The Skimmers- a book club of the 1920s

The pastedown of Best Short Stories of 1925 has this large book club notice for  “The Skimmers.” This is almost certainly an American women’s reading club very possibly one found at the Louisiana University site for ‘wives of the Louisiana State University faculty, and operated in the Baton Rouge, La. area as a social group and unofficial book club.’ It was formed in January 1927 and its archives are at Louisiana. They note “…although the Skimmers’ membership occasionally grew to 20, the club has traditionally limited itself to a maximum of sixteen persons. In addition to regularly reading and trading books, the club’s activities included entertaining the members’ husbands as well as themselves with special dinners, bridge, afternoon teas, outings, and luncheons. The club also participated in World War II service projects. Now comprised of residents throughout Baton Rouge, as well as faculty wives, the club continues its traditions of literary activities, luncheons, dinners, and outings.”

If the above Skimmers are indeed the Louisiana academic’s wives, the part  about 20 members is slightly worrying, as there are 35 names here. Also there is no mention of auctions on the site. It is just possible to work out the curious rules of the club and the way the books were passed on but it is likely by the time they were auctioned they had been rather well read… The illustration is familiar and may come from a turn of the century American illustrator and poster artist whose name escapes your humble jotter. As far as can be ascertained The Skimmers are still going  as  a book club.



Cafe Bizarre – Beatnik club

Found- a rare piece of Beatnik ephemera, a card from New York's Cafe Bizarre with the phone numbers and name of Rick Allmen who started the club in 1957. The Cafe Bizarre was one of the better known clubs to capitalise on the beatnik phenomenon, and the venue for many counterculture poets and musicians of the period. Musitron Records even recorded an album of Beat festivities at Cafe Bizarre in the late '50s. (In the post-beatnik-era Andy Warhol discovered The Velvet Underground there.) Another band who played there was the Lovin' Spoonful who described the place as a 'little dump' (1965 -post its Beatnik Glory).They played 3 gigs a night and were paid with tuna fish sandwiches, ice cream and occasionally peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. More can be found at Rock and Roll Roadmaps.