Monday, February 21, 2011

A Treasure Rediscovered

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Both of my parents were avid readers. As far back as I can remember, there were always shelves full of books in our homes.  As soon as we children learned to read, we were given full access to the family bookshelves, and were allowed to read anything that was there. If my parents had any books that our mother didn't think quite suitable for us to read (yet), she kept them in her cedar chest or another 'off limits' place.  Most of my father's books were theological, mathematical or scientific; however, his collection did contain a number of volumes of classic literature.  Mother's books were fewer in number, and tended to be books of poetry, literature, and current fiction.

Among the family books that I loved to read when we lived in New Mexico was a volume containing a collection of prose and poetry.  I don't remember if my mother started reading aloud to us from this book and thus piqued my interest, or whether, when I was a young teenager, I just picked it up one day and started to read.  The book contained many amusing stories, poetry (some of it of the tear-jerker variety,) and many writings of an 'inspirational' nature.  One of the poems I especially liked, and read it again and again, until I had memorized it.

When we moved to Arkansas in 1950, the book came with us.  It stayed on my mother's bookshelf after my father died, and eventually came to have a place on the bookshelf in my own home. I read from it many times over the years.

It came as sort of a shock to me when one day several years ago I was looking for this book and I couldn't find it. I looked in every nook and cranny where a book of standard size could have been. No book. After a few days, I quit searching, and the loss of the book gradually faded from my mind. (I still have no idea where it might have gone; I'm quite sure I would not have given it away.)

A couple of weeks ago, the poem that I had loved as a teenager suddenly popped into my mind. That made me want to have again the book that I no longer possessed.  Truthfully, I had forgotten the title of the book, but not the first lines of the poem.  What to do?  Answer: Google!  And, there they were!  With the title of the book in which the poem was contained and a helpful link to, as well.  (Have I told you how much I love the Internet?)

Click. Click.  The book,  Ted Malone's Scrapbook (used, but in 'good' condition with slightly damaged dustcover) could be mine for a few paltry dollars.

Click. Click, again. The book is paid for and on its way to me.

It arrived this past Saturday.  I learned from examination that it was first published in February, 1941 and had its tenth printing in March, 1944. The material for the book was selected from Ted Malone's radio programs and a feature column in Good Housekeeping Magazine, both of which (radio program and feature column) bore the name of "Between the Bookends."

I could hardly wait to find 'my poem' (which I did; it's on page 181). I'm going to copy it below.  As you read it, please keep in mind that I was only 13 or 14 years of age, and probably in the angst of my first infatuation with a member of the opposite sex, when I read and memorized this poem.
You've been champing at the bit to ask me, I can tell.  Just what does the photograph of an elephant have to do with all this?  It will become clear; read on.


While walking down an avenue, I came upon a shop;
'Twas small, exclusive, quiet, dim, what could I do but stop?
I saw an ivory elephant up high upon a shelf,
"I'd like to have that elephant," I murmured to myself.

I priced the ivory elephant and sadly sighed to see
That little ivory elephants were never meant for me.
Sometimes I pause before the shop and there upon the shelf
The lonely little elephant still stands all by himself.

For you, O Unattainable, my love is much the same;
I know I dare not love you, but I thrill to hear your name.
I dream of your lips pressed to mine, although we've never kissed.
You... and my ivory elephant ... are bits of life ... I've missed.   ~UNKNOWN

Tomorrow is also a day.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Fabulous poem and book, Pat. So glad you found a copy... We love Amazon...

Yes---isn't the internet just wonderful??? I have found so much information for my family history on the internet... Amazing!!!!


rhymeswithplague said...

I love the poem! I love the ivory elephant! What a great post!

Good for you to have recovered a bit of your life that had gone missing.

Reader Wil said...

What a wonderful story of your book being found by Google! Amazing isn't it! You write well!

George said...

I'm glad you were able to track down your poem and the book containing it. The internet can indeed be a marvelous tool.

Marvin said...

Glad you we able find and replace your treasured book. I've noticed that some (of my relatives) never develop the habit of thinking Google whenever they want to find more information about just about anything. The other day Jo repaired the zipper on her coat thanks to the Net.

Tracy said...

Ahhh, that was a great post AND a great find; Thank you Google!!!

When I was a little girl, our class would go to the school library and everyone would run toward the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books as they were the favorite reads of all time. I too would dash toward those but my ALL time favorite book harkened my name more frequently...'The Little Left-over Witch'
I checked that book out of the library so many times, but when I went to buy a copy it was out of print. I searched many out of print book stores, etc...never found it! I mentioned this as an adult somewhere-somehow and a dear friend found the book months later and presented it to me as a gift. It was such a special present and still is...
thank you for sharing the memory!

StitchinByTheLake said...

Recently I read a blog written by a woman who was demonstrating an embroidery stitch a week from an old book called "100 Embroidery Stitches." I found the book on Amazon and ordered it - $3.95 for the book and $3.95 for the shipping. When I received it the price stamped on the front cover was 35 cents and it was printed in 1964. I love the book. :) So many of the older ones that have disappeared spark memories for me - as yours did for you. blessings, marlene

NitWit1 said...

Your post reminded me of my Christmas reference to a book of my Mother's, THE FIRST CHURCH CHRISTMAS BARREL (I think). It even had a handwritten note from and aunt to Mother. I loaned it out to someone I thought was trustworthy. He somehow lost it. I searched and found it somewhere, rather cheaply, but the personal notation, of course is missing. The memory however is not. I know exactly how you feel.