Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wondering about Rachel, Jessica, and Dear Aunt Fanny!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
I love books!  Gently used books, new books, old books, all bring a smile to my face.  Inscriptions inside used books often make me wonder about the previous owners. 

Summersaults was a gift from Mommy to Rachel for her 9th birthday in July 2002.  When I purchased this book (out of print) from an Amazon 3rd party seller, I was trying to round out my collection of seasonal poetry books by Douglas Florian.  I received Winter Eyes from the same book seller and it was also inscribed to Rachel, a Christmas gift in 2002 from Mom.  Rachel celebrated her 21st birthday this summer.  I wish Summersaults and Winter Eyes were still on Rachel's bookshelves, but I'm happy to give them a home with Autumnblings and Handsprings where they will never feel lonely.  

The Mystery of the Missing Red Mitten is autographed by Steven Kellogg.  If you've ever had a book autographed by Steven Kellogg, you know that he includes a sketch along with the autograph.  It was probably a gift to Jessica for Christmas because there is a picture of Jessica with her last name and Dec. 1994 inscribed above the picture.  I'm guessing that Jessica was about two in the picture, so that would make her about twenty-two today, very close in age to Rachel.   In the photo, Jessica is posed in front of a schoolroom backdrop, seated at a desk wearing jeans and a short-sleeved turquoise top.   Her chubby hands are placed on top of a book.  Her smile indicates that books are definitely part of her world.  I'm not sure where I found this book, probably at a used book sale or Half-Price Books.  When I checked for it on Amazon, I discovered Kellogg has an oversized, re-imagined, color edition of this book, published in 2002 as The Missing Mitten Mystery.  I prefer the small, 6 inch square, original, black and white edition.  I love the way that the only other color included in the book is red.  I'm sad that  the mystery is revealed to the observant child on the cover of the new edition.  I'm requesting this new edition from the library, but I know Jessica's book will remain my favorite.

The Robe, published in 1947 by Houghton Mifflin, almost ended up in the library book sale.  The front page of the book has this inscription in elegant cursive handwriting:
             To -
                   My Dear Aunt Fanny 

I actually put it in the give-to-the-library stack recently, but I came to my senses and retrieved it.  Palmyra was my grandmother's sister.  Aunt Pal and Aunt Becky lived in Pueblo, Colorado and I remember several visits they made to visit my grandmother in Oklahoma.  By the time I knew them, Aunt Pal suffered from a debilitating illness that left her without speech, but her sister, Rebecca, cared for Pal the rest of her life.  I've heard stories about the lives these two sisters lived as working women at a time when few women in our family worked outside the home.  Aunt Becky's husband was killed and she never remarried, but Aunt Pal was married several times.  After Aunt Pal's death, Aunt Becky came to live on our street, next door to my grandmother.  I was given this book when Aunt Becky died.  I wonder if it was returned to Palmyra when Dear Aunt Fanny died.  I wish these women had kept journals because there's so much I would like to know about them.  For now, Palmyra's gift to her Dear Aunt Fanny is safe on my bookshelf. 

If the books on our shelves could talk, what would they tell us about their previous lives?


  1. Books do have a history of their own and could certainly tell us stories...just like the walls in a house. I go to book sales,pick up a book and if it is inscribed wonder about the people whose lives were touched by the book.

  2. Now you have me curious to check inscriptions when I am looking at used books. I have tried not to collect any as we are down sizing...but oh this sounds so interesting...and the stories that they must carry. What an interesting blog post! Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/

  3. What fun musings about your inscriptions! I wonder what someone will think of my signed books when I am no longer in this world.

  4. This is one of my favorite things to do at used book stores - inscriptions tell so many stories, I think.

  5. This is a wonderful post, Ramona. I love that you wondered about these "now" young women. I just went to a sale on Saturday & found a book of poetry by Edgar Guest, inscribed with Heaps of love on Mother's Day from Willard, 1922. Makes me wonder where this book has been? Thanks for reminding of some pleasures of used books!

  6. We held a book drive several years ago and we received a box of very old books. Many had inscriptions in them and I also wondered about their previous lives. If only books could talk...in a way, I guess they really do,if we just take the time to listen!

  7. I was reading this post, then I scrolled down and kept reading. It's funny how we can get lost in this blog reading habit. Lovely thoughts about how books speak to us not only in the words of the author, but also in the words of the giver. Many books in my school library were given to my kids from my dad. He would give them a book for Christmas every year. Sweet memories.