I first became manager of Coolidge Corner’s Paperback Booksmith (now the Brookline Booksmith) back in 1978, just four years after Judge W. Arthur Garrity’s historic decision to integrate the Boston School District through the “forced busing” of students, as it later became known. It was a time when the fallout over that decision was still shaking the communities of Boston, and a time I revisited when Beacon first published Michael Patrick MacDonald’s All Souls, a powerful account of what it was like to be a young man growing up in Southie during the time when busing came to that neighborhood.
One of my first acts as a new manager was to clean out the store, and I remember coming across several boxes of pamphlets of the Garrity Decision that the store’s owner Marshall Smith had evidently published. I was always intrigued that his idea of being a bookseller was broad enough to include such an activity. Marshall is an entrepreneur to the core, a legend in the bookselling business. The Paperback Booksmith chain that he founded grew to cover the entire New England region, and Marshall went on to found several other local business ventures, all while staying closely involved in the operations of his Brookline flagship store. As the 40th anniversary of the Garrity Decision approached, I decided to give Marshall a call and finally get the backstory on why he felt it necessary to publish the decision on his own.
I spoke to Marshall a few days before the anniversary, as Boston was once more revisiting the complicated, troubled legacy of Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James Hennigan, otherwise known as the Garrity Decision.
Tom Hallock is Associate Publisher at Beacon Press.
Today is Jessie Bennett’s last day at
Beacon Press, and I want to take the opportunity to thank her in the space she
created. Jessie came to Beacon six years
ago, answering the call for someone to fill “a temporary, grant-funded
position” to create a blog for the press. In my new hire letter I wrote, “There
is a possibility that the position will be funded for a second year.” Thanks to
her work, it was funded for a second and then a third, by which time we had
come to feel that both the blog and its editor were essential to the work of
We launched Beacon Broadside because we wanted to amplify the
voices of our authors, and to provide them with a way to connect their work to
the events of the day. Beacon Broadside required that we develop a “new mind”,
as we explored a different way for Beacon to fulfill its mission and engage
with readers, investing in something whose return would not be financial. Jessie
was the perfect midwife, creating a lively, timely and thoughtful blog that has
done all these things.