Daddy was the eldest of four sons. Daddy is the only one who is no longer with us.
A few months ago, when on holiday, I had visited Daddy’s third brother, Uncle Bill, who is addressed by my generation of nieces and nephews as Unca Bee. Like Daddy was, Unca Bee is a voracious reader. I love poking around his yellowed collection of books, inhaling that wonderfully musty smell of old books; yet another smell that reminds me of my childhood and of Daddy.
Sifting through and savouring the feel of Unca Bee’s collection as is part of my routine when I visit, I chanced upon this book – ‘Something To Live By’ by Dorothea S. Kopplin.
The title did not bring any particular subject or even genre to mind immediately. I was lured by the following print towards the bottom of the cover.
A book of help and comfort for all ages … a simple, sincere and honest philosophy of living, gleaned from the world’s finest inspirational writings.
I opened the book and the excerpt of the preface I’ve keyed in below won me over completely.
Preface: A first step toward happiness, it seemed to me, was to learn to appreciate something of real permanence in my life beyond and above the material things, a deep love of nature would do just that. To feel a sense of kinship with nature and thence the Universe gives strength and confidence that belittle material losses and worldly ambitions.
Fortitude and courage are further essential elements of character for fine living, and finally, a realization of the power and joy to be found in a true sense of the spiritual.
I spent the scant reading time I had at Unca Bee’s devouring chunks of this book. I am not going to do an analysis of the book or share my impressions of the excerpts I enjoyed because I want to talk about something else that surprised me.
I was quite fascinated by this weathered book with its sturdy, hard cover and faded, but still thick pages. As I tend to, I read the covers inside and out.
This book was published by Permabooks, New York in 1945! The price back then? The sizeable chunk of 35 cents!
*I think it is a Turkey based company because I recognise the language as one that made no sense to me when I visited back in 1994, which were the pre-Thorn Tree days. In fact, I recognised precisely two words on the site:
Türkiye = Turkey in, well, Turkish
Izmir, where I ascended (a bump in terrain) called Mount Olympus. I was shocked upon learning the name of the mountain when the guide told us we could go there. Until then, I had thought Mt.Olympus was in ….. you did, too? Well, there are a whole lotta, uh, things named ‘Olympus’.
Back to the book.
On the last page was a list of other books by Permabooks available at that time i.e. in 1945. I have typed out that list below.
1. Best Loved Poems edited by Richard Charlton Mackenzie
2. Common Errors in English and How to Avoid Them by Alexander M. Witherspoon, Ph.D
3. Sex and the Love Life by William J. Fielding
4. The Standard Bartender’s Guide by Patrick Gavin Duffy
5. The Conquest of Fear by Basil King
6. Ida Bailey Allen’s Cookbook
7. How to Write Letters for All Occasions by Alexander L. Shelf and Edna Ingalls
8. Best Jokes for All Occasions edited by Powers Moulton
9. Eat and Reduce! By Victor H. Lindlahr
10. How Shall I Tell My Child? By Belle S. Mooney, M.D.
11. The Male Hormone by Paul de Kruif
12. Sight Without Glasses by Dr.Harold M. Peppard
As I read through this list, for those few moments, I felt like I was reading the covers of some of the popular books on the racks at Chapters or perhaps, on the NYT non-fiction bestseller list. And then it hit me! These books were popular close to 70 years ago. The topics of interest back then were not too different from the subjects we still gravitate towards today. And that led me to wonder – have times really changed?
P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also gives the commenter the option of linking back to the commenter’s own blog.
I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort put in to comment, and the free advertising! So I’ve decided to do what I do well – be a copycat!