Old books mean a lot to me.
Growing up from about age 5 -11, I didn`t have a lot of friends. I spent all my time reading.
I remember my mom driving the 6 miles to Mbg Library, the old building was on Main Street back then. I remember the feeling of expectation, as my mom parallel parked on the street by door main. At one point, we drove a snazzy Black Charger, later a conversion van, and most memories are of a charcoal gray minivan with rounded, not aerodynamic features. (a new concept, those minivans!- and we had one!). For some reason, I picture her in my mind, parking in the snow.
I loved the way you walked in, and all the librarians were sitting at high desks (think post office high) to the right. There was rotating art, and posters showcasing new books to read, on the wall high behind them. I always looked at the posters.
Heading to the aged elevator, I passed people with time on their hands, lounging on weathered leather chairs, with newspapers over their eyes. All the latest magazines were sitting upright on racks, with thick plastic covers on them.
I often walked up the winding staircase to the low ceiling-ed area, almost like a balcony, the lazy newspaper readers could be seen below- I sat against the wall with a stack of books on my lap.
I was really into Princess Diana and any other classic celebrities from a past era. I`m not sure why- I remember sitting up there looking through all the biography picture books and dreaming of eras gone by. Julia Roberts was new back then, no one had ever drowned in a smile like that before. Elizabeth Taylor was just moving past her prime, but she was still really interesting in a “her from the past” kind of way. Also, any actors from the 20s and 30s. We rented an old film projector with reels, as a family a few times when I was this age and so I really liked to do my research and follow up. Remember, that was before Google!
My favorite floor though was the Children`s Floor. I forget which floor it actually was, but you got to ride the quaint elevator up, to get there. That floor always had a watchful librarian in it, and a large circular table in the middle. The librarians talked gossip to each other and mostly ignored the few kids that wandered up there.
I was fine with that. I knew which books I hadn`t read. At one point I remember feeling frustrated because it was hard to find books I hadn`t already read.
Carolyn Haywood and her gang- Billy, Eddie, Betsy and Tacy. Barney buck, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, Sadie Rose, Bobbsey Twins, The Latchkey Kids, anything Beverly Cleary, Homer Price, Centerburg Tales, Little house Books, anything from L.M. Montgomery, The Mandie series, The Boxcar Children, Katie John, Robin Kane mysteries, the Christy Miller books, Donna Parker, Grandma`s Attic books, Joy Spartan, Pippi Longstocking, TRIXIE BELDEN mysteries- how could I forget Trixie Belden?
There were a few notorious ones for me. Before Harry Potter came and ruled the “not good for kids” genre.
The Soup books by Robert Newton Peck- they sometimes had coarse expressions in them that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Babysitters Club- which had to be sneaked out under by arm, and then stuffed in an unassuming bag since I was forbidden to read them. What was that series with the blonde twins, Jessica and Elizabeth in high school? Yes, I rarely got those because they were so… bad.
(EDIT: It just came to me- Sweet Valley High)
Anyway, you get the idea, the list goes on and on and ON.
(My Happy Hollister collection.)
(The HH I picked up for 2.50 the other day, is listed at around $20-56 on Amazon.)
Before I had children, I would often come home from work and sit down on the computer and order another old book from Amazon. My husband was in school full time, and we both waited tables when we could. We weren`t home a lot. Buying old books was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.
I dreamed of owning a good bit of the ones that were beloved to me as a child. My collection grew, but I never really knew how many I actually had, since I stored them in boxes. When we moved here, they were in boxes/suitcases and went straight to the attic.
(Donna Parker Books.)
Last week I did it. Trudged up and down, up and down, 3 flights of stairs and finally had them all, dusty and dirty, in one place. This built in cupboard had dishes in it until recently, but being that the cupboard is in what we have decided is a playroom- I was just DYING to get all my old books neatly and beautifully displayed.
Other people might not know the stories of my life that these book remind me of- but I know.
Donna Parker reminds me of my Grandpa Miller. He was a kind-hearted, gruff-speaking, round man, with a sweet white beard, and the ability to get jokes. I have only good memories of my Grandpa Miller.
I remember going up to his house on the hill, ALL the time, me in my wool knee socks and two long braids, happy to be going somewhere adventurous.
My dad and grandpa had these things they DID, like retold jokes between them. One usual one, my dad would dramatically rave about the Hiland Hawks (local high school basketball team) and my grandpa would say every time in the SAME intonation, in the fake grouchiest growl.
“I couldn`t. care. LESS. about sports.”
(So that`s where I get it.)
My dad would laugh and laugh, it was like this thing they liked to run through.
My GM (Grandpa Miller) was a well, I will say pack-rat, because hoarder sounds too rough on him. I will say though, a real, live dead, yellow, school bus was NOT the only thing on his property so full you could not walk through it. The car had long given up being able to use the garage. The table was not used for eating. (We loved the table. It was always covered with hard candies, nuts, and Nickles donut boxes. Snacks all day for the sneaky grandkids.)
But in the room down the hall, the very last one to the left, was the ME room. I spent every spare minute at GMs sorting through that room. It was where my GM would dump the boxes that you buy after estate sales- when the auctioneers fill boxes with all the “randoms” and sell them for a few dollars. He obviously loved buying these “after” boxes, but promptly forgot about them once they hit the back room.
Thinking of this room, makes me miss my GM, so many things I remember seeing in this room are things I know are valuable today. And valuable, not just in a “money” kind of way. Like Currier and Ives prints. To this day, they FILL me with nostalgia when I see them, and I collect them because they remind me of him and that old room.
He had acquired a few Donna Parkers from time to time- surely accidentally. Whenever I found a new one in my digging, I read it. Often right there, on the orange shag carpet- leaning against a box tower, my braids hanging over the words.
Is it sad, I can describe the carpet color/texture in every room of his old house?
(Katie John Books.)
In all my days of thrift storing, I have never come across any of these books. They are a little unknown. They are written in a way that evokes feeling like no other childhood book I remember.
In a few of the books she interacts with “Edwin”- I have loved that winsome name ever since- he had such a “can`t put a finger on it” character in the book. I was in grade school when I read these books and had a big crush on a boy named Matty Mickles (which I have written about before)- Edwin makes me think a little of Matty in my memory.
Not his real name, dummy. 🙂
Double Trouble for Rupert- yes, I collect every copy I get my hands on. If I can write a children`s book like this one day- well, I`d die proud.
The characters have names like Annabelle, Opal, Sylvia, Clayte, Milt, Dood, Gwen, Rupert… (Boy, spellcheck does NOT like those names!)
She describes Rupert`s annoying girl friends as “wasting smiles” and Opal, was always “speaking through her nose”. I always think of the Rupert book series when I write.
I read it for pleasure.
Well, I need to go- I was wondering though, does anyone ELSE have beloved books they remember. I love to “talk books”- old ones especially.
I could write pages discussing characters.
For instance: The Trixie Belden books- my observations, even though I haven`t read one of those for 20+ years.
Di Lynch had violet eyes? Really. Is that even a real thing? I was skeptical of that every time I read about them.
The only thing that ever stopped Trixie from running out the door to solve a new mystery, was all the dusting her mom asked of her. Somehow “Moms”- as they all called her- never noticed all the sweeping under the rug that Trixie had going on.
Sadly, Trixie never went to school. Either that, or she lives in a land where it is always summer.
Trixie`s little brother Bobby, was 6, (he remained 6 for all 20 books)- but the authors choose to have him speak at the level of a 3 year old. Another stress point for little Jenny. I had a lot of little siblings, had neither Kathryn Kenny nor Julie Campbell EVER met a REAL 6 year old?
Trixie somehow convinces her 2 older brothers to be in her Bob White Detective Agency club. The one is DRIVING AGE. How did she do that- pretty friends?
Trixie`s family is poor, but Crabapple Farm where they live, sounds anything but shabby.
Trixie is allowed to say “jeepers” whenever she wants.
Trixie is a tomboy and never wears dresses- but when she does- one event in every book- her friend Jim Fayne really likes it.
Her brother Mart always has Trixie`s same sandy curls. Cut your hair Mart, so I don`t have to picture you looking so awful in my head.
Got to go- I like it when you talk books to me.