I received a special book in the mail this week. It’s not an officially-published book. It doesn’t list a publisher or an ISBN number. You won’t find it in the Library of Congress. Still, it is beautifully, yet simply bound in a brown paper cover with a logo for a title, “Remembering Glen Dawson: A Collection of Tributes.”
Glen Dawson died this year. He died two months shy of 104. His son, Keith, who put this little book together as a memorial to his dad, claims two reasons for Glen’s longevity: “(1) his positive outlook on life and (2) his honoring of his father and mother, along with many others — including many of us.”
Our families were close growing up and Glen’s wife and my mother were special close friends. I say “special” because Mary Helen Dawson I think understood my mother better than anyone. They had a secret understanding. My mother was a wild woman waiting to happen, and Mary Helen knew that wild woman. Few others did, including everyone in my family except my wife.
Keith is right, Glen honored people. I can never remember him not having a smile on his face — a really big smile, especially when he looked at you, as if he were saying, “Well, look at you! Aren’t you amazing!” He was a small, humble man with a huge capacity for loving and encouraging people.
It’s only right that there would be a book printed and bound for his memorial. They would print a book for anything, the Dawsons. They were in the book business. Glen and his brother took over and operated their father’s business, Dawson’s Book Shop in downtown Los Angeles, a leading source in Southern California for rare and out-of-print books in the fields of California history, Western Americana and photography. In fact, Dawson’s, until its closure in 2010, was the oldest continuously-operating book shop in the city of Los Angeles. It had operated as a jewel among book lovers for 105 years. Its closing signaled the end of a great era for books.
I love the opening sentences of Keith’s preface to this book: “The inspiration for this keepsake is first of all Glen Dawson. He would never want to trouble anyone, such as attending a celebration of his life. And, if he did trouble them, he would want to give them something for their trouble — this little book, for instance.”
That’s it. That says it all. To hold something in your hand — something bound with a picture or two — made it official — made you official. Glen would have considered everyone worthy of a book.
Glen Dawson; TEC 5 US Army, World War II; June 3, 1912 – March 22, 2016; Bronze Star Medal. Mountaineer.* Bookman. Family man. Encourager.
Thanks, Glen, for making us special.
* Glen, always the adventurer, participated in the first ascent of the east face of Mount Whitney in 1931, highest peak in the United States until Alaska joined the Union. He also climbed the Matterhorn.