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Friday, July 22, 2011

My First Book...Experience: A Love Story











           My parents' library was small when I was small.   There were three books that I recall seeing around our house in my early childhood--a large Holy Bible, a blue backed Webster's Dictionary, and W.C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes by Robert Lewis Taylor.  Sure, I had many of the Little Golden Books such as Little Black SamboThe Gingerbread Man, and The Little Engine That Could and I dearly loved those books.  However, the books that I was most interested in were the three books in my parents' library.


          W.C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes was the book to which I was most frequently drawn.  Actually, no pun intended, I had drawn inside the book.  Inside on the front and back endsheets that create the pastedowns and flyleafs, I had scrawled what appeared to be crude boxy human-like figures.  I don't remember creating this artwork and I don't know how my father reacted to it.  I must have been very young since I have no memory of the event, but I must have been old enough to have had some measure of artistic perception.  All I know is that the drawings where there and they were the first things I would look at whenever I was looking at the book.

         Of course there was more to the book.  Before I could read, I would enjoy looking at the pages of photographs that were in the center of the book.  The black and white photos showed Fields in his vaudeville days, with his family and friends, and on the movie sets.  There were also publicity photos from some of his films.   Later, as I learned to read I would sometimes peruse the text.

         Eventually, when I was probably in fourth grade or so, I read the entire book.  I enjoyed reading about the life of this famous juggler and movie star.   In the ensuing years I would reread this book several times.  Whenever I took the book off the shelf and opened it, I would first turn to the strange drawings on the inside covers.  They were now much like looking at cave drawings left by some long gone prehistoric human.  Who was this child who made these peculiar drawings and what did they represent?  

        I continued to see the book on the bookshelf at my parents' house into my adult years.  It was now joined by many other books.  One had to look carefully to find the faded worn red spine with the title now barely readable.   Eventually the book was moved to a different shelf, or perhaps packed away in a box that may be in the attic of the house where my mother has lived for the past forty five years.  My father, who was the one who bought the book sometime shortly after it had been released in 1949, died over twenty years ago.

        My mother doesn't recall the story of me drawing in the book.  She only vaguely remembers the book and has no idea what happened to it.  She is pretty sure it is still somewhere in her house.  One day, when I am there and have some time, maybe I can go look at the books in the attic and see if the book is there.  Or maybe it is packed away in a closet.  Then again, maybe it's still on the shelf, so faded, so accustomed to being in that place that we no longer notice it.  Sometimes things we have grown to love also become the things we take most for granted and forget about being right there where they have always been.








39 comments:

  1. Nice post, Lee. Enjoyed reading it.

    mood

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  2. I bet that would be an interesting book to see today.

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  3. I'm the same way with an old book -- but it's Charlotte's Web, which I still have. I hope you can find it!~

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  4. This was wonderful to read Lee,

    Have a lovely week-end.

    Yvonne.

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  5. hello arlee, i enjoyed this post, especially the ending.

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  6. I am NOT surprised that, first of all, this book was in your parents' home. Secondly, I am not surprised that you wanted to read it. Wonderful! Aww, WC Fields. I miss the oldtime performers. Maybe that's why most of my favorite films are B&W.

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  7. Sure hope you find it!
    www.rebeccabany.com

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  8. When we cleaned out my parents' house, I took several of "those" books, a few with scribbles too. They have a place of honor in my living room now. And yes, even no I go back and read them.

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  9. I'm very sentimental. I have a Sleeping Beauty book from my childhood that I simply can't get rid of, even though it is falling apart. Enjoyed reading that. Hope you do find the book somewhere in the house.

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  10. Touching post. First books are always so influential. I hope you can find this beloved volume.

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  11. Love memories like that. My parents had a set of Encyclopedias that I have very fond memories of!

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  12. 'Who was this child who made these peculiar drawings and what did they represent?'

    Loved this.

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  13. "Sometimes things we have grown to love also become the things we take most for granted...."

    So true.

    Happy Weekend!

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  14. Thanks to all for the comments so far this morning.

    Teresa -- There is a certain magic about those old B&W films. A lot of the younger generation won't bother with a film that's not in color and I think they're really missing a lot.

    Liza -- I don't blame you for giving the old books a place of honor. They are often so full of memories that they have stories to tell beyond the stories that are contained within the book covers.

    LG -- Some books that were special to me were my sets of Tom Swift and Hardy Boys books. Somewhere thru the years I told my mother she could give them away to a friend of hers who had a young son. Now I kind of regret that and wish I still had them. I hope the boy who received them enjoyed them as much as I did.

    Jemi -- Encyclopedias first entered my parents' library when I was about 8 or 9. I became even more hooked on those volumes and spent hours in those pages.

    Again thanks to all for the comments and for reading.

    Lee

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  15. Great story, Lee! Thanks for sharing such a sweet memory. Hope you do find the book someday.

    Ana

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  16. Quite the contemplative post, Lee. I enjoyed your reflections on the book but, more than that, the path it blazed through my own memories to a book given to me by my dad when I was about 10 called Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry. I loved horses but never owned one. I passed it on to my niece when she got her first horse. I spent hours reading and studying and looking at the pictures in that book.
    Thanks for the memories!
    Pam at www.2encourage.blogspot.com

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  17. I'm a major W.C. Fields fan! So'z my brother Nappy. We were on one of our W.C. kicks last year and watched a bunch of his old movies through NetFlix. Funny stuffs!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  18. always love the sense of humour in your narratives, Lee!

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  19. nice..your closing lines sum up a lot of life...the things we take for granted...i remember mostly novels i read in middle school...

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  20. Really liked this story. I hope you find the book and add it to your bookshelf and your yearly reading list (pictures first).

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  21. What an interesting assortment of books. I bet most kids back then didn't have an extensive knowledge of WC Fields. I like picturing you as a kid, drawing in the book.

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  22. There is always that book that brings a sentimental smile to your face....mine was Charlie and the chocolate factory. I loved that book and rememmbered feeling so sad when I finished it.
    Great post and I hope you find that book!
    Blessings, Joanne

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  23. It would be great if you could post some of your earlier drawings for us. If your mom is anything like my mom, the book probably is buried somewhere in her house. Happy hunting on your next trip! Julie

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  24. Ah, the things we take for granted! I hope you'll find that book. Blessings!

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  25. Hi Lee .. love this story and about your books - you had more than your parents! I recently mentioned Little Black Sambo - in my Artists Who Loved the Countryside post .. the writer has links with Stephen Tremp's Breakthrough! I used to love those books, and the Little Engine that Could .. etc etc

    Bearing in mind their skill - the W C Fields books makes absolute sense and no wonder you were drawn initially to the pictures - I expect your parents mentioned him often.

    I do hope you can find your book .. I've got some of ours - but would have loved to have had the rest - but they went long ago ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  26. I hope you can find the book Lee - the recollection of it provided an enjoyable post to read.

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  27. Funny how memories are and what remains important to us so many years later. I hope you can find the book.

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  28. Lee, I hope you eventually find the book, print off this post, fold it half and put it in there for someone to read in the future. Lovely post!

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  29. Lee,
    How are you, I hope all is well! Thanks for the great story, I love how you tied it all together at the end... yep it is usually right there in front of or with us all along... we just lose our focus.
    Take care,
    Lisa

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  30. Mine has always been Cinderella. I had read it so many times, my mom swore I could have recited it word for word.

    Hope you find yours.

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  31. Thanks for the additional comments and the encouraging hopes that I find this book again. This may come to pass sooner than I expected as new developments have turned that see me returning to Tennessee for a week long visit in August. I should have some time to look for that book as well as some other things that I've been wondering about. I'll post about the upcoming trip later and then do a follow up post about the trip after I return home. If I locate the book I'll try to scan the "artwork" and include it on a post.

    Lee

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  32. I love that you added your artistry to the WC Fields book. Little Golden Books and Classic Comics were my go to reading as a child.

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  33. How true is that!
    I'm always losing things that I've been tripping over for days.

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  34. My youngest daughter draw in the books as well and her older siblings don't dare donate those books because they know those are my treasures!

    Find that book Lee! Happy treasure hunting :)

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  35. What attic? Above the car port? That doesn't seem like a safe place for books

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  36. Leslie --I don't want to encourage any kids to try this in their parents books though.

    Jolene -- A good argument for downsizing.

    Spoon -- Kids don't know any better and have to be taught.

    Emilee -- If the books are packed neatly in a box and sealed they might be okay. Maybe we can look for them when we are there. I thought you were going to call me back.

    Lee / Dad

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  37. I hope you do find this book as it's obvious you would cherish it. You are right, sometimes we take things for granted because they have always been there and we forget just how special they are. This includes people too.

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  38. First love! I certainly hope you find your book. My first love was a book of bedtime stories. I think it was called Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories. My favourite story was about Selfish Sandy...I recall pointing to my older brother (Gary) and calling him selfish Sandy (this wasn't Gary's favorite). My mom and I looked high and low for the book, but haven't found it yet. Thanks for triggering this memory.

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Lee