This morning I was trying to think of the name of the musicologist who compiled the famous 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music. “Harry Something-or-other,” I muttered to myself. The name I wanted was Harry Smith, but what my sieve-like brain came up with instead was Harry Carter. I immediately found myself imagining an alternate history in which noted typographic historian Harry Carter had gone out and conducted field recordings of ephemeral fonts. He would have hunted down an agèd and forgotten Garamond in the back country of northern France, a frail but feisty Bodoni in a village in the Apennines. Carter’s compilation would be credited with sparking the later type revival that swept the coffeehouses and small printshops of post-Eisenhauer America.
All right, my flight of fantasy probably owed more to another musicologist, Alan Lomax, and his father John, who actually did conduct field recordings to an extent that Harry Smith never did. But the imagination isn’t held back by petty fact.