You DO recall we read these things, don’t you? The books, yes: I presume if you objected to someone else reading your books, you wouldn’t send them over. (Er, by the way, when you make your children clean out THEIR books, you MAY wish to check those blank ones you bought them. When they fill in their address, I feel obliged to throw the books away, but these without addresses…did you really want the world to know that your darling Eddie KNEW those words at a tender age? And those sketchbooks where your dear Jasmine sketched her reflections on puberty and boys! Not all that explicit, but some of the young men she singles out might like to have her speculations struck from the public record.)
But we DO read what ELSE you put in the boxes, and we read the boxes themselves. The boxes to which I refer had your name on them, which I won’t spell out here, AND the note “Sidewalk Sale, then Donate to Newberry.” Way to put us in our place, as the embezzlers said to the prison guard.
The sidewalk/garage sale season is drawing to a close, though I expect October may well have a few weekends warm enough to give it a try, particularly in the case of those of you who sent your dear ones off to college, and now need money for bread and peanut butter at home. A lot of people do bring the books left over from their garage sales to us here at the Newberry, and I would like to say one word about that.
It isn’t that we mind your books: even though your neighbors have pawed through them, they’re generally no worse than what people who have NOT had sales bring us. It’s just that we KNOW when you bring them in, you are going to leave them in the box lids, strawberry boxes, tangerine boxes, and copy paper boxes you used to line them up, spine up, on the tables at the sale. You will not think “Well, that was good enough for display, but we’d better repack for hauling and stacking.” Nope, you will bring us those boxes which are either so shallow the books are sticking way out of the top (so they can be bent or crushed when others boxes are stacked on them) or in the deep boxes which are only one third full, so the BOXES can be bent or crushed. You will stack these on our dock, write yourself a receipt, and scamper away before one of our elegant dock-checkers comes by and cries joyfully, “What a mess!”
We do kind of enjoy what you have written on the boxes, even if it’s something like “Hardback, twenty-five cents, paperbacks a dime” or an inscription more along the lines of “Free. PLEASE Take.” We reuse these boxes, but we hide them during the sale, so no one thinks WE price that high.
So far, the champion along that line was the box which said “ENCYCLOPEDIAS; TEN CENTS A VOLUME.” The box was two-thirds full of encyclopedias, surprise surprise. The real surprise was that it was not a complete set, so either you lost some along the way or some of your neighbors really WANTED the W volume for a dime. I think it’s late enough in the year to mention that this was an official Christmas edition encyclopedia: No L. You could have saved yourself the effort of bringing that in.
A FEW of you write prices in or on the books. Only one that I’ve encountered so far has used a felt pen to mark the prices in big numbers on the covers: most of you who mark on the outside of the book use those pricetag guns, which will damage the book when someone tries to get the sticker off again, but if you were using it on your chiming clocks and Bohemian face mugs, I understand the temptation. Those of you who have been to our Book Fair and mark in pencil on the upper right corner of the first white page are to be commended.
Although someday I’d like to know why so many books come in priced in multiples of nineteen cents, mostly either 19 or 38. Is this a suburban thing, or was I just not sent the memo? Or maybe you had a lot of pennies you wanted to get rid of at your sale, too. We’d have accepted those, too.