I’ve long collected old books written and published during the first few decades of the 20th century. I often find these at antique stores and malls where they can usually be had for less than five bucks. Having done this for a long time, my collection now includes hundreds of books. My hunt has been primarily for radio related tomes, especially juvenile fiction from the 20s and 30s, but it’s not a singular focus and a few other genres have found their way into my home.
For instance, I have more than twenty titles by Zane Grey, a popular American author and dentist best known for his popular adventure novels and stories associated with the Western genre in literature and the arts.
My Dad, who is now well into his 90s, had never read anything by Grey until a month or so ago when he told me he wanted something to read and I took him a couple of the more popular Westerns. These struck his fancy and he proceeded to quickly burn through all that I have saying that once he started to read them, he just “couldn’t put them down”.
One of the charms of these old books is that they were often originally purchased as gifts and it’s fairly common to see something like “From Grandma to Tommy - Christmas 1933” handwritten inside the front cover. I’ve also found notes on scraps of paper tucked into the pages. These bits and bobs of history always stir my imagination about the people who first owned the book and how it ended up in a bargain bin at an antique store so many decades later…
Yesterday I took Dad the final Zane Grey book I have that he hasn’t already read. And as usual, I quickly thumbed through the pages to make sure there weren’t any scraps of paper in it before I handed it to my Dad.
When I did, a four-leaf clover fluttered out and onto the floor.
There’s no telling how long that has been pressed between the pages of that book. No doubt someone found it and decided to preserve it for “good luck”. I hope whoever did that received some measure of luck way back whenever, and I hope there’s a little of it left to rub off on me.