The other day I found a box of books in the basement. This is not unusual as I ran out of shelf space a few years ago, and I keep a lot of books down there. I can hear the bibliophile’s groaning, but when it comes to books, I’m a bit of a hoarder. I can’t get rid of my books, and I’ve been told by The Wife Person that, for some strange reason, I can’t put shelves on every wall of the house. Something about sharing the space, or kids, or pictures, I’m not really sure. I may have stopped paying attention after the, “you can’t” part of the sentence. Sorry.
In any case, I found these books…and some of them are awesome. Not just because they are great books, but because of what they contained. These books had history. What kind of history? Well, I’m about to tell you. But, first, a brief digression. Because I can’t have a post without wandering about a bit.
My grandmother and I had an interesting relationship. She was a teacher, and I was always acting like the rowdy kid in the back of the class room. She had been raised in a rather strict family setting, with a lot of responsibilities thrust upon her. I was raised in a more comfortable setting with a more limited amount of responsibility. She expected everyone in the family to behave ‘a certain way’. I once mooned her while she was entertaining.
My mom is fond of reminding me of how special my relationship with her dad was, but as you will see below, my relationship with her mom was just as cool. Despite all of our differences, perhaps because of some of those differences, we loved each other. And, she showed that love through books.
Remember the box of books? I mentioned it at the beginning. I found that awesome box of books. We are going to take a look at a few of them. Let’s start with this gem:
What fantastic book did my grandparents give me for my Unbirthday? Where the Sidewalk Ends. I was 2 years old in 1974, when this book was released. I remember them giving this to me when I was about 10. I loved it. I read it multiple times. Straight through, skipping to my favorites, or reading back to front. I always loved this one:
It makes me laugh every time. As I look back at the buttoned up picture of my grandmother I have in my mind, and then at that wonderful poem, and picture, I begin to see her in a different way.
Even though I adored it, about 15 years ago I passed this gem on to a friend who’s son was just starting to read. Because, even though I tend to hoard my books, that’s what you do with the best ones. You find them homes. I had moved on from my silly poetry phase. And, not yet into my nostalgic phase, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to place a favorite in a good home. Eventually, he too was past his silly poetry phase, and luckily, the book made it’s way back into my collection. Now my boys will get to read something their great grandparents gave to me when I was a kid.
Which brings me to my next piece of awesome. As if finding my beloved Shel Silverstein book wasn’t enough, I found something infinitely better.
What is this awesome book, gifted to my grandmother over 80 years ago, and bestowed upon me at the tender age of 13?
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Who gives a 60 year old treasure like this to a 13 year old boy? Grandma, that’s who. She wanted one of her favorite books, a treasure that had been given to her by someone who loved her, to find a new home with someone she loved.
I treasure these books, and the others she gave to me. They tell a story that is richer than what you can find on their printed pages. But, it is still a story that you can only find in a book.
Thank you Nana. I think it’s time for me to pass on a few gems of my own.