Sour or Sweet | Newberry

Sour or Sweet

If you’re waiting around for helpful hints on what to hand out to Trick-or-Treaters this year, forget it. I tried, last year, to give you useful tips on treats that would be truly horrifying and did I get ONE order for the landmark collection of these blogs? Nary a. It would have been a treat to ME, but no. You decided not to overwhelm the kiddies with such terrifying literary greatness.

Well, they have to learn to live with disappointment. Chances are they will end up like Uncle Blogsy, whose life, let’s face it, is a never-ending round of trick-or-treating. The difference is that the people with goodies bring them to MY door. You’d think this would save me walking so much, but my boots wear out just as quickly.

And some of what comes in is all treat, and some is mere trick. And some are both, of course.

Take that big load of Baseball Registers you dropped off…literally. There they were in serried ranks, books full of statistics (baseball fans seem to bleed numbers; my grandmother in the nursing home could have rattled off the batting average of every current Cub). Some went back to an era when you could advertise cigarettes on the backs of sports books, and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope told you anyone who wanted to go on the road with them needed a pack of Chesterfields. And you just dumped these treasures into our cardboard jackolantern inside the north doors.

Only a few covers were knocked off, but then some of you ran in with a load of the PMLA Quarterly and dumped these in on top. You just can’t KEEP people from bringing you treats, some days. (I shouldn’t get too upset. Looking up the price on, say, the 1940 Baseball Register, I find that most copies are missing their back cover, or their front cover, or both. This was back when kids who collected did that with stamps.)

Then there were all those books on collecting duck decoys. I especially liked the tribute to decoy carvers of Illinois, AND the fact that it was inscribed to you because of your hard work trying to preserve the endangered Prairie Chicken. I haven’t decided yet on whether the book about fish decoys is a trick or a treat. What’s a fish decoy supposed to decoy, anyhow? Other fish? Or are they to lure hungry ducks in your direction? And are there prairie chicken decoys as well? You really can’t donate books like this to a worrier.

Speaking of which, it was a nasty trick to give me a copy of How Soccer Explains Everything just AFTER you sent me that copy of Bible Hockey. Not only do I not know whether to buy a ball or a puck for my home devotionals, I’m worried about what this means to the number of subjects at the Book Fair. MUST I combine Sports and Religion? Will I have football fans threatening to burn people at the stake for buying that 1954 Baseball Register?

Someone dropped off a Charles Dickens first edition, which was a nice little treat, and someone else dropped off a load of Super Dinosaur comic books, which was also a treat. I am still working on this book about Richard Nixon, though. It was, perhaps, not the high point of Allen Drury’s career, writing the text for a photographer who was given free run of the White House during Nixon’s first term. He speaks warmly of Nixon’s character and honesty, as well as the fine, upstanding young men he has staffing the White House. This came out early in 1972. I do not believe he wrote a sequel.

Anyway, this is the signed, limited edition, and Allen Drury’s autograph is worth a little something, since he won the Pulitzer Prize for a political novel hardly anybody comes looking for at the Book Fair. The problem is this OTHER inscription.

It goes on for a full page, thanking someone for his help. It reads a lot like something a White House staffer might write to someone who gave a bunch of money to the 1968 campaign. It goes on to describe these last years as the best time of his life. It is signed “John”.

Is it a coincidence that he has written this next to a picture of Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and John Ehrlichman? Do I have a double collectible? (Triple, if my guess about whom he inscribed it for is correct?) You KNOW I’m going to have to spend my time trying to find samples of John Ehrlichman’s handwriting now.

Thanks for the treat.

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