Lottie Loved to Read

SDC10523When first married, my husband and I lived in a cute little house in a small town. Our next door neighbor, Lottie, was well past 90. She was unsteady on her feet but she kept busy. Lottie knitted lap blankets for “the old folks in the nursing home.” She liked to sit on her front porch and watch the children walking to and from school.
          One spring morning Lottie was nestled in her porch swing when the postman delivered the latest Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Four or five current best selling novels were printed in abbreviated form in one volume. Lottie started reading the first book.
          When children began walking home after school that day, Lottie was sitting in her porch swing as usual. However, she had not moved from that seat all day. She had read that entire volume of books from cover to cover.
          And what books did Lottie read that spring day? Volume 85 (Spring 1971) contained:
Halic: The Story of a Gray Seal by Ewan Clarkson
Time and Again by Jack Finney
Six-Horse Hitch by Janice Holt Giles
Bomber by Len Deighton
A Woman in the House by Wm. E. Barrett

Reader’s Digest Condensed Books were published for 47 years (1950-1997). The quarterly volumes usually contained five stories. By the early 1990s, publication was increased to bi-monthly. The popular series continues today as Reader’s Digest Select Editions.

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Books Come Home

StoreIn the summer of 2010, forgotten treasure arrived in my mailbox. My childhood neighbor and lifetime friend, Sharon, returned two books to me. She found them while sorting more than fifty years of accumulated keepsakes in her parents’ house.          
          To The Store We Go by E.C. Reichert, illustrated by Ora Walker (Rand McNally & Company, Chicago) is a bit worse for wear. The front cover is barely hanging on. The back cover is missing but, the pages are in good condition and offer an interesting look back in time.
          In this little story, Tim and Debbie take a trip to the grocery with Mother. They learn about taking a number at the meat counter,  picking ice cold frozen food from the freezer, and what happens when you take an orange from the bottom of the pile. 
          Rereading this little book after more than fifty years, I noticed a few things have changed. In one scene a grocery clerk uses a rubber stamp and ink pad to put bright blue prices on the tops of cans. The can of tomatoes cost 17 cents! After checking out, a “big, strong boy” carried their two paper bags of groceries to the car. One thing has not changed – the temptation of candy and gum displayed in easy reach at the checkout counter.

   I wrote about the other book, Sugar Bear <a href=" https://chipeta.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/summer-reading-3/trackback/ (Samuel Lowe Company, Kenosha, WI, 1952), in a July 2010 post.

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.

The Title Said “Read Me”!

Buzzard
I read Donis Casey’s first book, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, because the title jumped off the new book shelf and grabbed me.

          It turned out to be an engaging mystery story but, more importantly, I fell in love with her large family of characters and the language and lifestyle of early 1900s rural Oklahoma.

          Over the next years I waited with great anticipation to learn the title of Casey’s next book (and I promptly read each one):

Hornswoggled
The Drop Edge Of Yonder
The Sky Took Him
Crying Blood (okay, that title didn’t light my fire)
The Wrong Hill To Die On

          When I saw that her new book Hell With The Lid Blown Off will be released in June, 2014, I immediately logged onto my local library’s website. One copy of the book was on order. I was first to put in a hold request. Now I’m waiting for that wonderful email message that says, “You have a book on hold at Barkman Branch.”
          If you have not read any of the Alifair Tucker series, start from the first title listed above to follow the story of a most engaging family.

For more information about the Alifair Tucker Mystery series, visit http://www.doniscasey.com/