Lanterns: Time in A Book


Time in A Book

Have you ever felt as if you belonged to another point in time? Have you been told you are an "Old Soul?"

Do you get lost in flea markets, antique malls, garage sales, auctions, or estate sales searching for something? Are you drawn to the haunted ambiance when surrounded by artifacts of eras gone by?

Can you picture a gray-haired woman name Auntie M wearing a summery blue cotton dress with flowers while cranking the handle of the wringer on an old drum shaped washing machine? Or a vivacious blonde or brunette woman smiling and singing away?

For the guys out there, how about when you come across a huge selection of antique manual hand tools? Does that paint the picture of turning, turning, turning the handle of a drill watching the flakes of wood exiting the hole you are creating?

Do you cringe at the sight of ancient dental equipment or surgical supplies that consisted of a rusty saw, a syringe with a needle that seems to be 1/8" in diameter, a hand drill, a hammer, and a stick? Does the thought of that make your mouth ache?

If you come across those thick discs called 78s and see names such as Caruso, Jolson, you see people well dressed in tuxedos and women in long flowing dresses?

Eras are gone. Gone forever. Time moves forward. We are told not to live in the past. 

But is it such a bad thing to live in the past? Not all the time, but sometimes? To let your mind be entertained by thoughts of what life was like then?

One sure way to live in the past is through books. I was out one day traveling and came upon by chance a bookstore.

I walked in through the old doors and looked around. In there were rows and rows of books. I walked up and down each isle skimming the titles. Many were the modern type of which I was not interested in. However, my eyes came upon a sign that read, "Make an offer." 

I was momentarily puzzled by this sign. What did that mean I asked the worker sitting at a large, old, heavy, brown desk flipping through a cart of donated books. 

"Make an offer," she said not even looking up and continued with, "However much you want."

I was taken aback by this and asked what amount was usually offered.

"A dollar is okay," she said not moving a neck muscle to lift her head.

I was like a kid in a candy store. One dollar a book?

My gaze quickly turned from the woman to the shelves and shelves of books. 

These were all OLD books as in VERY OLD and they were something special.

I scanned the shelves hungrily like a heterosexual teenage boy looked at a poster of Farrah Fawcett wearing a red bathing suit. 

The first book that caught my eye..."History of the World War."  Was it just another book about World War ll? No.  It was about the World War. The war to end all wars— the one that just happened in 1917. Amazing, I had to have it...Ka-Ching...$1.00.

Another book, from 1913 was "National Calamity of Fire, Flood, and Tornado. Thrilling Stories with Photographs and Sketches."  The cover only had the middle to the eastern half of the country on it. I guess we had global warming back then too.

Since I love dogs, I had to have "The Heart of A Dog," written in 1924. The cover has a dog that looks like Lassie's great, great grand-dog.

Among all these books waiting to be found were not one, but two A. Conan Doyle books, "The Lost World" written in 1912, and "The Firm of Girdlestone" which had a page signed from someone who gave the book as a gift in 1899. The pages in this book need to be handled more gently than a brain surgeon’s touch.

By the time I was done, I picked out over twenty books. Twenty books from lost eras of time for TWENTY BUCKS!

One book I just completed about the 1930s showed life was very hard and while people may complain about how bad things are now, well, they would not have made it two hours if transported back to the era of the Depression. 

It was amazing to read a collection of articles written during those years covering life in a period of no social programs. People didn't have shoes, they didn't eat, they traveled in boxcars, and they kept their money in their underwear.

One writer described how he befriended two young men while traveling across the country in boxcars. He talked about being in a diner and all he had was a five dollar bill. The server took the five and dropped his change, four silver dollars on the counter, one at a time. The talking in the noisy diner suddenly became quiet. Heads turned to look at the sound and the money. He was now a target and in fear of his life. 

Those times were indeed desperate and real.

Another writer shared about the camps in Washington of WWI veterans who wanted their bonus for service immediately instead of waiting until 1945. But, President Hoover ordered our heroes, Macarthur, Eisenhower, and Patton to have troops evacuate them. Think our armed forces will never turn against us? Well, it already happened once.

So, do I really want to live in times past? They were hard, unforgiving, and desperate. No, I think I am happy living where I am now, but I have the opportunity to live in the past via the written word and the artifacts I see.

However, this does make me wonder when America was great, and who was it great for?

Written by David Lasaine

Imaginative, reflective, try to be humorous and attempt to be deep in my writing to invoke feeling.

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