Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bobbs Merrill reader...magpie tale

Not a single child of mine wants them. Their aged leather bindings
their hand colored plates;they aren't drawn to them as I was since childhood.
The first "old" book that I ever saw was a Bobbs Merrill reader that I discovered
thrown out with a mound of "trash" in the alley behind old Mrs. Karney's house.
I am so sorry that I never got to say goodbye to her before she died. She was good to me
often waiting for me to walk thorough the alley past her yard on my way home from school.
"I baked some cookies today, want some?" she often said. One day she brought out homemade fudge.
I raved so much to my mother about the fudge that she went over to her house and asked her for the recipe. It was the beginning of a great friendship between the two women. My mother never had a mother and Mrs. Karney, I think, sensed that she might just have a purpose in this department and bloomed like a queen of the garden rose. When Mrs. Karney got ill and went into the hospital I had just been chosen for the lead in the school play, Alice in Wonderland. I meant to visit her when she got home, but I put it off and she died suddenly one day.
My mother said that she had a nephew that lived in New York. New York, why you might as well of said the moon to this mid-western girl. 
On my way home from school one afternoon I saw that someone was in her house, and that furniture was being carried out to a truck that said antiques on the side panel. Her red mohair chair sat in the yard along with a pile of linens.
The next day the house was quiet, but the alley was loaded with things discarded in the trash.
It made me sad to see her things disgraced like that.
I cried as I picked through the garbage trying to save as much as I could,finding there her recipe box.
and  the old reader. Ever since I have been attracted to old readers, a penance in a way for not having said goodbye, I think, bound to the little child within me.
Not a single kid of mine wants the books,
not even the Bobbs Merrill reader.
But she lives on in the stained, yellowed,
old fudge recipe on a 3x5 card
   in the old oak recipe box that sits right next to it on the shelf in the kitchen.
She'd of liked that.


  1. what an endearing tale...if only we appreciated it (them) while we had them...

  2. I was also reminded of those old readers published by Bobbs-Merrill. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz too .... Wonderful Magpie Tale.

  3. This is so very lovely, Suz. I hope it's inspired by a true story.

  4. Excellent read on so many levels Suz!

  5. so touching and so true. who will want my old dusty books that seem to hold so much meaning and resonance and continuity through time. I too hope this is a true story as it is so moving.

  6. What a touching story!! I too was haunted for many years by the fact that I didn't say goodbye to someone. Luckily, in my case she wasn't dead and 40 yrs. later we reconnected but I really know what that sorrow feels like. I truly love your appreciation for old things and your incredibl sensitivity and compassion!!! Some people just don't "get it".
    And thank you for your comments on my blog----made my day!!!

  7. Suz...

    We definitely have something in common here. I collect antique schoolbooks. I have some Dick and Jane from the 50s as well as a history book from the late 1800s that I found in a very old basement bookstore in Boston.

    I also have my mother's recipe box from my childhood with all of her recipes on 3x5s...splotched, fading, and dirty...perfect.

    Thanks for reminding me of the value of my treasures.


  8. Oh yes Helen I have Oz books too

    John....so you caught those too,figures

    Ah Sukipoet, thanks for the visit...who knows what has meaning to our children..I hope I don't throw it out...not knowing
    ...There really was an old woman who made fudge...and yes her stuff was all thrown in the trash...
    old books... I've been collecting them since high school...treasures every one of them

    Robin, thank you ..

  9. A beautiful tale, I love it, old receipt box, and old reader.

  10. Raven..ha ha...antique...that's the reader I used! and I still have mine!

    Oh I have a serious addiction to old books..especially readers..and swanky glasses....big time

    Thanks Annell

  11. This post hit me right between the eyes, Suz. I don't often get emotional when reading other blogs but this post did it.
    There is a sadness in my heart for you and this woman. Sometimes we don't realize how important a person is to us until they are gone... especially when we are young.
    The red mohair chair and the pile of linens were the leavings of her life that someone else will take good care of. The old fudge recipe in the oak box is a tribute to her, not a penance, my dear.
    You were very lucky to have her in your life.

  12. It has occurred to me, after reading one of your comments, that this might just be a short story and not your youthful experience... Although we always draw from our life when writing stories.
    I was taken by it anyway... even if it was a "story".
    The emotions were very real.

  13. Farmlady...most of it is true woven into a story
    and I thank you....I am sad that I never got to say goodbye to her
    I wish they had thrown out her lace dollies...I was fascinated by them on her chair...so pretty and delicate..like nothing I had ever seen...I must write about her some more

  14. So beautifully expressed! Loved this! :)

  15. oh. this is lovely. a good way to start the day. thanks, suz.

  16. Dear Suz,

    You are perfect for this week's magpie !

  17. lovely...what a talented writer you are, my friend

    happy to see you at farmhouse kitchen

    kary, teddy and all the kittys at farmhouse

  18. muses are in love with you.

    keep entertaining.
    your magpie rocks.

    sad sentiments, eloquent delivery.
    bless Books.

  19. What lovely memories, and what a shame your kids don't want any of the books. Nice Magpie.

  20. I came here via the blog; Like Mother Like Daughter. Leila (the blog writer) has just reviewed these books - she loves them. You might want to have a look at her site - I love it. I'll let you google it yourself, it's weird when people put links in comments :)


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