Monday, September 19, 2005

The Book of Knowledge

One of my greatest desires as a child was to own a set of encyclopedias.  If my parents and I were visiting friends and I spied a set of World Book Encyclopedias, I was ecstatic, and kept myself entertained for the duration of our visit. 

Alas, we were poor, and I may as well have asked for the moon as for any encyclopedias.

The summer I was ten, my mom sent me to Chillicothe, Missouri, to stay with a preacher's family for a week and attend their vacation Bible school.  Somewhere I have a picture of myself and their daughter standing on their porch during that visit with a birthday cake in front of us.  I was turning ten, the little girl was five.  I think her name was Karen.

At the time they had either three or four children.  It was a quiet, peaceful home, with no arguing among the children or the parents that I recall.  Lois, the preacher's wife, served something I delighted in, at suppertime:  She'd make a pitcher of Kool-aid and pour in a bottle of 7-up.  I thought that was the best drink I ever tasted.

The Lemmons family had no television, but neither did my family at that time.  What they did have was a set of "The Book Of Knowledge".  I'm surprised my eyes didn't fail me, the way I kept my nose in those books.  They weren't exactly an encyclopedia:  There were poems I first discovered there that I still remember.  There were things, toys and whistles, for instance, that a child could make on her own; and scientific experiments anybody could do. 

Later on I pursuaded my parents, at an auction, to buy a box filled with "The Book of Knowledge" from the early 1940's, which made them pretty out-dated in 1958.  But they only cost fifty cents for the set.  And most, if not all, of the same poems were there.

My daughter and her family recently bought a house from an elderly lady who, when she vacated the premises, told them she'd leave all her encyclopedia sets for the kids.  Among these was The Book Of Knowledge set...identical to the one I loved so much when I visited the Lemmons family in 1954.

Let's face it, there isn't much practical use for encyclopedias that old.  So Kevin and Rachel got rid of them.  However, knowing how I loved the Book of Knowledge, my daughter asked me if I wanted theirs; if not, the set would be trashed.

I could almost hear Flylady saying, "It's just more clutter."  And truthfully, I knew they'd just end up in my junk room upstairs, out of sight and out of mind.

I wavered a few times, and then thought of the perfect place for those books, where they wouldn't be in anybody's way, and where I'd definately have the time to browse through them.  My cabin!

Would you believe they fit there perfectly?


msecz said...

Oh, how wonderful to have those precious books there in the cabin for you! When I was a little girl my neighbor had a set of those  special world books for children in her bedroom... how I always wanted to just sit there and read them but I was never given the chance... I always wanted a set of world books too and one day one of my husbands old friends came to the door selling them and you could pay on time.... after much thought and thinking the kids would really get a lot of use of them we did buy them... the best, or close to it, thing we have ever gotten them and I used them right along with them. we have a 39 year old son living with us and even if we can find things on the computer now he wants us to keep them. I am glad because I want to keep them too. :)

siennastarr said...

Those books were just waiting for a place to call home!  And your cabin was it!  It's so nice to remember times in your life, that may be small and trivial to others, but made a big impact of yours.  I'm glad your daughter gave them to you, and I'm glad you found a home for them! :)


ksquester said...


csandhollow said...

We had a set of them from I think the forties. Iloved them. i did get stuff out of them for school work too!

toonguykc said...

What is it about a certain type of individual who loves those kind of books??  I was one.  My folks had a full set of World Book Encyclopedias in the house before I was born.  I can't say exactly when it was printed, but the very last president listed was JFK.  I sort of taught myself to read with those.  I also drew in them with a pen -- but that's a different story.  :)


bnanajm said...

Wow, your cabin truly is your haven.

gaboatman said...

What a perfect spot these books have found to call home.  As you relax and reflect at your little "Heaven on Earth," you now have a token of your childhood to muse over and rediscover.

memes121 said...

I love old books. I can relate.