The Merry Month of May

Where I was brought up, Meredith Willson’s The Music Man was listed among the great works of literature and Robert Preston, who starred as Professor Harold Hill on Broadway and somehow was allowed to repeat the role on film, was a role model. (The smiling con man who gets the girl AND gets through one of the great patter songs of all time will always appeal. Let’s try it together: “Trouble with a capital T which rhymes with P and that stands for Pool!”)

So I will probably succumb to temptation and borrow this record which features him playing William Jennings Bryan. AND Thomas Jefferson. It’s an LP dramatizing the history of the Democratic Party—The Campaigns! The Presidents! The Music!—and includes appearances by Harry Truman, Henry Fonda, Arthur Kennedy, and David Wayne (as Martin Van Buren.)

Yes, it’s been a big week for donations, what with all those people rushing to get their books in before April (a please-don’t-bring-us-books month) was over, the people who had waited patiently until May 1 to bring in the contents of their garage, AND the people who simply wanted to haul books while it was 80 degrees outside. (It was about that inside, too: we’re working on those chillers, see. That’s why there were all those trucks you had to work around to get your books to the dock. I am SO proud of you for not giving up and going away. Or so I keep telling myself.)

But it’s all been worth it. I now have two paperback books inscribed by James Baldwin, a book on the history of sex in Philadelphia, a highly illustrated tome on the history of men’s hairstyling (published by a hair oil company: imagine that) AND an LP by…let me get this right…the only secular Polish choir in Connecticut! That’s one reason I don’t wear shorts on the hot days, maraschino meringue: I put lead weights in the pants cuffs to keep my feet on the ground.

(Another reason is that when I look out on the dock and see that someone has sneaked in another five banana boxes of books, and I kick the nearest box, a copy of The DaVinci Code will almost always bounce up and catch me in the shin. They didn’t mention this in library school.)

Anyway, what I hope you gather from the above is not that I am ungrateful for your beautiful donations but that I am amazed by the variety of them. Yes, clam cutlet, there are days when everything I find seems predictable and drab. But just as I am about to sigh that I have seen it all and should seek a life of excitement as a door-to-door window salesman, I open a bag and find a 2008 phone book for Budapest. I can’t possibly give all this up, with so many people out there dreaming up surprises.

You will find old phone books in Collectibles, by the way. I have not yet decided where to put the Collapsible Cow. This is a fold-out paper cow, apparently lifesize, made for those people who want a cow in their kitchen but are put off by the price of hay. It is, for some reason, completely unopened, so it is a brand new unused Collapsible Cow. Nature? How To? And which How To? How To (Hands) is our crafts section, and this certainly fits as How To Construct a Paper Cow. How To (Head), however, is self-help for people with emotional or spiritual needs, and I can’t help feeling that someone who wants a lifesize paper cow in their condo….

Oh well. I must get my stereo wires taped again so the speakers will work when I listen to Robert Preston as the Boy Orator of the Platte. After that, I may put on the secular Polish choir. My life, tuna noodle sundae, is just a circle of song.

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