Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 5:00 AM | By: HiDee
My father-in-law's belongings were on the verge of being tossed out, his wife apparently uncaring that his adult children might treasure some of those belongings, especially now that their father is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's. He doesn't remember his children, let alone the belongings. So we rescued a minivan full of items to be shared with the siblings. Old tools, tool boxes, equipment, photo albums, and books. Hubby kept repeating "Mike and Frank (American Pickers) would love this stuff!"
There was one box of books that my father-in-law had kept over the years. Mixed in among the Bibles (my father-in-law was a minister), reference books, and high school and college yearbooks was one smaller tome wrapped in brown paper. The paper had obviously been wet at some point, and was tinted with faded red blotches. The top, bottom and opening side edges were yellowed and worn with age. As I pulled the book from the box, I realized the brown paper was not just any brown paper—it was Bradley's Tonal Papers (33 Beautiful Colors for Designing posters, costumes, room interiors and all "industrial art" work. Also for Paper Folding and cutting in Kindergarten and primary grades. By Milton Bradley)—something I've never seen before. I thought it was kind of cool.
Musty odors assailed my senses as I opened the book. Several inscriptions grace the first blank pages on the inside: "Practical and so usefull"; Loaned to: H.L. and B.L. – it helped us, B.J. and L.J. – very good. I kept turning pages and discovered . . . SANE SEX LIFE AND SANE SEX LIVING, copyright 1919. Definitely not a book I was expecting to find in a minister's holdings! But I guess ministers advise their parishioners on anything and everything. I admit to absconding with the book and checking it out. Google revealed it was re-released in 2007 by BiblioBazaar as a "pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality." It's also available through Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13161/13161-h/13161-h.htm.
These books were my father-in-law's keepers. They were representative of his life, his beliefs, and his interests. They were obviously important to him, or he would not have dragged them through numerous moves, including a period of time when they sold their house and lived solely in a motor home, traveling the country. I wish I could ask him what importance some of those books held for him.
I could never sell my home and actually live in the confines of a motor home, even though I wouldn't mind traveling the country in one. But what if I could only keep one box of books to take wherever I went? That it would have to be a large box is a given, but what books would I choose to be representative of my life?
The Bible would definitely be in my box. Black Beauty, The Black Stallion series, and Seabiscuit. James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small. My unpublished book of poetry (Somebody's Dreams), written when I was a teenager, along with the poetry anthologies in which a few of them were actually published. A selection of books written by my favorite authors—stories of adventure and growth, hope and love; stories of families, friends, and lovers.
What books would I find among your belongings? What books represent you and your life?