A Commercial Traveler’s Journals

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“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” –Winston Churchill

Tact might not be the best description of Henry Wansey’s writing, but despite lacking both adroitness and sensitivity, I would certainly look forward to the trip to hell so long as he was narrating it. In “A Commercial Traveler’s Journals,” Wansey narrates his trip through  several cities and towns in England. This narration is characterized by a quintessentially English distaste for nearly everything he encounters. However, his constant displeasure and complaints are what create his unique and engaging charm.

Written in 1816, the journals in this collection give an interesting and colorful view of early 19th century England. This collection is not physically attributed to Henry Wansey, but given details and evidence found within the text, it can be concluded that he likely authored these delightful pieces. He described towns known for their charm and character in such an engaging yet miserable manner that the reader can find him or herself oddly wanting to have the same experiences.

IMG_3513In his description of the road between Risborough and Oxford, Wansey could not be more negative or evidently displeased, yet his writing and accompanying sketches leave the reader with a desire to experience this same delightfully unpleasant journey.

“I was preparing to leave the palace in great disgust, and to my great alarm, was informed that the road I had to go was considerably worse than the one from Wycombe. To attempt a description of this is quite impossible, therefore I must beg a reference to the sketches opposite.” – Volume 1

The illustrations on the left show Wansey’s travel experience in a horse drawn carriage on the poorly maintained roads between Risborough and Oxford. This is one of the many examples of how these journals help give a view of how different the world was in his time. It is easy to find pleasure in his discomfort as it is nothing more than a novelty and unlike like the modern reality.

Because Wansey was a real man having real experiences in places that still exist today, the reader is given an incredible trip back in time. Several of the travelers’ inns that he mentions having stayed in are in operation today, and the towns, churches, and details that he notes and describes still stand as well. Reading these journals is an experience similar to reading historical fiction in that they have the ability to transport the reader to another world. The truly incredible part of the transportation is that the other world actually exists, and can be experienced today.

In conclusion, I now intend to take a tour of England using Henry Wansey as my guide.

Not your Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather’s Powerball Ticket

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United States Lottery Ticket. Philadelphia : John Dunlap, 1776. RBC HG6126 .U55 1776

Government sponsored lotteries are not a new phenomenon. The profits generated were used to meet debt obligations, to raise money for military expenditures or to finance the costs of civic infrastructure projects.   In colonial America the earliest public lottery was held in 1745 in Boston Massachusetts.  In 1747, the city of Philadelphia authorized the Scheme of the First Philadelphia Lottery soon followed in 1748 by the Scheme of the Second Philadelphia Lottery, both enacted to raise funds for the defense of the city against French privateers roving the Delaware Bay.

The United States Lottery was established in Philadelphia on November 18, 1776 by the Second Continental Congress as a national lottery to raise funds for the Continental Army fighting in the Revolutionary War. It also served to generate an interest-free loan to the early American government in need of cash. Tickets from the Continental Congress lotteries were issued in four classes with 100,000 tickets printed in each class.

lotteryticket17764The lottery ticket held at Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts is an example of an unnumbered remaindered (unsold) third class ticket. The left side stub portion of the ticket is still attached. When a ticket was sold the purchaser’s portion was detached from the stub and the official ticket number was written on the stub as well as filled into the bearer’s box.

This ticket was signed by G. [George] Campbell, one of a number of directors serving on the United States Lottery board. The Kislak copy was trimmed along the bottom edge resulting in the loss of the control letter (in this case “S”) corresponding to the control letter on the still-attached stub side.

The national lottery ultimately proved to be less lucrative than anticipated for the fledgling American government, earning considerably less than the $1.5 million dollars in estimated revenue.

Works consulted

Millikan, Neal E. Lotteries in Colonial America. New York : Routledge, 2011.

Swain, Steve. “Colonial America Lotteries.” Ephemera Society of America. Web 15 Jan. 2016. http://www.ephemerasociety.org/blog/?p=1698

Wilmarding, Lucius. “The United States Lottery.” The New York Historical Society Quarterly 47 (1963) 5-39

Treasures of the Sea

What do you collect from the sea?  Days at the beach let us wander along the coast and discover the bleached bones that once housed mollusks or crustaceans.  We bring home remnants of our journeys to the coast: seashells, stones, rocks, driftwood, feathers, and sea-glass small tokens reminding us of ocean sights, sounds, and smells.  These objects lived in a realm of another place and time other than our day-to-day lives. The objects serve as a remembrance of a past event or journey and end up displayed at home on a table, a shelf, or in a glass jar becoming small mementos of time spent with the vast ocean.

Sometimes we stumble upon living objects like starfish, sand dollars, or coral left stranded on the sand.  Seaweed also drifts its way on shore in tangled clumps of various colors.  These flora from the sea can be pressed and dried like wildflowers or plants transforming them into vibrant keepsakes.

Here at the Kislak Center is an example of beautifully preserved ocean life from a seaside journey; a scrapbook containing carefully collected seaweed.  Who created the album is unknown to us, but clearly much care was taken to save and keep these treasures of the sea. The specimens contained in this book are in fact entitled Album of Beautiful Seaweeds, Souvenir de Torquay and dates from between 1860 to 1870 (for more information on this scrapbook see the finding aid).

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Dried seaweed on title page.

Below the hand written title is a specimen that at first glance appears to be a pressed hydrangea bloom with a pinkish hue.  The color was so vivid I wondered if it had been dyed, but on further inspection it appears the original color has been preserved!

These seaweeds were carefully pressed and preserved and their scientific names recorded.  This collection of botanical specimens from the sea gives us a glimpse of what the creator held dear from his or her journey.  The variety of seaweeds (see below) have retained their colors ranging from pale to dark green, shades of burgundy, and almost black.  There is also an array of leaf type from singular wide strands, fine short wisps grouped like a bouquet, and sparse evergreen-like strands.

There are other souvenirs in the album, botanical postcards and pressed ferns and leaves. One curious memento laid into the scrapbook is a flying fish wing mounted on a small slip of paper with the note “captured in Oct. 1861.”  Was this vacationer on a boat?  Did he or she catch the fish stranded on the sand as the tide was going out?

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In addition this keepsake album of seaweeds are Ships’ logs, sailors’ diaries, and travelers’ scrapbooks are all mementos of treasures preserved from the sea you can find at Kislak Center.

 

 

 

 

Emma Josephine Brazier Collection: The Significance of a Scrapbook

image2   image5In making a scrapbook it seems that one rarely considers the historical significance of what he or she is creating. All evidence says that Emma Josephine Brazier was nothing more than a normal girl and, because of that, it is interesting to consider the historical significance that her scrapbooks harbor. By collecting images of contemporary actors, playbills and newspaper clippings, it is safe to assume that Emma had no intention of documenting an event in American history from the unusual perspective that she did.

Among these many clippings that showed Emma’s own interests are some interesting connections between the theater world of the 19th century and John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. In the first book of the Emma Josephine Brazier theater and opera scrapbooks are several theaters and actors that closely relate to John Wilkes Booth and the assassination itself.

While flipping through the first scrapbook, it is evident that Emma had an affinity for particular actors, such as Laura Keene, Emma Taylor, John Drew, John Sleeper Clark, William Wheatley and Edwin Booth. While each of these actors has a connection to Booth, Laura Keene and John “Sleeper” Clarke have truly interesting tales tying them to the actual Lincoln assassination.

Laura Keene, an actress who also owned and managed Laura Keene’s Theater, was the lead actress in the showing of Our American Cousin in Ford Theater on April 14, 1865, the night of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. After hearing the fatal gunshot, Keene rushed to the presidential box to attempt to help Lincoln. Her costume was stained with his blood as she was cradling his head and today the stained cuff of her dress can be found in the National Museum of American History.

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While Keene’s connection to the assassination is remembered as a heroic one, John “Sleeper” Clarke did not have such a fortunate legacy. An actor by profession, Clarke was also a schoolmate of both Edwin and John Wilkes Booth. He went on to marry their sister, Asia Booth. Following the assassination, Clarke came into possession of several letters from John Wilkes Booth and sent them to the Philadelphia Inquirer to be printed. As a result, he was forced to spend time in the Capitol Prison in Washington D.C. After his release, he asked his wife for a divorce in attempts to separate himself from the “Booth” name and family. After she refused, he moved himself and his family to London in order to continue his acting career in peace.

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These connections are striking as it becomes clear that documentation of any type has the potential to mean much more than its original intention. A young woman making a memory book of the plays and operas that interested her now has the ability to show scholars a very unique and unexpected side of one of the most notable events in American history, the Lincoln assassination.

If he could have kept it, he would have …

mauchly_4The first three series of the John W. Mauchly papers are now available for research!  It feels like ages since I first surveyed the MANY boxes of Mauchly material that were filling my office space on my first day of work here in the SCPC.  I can honestly say, without hesitation, that I have truly enjoyed Dr. Mauchly’s company.

Construction on our processing room and surrounding areas has precipitated the need to temporarily move collection material to safer locations and so the first installment of the finding aid comes a bit earlier than anticipated.

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Collected Condolences: the John L. Stewart Memorial Scrapbook

Amongst the many sheets of correspondence, lecture notes and legal documents that make up the John Lammey Stewart papers is a hefty scrapbook created after Stewart’s death in 1927 and probably arranged by his widow, Mary. John Stewart was an educator whose professional career culminated in being appointed President of Lehigh University before serving as a Pennsylvania Public Service Commissioner and who, as this scrapbook can attest, was beloved to his wife and many friends. Though its pages are yellowed and worn, this memorialization to Stewart was created with great care: about two dozen sympathetic telegrams and 180 letters of condolence addressed to Mrs. Stewart were sorted, folded, and pasted onto eighteen large pieces of card stock. Certain pages, packed with everything from succinct telegrams (“Profound Sympathy”) to circuitous handwritten notes (“Today at noon I opened the saddest letter in the world. I’ve been stunned, inarticulate ever since. I feel so badly I just don’t know what to say…”) are so laden that they measure nearly a quarter of an inch thick.

This thoughtful tribute seems, at least in part, to have been a way for Mary Stewart to process the grief of her husband’s death. However, the scrapbook takes on a slightly different resonance when one considers the circumstances of the year leading up to Stewart’s death. After serving on the Public Service Commission (an agency that regulated public utilities) for three years, Stewart was issued a quo warranto in 1926, requiring him to prove his right to the office in court. Months before, Stewart had been reappointed Commissioner by Governor Gifford Pinchot, but the Governor “evidently changed his mind relative to the wisdom of his selection” and put forth new candidates. The Senate objected to this replacement, which led to Stewart’s case in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It is unclear what prompted Pinchot’s reversal of opinion of Stewart, however a tribute to Stewart written upon his death states that the “bitter storm of controversy” was caused by one particular decision of the commission and that “Governor Pinchot… who should have known John’s character, accused him of a selfish betrayal of the public”. The scandal is also alluded to in the scrapbook. One letter signed ‘Emerson’ reads: “We rarely hear of one individual possessing within himself… the ability to keenly discern between right and wrong and lessly to affirm and uphold the right (even in opposition to a stupid but nevertheless powerful public opinion)…”

Stewart was ultimately reappointed as a Commissioner, but the stress of the trial and fall from the public’s graces must have been traumatic for both him and his wife. Indeed, it was only one year after the resolution of his case that Stewart suddenly fell ill at a meeting of the Commission and died just two hours later. According to his colleagues, Stewart’s “life was expended in the service of the State, for his sudden and fatal illness was due, as the attending physicians state, to the weight of the responsible duties he had undertaken”.

Perhaps because of his abrupt death, Stewart was never able to fully recover his pre-trial reputation. Thus, Mary’s scrapbook, beyond memorializing her husband, is a validation of his goodness and likeability. The two hundred notes of sympathy she received when Stewart died, which laud him as an influential teacher and honest public servant, create a testament to the goodwill that people felt towards her husband despite the  ordeal of his public opprobrium.

Happy Thanksgiving, 1945

2015-11-20 12-34_Page_1The holidays must have been tough for servicemen and women during World War II, but it seems like after the war was over and one was STILL not home, it must have been extra frustrating.  Perhaps leaders knew this, or perhaps it was just that, in 1945, Americans had so much for which to be thankful; but it appears that the United Seamen’s Service hosted quite the festivities in Calcutta, India on November 22, 1945.  The celebration included a church service, beer hour, football, and, of course, Thanksgiving dinner which was accompanied by music and entertainment.

2015-11-20 12-34_Page_2Captain Harold A. Budke served in the Medical Corps in India from 1945 to early 1946.  His experiences are documented in a rather wonderful photograph album.  Included in the album is this program for the United Seamen’s Service Thanksgiving Day celebrations.  As with most posh dinners of the time, celery and olives are prominently advertised along with the roast Vermont turkey and the pumpkin pie. After I see such event menus, I always feel the need to re-evaluate my own food-planning choices … should I stop at Reading Terminal Market on my way home and purchase celery and ripe olives??? Can one have a truly successful meal without them?  History indicates that they are, indeed, a necessity!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers … may your dinner be truly celebratory, even if you make the tragic decision NOT to serve celery and ripe olives!

Humor at Marlboro

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One example of Marlboro’s silliness is the “Marlboro Variety Award Letters” in which humorous honors were awarded to participants. Here, Serkin’s napkin-throwing skills are praised: “The Marksmanship Award goes to Rudolf Serkin for his unerring aim, his superlative pitching style, and his superior formation of paper napkin wads for use in Dining Hall recreational activities.”

Pianist Rudolf Serkin, co-founder and longtime artistic director of the Marlboro Music School and Festival, was known for his love of practical jokes, crude humor, and other forms of childish fun, as Marissa has pointed out in her blog post on the Marlboro Music School and Festival records. According to some, he initiated the now famous Marlboro tradition of napkin-throwing wars in the dining hall, and whether or not he did in fact throw the very first napkin ball, he certainly participated with enthusiasm (as proven by his winning the “Marksmanship Award” in Marlboro’s Variety Award Letters – see image). Serkin’s antics went well beyond this, however, including long-lasting runs of back-and-forth practical jokes with certain Marlboro participants, some of which are documented in Rudolf Serkin: a life by Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber. But while Serkin is the most famous Marlboro jokester, and no doubt deserves credit for promoting a light-hearted atmosphere at the festival, the true comic maestro of Marlboro was their music librarian, Shirley Ann Weekley (who is responsible for the “Baacarole” in Marissa’s post).

The Rudolf Serkin papers, 1908-2003 contains folder after folder of Shirley’s hilarious puns, parodies, and inside jokes, which sneak their way into Marlboro’s official documents. In my opinion, the extensive run of Welcome To Marlboro packets are in themselves worth a trip to see the collection. For many years before Shirley came to Marlboro, these documents were exactly what you would expect given the title: a necessary but uninteresting collection of all the relevant information that a Marlboro participant might need–telephone numbers, hours of the dining hall, etc. Shirley, however, kicked it up quite a few notches and brought these once unremarkable packets to a level that one might dare say rivals the artistry of the Marlboro participants themselves. (OK, maybe not quite, but her commitment to the humor is definitely impressive.) Here is the cover page for the 1977 edition of the Welcome To Marlboro packet, with Shirley’s hilarious description of the packet, including intentionally terrible line breaks:

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The cover page of the 1977 edition of Welcome To Marlboro

a compilation of concise factual info/rmation, titillating gossip, scandalo/us lies, trivia, and sheer fabricatio/n, with absolutely no indication as t/o what falls into which category, thu/s leaving this distinction solely to the judgment of the reader. edited b/y shirley weekley, mimeographed by d/avid white, map by david o. decker, /vertical alignment by the marlboro m/onster, musical examples drawn by a /team of presser building mice. conde/mned by the daughters of the america n revolution, approved by idi amin, /indexed by a chimpanzee, and collate/d by the peoples’ marlboro festival /chorus of the green mountain-white r/iver sanitation district.

The “Marlboro Monster” was one of many fictional characters created by Shirley to appear year after year in the Welcome To Marlboro packets. In the same 1977 edition, The Monster is introduced via footnotes running along the bottom of every page of the packet. The complete story (which is too much fun not to post) runs as follows:

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The first of a series of footnotes introducing the “Marlboro Monster” in the 1977 edition of the Welcome To Marlboro packet

It would be very surprising indeed if you have not read or heard at least something about the possible existence of such half-mythological monsters as the abominable snowman. Serious scientists are even now looking for the Loch Ness monster. They have even given the monster a scientific name: Nessiteras rhombopteryx. In the midst of all this hullabaloo about such famous beasts as Nessie and Big Foot, the sightings of a mysterious creature in the vicinity of Potash Hill, Vermont have been all but ignored. Each night, as the mists rise behind the Presser Building, a hulking form emerges from the Music Library. It is the Marlboro Monster! Part human, part vaporous emanation of the combined thoughts of all past Marlboro participants, it materializes at the stroke of midnight from the seepage in the Presser basement hallway. Though it has never been photographed or even observed in action, ample evidence of its existence can be extrapolated from signs of its activities. Even in this issue of WTM you can see that the Monster has tampered with the vertical spacing on our IBM Selectric. There have been many unexplained instances of cards being removed from the schedule board, entire buildings being shrouded in sheets, cars being lifted bodily and replaced in a distant location, missing stands and parts. Since no human hand could have done these things, you may be sure that whenever such mysterious happenings take place, it is the work of…THE MARLBORO MONSTER.

NOTE: WTM is not responsible for, or necessarily in agreement with, the above irresponsible assertion or any of the opinions expressed herein.

Other recurring characters include “Euphemistica Glossovia” and “Casper Fenwick” a fictional musicologist and composer, respectively. The 1984 edition of WTM provides some biographical details on them, as well as the Marlboro Monster, who was still going strong 7 years later. Apparently all three characters knew each other. Here the Monster is affectionately referred to as “Em-Em” and I’ll omit its portion in the transcription below since we have already heard so much about it in the 1977 edition.

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Biographical introduction of “Euphemistica Glossovia,” the “Marlboro Monster,” and “Casper Fenwick” from the 1984 edition of the Welcome To Marlboro packet

Ms. Glossovia is a frequent contributor to WTM. A musicologist who has covered rock festivals on the moon and discovered little known facts about the sex life of Fidelio Friedrich Finke (which were subsequently deleted from the biographical material in Volume 6, p. 584 of NEW GROVE by some timid editors), she is best known for her definitive biography of Casper Fenwick, of whom we shall hear more later. Her interests are not limited to music, however, and she has toured the country offering lecture-demonstrations on such topics as “The Many Uses of Dental Floss,” “Training Your African Violets To Do Useful Household Tasks,” and “The Nose-Flute: Musical Instrument of the Future.”

[…]

Both Euphemistica and Em-Em were close friends of the late Casper Fenwick, creator of monotonal music and composer of such classic masterworks as the NBC chimes, “Avon Calling,” for chime and sprechstimme (these were composed before he realized that music could reach its most expressive heights only when the composer limited himself to a single pitch), and the work [that] is perhaps best known to us, the “Marlboro Fire Alarm,” a dramatic work which is the only Fenwick composition ever to be performed at the Marlboro Festival.

The above humor comes in the form of marginalia and appendices to the main body of the text, but Shirley could be quite funny even in the informational sections. When warning participants to keep quiet in the dorms after 10pm, for example, she concedes that if “in a moment of intellectual excitement you may continue to recite Shakespear’s sonnets in an exceedingly loud voice until 10:01 P. M.,” that such persons will be pardoned.

The Welcome To Marlboro packets may have been Shirley’s masterpieces, but her entire oeuvre includes all manner of one-off documents, such as a Marlboro-themed parody of the Declaration of Independence, in which participants declare their independence from music conservatories and proclaim their unalienable right to the “Pursuit of Happy Hours.” Her work is so numerous and well represented in the Serkin papers that selecting examples is quite a task, and though I wish I could post all of it, I’ll keep this post to a reasonable length and stop here. Those interested in the full Shirley Weekley experience should look under the “Marlboro Music School and Festival” series heading in the Rudolf Serkin papers’ finding aid. The Welcome To Marlboro packets, which date from B.S.W. (Before Shirley Weekley) in 1967 to 1987, where her jokes were surely more than weekly (I think she would appreciate the pun) can be found in Folders 34-47 of Box 141. Additional material can also be found in the Marlboro Music School and Festival records. But beware the Marlboro Monster!

The Unpublished Creative Works of Walter Hart Blumenthal

There is something melancholy about an unpublished typescript.
Walter Hart Blumenthal (1883-1969), a writer and editor, compiled two. Although Blumenthal had a successful career and published dozens of scholarly articles, his creative writing never attracted much attention. Flipping through Exit Laughing, and Perspectives: Stories of This Brief Tenement Wherein the Spirit Dwells, Blumenthal’s collections of poetry and short stories, one can begin to understand why.
Perspectives is not without humor (Blumenthal describes one character as having the “brain of an earwig and the soul of a parched pea”) yet its stories tend to digress into aimless musings or lengthy chains of rhetorical questions. A sample, from Satan’s Red Shadow: A Grim (Not Grimm) Fairy Tale:

Was it fantasy? Who can say? It was so long ago. What is fantasy? How long is long ago? Is Heaven real and Hell a torment of the spirit? Is nightmare a blind alley of the macabre mind?
…two more paragraphs of questions removed…
Are all legends lies? What is fantasy and what is fact? Can one realize only reality? Were Tristan and Iseult flesh or figment? Were Karen’s kisses as unreal as the caresses of Cinderella for her Prince Charming?

Some of Blumenthal’s poetry has a certain charm to it, however most of the pieces in Exit Laughing oscillate oddly between moralistic maxims and poems expressing certain dubious sentiments and outdated attitudes towards women.
An example of the former category is A Birchbark Motto:

Be taught, O Life, to love Tranquility,
And seek the Beauty that is in the bough;
These two, bestowed upon the slender tree,
Can likewise, Friend, thine own Content endow.

The latter of Blumenthal’s genres is exhibited in Threes:

All earthly blessings come in threes
The ancient sages said;
What good a maiden, if you please,
Without a man and bed?

Or in A New Leaf for Eve:

Maid or mistress, be submissive
To the ardor of the swain,
For unless you are permissive
Nature says you live in vain

However, and to his credit, Blumenthal remained undaunted by the limited interest his creative writing received (although a few of his stories and poems appeared individually in various magazines). In an impressive display of his energy and ambition even late in life, Blumenthal sent both Exit Laughing and Perspectives to publishers in 1965, when he was eighty five years old. Moreover, this submission of the collections to publishers came after decades of accomplished scholarship, attesting to the strong creative impulse that must have motivated Blumenthal. Painstakingly arranged and lightly annotated in his characteristic green ink, Exit Laughing and Perspectives were never available to the public but are accessible today in his collection at the Kislak Center.

Processing August Mencken

Written by Zach Fruit, a student in “Behind the Reference Desk: Archival Methods, Forms, Theory.”

2015-11-11 10-44_Page_4As part of a graduate English course I am taking with Jean-Christophe Cloutier entitled “Behind the Reference Desk: Archival Methods, Forms, Theory” I recently had the opportunity to process a collection of papers belonging to August Mencken. This class has given us the opportunity to read foundational texts of the archival profession, literary criticism engaging the concept of the archive, and literature that problematizes or incorporates the archive as a symbolic and formal structure. In the class we have worked with specialist John Pollack from special collections, including a tour into the very belly of Van Pelt, as well as archivist Holly Mengel, including a tour amongst the many desks of archivists working at Penn. As an aside, the staff at the Kislak Center is incredibly helpful, and if you haven’t used this facility you are wasting your resources, although I encourage you to set up an Aeon account before anything else.

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