Papa Bach Bookstore – Los Angeles AND Jackson Hole, Wyoming

July 15, 2020

Those who are familiar with the poetry scenes in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s will not need to be reminded of the crucial role that Papa Bach Bookstore played in accelerating the maturation of those scenes. There are also people who fondly recollect the store as a cultural resource that allowed them to build up a personal library at a reasonable cost. One of the most nostalgic pieces of writing in the latter mode that I have encountered is at the following link:
GRUBERG: The Papa Bach Story 1

GRUBERG: The Papa Bach Story 1
Posted on February 15, 2019 by Tarnmoor
“In the early 1970s, Ted and Eva sold the bookstore and moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ted told me that he planned to start a Papa Bach Bookstore there, but I have found no evidence that that ever happened. I even checked out the Jackson Hole phonebook when I was there in 2008, but found no listing for Papa Bach or the Riedels. I liked them, so I can only hope that things went all right for them.”

In this post, I would like to share with Tarnmoor physical evidence of the existence of the bookstore in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This is a book bag that I acquired when Sandra Tanhauser and I visited the store in the summer of 1976 on our way to Yellowstone National Park. Furthermore, I have been contacted by one of the offspring of the founders of that store, so I can in turn update Tantamoor a bit in regards to the history of the store. As is the case with anyone who wishes to comment on one of my posts, Tarnmoor can contact me at: William.Mohr@csulb.edu AND/OR William.BillMohr@gmail.com).

Papa Bach Bookstore published 18 hefty issues of BACHY magazine, as well as holding many readings on its premises. Because the store folded in the mid-1980s, its contributions to the poetry scenes in Los Angeles has receded, but Paul Vangelisti among others argues that Papa Bach and not Beyond Baroque was the real center of the scene. Its publications parties for issues of the magazine were well attended and drew poets from all parts of the city. The store played a crucial, indirect role in avant-garde poetry in the late 1980s, when the editor of BACHY magazine shifted his efforts towards his own projects. Lee Hickman would never — and I want to emphasize that never — have dreamed of starting BOXCAR and TEMBLOR magazines if he had not first gained his editorial confidence by working on BACHY. Every poet who takes pride in having been published in TEMBLOR (and it is one of the legendary magazines of the period) needs to acknowledge Papa Bach Bookstore as the progenitor of that felicitous outcome.

POST-SCRIPT: (the evening of July 15th)
A few weeks ago, I jotted down a comment I made about war, and noticing it this evening suddenly brought back the memory that Papa Bach Bookstore was known for providing draft counseling to young men back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The draft counselors used the upstairs loft to meet with these who needed guidance in how to resist or evade the draft.

So what was the comment, you ask?
“There are no atheists in foxholes,” is a cliche about soldiers trapped in the throes of combat; to which my response is — “But if only those who are atheists can serve in foxholes, there will be extraordinarily fewer wars caused by religious perfidy.”

(This blog entry, as is the case with the entire blog, is copyright Bill Mohr 2013-2020. All rights reserved. Permission to quote or to use an image in this blog must be obtained in writing from the author.)