Some Books I Know

That I can recall, the first episode of my life concerning books is when I was three years old, and I suspect I wouldn’t remember that except for the dead horse that lay near the gate. It was gray. We had gone to visit friends who lived in the country around Springfield, and the sight of that huge animal must have shocked me, so that it forms my earliest memory. (I was surprised to read somewhere a few days ago that a gentleman has faint memories of his birth, and when I mentioned that fact to Andrew he spoke of knowing someone who has a similar memory…an interesting topic for another time.)

Anyway, there was the amazing dead horse near the gate of our friend’s home, and later in the day, I crawled under their front porch–a high porch–and there I found an old book. I hauled it out, and of our hosts who were sitting with my parents on the porch, I asked if I could have the book. My dad protested, and there followed the first course in social graces that I can recall, “Shirley, you don’t ask people to give you things.”

I couldn’t read at three, I know that, but what has developed into an enthusiasm and attachment to the printed page must have begun early in my life…and continues…and around me at all times are lots of books. Usually books bring me pleasure, but through the years they have also been sources of grief, such as times when I turned them in late at the library and must pay a fine.

“Once, I lost a book and was scared of the library for a while, that is, until I got the money together to pay for the mysteriously vanished tome. I don’t know if I thought the librarian would send a policeman to my door or that someone would snatch me off the bus one Saturday in order to extract the price of that book. What a relief when I had paid the debt and again could stride up the central steps and check out more books.” From my book, Road Tales.

My favorite childhood book was The Boxcar Children, and I cannot tell you how many times I read that account of a family of orphans who settled into a boxcar to live. The illustrations were vivid black and white cuts, but I suspect I would have seen them had there been no pictures, for in my mind, they were alive. I walked with them as they prowled about a dump to get dishes and pots and pans, and as sickness befell them. Many years ago, when we were still pastoring in Rialto, I found and bought an old copy of that book, but alas, I took it to our school there, and somehow it never returned home. That saddens me, for I wish I had that copy back.

My second favorite was actually a group of books, biographies of great Americans: scientists, inventors, social workers. I have three old ones at home in Crestline, and one day I will take a picture and show them to you. I loved those books, and as I write here I remember learning of Jane Addams through that series. I even recall the opening pages that told of her being a small girl sweeping the porch and the wind kept blowing leaves to the spot she had cleared. You may know she formed the Hull House in Chicago.

A few weeks ago I saw in a thrift store a sign that read: All Books 10 cents each. My heart thumped, my hands were eager, but my mind put the skids on my plans to fill a basket: Remember, you live in a motor home. Okay, okay, I snarled at the sensible section of my brain, and came home with just a small stack.

Some years back, I made an attempt at counting the books in our home, and came up with a number around 3000. We probably don’t have that many now, for I’ve earnestly tried to downsize lots of things. When we first moved into our Rialto home, we had beautiful library shelves built in what was designed to be the living room, but which we called the “piano room,” for in there we had a grand piano, a couch, a desk, and hundreds of books. When Jerry retired from pastoring, we put our things in storage for four years and traveled extensively in our motor home. After that, we purchased our Crestline home, which didn’t have enough shelves for our books, but we’ve installed shelves since then. From the time we took our things from storage, I’ve been culling our books, but I must confess there are still boxes of them in the basement.

Why then did I come from the thrift store with these?

13 thoughts on “Some Books I Know

  1. Pingback: The Computer and I « Shirley Buxton

  2. Melinda Schrambling

    If anyone can make me a copy of “The Box Car Children”, and send it to this e-mail I would be forever grateful! I have been looking for that book to re-read for 20 years. Thank you in advance.

    melindaschrambling@gmail.com
    Hi, Melinda. Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you’re here often. I believe The Box Car Children is still in print, but they look very different than the original books. I’ve brought you over a little information:

    The Boxcar Children is a children’s literary franchise originally created and written by American writer and first-grade school teacher[1] Gertrude Chandler Warner and which today includes well over 100 titles. The series is aimed at middle readers in grades 2–6.

    Originally published in 1924 by Rand McNally and reisssued in 1942, the novel The Boxcar Children tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar. They fear their legal guardian, their grandfather, believing him to be cruel. They enjoy their freedom but find their lifestyle has many problems and is not a long term solution. They eventually meet their grandfather, James Alden, who is a kind and wealthy man. The children agree to live with him. James moves the beloved boxcar to his backyard, so the children can use it as a playhouse. In the subsequent books, the children encounter many adventures and mysteries in their neighborhood or at the locations they visit with James. The majority of the books are set in locations the children are visiting over school holidays.

    Only the first 19 stories were written by creator Warner. Other books in the series have been created by other writers, but always feature the byline “Created by Gertrude Chandler Warner”. The recent books in the series are set in the present day, whereas the original books were set in the 1940s and 1950s.

    You can probably order from Amazon or some place like that.

    Bless you.

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  3. Rebecca

    I wanted to post that I did have “The Boxcar Children” in my previous comment. I am pretty sure that I do; however at the moment I can’t put my fingers on it. Will keep you posted. “Goodnight Moon” written by Margaret Wise Brown was published in 1947. Must not have hit the spotlight ’till recent years.

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  4. Rebecca

    The Box Car Children is a book to be read as a rite of passage to childhood. A must read. A dear treasured story. What about “Good Night Moon”? I think I read that story at least 7000 times to Nathaniel. I can still recite it from memory.(smile)

    Rebecca, by chance, you don’t have my old copy of the Boxcar Children, do you?

    If you see it laying around the church or school library, see if it might be mine.

    How old is Good Night, Moon? I don’t remember reading it to you kids…think it may be a newer book, or one I missed knowing about until recent years.

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  5. Oh my, are you ever bringing childhood memories to mind! I loved the Box Car Family. I still have a copy of the book and it was read to me outloud when I was too young to read and then later I read it again. My husband and I both read it outloud each evening to our sons when they were young. Daddy was “better” because he used different voices for the characters and they loved it.

    What a treasure: a copy of The Box Car Children from which your parents read to you. And how lucky were your sons to have you and your husband read this charming book so often.

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  6. HELEN, that is a beautiful poem about your mother. Thank you for sharing that and these other items about your English family.

    ROCHELLE, until not very long ago I didn’t know there were other Boxcar Children books. I only read the first one, but I see there was another one written during that era.

    The new ones are just not right! Too colorful 🙂
    “My” boxcar children were of the black and white variety, and I can’t imagine anything else.

    Ah, progress. Indeed it carries us along to better and finer things. Glad Keilani has met those great children, even if indeed, they are too sprightly!

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  7. I can relate to this post! I can’t seem to get enough books!! I enjoy reading very much and have recently learned to appreciate reading research articles and such! Crazy I know… but if something can be put into words, I want to read it! (Well, most things!)

    My daughter loves the Boxcar Children!

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  8. Shirley, I wrote a poem that explains most of what I already told you. See http://helenl.wordpress.com/2008/05/11/mothers-day-poem/

    Most of our relatives have died. Mother was the youngest of eight children, and she’s the only one left. My grandmother raised her granddaughter (th only child of her eldest who died of consumption), and she is still alive, as is her only son and his family with whom we correspond by e-mail. I also have a cousin (about 4 years older than I am), her husband and daughter (who call Mummy on her birthday and Christmas for whom I also have an e-mail address, and another cousin (about three years younger than I am), who has a married son (and kids). We don’t correspond as much as we should.

    But in 1964, when I was 17 (Pam 13 and Michael 12), Mummy took us to England for 6 weeks. (Daddy stayed home to work to pay for the trip). My grandmother was alive then and two uncles and three aunts and a cousin (about a year older than I am) who have died since.

    My Mom went home again in 1966, having won her ticket in a raffle. And she and Daddy got to go back once before he died in 1990. They had planned another trip but Mum decided not to go back alone.

    One aunt came to Joplin for our wedding in 1969 and the same aunt and cousin (the one raised by my grandmother) came in about 1978 or 1979. And a cousin came a few years later. I only spoke with her by phone.

    My mother is 87 and lives alone. She is the most beautiful woman I know. Yes, she still has her accent.

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  9. Yes, Shirley. She married my Dad (a US soldier in WWII) in her home town of Swindon, England in July 1945. Daddy was sent to Belgium, after they were married and then on home to Joplin, when he was discharged. Mummy followed on the Queen Mary to New York and a train from there to Joplin in 1946. She and my dad bought the house where she currently lives and moved in, in December of that year. She became a US citizen in 1957.

    Helen, I find that so interesting, and would love to meet your mother. Do you have close relatives, then, in England, and have you visited them? Has she maintained that charming British accent?

    Many years ago, Jerry and I spent a couple of nights on the Queen Mary in Long Beach…some kind of a ministerial conference. It was intriguing.

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  10. Books

    There is only one thing that will multiply faster than rabbits, Books. I am a lover of books. From Darwin’s notes on his trip aboard the Beagle to Carl Jung and his, “Man in search of self,” along with many and numerous versions and translations of the Bible.

    My love for books had it’s origin with my mother, long before I could read. She read to her three boys over and over, “Roping lions in the Grand Canyon,” “Down the Amazon river,” these were children books by the great old Western author Zany Gray. Also “The golden boy’s on the river drive.” And of all things “The merchant of Venice.” Born at a very early age was deep desire to read and see the world through the see’ and thoughts of others.

    PLEASE the next time you, choke. . . cough. . . choke. . . start to remove books from their home call me. I will do the best I can to give them a good home.

    Should , The first Bus to Paradise, by Leo Basciala, be your first by him I do hope you enjoy it, I have all of his books and do enjoy them.

    Mervi

    I have read some of Leo Buscaglia’s books; I think Loving, Living and Learning was my first. He was a wonderful, caring man.

    Your mother blessed you. It is a rare one who reads to her children, The Merchant of Venice.

    You know something else that multiplies as fast as do rabbits and books? Wire hangers from the cleaners. They grow families in the closets!

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  11. I love books, too, Shirley. The last time I was home, my mother (who has macular degeneration and can no longer enjoy books the she once loved) gave me the book with the “little princes in the tower” picture. It is a history of England that she brought on the Queen Mary when she came in 1946. That was one of the books I first loved.

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