Etan Patz and his uncle Jerrold Patz
Jerrold L. Patz, who died on February 17th of this year, 2012, was the brother of Stanley K. Patz and brother-in-law of Julie Patz, parents of Etan Patz who was kidnapped (apparently, though that has still to be proven despite a confession) by Pedro Hernandez on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend in May, 1979. Jerry Patz went on to a successful career in and for his home state, Massachusetts, where he was involved in data storage and internet development. However, nine years earlier, in 1970, Jerry was the co-founder with Richard Littlefield of the Despa Press which was located in Northampton, Massachusetts, where Jerry and Dick were living at the time as students at the University of Massachusetts.
Not long before the Press issued its first book the co-publishers visited the campus of the State University of New York College at Oswego in order to meet the printmaker Thom Seawell and yours truly, Lewis Turco, who, they had been informed, were working on a book and print project. Thom was completing a huge print titled “The House,” and I was simultaneously writing my own “house,” The Inhabitant, a long series of prose poems.
Thom and I had earlier produced three prints titled “School Drawing,” “My Country Wife,” and “Image Tinged with No Color”; subsequently we had applied for, and been granted, joint Faculty Fellowships by the SUNY Foundation to work on our joint project. Jerry Patz and Dick Littlefield had come to campus to consider our effort which Despa published as their first book in 1970. All four of us were happy with the book of poems and prints which was titled The Inhabitant.
Dick and Jerry wanted to publish another of my books the following year, Pocoangelini: A Fantography and Other Poems, which consisted of three sets of poems including the title series, The Sketches of Lewis Turco, which had won the American Weave Chapbook Award in 1962 and been published in that year by American Weave Press of Cleveland, and a short series titled Bordello which Thom Seawell’s fellow printmaker at Oswego, George O’Connell, would turn into a portfolio of poem-prints many years later, in 1996, the year I retired (George had already retired by that time).
The Despa publishers needed a cover design for Pocoangelini, however, and Thom didn’t have anything suitable. Instead, Jerry Patz turned to his brother, Stanley, a professional photographer, for an idea, and he had one. Stanley Patz took a nude shadowed photograph of himself with his head thrown back and his arms and legs spread wide. The back cover was the “negative” image of the front cover. I always thought it was a spectacularly successful cover. Let this be my eulogy for both Etan and his uncle Jerrold: