The July 31 Metro article “Preserving ‘chaotic glory’ on Capitol Hill” reported on Capitol Hill Books and the sale of the store by its legendary, litterateur owner Jim Toole. I was blessed to find many beloved books in Toole’s bounteous, chockablock boutique.
One such treasured volume discovered deep within the store’s oft-swaying stacks was a signed copy of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s book “Secrecy: The American Experience .” And tucked within the unbroken — and seemingly unopened — binding of this book was a 1998 Moynihan letter to a Senate colleague serving on the Governmental Affairs Committee. In the letter, Moynihan promised the senator that a bill would be coming to the committee to address the “defamation of democratic norms” resulting from our government’s excessive, oppressive secrecy.
While the book and letter’s pristine condition suggested that neither was ever read by the receiving senator, as part of my civil-service vocation I have read, and with results referenced, Moynihan’s wise words many times over many years. And I have similarly enjoyed and employed a great number of other grand offerings available thanks to Toole’s fine tenure and dedicated stewardship of Capitol Hill Books. Indeed, a poem I picked up and plucked out from Toole’s temple of tomes, W.B. Yeats’s “Where My Books Go,” speaks to what is and will be the vast, long-lasting impact of what was Toole’s bookish, benevolent rule: “All the words that I gather, / And all the words that I write, / Must spread out their wings untiring, / And never rest in their flight.”
Daniel P. Sheerin, College Park