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Freakin’ Weird Book, Man

The Love Story of Mr. Schles by Ben Woodhead in all its leather-bound glory.

I found this odd and creepy book on e-bay: The Love Story of Mr. Schles. The little thing seems even older than it’s 1973 date. I had to get it—if only for its title. It is about the founding of the Schlesinger Geriatric Center in Beaumont, Texas. It’s written in the stilted and reverent language of a religious screed and could have been used as promotional material for the old folk’s home or perhaps it was intended as Mr. Schles’ passport to make sure he got past those pearly gates. Who knows? All I can say is it’s freaky weird.

My minor research shows that this “home” is still in use, but the place gets poor grades in online rating sites that deal with homes for the aged. I guess this place saw better days. Anyway, what a title! Who knew what treasures lay inside.

It has a photo from their “greatest day” when, in 1968, President Lyndon Baines Johnson visited. And includes a great letter from Barbara Bush saying how George was eager to visit, but he thought it better to wait until after the election (given the dates here, the elder Bush was likely running for congress).

From the book itself: But if the purely Christian motivation of the man has been made in the foregoing pages in even a reasonably convincing manner, then this editor will feel amply rewarded. 

The Love Story of Mr. Schles is the story of a very unusual man. What a far, far better world this world would be if a whole legion of his prototypes should suddenly arise! 

Unusual indeed!

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About kenschles

Ken Schles is the author of Invisible City (1988; reprint 2015 and 2016), The Geometry of Innocence (2001), A New History of Photography: The World Outside and the Pictures In Our Heads (2007), Oculus (2011) and Night Walk (2015 and 2016). His work has been nominated for the Deutsche Börse Prize, exhibited by The Museum of Modern Art, noted by the New York Times Book Review, cited in histories of the medium (Parr/Badger, Auer & Auer, 10x10 American Photobooks) and issued by some of the foremost publishers of our time (Steidl, Hatje Cantz, Twelvetrees Press). They're considered “intellectual milestones in photography” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), “hellishly brilliant” (The New Yorker). Ken Schles’ work is included in private and public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, The Rijksmuseum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museo d"Arte Contemporanea (MACRO) Testaccio Museum, and more than 100 other museum and library collections world-wide. 
 Ken Schles is a NYFA Fellow. http://www.kenschles.com


3 thoughts on “Freakin’ Weird Book, Man

  1. Dear Ken,
    I happen to run across your blog about the book you found called “The Love Story of Mr. Schles”. This was my Great Grandfather. I was 13 when he died so I was not around long enough to know him as much as I would of liked, but I know he was really a wonderful person. I was told he was quite a ladies man when he was younger, but he married my mom’s grandmother and settled down. When my mom’s parent’s adopted her around 1932, they had to promise someone would take her to church. Since my mom’s parent’s were on the road a lot, she was living with Mr Schles and Nellie most of the time. In order not to break their promise, they began bringing my mom, Frances, to the North End United Methodist Church. He became very much involved with the church a did a lot of good things. All I can tell you is he was a wonderful Great Grandfather to me and a role model I have never forgotten. I have never seen to book you have, so it would mean a lot to me see it. Thank you for posting it.

    Posted by Shannon Hennigan | February 23, 2014, 12:53 am
    • Shannon,

      I know this may sound strange but I recently began working at this facility and I have found some items that may be of great importance to your family. If possible, and I know this is a long shot, but please contact me. My email is lrwinegeart@hotmail.com. I would love to speak with you.

      Posted by Laura | December 7, 2016, 11:00 pm
    • Shannon: We’re trying to find a coly of this book for WC Hall – one of your grandfather’s students at North End Methodist. Is we could borrow it, he’a me really pleased and he’d really like to visit with you about Mr. Schles – a man of great influence on his life.

      Posted by Ruth Aubey | January 16, 2018, 5:22 pm

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