As a youngster my interest in sailing was sparked by a wonderful story of a young man's travails and travels on an old Friendship Sloop
, "Princess", written by Joe Richards, a struggeling New York
artist and professional seaman who supported his sailing with his art. Published in 1955, the book was filled with wry humor
and prosaic tales of adventure along the waterway's of the eastern seaboard as the author searched for his "Island", all illustrated with his simple but engaging sketches. My original copy occupied various nighstands over the years until it ultimately fell completely apart, a victim of dried out binding glue, bookworms and acidized paper that no bindery could remedy.
For whatever reason, I began thinking about that book a year or two ago and finally managed to find a copy in a used bookstore, in Indiana of all places. Not an original but a 60's era reprint that includes a second, shorter, book as an extension of the first that described the author's post WWII experiences with Princess and his--by then--family and their Island. The book again remains on my nightstand and lends itself to being opened and parts
read at random, sequence not being an issue.
As it occures, a few months ago we were at the St. Pete boat show
when we passed a booth prominently displaying a painting that I immediately recognized as one of the illustrations from the book, albeit rendered in color, on canvas
. As we approached, I also saw new reprints of "Princess" although I was unwilling to buy one as a replacement for my "real" copy. The booth was "womaned" by a bright, engaging, lady who proved to be the now quite grown-up (of course!) daughter of the author, Susan, whom I felt I already knew from her father's descriptions of her and her brother's childhood adventures on their Island.
Susan Richards-McClane is now offering her father's books
, and wonderful reproductions of his art, from a small gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida
(see Joe Richards Princess, Friendship Sloops, Nautical Art St Petersburg Florida
). The book is really an excellent read. Joe's art speaks for itself. Both are well worth a look. Tell Susan I sent you!