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John Mason Brown is a very good friend of ours. When
John and his wife Gassy would come here for dinner, I can
still remember Phyllis and Cassy rolling on the ground with
laughter at the thought of people paying John Mason Brown
and me to talk. They both said, “If they only knew you two
hams, they'd realize that you'd pay them for the privilege!”
Lecturing has become a very important part of my life.
One extra dividend developed from it. I'd go to towns where
no book publisher probably ever had been before--no publisher
of, you know, a big firm. I would always go to the bookstores
so I would meet the book sellers in a town where they had
never seen a publisher in their lives. If you don't think
that that wasn't helpful...
Oh, I know.
And chat with them and see if they had the Modern
Library and sometimes help them move it myself... I'd say,
“What do you mean putting the Modern Library in the back of
the store?" Well, they hadn't gotten around to moving it.
I would help them move the books while I was there. And when
they weren't looking, I'd pull some of our new books out from
where they were and put them in the front of the stand. For
my own books, I'd sign anything they had in stock. In fact,
there was a joke. If I ever got out of town with an unsigned
Bennett Cerf book left, they'd say it was a rare and valuable
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