Mark Headley and I hold the distinction of having dismantled the salle d’armes that Charlie Selberg put together in the woods of Southern Oregon. On the outside, it looked like this:
On the inside, like this:
Taking it all down for transport to Berkeley and safety, looked like this:
While we were engaged in taking everything apart, we studiously avoided the dreaded bookshelf. Understand that Rodents of Unusual Variety had taken over the salle. The bookshelf had a gap between the shelving and the wall, so rodents, mostly mice, could get behind the books and eat them from the edge toward the binding. There was more than one volume that had little left of substance besides a spine and an inch or two of book.
After we’d pulled down all the books, what remained was above the bookcase on a little ledge. Knickknacks, posters, photos…. and a box:
See it? No? Of course not! It’s practically invisible. However, it looks like this when you get it up close:
Here’s how the conversation went:
Doug: Hey Mark, what’s in the box up here?
Mark: What box up where?
Doug: The box above the bookcase where the Nat Geo’s were.
Mark: There’s a box up there?
Doug: Yeah, it’s on the ledge.
(Mark comes to look.)
Mark: I’ve been coming here for 30 years. I’ve never noticed that thing.
Doug: Huh. Wonder what’s in it.
Mark: Me too.
So, we take the box down and go outside. You may notice the front (and sides) are covered in leather. The top was at one point as well, but the rodents took care of that.
It’s kinda heavy. Certainly full of something. I open it up. It’s stacked with photos. The first one I see is a little 2” x 2” snapshot of Hans Halberstadt:
…and there he is in the trenches during World War I. That kind of blew our minds, just by itself. But there was a more; family, parties, fencing tournaments, teammates, and lots and lots of women. The story is that after WWI, Hans, product of a wealthy family, kept fencing equipment in all the major clubs in Europe and traveled around doing nothing but fencing and partying.
Here he is with his younger brother and younger sister
With the whole family
In the snow
At the beach
At a party
At a tournament. Nedo Nadi is in the front row center wearing the bathrobe with the “N” on it, squeezed in between two ladies. Hans is 3rd from the left.
And, with his longtime friend and clubmate, Helene Mayer:
So that’s the story of The Hans Box. There were over 1,000 images in the box. About 200 of those had someone in them that we could identify. There are close to 300 unsigned postcard-sized ‘calling cards’ (that were popular at the time) of ladies Hans befriended.
Safe to say, he was a popular fellow, that Hans Halberstadt.