your own intellectual hones- 
ty, and I don't expect any of you to take one position 
or another; you're absolutely free." But I said, "Those 
of you who don't wish to sign the oath and won't sign 
it at all, I'll protect your position as long as I can. 
I'll attempt to keep you on the payroll by one means 
or another up to the last ditch; so go ahead and do 
what you have to do." 

MINK: Larry, I suppose the record will also indicate 
that there was one that I know of, and there may have 
been others, who did not sign. Edwin Carpenter for 


one did not. 

POWELL: Ed Carpenter, that's right. 
MINK: Do you have any comment to make about this? 
POWELL: Well, I think it was a tragedy to lose Ed Car- 
penter because he's one of the best Calif orniana biblio- 
graphers that we have. 

MINK: Did you have occasion to discuss this with him 
at all? 

POWELL: I don't remember; I just don't remember. Ed 
would of course. Ed would not only kjnow the time and 
the place but what necktie we were wearing, what we had 
for lunch, and if he had one or two bowel movements-- 
the crazy bastard and his journal that ne keeps! You 
say the record will show--I don't know what record there 
is of that staff meeting. We didn't have one. 
MINK: No, I mean the record would show who didn't sign 
and who did sign. 

POWELL: Yes, that's right. I just don't know what hap- 

MINK: There were no other members of the staff who did 
not sign? 

POWELL: No, I don't think so. 
MINK: You don't know, actually. 

POWELL: I think they all went along. And I don't know 
how many of them did as I did--signed under protest. But 


I think a great number of them did. V/ell, the conclu- 
sion of this is that Mr. Dickson did not press against 
me in the library because I didn't lend my name. And 
incidentally, the ad did appear. You may remember it; 
and among the signers certainly was Dean [L. Dale] Coff- 
man of the Law School, and I think maybe Charles Titus 
of Political Science. 1 don't know who else. I don't 
remember whether Gustave Arlt did or not. He was very 
close to Dickson; he may well have lent his name. Arlt 
could move about among principles rather nimbly for the 
certain time. Dickson did not penalize us, me or the 
library, for my stand in refusing to lend my name to 
the ad. He never referred to it again and our relation- 
ships were increasingly cordial from then on. In other 
words, he respected my position. He wasn't a complete 
politician; he also had integrity. Well, I suppose I 
was a damn fool to do this, but I tried to effect a 
compromise between Dickson and John Caughey. 
MINK: You did? 

POWELL: Yes. I didn't realize hov; strong Caughey' s 
principles were. Mr. Dickson suggested that the three 
of us meet and try to work out some kind of a compromise 
position that v/ould satisfy John's principles and also 
let Mr. Dickson have his v/ay. I think I suggested this 
to John and he blew up, naturally. He refused absolutely 


to have any part of it. 

MINK: You didn't meet > In other words. 
POWELL: No, John wouldn't do It. I can't remember the 
compromise I had, but It may have been a signature un- 
der protest, or some kind of a device. 

MINK: Do you feel that on the other hand, v/lth Caughey, 
your position was less strong after that as opposed to 
Dickson, where it remained strong? 

POWELL: Yes, I do Indeed. I think first of all that 
John, and particularly La Ree, never forgave me--not 
for that specifically, but for my friendship with Mr. 
Dickson. We had a brannigan about this at the Caughey 
home one night. Along about 1953 or 195'4-, after the 
Communist incident in my career, we were having dinner 
at the Caugheys, and La Ree opened up on Mr. Dickson. 
MINK: And you felt constrained to defend him? 
POWELL: Well, I defended him in a personal sense, in 
that I pointed out Mr. Dickson's sense of loyalty as he 
had exhibited it in my case, the minute this came up; and 
no one was more anti-communistic than Dickson. He came 
immediately out to campus and to my office and assured 
me of his support, and furthermore, as Sproul told me, 
that in a meeting of the Board of Regents, when Governor 
Knight said, "Let's get rid of that Communist librarian 
at UCLA," Mr. Dickson said, "I'll have you knovi, sir. 


Dr. Powell is known to me personally and professionally, 
and I vouch for his antecedents and character and loyal- 
ty. Does the governor wish to say anything more on this?" 
And Sproul said the governor dropped it. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: Well, I said to the Caugheys, "This is an exam- 
ple of what I owe Mr. Dickson, because if Dickson had 
turned on me at that time, I would have probably been 

Well, the Caugheys said, "Well, you can't place 
personalities above principle." And they were right, 
and I was right; these were the two great conflicts 
that developed. I think I have more ways of working 
with personalities and ability to operate with person- 
alities and to alter and compromise but not sacrifice 
principle, but to adjust to a specific pragmatic situa- 
tion, than the Caugheys did. On the other hand, they 
had the higher and more honorable position of principle 
than any of us; so in a sense both of us were right, 
and it also made it impossible for us to continue our 
old friendship. 

MINK: I have another observation to make on this, knov/- 
ing Caughey as I do, which I wonder if you really would 
not agree with me upon. It seemed to me, from my own 
experiences with Caughey in the academic side of things 


when I was working as a graduate student under him, 
that he had many students, and all of them were very 
interested in the library and working in the library 
and using the library material. Then after I graduated 
in 19'^9 and didn't come back here until 1952, it seemed 
to me that on the other side of the fence there was a 
slackening off of the use of principally the Cowan col- 
lection by Caughey's students and perhaps even a slack- 
ening off of the number of students he had, and further- 
more, a lack of interest demonstrated by him in the li- 
brary. He very seldom came into the library. Would 
you agree with this observation? 
POWELL: Oh, yes, absolutely. 

MINK: You think it has anything to do with this? 
POWELL: Well, I think it has to do with the fact that 
he established his priority as such; it's this whole 
field of liberties and intellectual freedom so that li- 
berty became top priority with him. And it was almost 
an obsession and something had to give. As I saw John 
Caughey, he was a loner in a sense. He was out to do 
his own work, and incidentally he trained students. But 
his primary interest was in his ovm work and in his own 
development, and if students could contribute to this, 
he was all for them. 

He did nothing to aid me in this developm.ent of 


the library, nothing at all. I could not interest him 
in field work or in acquisitions, or in support. He 
was busy doing his own work. I never criticized him, 
I never reproached him, and I don't mean to nov;. This 
simply was his nature, and what we have is his printed 
record: he did his work. The students he did train 
are remembered: Glenn Dumke, Bingham, Andrew Rolle, 
and some of the others. 

I've just finished a chapter of Charles Lummis' 
Land of Sunshine , and I had occasion to read Ed Bingham's 
dissertation. I think I was on his committee originally, 
and it's a first-rate job. It's a damn good disserta- 
tion. I'm saying in my chapter that it was good be- 
cause it was done under Caughey who was a literary sty- 
list. He set standards of style that were rather un- 
usual. So my admiration and affection for John Caughey 
are unimpaired. I think I could criticize this situa- 
tion, but it doesn't alter the feeling that I have, that 
we all owe him a great deal for the stand he took--an 
unpopular one, and one that involved him in great per- 
sonal suffering. 
MINK: Indeed. 

POWELL: Yes, you knov; that better than I do, because 
you v/ere a little closer to him. 
MINK: Do you feel that following that--we won't call 


it confrontation--let ' s call It a discussion with La 
Ree^ probably principally j, that he did not approach 
you or try to interest you in civil liberties, or did 

POWELL: No, he never did. I was a member of ACLU for 
years, and I think probably before John Caughey. Our 
contacts since then have been desultory, chiefly at the 
Faculty Center. I don't know that he ever reviewed 
anything that I did in the Pacific Hi storical Review. 
He never showed any interest in my development as a 
writer after the book on Pickett. He helped with that^ 
he read the manuscript and he supported that, but that 
was way back, you see, in 1939 and 19^0. 
MINK: That's one of your first books. 
POWELL: Yes, and also it coincided with a very strong 
review I wrote of John's 19-^0 California in the Los An - 
geles Times. The book's up there on ray shelf. In Octo- 

ber 19'^05 John Caughey wrote: "To Lawrence Clark Powell, 
reviewer par excellence, and to Fay Powell with the best 
of good wishes, October 19'4-0." And he wrote me from 
Albuquerque, July 19'^0: 
Dear Larry, 

Yesterday v/as a red-letter day. Fortun- 
ately I opened your letter on the v;ay home and 
read your glowing reviev/. Im.mediately there- 
after. La Ree sequestered it and I've been able 
to get only occasional glimpses, though at 


I hear a sentence read aloud. You have only 
a faint notion of how pleased we are. I hope 
that all the good things you said are so. No 
question about your sincerity; that has a most 
genuine ring. But are you blessed v;ith judg- 
ment infallible. As a connoisseur of reviews, 
may I add with utter Impartiality, that you 
did an excellent job of catching the spirit of 
my book and of pointing out the features that 
I had tried to give it. Many thanks. 

A few days earlier a most laudatory note 
arrived from Father Dunne of San Francisco Uni- 
versity. Commended by churchman and heretic, 
I feel doubly set up. In the course of reading 
the page proof, I realized that it was probab- 
ly Pickett that I was quoting. Three things 
deterred me from inserting any comment: I was 
not sure; it would have necessitated a footnote; 
and the discovery was really yours. 

The reprint of your most interesting item 
in the Flumgudgeon Gazette arrived safely. 
Should have acknov;ledgea it, but I'm taking a 
vacation here from the social amenities. It 
has been hot here, but I've been busy on the 
campus, and we have been chasing Indians and 
scenery so feverishly that there has not been 
much chance to fret about it. Have a carefree 
month in the Rockies and leave a few peaks un- 
climbed. Come September, we must get together. 
With our best regards, John Caughey. 

MINK: Larry, could you put into the record the date 
of your review in the Los Angeles Times, if it is on 
that clipping? 

POWELL: It must have been in September or October of 

MINK: I'm sure that maybe there's a copy in your col- 
lection; it's possible. Well, I suspect probably this 
business of the oath was in a way a difficult time for 



POWELL: I'm sorry, Jim, to interrupt you; August 4, 19^0. 
MINK: Good. 

POWELL: Here's another clipping, Los Angeles Times, 
August 4, 19^0. 

MINK: Did you feel that John gained friends and he lost 

POWELL: It was a divisive time and it also was an ad- 
hesive time; it brought people together and it separated 
people. Dickson and I, you see, were more political, 
compromising types and though I didn't support him, he 
didn't use this against me. He was able to go and re- 
sume our friendship and we became closer and closer as 
the years passed. 

MINK: Of the other non-signers, two people come to 
mind: Charlie Mowat and Paul Proehl. I didn't know he 
was not a non-signer until recently. 
POWELL: No, I never knew that. 

MINK: What about Mowat? Did you have any opportunity 
to discuss with him? 

POWELL: Well, Mowat was a much more relaxed type, and 
I saw him in Chicago after he went there. I had lunch 
with him in 1951 when I was driving west from Nev; York. 
And then v;e ' ve seen him twice in England, in Wales at 
Bangor, just this year or so ago. And he was a much 


more reconciled person. Besides he was glad In a way 
to go back to his native Island. And It had no effect 
on our friendship. I will say that Caughey supported 
me In 19'^3. He wrote a very strong letter to Sproul 
on my behalf when I was up for consideration as librar- 

MINK: You can talk about Dickson and maybe begin by 
trying to recall your first meeting with Dickson and 
your first impressions of him. 

POWELL: Well, I met him as a boy, but I have no memories, 
because he was in our home and we may have been in his. 
He and my father were associated. 
MINK: Of course. 

POWELL: Back in the wartime, when my father was with 
the Food Administration in Washington and living In the 
Mayflower Hotel and Mr. Dickson was back there on some 
wartime mlssion--both he and Mrs. Dickson--in the hot 
summer of Washington, my father arranged for ice-cold 
Sunkist oranges to be delivered to Mr. Dickson's room 
every morning. 
MINK: Oh boy! 

POWELL: Dickson never stopped talking about that up 
to the day of his death. He could still get that v/ide 
grin on his face and say: "l never forgot that; it 
saved my life. It got me through the hot 'iashington 


summer; what your father did for me with those chilled 
Sunkist oranges." 

My first memory of re-meeting him was in the early 
1940s when the Clark Library was being pulled hither 
and yon by different factions who wanted to use it for 
their purposes, and Mr. Dickson had an idea that it should 
be a typographical museum. They should set up Frederick 
Goudy there as the typographical director and be made 
a typographical center. Regent Frederick Roman wanted 
to take it over as a center for his educational forum. 
And they were pulling and hauling on the Board of Regents, 
these two. The committee to select a director, as I 
said earlier I think, was composed of Louis VJright, 
Waldemar Westergaard and Sigurd Hustvedt. The word got 
to me--this was in 194l, 1942, or 1943 I guess--that I 
was under consideration as director. I think V/ester- 
gaard called me up once and said, "Mr. Dickson would 
like you to meet with him and Regent Roman at Mr. Dick- 
son's home some evening and hear your ideas on the Clark 
Library." So I went to their home, and I realized then 
as I sized them up that Dickson was much the stronger 
of the two, and what he really wanted me to do was to 
agree with him against Roman's idea, which I v;as able 
to do without any sacrifice of principle, because I 
thought Roman was a nut. He was a nut, and v;e have to 


blame him on none other than our friend Elmer Belt. 
It was Elmer Belt that persuaded Governor Olson to ap- 
point this nut, Frederick Roman, to the Board of Re- 
gents. Did you know him, Jim? 
MINK: No, I didn't. • 

POWELL: He was nutty. He was an eccentric; he was in 
the old-time Southern Californian tradition of a nutty 

MINK: Like an Upton Sinclair. 

POWELL: Without Sinclair's intellect. He was a gas 
bag, great gas bag, and he had this forum made up of 
silly men and women whom he swayed with his eccentric 
ideas of mass education. He was anti-liquor, anti-to- 
bacco, and anti-everything else. Dickson saw right 
through, and he said that evening, "Well, Regent Roman, 
don't you realize that if we made the Clark Library the 
headquarters for your educational forum, we'd be in di- 
rect competition with our University Extension." Regent 
Roman said, "I hadn't thought of that." Mr. Dickson 
said, "Now, Powell, shall we go on to other matters?" 
[laughter] And Roman was through then, and he sputtered 
a little, but Dickson checkmated him. Roman vient so 
far as to buy a home near the Clark Library on Gramercy, 
and they moved in there and were closing in on the Clark 
Library. VJell, Dickson was very pleased then when I 


said, "V/ell, I don't think that the Clark should be a 
typographical museum^ but v/e certainly should develop 
typography there in the light of Mr. Clark's interests." 
Although the appointment didn't come through then until 
I made the arrangements with Sproul a year or so later, 
I think I had Dickson's support on the Clark Library from 
then on. 

MINK: He pulled in his horns on Goudy? 

POWELL: Yes. He realized that it wouldn't have facul- 
ty support; it wasn't a broad enough program. It was 
one aspect of Clark's interests, and I said the library 
should reflect all of Mr. Clark's interests: literary, 
historical, aesthetic, and typographic. 

Then the next time I saw Mr. Dickson, I think, was 
after I had been appointed University Librarian. No, 
I think in my six months at the Clark, he came by sev- 
eral times, bringing visitors. He liked to show it 
off. We had a meeting at the Clark in that spring when 
I was director of Clark but not yet University Librarian. 
There was a meeting of the Southern Committee of the 
Regents. I think I mentioned in my autobiography that 
we met there to consider the program that I had presented 
to Sproul . The Committee on Southern California con- 
sisted of Edwin Pauley and Dickson; and I think they 
squeezed Roman off of it. So he wasn't there. I don't 


know if Ed Carter was a regent then. At any rate, the 
two kingpins were Dickson and Pauley, and they were 
both, of course, old family friends. And the regents' 
committee meeting in the book room there to hear my 
program lasted about a half an hour. Then Mr. Dickson 
said, "Well, shall we go in the drawing room for some 
refreshments?" And they were ready. So v;e did; and 
it was really a social gathering. In other words, I 
had the confidence of these two men and Sproul, and 
they were green lights. 

The next time I saw Mr. Dickson was about twenty 
minutes after I entered my office on July 1, 19-^4, and 
there he was at the door. He said, "Powell, when are 
you going to open that school of the library?" Well, 
he meant a school for training librarians, and this 
had been a bee in his bonnet since 1930. 
MINK: That's a strange thing, isn't it? Or is it? 
I don't know. Why was Dickson so interested in the 
training of librarians? 

POWELL: Oh, I'll tell you, Jim; it's very simple. He 
was on the Los Angeles City Library Commission at that 
time, and so was Rufus von KlelnSmld of USC. 
MINK: Another windbag. 

POWELL: USC had a library school, and the appoint- 
ments that kept coming up for ratification by the Los 


Angeles City Board of Commissioners of the Public Li- 
brary were invariably graduates of USC Library School. 
And this galled Dickson. He couldn't stand it! He 
Just couldn't stand it! And the graduates of education 
that were becoming superintendents of schools around 
Southern California. In other words, he couldn't stand 
this rivalry with USCj that they were winning. So he 
wanted the professional schools to come into UCLA to 
take over these fields, and the school of the library 
was one of them. 

Now in 1930, Mr. Everett Perry, the city librarian, 
when they discontinued the Los Angeles school, wrote to 
Sproul, and it came to the regents, asking UCLA to 
take over the Los Angeles Public Library School, and 
Mr. Goodwin and Mr. Mitchell killed it. 
MINK: Why? 

POWELL: They said, "We aren't ready for it." 
MINK: They said, not Sproul? 

POWELL: They advised Sproul. Sproul sought advice, 
you see. He did this constantly, in my experience with 
him. He always sought advice before he made decisions. 
First of all Mitchell said, "Well, we're going into 
the depression, and we're having trouble placing grad- 
uates from Berkeley." Goodwin said, "We have to build 
a library first." So these two people were opposed for 


different reasons, both of which in my opinion were 
valid: it would have aborted; it would have been a 
poor school. Well, nothing took it over then^, until 
use did in 1936. 

MZWK: It v;ould occur to me that maybe Goodv/in would 
have wanted the school just to increase his own impor- 
tance, and that he was forced to go along with Mitchell 
because Mitchell had been more or less responsible--you 
know, not responsible for putting him here, but because 
he was a good friend of Mitchell's. 

POWELL: That's right. I don't think Goodwin was that 
self-seeking, Jim. I don't think he wanted to increase 
his own importance. I think he was selfless, really. 
MIIniK: Was he? 

POWELL: He was admirable in a way that some of us are 
not. He put the library's welfare always ahead of every- 
thing else, and I believe he thought he would weaken 
the library further. Also, he would have listened to 
Mitchell. Mitchell really called the shots. Mitchell 
was the stronger intellectually of the two. 
MINK: Well, Dickson had long been a regent before 
Goodwin's appointment as librarian in 1923- 
POWELL: Ten years earlier. 

MINK: Did you ever hear Dickson comment about Goodwin? 
POWELL: No. Dickson never spoke in personalities. 


really. He didn't gossip; he didn't criticize; he 
went after what he wanted, focused and zeroed in on 
what he wanted. "Mr. Dickson, give me time," I said, 
"I can't open a school of the library at this point. 
I've got to establish some kind of a library program. 
We're in the doldrums because of the war and staff de- 
moralization. There's no classification or pay plan." 
I said, "Give me time." "V/ell," he said, "all right, 
but I expect you to do this." And I said, "I will." 
Let's see, it took me sixteen years. But I was right-- 
it needed time, and as a result we were ready when we 
did open. 

MINK: Would it have come faster if Dickson had not died? 
POWELL: He died in 1956? 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: Oh, I don't know; it was all snarled up then 
in the Master Plan. It was a very tricky thing. I kept 
budgeting for it, and it got as far as the chancellor 
or provost on this campus and then always died off in 
Berkeley, from about 1954 or 1955 until I96O. It wasn't 
until the Tom Dabagh Report that the pressure from SLAG 
and PLEASG and SLA broke the logjam. And of course 
Dickson was then five years dead. He never lived to 
see it. 
MINK: To go on with Mr. Dickson, when was the next time 


that you had occasion to see him? 

POWELL: I think when we were getting workings going 
for the east wing^ along in 19^5 or 1946. I was up in 
the old office upstairs and Mr. Dickson dropped in, I 
don't know, for one reason or another, often to show 
off the building and the big reading room. He'd come 
in and say hello to me and he'd have visitors with 
him. I remember when he came into my office once, he 
drew me over in the corner and whispered, "Powell, I 
have to take a leak. Where's the nearest men's room? 
Don't you have one here?" I said, "No, sir. We'll have 
to go upstairs." "Well," he said, "get me up there." 
[laughter] So I took him by the arm and we went hust- 
ling off around the rabbit warren of runways, you know, 
where the office was hidden, on to the upper floor, and 
he relieved his bladder. Well, when we came to remodel 
and put the Librarian's office downstairs, remember, in 
Ernest Carroll Moore's old office, and I suggested to 
Carl McElvey, the supervising architect, that we have 
a toilet and washroom there in connection with the ad- 
ministrative office, he said, "Why that'll never get by. 
That's nonsense." He said, "We have to use the public 
facilities." I said, "Carl, you put this in; put in a 
good one, and it'll get by the Board of Regents. You 
bet it will." And I told him the story how Mr. Dickson 


had to take a leak and had to be hustled all over the 
place and nearly wet his pants. Carl came hack later 
and said, "You're absolutely right. This came up to 
the Southern Committee of the Regents and Mr. Dickson 
saw this and said, 'You're absolutely right, there 
ought to be a toilet facility there; you never know 
when it'll be needed by important persons.'" [laughter] 
And this is not apocryphal; Carl McElvey reported this 
back. And of course we have the little toilet. You 
remember, it used to be called the Administrative Office 
Branch Library, I guess because I had books in there. 
MINK: Well, now at this point I'm forced to ask you. . . 
POWELL: Did Dickson use it? You bet he did. 
MINK: . . .is there any truth to the tale that when 
Robert Gordon Sproul saw these facilities he nearly went 
through the roof and said, "Why I don't even have these 
facilities in my office at Berkeley." 

POWELL: [laughter] I don't know, Jim. I guess I heard 
that, but I think it would show the relative importance 
of the president of the university to the chairman of 
the Board of Regents at that point. I think Dickson 
in the last resort got his way. Somebody suggested they 
put a plaque above the door--"The Dickson Facility." 
MINK: Well, probably Sproul didn't know anything about 
it if it went to a committee of the southern regents; it 


was simply approved at that level. 
POWELL: That's right. 

MINK: It was never discussed with him. So I suppose 
maybe when he saw it^ it came as somewhat of a surprise 
to him. 

POWELL: But Sproul was always ready to accept an accom- 
plished fact and to make a joke of it. I know we had 
meetings of the regents here in the new wing when the 
Board of Regents met. Remember? Were you here then? 
MINK: No. 

POWELL: We met upstairs. I remember one of the things 
about Neal Harlow (he was in charge of building and of 
course was head of Special Collections) : I went up to 
see the room after the regents had met--it was the Grad- 
uate Reading Room up on the top floor--and I caught Neal 
going through the wastebaskets . [laughter] I said, 
"What the hell are you doing, Neal?" He says, "I'm 
gathering source material." He cleaned out all the 
wastebaskets, took them down to Special Collections 
and checked them out to see if there was anything he 
should know about. Oh, my. 

Well, Dickson and I worked together then on found- 
ing the library school through the early fifties. It 
came to a climax at that regional conference that I 
called in 1955. We met down in Westwood Village at the 


Westwood House for lunch, and we had quite a gathering, 
Jim. We had the chairman of the Faculty Library Com- 
mittee, of the Educational Policy Committee, of 
the Budget Committee, the dean of the Graduate Division, 
and Mr. Dickson was there. The librarians from around 
Southern California were there: Hamill, Castagna, and 
Henderson; Kelley and Bennett from the Universities of 
New Mexico and Arizona. We published a proceeding of 
this, and called for the establishment of a regional 
library school at UCLA at the earliest possible date. 
Well, that was the last time I saw Mr, Dickson. I saw 
him to his car after that meeting. We came back up to 
campus, and I saw him to his car, and we talked a little 
about strategies. He said, "Well, budget again; I'll 
try to see that it goes on through." Soon after that 
he fell ill. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: He was ill six weeks and then died. 
MINK: Larry, it's really not the purpose of this kind 
of an interview to malign Dickson--and certainly there's 
no reason to; he was a great man--however, I think that 
if you would care to comment upon, how shall I say, his 
intellectual level. .... I think that it's demonstrated 
by some of the things that he did that he was very in- 
terested in a lot of intellectual things, but that he 


was not knowledgeable; I refer particularly to the 
Willits J. Hole art collection, for example. 
POWELL: Yes J that was a f right--really was. 
MINK: I refer to his so-called collection of fine 
printing. Would you v/ish to comment on any of these 

POWELL: Well, I can only agree with you, Jim. He v/as 
an amateur, at a rather low level, and he was above all 
a newspaperman and a politician. His taste in art and 
in aesthetics was questionable, and yet he had a devo- 
tion to the idea and a vision, certainly, of a great 
university, but he didn't have the supporting culture 
and education. No, this is true; he was taken in at 
times--by the Hole things. He always thought of quick 
increase of prestige. Anything that would raise UCLA 
above USC, he was for. When he saw a big collection 
of old masters, he thought right away, "This will raise 
us a notch." God knows, we had to be raised a notch, 
because we were a jerkwater country outfit--the old 
Southern Branch, merely contemptible. You and I know, 
as Occidental people, the contempt we had for the "Twig." 
We used to come over and beat the shit out of the Sou- 
thern Branch, didn't we? 
MINK: Yes. 


POWELL: God, In baseball, football and track. Back 
in the twenties we had nothing but contempt for them, 
and this was the problem faced by Mr. Dickson, to bring 
this thing up to some kind of a level. Even worse than 
the V/illits J. Hole fraud was the Carrie Jacobs Bond 
collection. Oh, God, I had to live with that for years, 
Jim. You know about that? 

MINK: I know of it, but I wish you would tell me. 
POWELL: Oh, God! 


OCTOBER 21, 1969 

MINK: You were going to discuss in some detail the 
Carrie Jacobs Bond acquisition. 

POWELL: Well, she was the venerable American composer-- 
"End of a Perfect Day" and "I Love You Truly" --living 
here in Southern California. Well, she had quite a 
collection of her own memorabilia: a harpsichord, a 
pianOj costumes, music and manuscripts, and engraved 
music. Mr. Dickson met her socially, and I think, as 
I got it from him, heard that Rufus von KleinSmid was 
trying to get Carrie Jacobs Bond's collection for USC, 
so he leaped in and persuaded her to leave everything 
to UCLA. Well, there was to be a museum, and I don't 
know what he promised her. But for an interim arrange- 
ment in the war--I guess she died--it was taken and 
stored in the Clark Library residence. 

And when I became director, one of the first things 
Mr. Dickson on one of his visits to the Clark said was, 
"Now let's go in and see the priceless materials of 
Carrie Jacobs Bond." And he said, "VJe plan to transfer 
this to the campus when they have a new music building, 
and it'll be installed as a unit of the new music build- 
ing. I want you to get in touch with the chairman of 


the music department and have this understood." Well;, 
I can't remember who the chairman was then. It was 
either Bob Nelson or John Vincent or Petran. No, it 
was Leroy Allen, the old trumpeter. It was Leroy Allen 
who directed the band. He came over and looked at it, 
and he was all in deference to Mr. Dickson--"Yes, of 
course, of course." He went out then and Nelson or 
Vincent came in with a much more critical view. They 
came over rather cynically and said, "Oh, we'll take 
care of this, you bet we will. Powell, don't you count 
on it; it'll stay right here in this old residence as 
far as we're concerned." I said, "You tell that to Mr. 
Dickson, you chicken shits." [laughter] And they 
wouldn't do it of course; and I was the fall guy in be- 
tween. So it went on. 

All right, the showdown came when the new music 
building was to go up. I said to my boys, "I want to 
get this out of the Clark Library residence and get it 
over to the music building." All we could get the music 
department to do — and I think Mr. Dickson had died then-- 
was to take the manuscripts and the music and to put 
them in a case. They said, "You keep the harpsichord, 
the piano, the rugs, the costumes, and everything else," 
which were stored in the upper floor of the Clark. Did 
you ever see it when it v/as up there? 


MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: So there it was. Now Carrie Jacobs Bond's 
niece^ her executrix, or friend, or both, remembered the 
agreement with Mr. Dickson and kept pressing the uni- 
versity: "When are you going to open the Carrie Jacobs 
Bond Memorial Museum?" Hah! The pressure kept mount- 
ing to do this, and everybody kept stalling. Vern 
Knudsen became chancellor after Allen, and Vern came 
to me once and said, "Larry, look, we've got to do 
something; the heat on me is intolerable." He said, 
"Can't we get something here in the Clark Library resi- 
dence?" I said, "Well, Vern, we're going to tear this 
goddamn thing down. It's a rattrap, it's a firetrap 
and everything else, and there's no point in spending 
any money here." Well, he said, "Look, I've got a 
little money and I want to spend it." He said, "Even 
though it's ephemeral, I've got to do something to 
salve my conscience and get them off my back." So God 
help us, we went into that ground floor of the Clark 
Library residence, into the old study. Hah, we furred 
over the beautiful walnut panelling with some damask 
wallpaper. V/e developed a little museum room in there, 
and we were going to transfer the stuff down there. 
Well, I guess Knudsen went out of office. 
MINK: He v;as only chancellor for a year. 


POWELL: Yes, and Murphy came in, I think. 
MINK: Who's Carrie Jacobs Bond? 

POWELL: Yes, who's Carrie Jacobs Bond. And a nev; 
business manager came. I think Paul Hannum v;as the 
new business manager. So Paul came over to see me and 
he says, "Look, we've spent a couple of thousand dol- 
lars on fixing up this room, and it was really a brain- 
storm, wasn't it?" I said, "Yes, I opposed it and yet 
I had to go along with Knudsen." And he said, "Well, 
have we any facility here for opening a museum? Can 
we accommodate people?" I said, "No, we can't receive 
people in this building; it's condemned by the fire 
department. We couldn't open it; it's totally impos- 
sible." He said, "Well, freeze the project." 

We sat down together and he said, "What '11 we do?" 
And I said, "Paul, I think the smartest thing we can 
do is to give it back to the Indians." [laughter] I 
said, "Look, there's some valuable furniture here. 
Although the moths have eaten the rugs, there's some 
bureaus, and there's a harpsichord and the piano, and 
there 're a number of other valuable pieces of furniture." 
And I said, "I think if we emphasize that we've taken 
the music and the real memorabilia out to the univer- 
sity and we're honoring it, we might negotiate with the 
executrix (I think the old friend of Mrs. Bond had died 


then and the executrix was alive) to give it back to 
them because we simply can't do anything here." 

Well, I must say to Paul Hannum's credit, he made 
a trip to San Diego, went down and saw the niece, brought 
the niece up, devoted a great deal of time to this and, 
by God, he brought it off. We gave it back to the In- 
dians. And that was the end of the Carrie Jacobs Bond 
situation. But here it was Mr. Dickson's original lack 
of discrimination and taste in mistaking Carrie Jacobs 
Bond for a great American composer, which she was not. 
She was an ephemeral balladist, and yet he was taken in 
by it. Of course on the other side of the picture he 
was completely unappreciative of the Walter Arensberg 

MINK: Oh, was he? 

POWELL: Oh yes; there was a tragedy. We lost the 
Walter Arensberg Pre-Columbian and modern art collec- 
tion because of Mr. Dickson. This was a tragedy in our 
area, and I vras caught in it. 
MINK: How were you caught in that? 

POWELL: Well, I was a friend of Mr. Arensberg' s because 
here again he was someone that I'd known v;hen I worked 
for Jake. And I used to deliver books and art out to 
him. And at the time that I arranged the exhibition at 
the Los Angeles Public Library in 1937 of Frieda Law- 
rence's manuscripts of D. H. Lav;rence, I v;ent out to 


Mr. Arensberg's house and borrowed Knud Merrlld's por- 
trait of Lawrence, a beautiful oil portrait painted from 
life. I said, "May I borrow it for a centerpiece of 
the exhibit?" Mr. Arensberg said, "Yes, if you can 
find it." 

His house then in Hollywood vms so full of art, he 
didn't knov; where anything was. He was getting older. 
I went all over the house and I found it on the landing 
of the staircase and borrowed it. 

Well, the collection was given to the university 
with the understanding that it would provide an art 
building to house it. And this got caught in the post- 
World War building program. The other buildings had 
higher priority. Besides Mr. Dickson thought it was 
a bunch of screwball art--Picasso, and "Nude Descending 
a Staircase" of Marcel Duchamps and so forth. He just 
didn't appreciate it. 

MINK: Let me just interject this. Is it true--and I 
think it is true--that at the time of the dedication of 
the Dickson Art Gallery and the Art Building, I suppose. 
Dr. With said to Dickson that the Willits Hole collec- 
tion was nothing but shit. 

POWELL: I never heard the word, but I was there at the 
dedication, and I saw their scuffling and so forth. 
MINK: Then did Dickson turn very red in the face? 



MINK: And he got very annoyed^ and yet after that had 
a great deal of respect for Dr. VJith. Now my point 
here is: could he have realized In his mind that per- 
haps the Hole collection was a mistake, and not wanting 
to put his foot in it again, opposed the Arensberg ac- 
quisition on that account? 

POWELL: Well, possibly; hut he just didn't like the 
stuff. He had no appreciation of contemporary art. 
He had no appreciation of it. But I think I can blame 
the failure on somebody. We always want to blame some- 
body else. The chief failure was by Pinky Bynum. Bynum 
was Sproul's legman on this and the go-between, and 
Pinky just never brought it off. He should have been 
able to educate Dickson to this and show him that it 
was a prestige item, that other museums wanted it. If 
Dickson really had known that the Philadelphia Art Mu- 
seum was ready to grab this, or if we could have planted 
in Dickson's ear that USC was going to grab it, he 
would have switched. 

MINK: In defense of Lindley Bynum, could it be said 
that Lindley Bynum had his own little things that he 
worked on, and his method of working was slov/, and he 
sometimes took years to bring off the acquisitions of 


a collection, when really the person gave it to the 
university more because they were a friend of Lindley's 
by this time, than because they were interested in the univer- 
sity. And he would be in this instance pushed by Sproul 
to pull something off very fast; that this wasn't the 
way he worked. 

POWELL: Yes, I think this is true. It just wasn't his 
cup of tea. 
MINK: Right. 

POWELL: And this was Sproul' s mistake, I suppose, in 
expecting Bynum to bring this sort of thing off. I 
don't know why Arlt didn't get into it. Arlt could have 
brought this off. Your story about With and Dickson is 
characteristic of both of them, I think. 
MINK: That he would speak up and tell him what he 

POWELL: Yes. I was there at that dedication and I 
heard there was a lot of talk about how Dickson had 
turned on his heel and walked away, had been insulted; 
it got all over the place very quickly. And, of course, 
I knew Karl With; he's a great character. 
MINK: Well, when I said v/hat I did, I was simply 
quoting what I had heard about his remark. 
POWELL: I think that's true, sounds like him. My God, 
he was really a rough jev:el, old With was. A man of 


great scholarship and perception and taste and gusto. 
MINK: Well, to come back to the Arensberg collection: 
what was the upshot of that? 

POWELL: It was given to the Philadelphia Museum. 
MINK: We failed to come through with the building. 
POWELL: We never built the building for it. We didn't 
honor our commitment to Mr. Arensberg, he said, so he 
gave it to Philadelphia--valued at $3 million. 
MINK: Now, you were going to say something about your 
idea for the establishment of a Dickson Chair in the 
library school. 

POWELL: Well, I thought this would really have been a 
happy ending--that Mrs. Dickson endow a chair in Mr. 
Dickson's memory. This was something that was very 
close to him. But I think she felt that he was more 
interested, and it was more fitting and more impressive 
certainly publically, that his name be associated with 
art. So the Dickson Art Center. She's done certain 
things in her lifetime, and I don't know what her will 
will be, but I don't expect there'll be a bequest to 
the library school. It would more likely be the art 
department. I talked to Gustave Arlt about this re- 
peatedly and urged him to work on her to endow this 
chair, because Mr. Dickson--Lord, he would have been 
pleased vfhen the library school opened, and I'd like 


to have seen his name associated with it. He was the 
one that first sought it, and he never gave up seeking 

MINK: How did Arlt feel about this? 

POWELL: Well, you never knew how Arlt felt. He was 
an operator, bless him, and he was frying fish in a 
dozen pans. He may have had his own ideas of what Mrs. 
Dickson should do, and they weren't either art or li- 
brary school. They might have been Germanic languages 
or Graduate Division or scholarships and fellowships in 
the field. There 're all kinds of things that would have 
been worthy. 

Well, Jim, the other controversy that I think that 
this would feed into naturally was the Bullock's Depart- 
ment store. Have you ever had any tapes on this? 
MINK: No, we haven't, and I think we should have a 
good in-depth description of this controversy. 
POWELL: Well, I don't know that I can give it as well 
as maybe Sam Herrick, who is now in engineering and 
astronomy; he was closer to it, but I was certainly 
drawn into it. I don't know the dates, but I would 
think 1945 and 19^6. 
MINK: Yes. 

POWELL: It came to my attention first v/hen I was in 
Dykstra's office when he came as provost. We got 


together; he knew who I was because his sister was 
married to Professor Walter Hartley of the music de- 
partment at Occidental, whom I'd studied under. Edith 
Hartley was Dyke's sister. So when Dyke came from 
Wisconsin to UCLA, Edith, his sister, said, "You look 
up Larry Powell; he's the librarian out there." VJell, 
a week or so after Dyke arrived, I got a phone call 
one morning, about a quarter to twelve, "Hello, Powell? 
Well, this is Clarence Dykstra; I want to meet you; I 
want to see the library." He said, "I'm coming right 
over." Well, I had a firm date then to go home for 
lunch with Fay in Beverly Glen and then bring her back 
to the Village for something. We didn't have a tele- 
phone then (we couldn't get a phone during the war); 
I had no way of reaching her. So Dykstra came roaring 
over to my office about six times as tall as I, stooping 
through the door and all. He said, "Hey, let's have a 
look at the library. What you got here anyway? Got 
any books?" So I went trotting along at his side; we 
made a whirlwind tour of the library and then he said, 
"Let's go get something to eat." I said, "Would you mind 
if I took you home for lunch? My wife's expecting me." 
"Well," he said, "will it be all right; will she have 
enough for us both? I'm a big eater." "Sure," I said. 
We got into my Chevy; we v;ent tearing up Beverly Glen. 


Fay was equal to it of course; she had great resilience. 
And that was our first meeting--at our little cottage 
up in the Glen. Dyke sat down to potluck with us at 
lunch. This was the kind of guy he was; he was great. 
MINK: Yes, he was. 

POWELL: He was a tremendous guy and. Lord, I loved him. 
And I got along fine with him after that. He gave me 
everything I asked for; he fought for me vis-a-vis 
Sproul, and when Sproul once made me a commitment that 
he forgot about. Dyke reminded him. 

I was in Dyke's office one morning, probahly with 
my tin cup asking for a million dollars, and Dyke said, 
"What do you think about this, Larry? What the regents 
are doing to us." And he explained to me that the re- 
gents weren't going to buy a strip of land on the north 
side of Le Conte. 

MINK: Known as the Janss Triangle, right? 
POWELL: Yes, which the university thought it owned, 
but the Jansses had kept it, and the Jansses were sel- 
ling it to Bullock's then to build a department store 
on what we regarded as the campus. And Dyke said, 
"Well, even some of the regents didn't know we didn't 
own this." The gates are there; it was inside the gates. 
It v;ent from VJestv;ood Boulevard over to Hilgard, that 
whole piece of land. And he said, "I think this is 


wrong." He said, "I'm going to take it to the senate." 
And he said, "I want your support, too; I want all the 
support I can get, because I think this is a terrible 
thing that the Southern Committee of the Regents and 
Sproul agreed to do." 

VJell, this was characteristic of Dyke; he put his 
great "big, thick neck out there and opposed a policy of 
the university when he thought it was wrong. So the word 
got around that Bullock's was going to build a depart- 
ment store on what we regarded as university land, and 
the senate became aroused. And particularly zealous 
in the arousal was young instructor Sam Herrick and his 
Colombian, South American wif e--Betulia--a little fire- 
eater if there ever was one. 
MINK: Why was he particularly concerned? 
POWELL: I don't know how he got in with this, but, 
Jim, I know we have his collection. I got him to give 
his stuff on it to the archives. 
MINK: Right. 

POWELL: It's in the archives. 
MINK: We have it in the archives. 

POTOLL: The ansv;ers would be in there. VJell, he was 
an instructor without any tenure. And bringing pressure 
on the university to go through with this and honor 
their agreement v/ith the Jansses not to oppose this, to 


let the Jansses sell this to Bullock's, was the pastor 
of that church, Jesse Kellams, who kind of installed 
himself as the university preacher; he v/as always at 
Commencement in his robes. And Dyke said, "I'll put 
a stop to this; we aren't having any damn preacher on 
the stage--the same one every time--we'll have a dif- 
ferent one every time." At any rate, Kellams was heat- 
ing the drums for this, and the Chamber of Commerce in 
Westwood Village and all wanted to put this over. 
MINK: The Westwood Businessmen's Association. 
POWELL: Yes, they wanted to put this over. So a lot 
of uproar was going on, and the student body got into 
it. And the president of the student body then was Gene, 
Edwin Lee's son. Gene Lee who's now the vice-president 
of the university, I guess. The senate was in it, and 
the alumni got involved in it. Dykstra's whole point 
was that the university needed this land, that the re- 
gents should buy it. 
MINK: Indeed they did. 

POWELL: That's right; where the medical school is now. 
Well, the regents had said they wouldn't, that they 
wouldn't oppose Bullock's buying it from Janss. So we 
had strategy meetings. Dyke said to me once, "Fay, your 
wife, is the niece of Alphonzo Bell. Wouldn't it be 
wise to tell Mr. Bell about this? Because my records 


here show that Mr. Bell gave nine or eighteen acres 
to the university across Sunset Boulevard, out where 
the old poinsettia gardens were for faculty housing." 
That tract was given by Bell. 
MINK: Right. 

POWELL: And so I went tearing up Stone Canyon to the 
Bell corporation headquarters, to Uncle Alphonzo, and 
I said, "Look, the University needs your help." "What 
is it?" Well, I said, "We want you to go to Mr. P. G. 
Winnett, president of Bullock's, and tell him not to buy 
this and to let the regents buy it." Well, he said, 
"Do the regents want to buy this?" We said, "Not yet, 
but we think they can be persuaded." 

Well, Mr. Bell then was ill; he'd had one stroke 
and he was under doctor's orders not to exert himself, 
but he became concerned about this. I took him down; 
we looked at the tract, and he talked to Mr. Winnett 
and reported back to me. He said, "Well, Mr. Winnett 
doesn't want to do anything that would jeopardize the 
cordial relationship with UCLA; he's willing to with- 
draw if the regents say that. He said it's up to the 
regents." I said, "Well, Mr. Bell, talk to Mr. Dickson 
about this, because there's the key to it." So Alphonzo 
Bell did talk to Mr. Dickson and pressure began to build 


We had a strategy meeting in old Truman's Inn 
there (Mrs. Gray's Inn it was called) at Westwood and 
Wilshire in the dining room upstairs. It was attended 
by Dykstra, by Gene Lee, president of the student body, 
by Ed Lee, his father, by the Herricks, and I brought 
Mr. Bell. He was a very impressive figure then, on a 
cane and all, and he spoke and he said, "Well, I cer- 
tainly think the university needs all the land it can 
get." He said, "We gave it eighteen acres. We are glad 
we did, and we're still waiting for the university to 
build faculty housing on it." Dykstra said, "Yes, yes, 
yes, yes; let's not get off on another issue here." 
[laughter] So Bell needled him a little about that. 
And the pressure then kept mounting. VJell, I had a phone 
call that night from Alphonzo Bell, Jr. 
MINK: Uncle Al? Our congressman? 

POWELL: Our congressman. He was then in the petroleum 
company. He says, "Larry, I wish you'd take the heat 
off my father. He can't stand this. The doctor said 
he's not supposed to get aroused, and you're getting 
him all aroused here, and God damn it, stop it! " I 
says, "Look, Fonso, your father can't live forever." 
And I said, "If he can go out fighting for a worthy 
cause--" I says, "he feels very deeply about this as 
a matter of principle, and it's a matter of duty and 


so forth." And Bell said, "VJell, I know hov/ Father 
feels, but please don't overdo it." So I had to tell 
Dykstra, "We can't get Mr. Bell involved too much any- 
more." Well anyway, it came up to the point where the 
regents held an open meeting to discuss this, in Ker- 
ckhoff Hall. And I'd been downtown and met v/ith the 
president of the Alumni Association--it v/as Paul Hutch- 
inson then. 

MINK: I remember that name. 

POWELL: And we developed the strategy that Hutch would 
appear at the open meeting of the regents and present 
the case for the university and Sam Herrick v/ould speak 
and represent the faculty. That was a great meeting, 
Jim. Do you remember it? 
MINK: Yes, I do. 

POWELL: The spokesman on the Board of Regents was not 
Mr. Dickson; it was John Francis Neylan. That great 
big son of a bitch. He was as big as Dykstra. He got 
up, and I think he blamed it all on the Communists. 
MINK: Probably. 

POWELL: But Paul Hutchinson then gave, I think, one of 
the most eloquent presentations I've ever heard at a 
meeting of that kind. God, he spoke marvelously to 
this, that this land is needed by the university, the 
regents were derelict in their duty if they didn't 


take steps to acquire it, and he really nailed the re- 
gents. And by God, they took a vote and they reversed 
their action, their condoning this purchase by Bullock's 
and moved to reconsider and investigate the purchase of 
this for university purposes. And Herrick had been 
subjected to all kinds of abuse by this, threatened 
by Kellams and by various others. 

MINK: He was going to see that he didn't get into 

POWELL: To never get promoted. 

MINK: Well, how did Kellams have influence in there? 
He's just a preacher. 

POWELL: Yes, but he was damned high in university in- 
fluence through Titus and others like Malbone Graham. 
He was really a voice in the university that Dykstra 
put a stop to; he muzzled him. 
MINK: He was pastor of what church? 

POWELL: That Community Christian Church at the corner 
of Hilgard and LeConte. 
MINK: Oh, I see. 

POWELL: That has a rare combination of Gothic and Ren- 
aissance in one building. And Romanesque. Soon after 
that, you see, the UCLA Medical School came, and that 
v;hole purchase of land was justified. That was a great 
fight, and the person chiefly responsible for doing this 


was Clarence Dykstra. This is a jewel in his crown, 


NOVEMBER 11, I969 

MINK: Well, Larry, this morning we were looking at 
your ten-cent notebook. In the autobiography. Fortune 
And Friendship , you mentioned this, and some of us 
didn't believe that you had one. But we're looking at 
it, and we see that indeed it's an old notebook, and 
it has "ten cents" written somewhere on the front cover. 
POWELL: Right there on the cover. Library Notes, ten 
cents. Western School Series Composition Book, L. C. 
Powell, October, 19^3, Library Notes. On the first 
page I entered materials that I would need as office 
reference works. And here are periodicals and reference 
books. Dictionary of American Scholars , American Men 
of Science , File of Library Surveys , File of Library 
Guides and Handbooks , Library Quarterly . Install shel- 
ving no place to put any books when I moved into Mr. 

Goodwin's office — he had no bookshelves. 

MINK: Did Mr. Goodwin have any kind of a library of 

his own? 

POWELL: Apparently notj he had the periodicals that he 

subscribed for, and he took most of those home with him. 

It came to us eventually, I think, when Fanny Alice 

turned them over, the Library Quarterly and so forth. 


MINK: Was the library collection able to supply any of 
these works or did they have to go out and buy them all? 
POWELL: A number were in reference and I left them 
there. A number were duplicates that I bought out of 
the equipment money. But I needed them right there. 

Well, then on page two, I jotted down a potential 
membership of the Senate Library Committee, as I knew 
that the Committee on Committees would be coming to me 
and asking my advice on the appointment of the Library 
Committee, so I had that ready. Westergaard, Huberty, 
U. S. Grant, Dudley Pegrum (who had been a bitter critic 
of my appointment, I thought he should be on the com- 
mittee), Wayland Hand, Majl Ewing, Russell Fitzgibbon, 
Angus Taylor, Lindley Bynum ( ex officio ), and myself as 

MINK: Why had Pegrum been a critic? 

POWELL: Because he'd been an earlier member of the Li- 
brary Committee, and when Sproul appointed a special 
committee to find a librarian, none of the Senate Library 
Committee was on that. Max Dunn was angry about it and 
Pegrum was angry about it. They thought it should have 
been represented, and it should have. Now the committee 
wasn't appointed by Sproul, this blue-ribbon committee 
to pick a successor; it was recommended by the Budget 


In other words, Sproul went to the Budget Committee 
and asked them, and they thought it best to have a com- 
pletely nonrepresentative committee, no one who was con- 
nected with the library in any way. That's one thinking. 
Now I would have thought the other way, that the chair- 
man of the Library Committee, who was Charles Grove 
Haines, I think, should have been on that committee, at 
least ex officio . 

Well, Max Dunn, the chemist, felt so riled up about 
this that after I had been appointed he had the Senate 
bylaws changed so that in the future, when a committee 
was set up to pick a university librarian, the Senate 
Library Committee should be represented on ito So 
that's why I wanted Pegrum and Huberty, who were on the 
Library Committee, to be represented. Well, it wasn't 
appointed just that way, because Committee on Committees' 
appointments always have to take into account memberships 
on other committees, so there isn't one man on two ma- 
jor committees. I learned this in my last three years 
here, when I was a member of the Committee on Committees^ 
you have to do a real chess game with personnel. At 
any rate, it was a good committee set-up. 

Now page three: I have here ten Item.s that I 
thought we needed to work on. These were the things I 
thought about in my six years and I'd talked about 


constantly with the faculty, particularly young faculty 
who were critical of the library. Item one, the Library 
Committee and its function. I thought it should be re- 
defined. It was more or less a rubber-stamp committee 
for the Librarian and a good one, and I thought it should 
be more active; and so I set that down. Item two, the 
University of California Library Council, which Mitchell 
and I had agreed should be appointed, made up of head 
librarians of UC and UCLA and the other campuses. Per- 
haps Library Committee chairmen from those campuses--Bynum; 
the library school should be represented and a subcom- 
mittee of technical department heads. Well, that was 
something that came about in somewhat that form.. Three, 
a library survey of UCLA, (a) of collections, and (b) 
of the building and its services. Well, remember Fulmer 
Mood was appointed. 
MINK: Yes, he was. 

POWELL: And then various surveys were done by Neal Har- 
low, and Herman Fussier of manuscripts of photography; 
Ray Swank of acquisitions. Item four, completion of the 
building. We were due to have an added stack and an 
added wing. And I put down, move Librarian's office to 
new wing (remember, the old office was hidden, hard to 
find) and use the present office for assistant librarian 
in charge of technical processes. More faculty research 


facilities J studies, etc. These were things that we 
needed. Five, reclassify jobs to distinguish better 
between professional and clerical. And I put a note: 
the role of the Staff Association in this. In other 
words, the staff should be involved in that kind of 
self-survey. Six, annual report. It should be a printed 
annual report, and perhaps one should be issued statewide 
for Berkeley and UCLA, including the Clark and the Ban- 
croft. A section for each--the total to be edited by 
one person, that is L. C. P. [laughter] You see, be- 
fore that there 'd been no annual reports issued. Nei- 
ther Harold Leupp nor Goodwin had ever issued anything. 
The annual report was typed up and filed. Or it was 
sent to the president. And there was no reporting at 
all to the staff or to the community. Seven, answer 
the question of keeping intact or classifying, dispersing 
collections. Now this, I think, was a result of Caughey's 
pressure on me, because of what had happened to the 
Cowan collection. Remember, we talked about this at 
another session here., And I felt we should have more 
of a known policy of what we were going to do with these 
valuable collections that came in. Item eight, form a 
division of rare books, special collections, manuscripts 
and archives, pamphlets and ephemera, with a curator. 
And as you kj^ow, that came about through the appointment 


of Neal Harlow. 

MINK: First, as Gifts and Exchange Librarian, because 
I suppose there was no slot and no chance of getting 

POWELL: There was no slot; there was nothing. Neal 
applied to me when I was appointed. Neal wrote to me 
from Sacramento. He was then Assistant Senior Califor- 
nia Librarian in the State Library, and he was a UCLA 
graduate, former employee of the Bancroft, was interested 
in this area, and he wrote and said, "Are you going to 
have any such? Will you consider me?" The archives 
would show how our correspondence developed. It didn't 
develop well, I might say, because it nearly went off the 
tracks. We became angry with each other because when 
the Bancroft Library heard about this, that Neal might 
be moving to UCLA, they jumped into the picture and made 
Neal an offer. Eleanor Bancroft, who was really running 
the Bancroft Library at that time, came in between and 
tried to get Neal back to the Bancroft. 

Well, I blew up over this. I said, "Well, I have 
a priority." So I got in touch with Leupp and with 
Mitchell and with Neal and with Eleanor Bancroft and 
with everybody else, and I said, "The guy's mine, not 
yours. You don't have any right to do this." And Neal 
got caught in the middle of it. We exchanged a couple 


of annoyed letters^ and then finally I think Neal re- 
alized that the priority was here and his interest was 
in coming here and doing something from scratch. So 
it worked out, and he came to that position of Gifts 
and Exchange and with a side assignment of developing the 
Department of Special Collections, and that's how it 
came to pass. But the first item on it, of course, is 
this notebook entry. This was something I knew was im- 
portant. Neal, of course, was God-given. He was the 
person to do it. 

MINK: Would you say that Eleanor's interference just 
reflected a tendency at Berkeley to not want to see 
this campus grow, or what were her motives? 
POWELL: Oh, I don't think so. I think she was very 
fond of Neal and wanted him back. I think she recog- 
nized his potential, and I think it was a simple wish 
to have him back on the staff, and when she heard that 
he might move, she acted. I don't think she was Machi- 
avellian at all. On the other hand, there was always 
an unconscious feeling on the part of Berkeley that they 
had priority always for everything. And, of course, 
Harold Leupp had demonstrated this earlier when he jerked 
Jens Nyholm away from Goodwin and made him the assistant 
librarian at Gal without even consulting Goodwin. But 
Leupp and I had friendly relations, and then Donald 


Coney and I, and we never raided after this. Then the 
Library Council developed the policy that there must be 
consultation, and that a campus couldn't hire anyone 
from another campus at a higher step without total agree- 

MINK: Harold Leupp, Berkeley Librarian from I919-I945, 
is almost legendary from the things that are said about 
him. Why don't you describe him as you knev; him? 
POWELL: Well, Leupp was a formidable man really. As 
library school students we all were a bit in awe of him 
because he was so formal and so apparently austere. I 
remember once as a library school student I checked out 
an item that was probably an early edition of Rabelais 
in the public catalog at Cal, and it was marked case 
"0". "0" was always supposed to stand for obscene, wasn't 
it? I asked at the Loan Desk for this. They said, "Oh, 
those are shelved in the Librarian's office." So I made 
my way into the office and of course I ran into Eleanor 
Hand, the tigress of the office who guarded the inner 
sanctum. And she said, "Well, you'll have to see the 
librarian about this." She ushered me in and Leupp pro- 
ceeded to catechize me about why I wanted it. I became 
angry and I said, "Well, it really isn't any of your 
business, is it, why I want this?" And he really burned, 
but he gave me the book. 


And on the other hand, I had another encounter 
with him. I think I wrote this in the UCLA Librarian 
at the time of Leupp ' s death, when we had a little 
memorial issue. I used to go into the stacks of the 
Berkeley library to nurse my wounds. When things got 
too rough in the library school, I used to retreat. 
And there are wonderful places to hide out, as you know, 
Jim. You probably did the same yourself. You got a 
little table and a chair and you could read up there. 

I was up on the very top level of the stack. I was 
up under the skylight where the academy proceedings 
were shelved, and I was delighted to come upon the pro- 
ceedings of the Academy of Dijon where I'd gone to school- 
the Academie de Dijon et de la Cote d'Or. I fell on this 
with great nostalgia. It went clear back to the begin- 
ning--I think the 1740s or something. The academy, mind 
you, was where Jean Jacques Rousseau had made his start. 
He'd won the prize essay in the eighteenth century offered 
by that academy; it was a famous academic group in Europe. 
And I went through the set and was full of joy and nos- 
talgia, and was browsing there when, good Lord, Leupp 
came along the stack aisle for some reason. God knows 
what he was doing up on the ninth level, and he showed 
me an entirely different side of his character. 

I guess maybe I said, "Well, Mr. Leupp, it's 


wonderful to find a complete set of the Academy of Dijon 
proceedings." He said, "I'm sure it's only one of thou- 
sands." And of course that's true; that was the heart 
of the riches of the Berkeley library, these tremendous 
runs of learned society sets. And he said, "Why are you 
particularly interested?" I said, "I went to school 
here. This is my hometown in France." And he gave me 
a very sweet gentle view of his character. I realized 
that he was a complex man. That's all; he smiled and 
said good and passed on. 

Well, I had other views of him through this whole 
series of young men that passed through his jurisdiction., 
I mean Archer and Everett Moore and Frank Lundy and Bob 
Vosper. They'd all worked a year or two, or a little 
morBj for Leupp and had left because there was no future 
for them. 

MINK: Did they regard him as a tough taskmaster? 
POWELL: Yes. You dressed a certain way, always wore 
a tie, and you didn't chew gum, and you kept your shoes 
polished. All these things, of course, now in my advanced 
middle age, I heartily approve of. Jim, Where's your 
necktie this morning? [laughter] But anyway, he v/as a 
taskmaster, and he ran a strict show. He v;as a military 
man originally, and I think v;hen he retired he became 
the Ninth Army Corps Librarian, didn't he? He went over 


to the Presidio and worked a few years. 

But he was a bookman, too. I remember when I was 
appointed librarian, I went up to talk with him about 
the Library Council. I called on him at his home. He 
was recovering from the flu. Mitchell said, "Go up and 
see him." His house was full of books. It was a real 
bookish setting; it contrasted with Goodwin's home here, 
over in Calmar Court. Hell, there wasn't a book in it, 
really--or not one you'd look at twice. Leupp was a col- 
lector. His father was Francis Leupp, the Indian com- 
missioner, and there's a town in Arizona (not a town, 
it's a crossroads) named Leupp, Arizona. That was Harold 
Leupp 's father. 

When I called on him at his home, he said, "Well, 
I'm on my way out." He said, "Powell, wait until my suc- 
cessor comes and you all develop these things that you 
want to do." And one of them was item nine in my list: 
a guide to the University of California library resources, 
a printed total guide. I don't mean a survey of the col- 
lections. I mean a guide to the collections--Berkeley 
and Los Angeles. And I had put a note in the margin 
here in pencil: the person to carry this off--Edith 

MINK: That's a very good idea. / 


MINK: She would have been marvelous. 
POWELL: She could have done this. Item ten, and the 
last item on the list, was: an undergraduate library 
as separate from the main graduate collection. Well, 
I was thinking, you see, along that line in 1943. 
MINK: Let's see, that would have been about the time 
that the Lamont Library was beginning to develop. 
POWELL: I may have talked to Bill Jackson about this. 
Lamont wasn't dedicated until later in the 1940s. 
MINK: But the concept had been formulated. 
POWELL: I think probably I'd talked with Bill Jackson 
at Harvard about this. Because of course he and Metcalf 
were cooking up all these building developments for Har- 
vard. At any rate, that's where it appears. There's 
more. I thought it was item ten only. There are nine- 
teen items. Item eleven was to be a Clark Library ten- 
year report, 1934-1944, printed. "Note," I said, "the 
Morgan Library's five-year printed reports." That's 
where my idea came from. "Do a ten-year report for the 
Clark." And of course I did before I was through j I 
did three of them, covering thirty years of activity. Item 
twelve, send out a questionnaire to the faculty on the 
library. What did they think--that is, people that I 
never met or talked v/ith. Item thirteen: "Require 
monthly written reports from library department heads." 


This was an old standard hassle I used to have, paiti- 
cularly with Debbie. I never could get Debbie King to 
turn one in regularly. She'd end up doing one every tv/o 
or three months in which she packed everything. I must 
say they were worth waiting for. Item fourteen, establish 
the relationship between the University Library and the 
Clark Library, their buying policies and their reference 
services. Well, this is still going on, of course. Vos- 
per has a committee that's working on this. Fifteen, 
develop a standard personnel record form for all Univer- 
sity Library and Clark Library employees, professional 
and clerical. That is, it would be an evaluation--per- 
formance, and all these things. There was nothing in 
the office that you could tell about an employee's past 
or record of performance. Sixteen, issue a staff bulle- 
tin of information. And that was, of course, the UCLA 
Librarian that I had Everett Moore edit when he was the 
first one that came along that I thought could do this 
and that was interested. 

MINK: Well, was the librarian's occasional letter to 
the faculty intended to fill this void to begin with, 
because I believe this preceeded, did it not, the estab- 
lishment of the Librarian ? 

POWELL: The occasional "Letter to the Faculty." Yes, 
it was; and here item seventeen, a faculty bulletin of 


accessions o Now Vosper did this and called it "Acqui- 
sitive Notes." Item eighteen, refurnish the librarian's 
suite of offices. Well, we put a rug on the floor, we 
hung pictures, and we dressed the cell up a bit. It was 
very drab. Nineteen, inquire into photographic proce- 
dures. Acquire microfilm equipment at Clark Library, a 
microfilm camera, and send the films for processing to 
UCLA. Well, those were nineteen items that I thought we 
could do in the University Library, and I set those down 
in 1943 during October, nearly a year before I became 
University Librarian. In other words, all of these things 
were in my mind and came out of my talk with staff, with 
faculty and my own thoughts, and by and large they came 
to pass. We developed these things. 

MINK: The Library Council, for example, you had to wait, 
really. As you said, you couldn't talk to Leupp about 
thisj he was on his way out. How did Coney take to the 
idea of such a device? 

POWELL: Eagerly. Because I think Mitchell had already 
brainwashed him. 
MINK: I see. 

POWELL: Vmen Coney came up for an interview at Cal, of 
course he saw Mitchell. Everybody went to see Mitchell. 
And I think Coney's thoughts were--he came from Texas v:hich 
had a dispersed system--that he vfas eager to do this. 


There were never any problems, and the early meetings 
of course were a delight. They were half social, half 
professional, as we rotated around. I remember one of 
the early meetings was at the Riverside campus. Margaret 
Buvens was librarian, and in our break she took us out 
into a grove of guava trees that were in fruit. We all 
picked guavas, and on the table in the conference room 
she had pitchers of freshly squeezed orange juice. My 
God, we lived high, Jim, in those early years. 
MINK: You said informal at first--did the concept of 
a Library Council have to have approval of the adminis- 
tration to have any force? How did this come about? 
POWELL: Well, Sproul established it. It was created 
by the president, and it reported to the president. 
MINK: Did you bug Sproul about this? Did you write him 
letters about this? 

POWELL: Well, Coney and I suggested it, and we wrote 
the letter creating it. 
MINK: Jointly? 

POWELL: We drafted his letter, I think, establishing 
it. And I had talked with him about it in my interviews 
with him in the summer of ig^^S at Berkeley when he said, 
"Well, what are your ideas, Powell. What do you think 
the library needs?" In other words, I'd talked about 
this v/ith Mitchell earlier, and I said right av;ay, "One 


of the first things we need is a Library Council." He 

said, "My God, yes." He said, "l wish you could get 

together the way Goodwin and Leupp haven't." He was 

very angry and embarrassed by the antagonism between 

Leupp and Goodwin. 

MINK: There was then an antagonism mainly over Jens 


POWELL: Ohj, over everything. 

MINK: Over everything. 

POWELL: Yes. You see, Goodwin had broken the Berkeley 

policy that UCLA should never develop beyond 100,000 vol- 

limes. And in the beginning, when Goodwin came here, all 

the purchasing was done through Berkeley. The orders 

were placed at Berkeley, and this was intolerable, really, 

Leupp was glad to have all this continue because it kept 

his staff and budget up. No, it was a deep antagonism 

and feeling on the part of Berkeley. 

MINK: Well, Goodwin had to develop the library because 

he had to support graduate work, first the MA and then 

the PhD in the late thirties. He had no alternative 

but to develop it beyond this minimal kind of a library, 

this college library. 

POVJELL: Yes, that's right, and he did. 

MINK: I don't see how they'd hold that against him. 

The regents after all proclaimed that graduate v/ork 


should be done at UCLA. 

POV/ELL: Well, I don't know, Jim; you'd have to inter- 
view Leupp's ghost. [laughter] That's an idea. But 
at any rate, Sproul was for anything that brought the 
statewide systems together. He'd hit the table and say, 
"Yes, by all means, cooperation," and this was his whole 

Well then on the next page, Jim, 1 have a heading: 
"Buying policies for the University Library." Now you 
asked me this at a previous meeting: what did you de- 
velop in the way of buying policies? Well, here are ten 
items that I set down. I think this was before Vosper 
was appointed. It was a result of my experience in the 
Acquisition Department. One, folklore. Two, history 
of science. Three, South Pacific. Four, Californiana, 
Cowan, Los Angelesiana. Five, Germanics, build on the 
strength of the Burdach, Bremer, Dahlerup, Koch collec- 
tions. Six, French civilization--history, literature, 
art, travel. Seven, vertebrate zoology, the Dickey col- 
lection as a point of takeoff. Eight, aeronautics. Nine, 
moving pictures. Ten, oil, petroleum. And to do this 
we should compile lists of desiderata; we should check 
standard subject and author bibliographies in all fields 
to be done by fellows in bibliography(? ) , together with 
the Reference and Order Departments and the Librarian. 


The procedure here must be rigorously systematized. In 
other words, I foresaw appointments of graduate students, 
called fellows in bibliography. 

MINK: Somewhat like teaching assistants that used to 
work in the Bancroft Library. 

POWELL: Yes, and did we do some? We did something like 
this, didn't we? Well, you were an example, I guess, 
weren't you? You were a graduate student in history 
and working in the--but you weren't responsible for col- 
lection building. 
MINK: No, no. 
POWELL: You were stack supervisor; that's different. 

Two, develop standard printed forms for requests 
for bids on items, for acknowledgements of gifts, in 
order work, requests for quotations and reports on un- 
filled orders. 

I have a couple of pages on the Clark Library. 
"What to do at the Clark." One, subscribe to the Limited 
Editions Club and get their back publications. Develop 
local presses, Ritchie, particularly the printers of 
Los Angeles. Develop reference book collections at 
Clark (which they lacked). Acquire the British Museum 
Catalogue, which we did eventually in a reprint. Develop 
typography, the history of printing, the monuments of 


printing, the Gutenberg Bible facsimile and other in- 
cunabula facsimiles. Issue a ten-year summary in 1944, 
listing accomplishments and nev/ directions to be taken. 
Eight, at the Clark, write for a back file and a continua- 
tion of other library reports--that is, the Huntington, 
the Houghton, Stanford, John Carter Brown, the Folger, 
the Morgan, the Wrenn, the Chapin, and the Library of 
Congress. Acquire at the Clark a union list of serials. 
Recent books on Montana; check and see that the Montana 
collection is developed. Eric Gill (there it is clear 
back in 1943), develop Eric Gill, Nonesuch Press, Gol- 
den Cockerel Press. 

MINK: Well, how were you going to justify all of the 
collecting of the fine printing? 

POWELL: Building to strength. Clark had Nash, he had 
Kelmscott and Doves; he'd been Nash's great patron. It 
was building to strength, Jim. There they were, the 
beginnings, and I saw all the modern local printers could 
be had free. I primed the pump by giving my Ward Rit- 
chie collection. It's now worth a hell of a lot of money. 
We appraised it then as a gift of $1,500, but now you 
couldn't duplicate it, because I used to pick things 
off the floor, you see, in Ward's early years, empty 
the wastebaskets and all the stuff that's gone forever 
otherv/lse. And the Clark Library Committee, I had 


suggestions because it was an administrative committee 

appointed by Sproul^ not by the Committee on Committees, 

and here were names that I wanted to be on it. Sproul 

as chairman, Ernest Carroll Moore, ex officio . And I 

had Goodwin's name here, and as I suggested to Sproul 

that at Goodwin's retirement he be given a membership 

on the Clark committee. 

MINK: Was he ever asked? 

POWELL: Well, it's struck through on my list. I think 

Sproul said, "Uh-unh." 

MINK: He didn't want anybody outside of the university 

on it, I suppose. Could that be it? 

POWELL: Well, he wasn't outside of the university. 

MINK: Well, he was emeritus. 

POWELL: Yes, well, course I'm a member of the Clark 

committee. Murphy appointed me lifetime honorary member; 

it's the same idea. And then Hustvedt has been stricken 

through, and I wrote Bynum. 

MINK: Hustvedt was the one that opposed it. 

POWELL: Yes, he wanted to run the thing. I wanted to 

keep him on the committee. Sproul said to dump him. 

MINK: He opposed your appointment as librarian of the 


POWELL: Yes, because he v;anted one of his own proteges. 

MINK: Yes. 


POWELL: All right, Edward Hooker, Dixon Wecter, David 
Bjork, to represent history. And on the next page (and 
we're getting toward the end), Clark Library: to dis- 
cuss with RGS before the first committee meeting (which 
would have been early in 1944 after I took office; this 
was written in autumn of '43). "Things to discuss with 
Sproul." One, the Library Committee and its role, the 
formulation of a policy for the Clark Library--its re- 
lationship to the university, to the research library, 
or museums of the region, and what to do about the resi- 
dence, relations to the community, to scholars in general, 
and its buying program. Three, the administration of 
Clark Library after July 1, 1944 (after I became Univer- 
sity Librarian, too). The appointment of a bibliogra- 
pher, which was Archer. Four, purchase order routine. 
Dispense with a committee OK for items under $100. 

That is, up to that point, everything that v;as 
bought at the Clark, even a fifty-cent pamphlet, had to 
be submitted to the committee on a typed list, and to 
eliminate that, I suggested at first for everything un- 
der $100 I be given carte blanche. This v;ould save de- 
lay in dispatch of purchase orders from ten days to tvio 
weeks. It would save two clerical processes, the typing 
of lists and advance reservation letters to dealers. 
(Anything that saved money would appeal to Sproul.) 


Lists do not represent purchases because of the large number 
of cancellations. These were arguments in favor of 
this: (d) almost no items have ever been rejected by 
the committee; (e) the committee does not read the lists 
at present; it's just red tape. The director should be 
responsible for evaluating worth of possible purchases — 
one thing he's hired to do! --within the limits of the 
buying program set by him and the committee. 

In other words, when you propose things to Sproul, 
you had to have the reasons laid out. You couldn't go 
in and say, "Look, I think it ' d be a great idea; turn 
the thing over to me." Uh-unh. You had to justify and 
give reasons. I learned this early, and I did it. And 
it always worked, because Sproul was a man of reason. 
You could convince him by a reasonable argument. 

Five, a monthly report to the president and the 
regents. Its desirability and usefulness. Six, why 
not a full printed annual report which can go beyond 
the walls. Seven, discuss the recent Montana items. 
Should we keep the collection up to date? Eight, es- 
tablish a bindery (and I've written McKeown who was the 
janitor at the Clark who we made the binder) . Nine, 
get mechanical equipment at the Clark--a mimeograph card 
machine, an electric typewriter. Ten, consider putting 
exhibition cases in the hallway. Eleven, consider 


turning the drawing room into a seventeenth-century read- 
ing room with wall cases and tables. (Well, vie never 
did this because it was architecturally impossible, really, 
to tamper with that room. And I consulted with Farquhar, 
the university architect, and we decided to leave it 
alone.) Twelve, put signs at the street entrance. Iden- 
tify the place. We did; we had those bronze signs made 
on the three sides. Exhibitions to do at the Clark. 
Books mentioned by Pepys, books read by Dryden, Ned 
Ward, the seventeenth-century pamphleteer, John Taylor, 
the Water Poet, and Defoe. Issue handlists. Revise 
the leaflet for visitors o Prepare a manual for readers. 
Prepare a staff manual. Prepare a reader's card which 
will be revised and printed. That's it. 
MINK: That's it. 

POWELL: That's it. Well, what can I say, Jim? What- 
ever success I had was because I was prepared in theory 
to do these things. The practice or the carrying of them 
out was another matter, and it took time and they were 
modified; but in theory I knew what was needed--and why? 
Because, hell, I'd been in the mill here those years 
and lived with the library day in and day out and knew 
from the faculty what they wanted, and from the staff, 

There must be in the archives, Jim, the letters 


of Deborah King, or are they in my files here? In 
the six months I was at the Clark, Debbie wrote me 
about every week, things that she thought the library 
needed. Wonderful letters.' You know how she used to 
beat 'em out on her typewriter at top speed, and she 
was full of ideas for remodeling the building. And of 
course when we came to enlarge it, I put her and Neal 
on the committee to do it. Debbie was full of good 
ideas. I think her father had been an architect, and 
she had a third-dimensional sense that I didn't have, 
and of course which Neal had. But all the things that 
we did here--sure, I was a paternalistic and "big daddy" 
type, but we had a lot of staff participation in policy 
formation. I tried to have people around me and work- 
ing with me that knew more than I did. 
MINK: Well, one thing I noticed there that isn't in 
the notebook that did develop, and I suppose it would 
be easy to check as to the exact date at which it oc- 
curred, was the department heads meeting that was held 
every week. Wnen did you begin this? 
POWELL: I don't remember. 
MINK: VJhy? 

POWELL: I needed help, Jim! This sounds like a lot 
of learned guff, and of course it is. It sounds like, 
Jesus, I knew it all; but, actually, I never administered 


anything. And I needed people out on the administra- 
tive line in departments and in divisions who could do 
it, and I suppose I wanted their experience always to 
draw on, that would reinforce and build up my ignorance, 
is what it amounted to. I had tremendous confidence-- 
it's obvious--didn't I. I was pretty confident, almost 
a blind faith that I could do this job; but I had no 
day-to-day experience in running a library, least of 
all a library of this size and complexity. I know Vos- 
per was a very fortunate appointment. There again, 
Mitchell deserves the original credit. He said, "Here's 
the man for you." Well, I looked at the picture and 
said, "Of course it is." I liked the guy's mug. 

But he showed this flair--we were just talking 
about it a minute ago--that is that Vosper is a faculty 
man. Well, he showed this in the beginning, that he 
was able to integrate his thoughts and action all his 
life with the faculty here--more so, I think, than with 
the staff itself. Isn't this true?--that he has a 
greater rapport with the faculty than the staff at large, 
He has bitter quarrels with his immediate contacts on 
the staff, but I think in the beginning, at least, I had 
a very strong rapport with the staff, down to the grass 
roots, to the shipping clerk, because I got around more. 
He would say right away, "You could; it was smaller." 


That's true. It was all in one building, wasn't 
it? The only branch library was chemistry v/ith Eve 
Dolbee, who was the departmental secretary, and agri- 
culture had a bit of an operation--didn' t it?--under 
Martin Huberty. These were bootleg branch libraries. 
I brought Betty Rosenberg. As I recall Betty was the 
first agricuture librarian; I got her from the county 
library, probably through Debbie; she had worked for 
Debbie in RBR as an undergraduate, and then I got a 
group from the county library who wouldn't sign the 
county loyalty oath, remember? And then they came 
out here and ran into the same thing. Dorothy Harmon, 
Charlotte Spence, Betty Rosenberg, all came from the 
county library, and they're all here yet. What were 
we on, Jim; get me back on the rails. 
MINK: The ten-cent notebook. 

POWELL: Well, the heads' meeting I think was just--well, 
it was a way we operated the library. 

MINK: Well, it was very much tailored to the time. You 
couldn't do that today. 
POWELL: VJhy not? 

MINK: I think that this has been one of the things 
that brought about the change in the administrative 
setup, where you have the meetings of so many department 
heads, of twenty-five people. 


POWELL: It's too big. 

MINK: You can't have a meeting like this that has too 
much feedback. It becomes an orientation meeting. The 
librarian gets together the department heads and tells 
them what he's done. He doesn't get them together to 
ask them what he ought to do. There's a lot of advice, 
but very little consent. 

POWELL: Well, we actually developed policy in those 
heads' meetings on cataloging and on acquisitions, on 
reference, and particularly on building development. 
You see, that was the big overriding thing, I think, 
in 1944, 1945, and 1946--to get that east wing going. 
We had a blackboard and pinups, and we were kicking 
that thing around. We'd have the architect, Carl McElvey, 
and--who was the firm that built this, great big guy?-- 
Charlie Matcham. And we had Earl Heitschmidt. Heit- 
schraidt and Matcham did the east wing here. Well, I'd 
known Earl Heitschmidt in the Phi Gamrr.a Delta. He was 
a member of the Oregon chapter of the Phi Gamma Delta. 
I knew him in the graduate council here; so we were 
delighted to join up again in this project. We're 
sitting in it here, aren't we? This is the east wing. 
Well, sure, we met once a week to tool the thing 
up. I couldn't do it all by myself. I didn't know 
enough. VJell, even if you knew enough, it vfouldn't be 


the right thing to do. I'm a great believer in com- 
mittee work that results in action, not in committee 
work just for committee work. But this was an ad- 
ministrative working committee that ran the library 
for better or worse. I don't think I ever brought 
out the ten-cent notebook. I don't think I ever 
showed this to anybody before, but you. It was my 
under-the-cover operating manual. But I couldn't have 
operated without it. That's what I always came back 




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