Saturday, August 03, 2013
NOW We're Talking!
As we speak, books in white banker boxes dance with books in brown cardboard cartons in the garage, a sight I have not enjoyed since last winter when we found ourselves tramping through the dark heart of January to buy books on a semi-truck.. At least this time there was no climbing involved, no shivering, no hands the color of boiled lobsters, no skating over glazed tree roots, and, the best part of all, no uglies -- just the good, the bad, and the very good. It may not seem like it, but this is HUGE. We always get some uglies – remember Ugly House a couple years ago? Well, this time we finally bought our books in a sedate and pleasing atmosphere. And get this -- none of them smelled bad or littered the floor with pieces of themselves. Now that’s what I call PROGRESS!
Of course all these books weren’t free and we did spend a lot of money, but it was a great deal and I have zero regrets. I don’t know how many boxes we’ve gone through because Eric unloaded quite a few and transferred the books to the shelves in the garage. From there I’ve listed 58 online and taken 32 to the antiques mall. So far I’ve sold two – one at each venue – but both were decent sales, if a bit odd. I have beautiful architecture books, a special limited edition of the 1937 Audubon Birds of America in mint condition, a slipcased pristine copy of the first modern printing of Catlin’s Drawings of the North American Indians as they were rendered in pencil with their accompanying notes in his sketchbook., and much Ohioana and ephemera. But what did I sell? A book about the New England Society in Cleveland from the early 1930’s and another about the Pittsburgh Glass Company, also from the early 30’s. The latter was a thing of beauty though – fabulous pictures. I sold it once before a few years ago on ebay, but that was back in the day when the bay knew how to play nice with others.
To say that I feel a sense of optimism right now is a massive understatement of the highest order when the garage is so pleasingly full and only half of what we bought is even here yet. We have to go back and get the rest next week or maybe the week after. Meanwhile I love the way I look at a shelf and immediately pick out maybe two good titles and then later go back to the same shelf and awaken several sleepers. A perfect example of the latter is my favorite ephemera piece – a scarce item about the Mayflower Hotel in Akron. My parents had their wedding breakfast there in 1949, but for me it’s forever linked with summer when the Soap Box Derby came to town. The press, WHLO radio, a band, and pretty high school cheerleaders and majorettes gathered outside the hotel and as each racer pulled up in front (in those days they were all boys) music played, the girls kissed the would-be conquering heroes, and Akron’s biggest summer event was officially launched. The building still stands, but the grand Mayflower receded into history which makes my wonderful find all the more meaningful.
In the midst of this joy, however, my husband’s secretary of 36 years suddenly died, so there were a few days of shock, incredulity, and sadness. But with it came a monumental sense of NOW. At the service the rent-a-minister (who was quite icky) said over and over that the woman he had never met “squeezed every drop out of each moment.” I wish it were true but I don’t believe it. None of us really do that, but some of us try hard. I’m a trier and I’m going tto try even harder now, though I must say that my work as a bookseller has been the most fulfilling job of my life aside from raising my children.
And that’s precisely why I’m either whirling, twirling and throwing confetti, or whining like a gnat in your ear!