The Secret Within the Gift

Katherine LargeMother grew up on a Kentucky farm during the Depression. Books were a luxury and much treasured when received as a gift.
          Mother left the farm to attend Vanderbilt University, where she lived with her uncle and aunt. Uncle’s wife shared Mother’s love of reading and later left us many boxes of books. When mother died, the books found a home with me.
          One cold, snowy day I searched the collection for something to read. I pulled out Katherine by Anya Seton. Between the pages I found a card. The book had been a new release when mother received it as a 1954 Christmas gift from Mr. Barksdale, her employer during the war years.
          I settled in with the red volume and a cup of tea. The titlc character was a real person, Katherine de Roet, born in 1350 England. Her descendants included Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scotts. This lengthy, fictionalized account of Katherine’s life occupied me for many evenings.
          Halfway through the book, a nagging thought began to distract me. There was something I had forgotten. I dug out my family genealogy notebook, stored away after several years of obsessive research. Sure enough, Mr. Barksdale’s gift was the story of Mother’s own ancestor. Neither Mother nor Mr. Barksdale ever knew the connection.

Books for Christmas

I am always fascinated by what other people read. Owning an online used bookstore offers me a glimpse into the out-of-bookstores and out-of-print books people are buying. Here are a few recent choices:

Simplified Fly Fishing, J.R. Slaymaker, Harper & Row, 1969
Spaghetti for Breakfast, Sesyle Joslin, Harcourt Brace, 1965 (children’s)
Six Thinking Hats, Edward de Bono, Little Brown, 1985 (children’s)
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath, Harper & Row, 1971

Need a gift for a member of the Greatest Generation? I spotted these in our collection for under-$25:

Christmas With Ed Sullivan, McGraw-Hill, 1959, hardcover with dustjacket. Christmas memories by Ed Sullivan and his many famous friends. Clark Gable remembers spending Christmas 1952 in Uganda with Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and John Ford while filming Mogambo. Carolos P. Romulo writes about Christmas 1941 in Manila under attack. Ed shares a story about Richard Cardinal Spellman and his 1954 Christmas visits to American troops in Korea. Short stories by Pearl Buck, Truman Capote, Damon Runyan and others are included. Very good condition, chips and tears on edges of dust jacket, some yellowing, price marks in pencil on front fly page, pencil signature and date on pages 153 and 191.

Sixty Years: LIFE Magazine-60th Anniversary Celebration 1936-1996, Time Life Books, 1996, hardcover with dustjacket. A timecapsule of photos with brief text. As new condition with a few creases on the dust jacket.
Latest Herman, Jim Unger, Andrews, McMeel & Parker,
1981, paperback. A collection of popular cartoons featuring the slouchy characters and offbeat humor of Jim Unger. The Herman cartoons were syndicated from 1975 through 1992. As new condition, small printed “Grandpa Greenwood” in ink on flyleaf.

View these and other books

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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