Paul Elder published this beautiful booklet during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. It’s a real gem, with striking full-color drawings by Audley B. Wells and a matching envelope.
Perhaps only after admiring the booklet do we notice the poem it contains, California, by Fred Emerson Brooks (1850-1923). Though Brooks and his poetry have been forgotten, he was very popular a century ago as a writer and speaker. Modesty, it would seem, was not one of Brooks’s character flaws. Billed in a promotional flyer as “The Man Who Never Disappoints, Always Smiling, Always There,” his Chicago publisher gushes:
Fred Emerson Brooks is one of the great men in the lyceum world … Phenomenal health, a clean life and a sunny nature give him a remarkable record. Brooks has a marvelous breadth of thought and expression—there is no passion or feeling he does not portray. He is a gifted orator with a voice ranging from that of thunder to the softness of a summer zephyr.
The flyer also includes endorsements from Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt (“I’ve heard Brooks, and he’s bully!”) and Taft.