Mature Memories | Newberry

Mature Memories

Whenever we find a five hundred dollar bill left in a book ads a bookmark, we are puzzled by it. Certain questions leap to the mind. Do you have those lying around in such profusion that it’s really the easiest bookmark to grab? Did you never finish the book, and reclaim the bookmark? And, of course, there is the question which above all disturbs my rest at night:

Doesn’t this eventually disrupt your enjoyment of playing Monopoly?

Yes, you’ve been donating really interesting books with even more interesting enclosures. Besides making us wonder how you PLAY the National Parks Monopoly (you’re not building houses on those park properties, are you? Or was this the Oil Drillers edition?), you have made us wonder whether you will ever get around to filling in those family albums. (I like the one where you KIND OF got Grandma and Grandbaby in but really centered on the ceiling fan.)

We understand you leaving all those Amazon sales receipt forms in the books (you DO realize these have your address on them?) and we are grateful to whoever left us that Chicago Transit ticket stub with the ad for a White Sox game in 1935. We quarrel over your pressed flowers (I saw leave ‘em in, but some of our volunteers are tidier souls) and we read with real interest that report from your doctor. We are grateful when you leave in the publisher’s promotional materials: that summary and the 5x7 of the author make the book more attractive to customers. This is not so much true of the yellowing book reviews you clipped out of the New York Times thirty years ago. At some point, I WILL write a brief instruction book on what to leave in and what NOT to leave in your books. (Ten to one someone will cram it full of bookmarks, as in the story making the rounds about a public library book that was returned with a taco tucked in as a bookmark. A plain tortilla does the job better, if you don’t mind advice.)

We did get one book this week that I think I will have to offer for sale online, just because of the things the previous owner tucked inside. These are, like the review materials and the newspaper clippings mentioned above, not so much bookmarks as supplementary reading. And it casts us back once again into those thrilling days of yesteryear. The book is another reference guide to videocassette rental.

Yes, I realize this is the third time in two weeks that I have referred to the nostalgia that resides in the videocassette era. Don’t think of it as creeping senility but as a ploy to build up a market for these plastic packages of memory. (Most of them two dollars apiece next July, whether it’s Mystic Pizza or Vincent Price explains 3-D Cameras.) And, anyhow, this is a book called Adult Movies.

The book came in from a scholar who was a serious student of the counterculture, and we recently received some of the late owner’s collection concerning the sexual underground. The degree of actual Restricted Wrap It In Plastic and Put In Collectibles Material is small (so far). Most of these books are rated R at best: studies of what the pornographic movie industry was like, autobiographies of the stars who managed to survive the era, and, of course, those fine old guides which came out in the Eighties to let you know which movies to rent and which ones to skip. Adult Movies seems to have sold well: it is a discreet volume with a plain silver cover and no pictures on the outside to draw attention. We get a copy or two every year, though it is of interest, nowadays, largely as nostalgia. For that purpose, THIS copy is special.

Maybe you are not old enough to recall newspaper ads for X-rated movies. You may not be old enough to remember newspaper ads for movies. There used to be pages of these, with a small version of the movie poster and showtimes at each theater. This kind of died away as theater chains with 47 theaters showing the same three movies took over the city, but once upon a time….

What our owner did was clip the ad for every X-rated movie in the book which he could find showing in Chicago, and tuck this in next to the listing. It adds something to the listing, and it provides a glance at pre-Internet days, when smut was so hard to find that a 2x3 inch black and white photo of the star of Insatiable at the bottom of page 3 of the movie ads was a big deal. If nothing else, it is evidence that once upon a time, newspapers were more than 16 pages thick.

As I say, I think I will have to list this online, so we aren’t tempting Book Fair customers to slip that clipping of their particular favorite porn stars into a pocket. AND I’m a little curious about this clipping concerning a convicted sex offender, left in the same book. Was he addicted to VHS naughtiness, or was he our donor? Enquiring minds….

Comments

10-4-19: When the new donations season began after this year's Book Fair, I found that the parking lot door was now off-limits ("STAFF ONLY") and the convenient donations box inside it no longer available. Instead, a box at the top of the (outdoor) ramp was marked for donations. It was positioned so that falling rain would immediately soak any books left in it. I thought that surely that arrangement was temporary, some sort of emergency measure. Not so. Today, a month later, I took another donation of books and found, again, that I was asked to leave books outdoors. It has rained off and on all week and the sky was overcast all day---more rain seemed likely. I left a note saying that I would no longer donate books if they are to be left outdoors. In recent years I have been donating five or six full shopping cart loads of books, including several hundred children's books, over the course of the year. That stops now. I am unwilling to leave books piled outdoors, unattended (the platform had a lot of books on it that nobody had taken in). Asking your donating public to leave books where they can be ruined by rain shows not only carelessness for the books but lack of respect for those who donate.
I miss not being right there to take in books and talk to the regulars, like you with your cart of treasure. Those children's books you have brought in over the years have brightened the lives of a LOT of our customers. It is a major pain in the elbow (to put it no lower) as we work out the kinks in the new first floor, new security, etc. etc. The dock is not the best place in the world for books, but it DOES have a roof (yes, Lampe Landing is still wide open on the north side, and I've had Chicago winds push the rain in under the door into the receiving room). We do try to get out and pull donations indoors on a regular basis, but the elevator that gave us a shortcut is currently being renovated, which makes the trip longer. Then, too, I'm not sure why someone didn't invite you to bring the cart load in through the elevator at the front of the building, which would have brought them in through the Welcome Center: someone could surely have handled the books from there. Please don't give up on us yet, as we continue to figure out ways to deal with this brave, new building. (I, for one, have refused to let them consider reopening the old coal chute and letting people slide the books into the basement.)

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