People Give Me presents Every Day

     It has been a busy month, this. It isn’t that I’ve had tons of books delivered: since the weather got warm, people have slowed down. I KNEW you’d rather sort books when it’s cold and windy: that’s why you always come and honk, peach salsa, when the rain is pouring off the roof on the loading dock.  But there have been lots of things coming in that required extra attention. One likes to keep the notables together, for quicker pricing if for no other reason. Some of the donations we’ve had come in over the past month included:

Three BOXES of books about Adlai Stevenson: These came in from a retired book dealer who seemed a little offended when asked if he had ever actually sold any books about Adlai.

Four BOXES of books on mathematics and physics…in Russian: Listen, you won’t get that at just every Book Fair in the Midwest. There were also several primers for Russian children who were learning English.

A stack of photographs from the 1920s: The person who brought these in explained these were cousins of her parents whose names she had utterly forgotten. She knew I would find a use for them. I wouldn’t mind so much except she brought them in what was obviously a handmade basket from the Southwest at least seventy years old…and she took the basket back.

A box of class pictures from a Chicago high school: It was an interesting peek at the days when children wore suits and ties and white blouses with dark skirts for their class pictures. (This had ended by the time I was in school, which will tell you THESE pictures come from the day when they did their handwriting classes with a hammer and chisel.) Once again, I was told I would surely find a use for these, and I did. I have connections over at the Chicago School Systems archives.

An estimated 300 12-inch 78 rpm records: Most of these are between 90 and 110 years old, and I’m still mulling over their impact on my normal air of good cheer. A line from my thesis notes that there is nothing worse for an archivist to deal with than something which is rare, fragile, AND heavy. Anyone want to buy a collection of Giuseppina Huguet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or Sir Edward Elgar recordings dating back to the Edwardian period? I may charge by the pound.

Books from the Clergy: Two rabbis, a priest and a minister walk into a Book Fair…. Well, anyway, we got their book donations this month. A bit of human nature passes through religious lines: if you’re their spiritual leader, your congregation will send you books. Lots of books, almost all of them inscribed, “I thought of you when I saw this book.”

Advertising jingle records: Not only were we given the Budweiser classic “When You Say Budweiser, You’ve Said It All” in honky tonk AND tuba versions, but we have a rhythm and blues record which deals entirely with the lines of children’s shoes available at Sears in the Fall of 1954. Don’t look for this at the Book Fair: somebody on eBay is bound to need this.

Some 400 postcards from somebody’s trip to Germany in the 1970s: Did you folks go anywhere besides the airport gift shop?

A picture of your girlfriend ca. 1978 in that lace blouse: Don’t look for this at the Book Fair, either. I’m having it framed for the den.

See? It’s been a gala month. And I haven’t mentioned the curling iron, or the sheet of corn pads, or that video of Frankie’s birthday party, or the record-it-yourself discs of Mary’s party (too bad about the cigarette you dropped on the one disc; that was probably the good one), or even that little trading card with the hints on how to use baking soda to clean up blood after a killing. Life is a treasure chest. (This has nothing to do with that, but I don’t suppose you have any more pictures of your girlfriend you’d care to send over, do ya?)

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