Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Once Upon a Time

I have been having a love affair with books since before I can remember.  The printed page has called to me even in my dreams.  I have read books that I couldn't wait to finish and books that I wished would never end.  I read mysteries and thrillers, comedy and historical, why I even read westerns.  When I was a little girl we were not allowed to watch a lot of TV.  Of course with only three networks there wasn't a lot to watch.  (My friends would argue that there isn't a lot to watch now, even with 375 channels.  They could be right.)  I still have a book my grandmother gave me when I was twelve years old.  She loved Kipling's work and had come across this book at an original flea market in Morven NC called Lina's...of course we pronounced it Liners.  It was a Sunday afternoon outing that involved the Aunts Pat and Margaret and the cousins.  We all enjoyed the excursion that was akin to dumpster diving.  Huge  eighteen wheelers with the logo of Brooklyn New York on the sides would haul in goods that had been discarded from the far away and magical Brooklyn.  There was furniture and clothing (Mammy replenished her rag bag and button can from this wealth of raw material) but most importantly of all there were books.  So Mammy found this little red book in remarkably good condition called "Thy Servant a Dog".  She put it in her little treasure bag of "I'll take this" items.  I always came home with books of course and can still hear Daddy Dwight's voice saying "that youngun's got her nose in a book again".  I can remember him running a finger down my nose and saying "checking for ink."
So on this one Sunday Mammy has this little red book in her reticule and I am eyeing it , crazy with want.  I had read Mr Kipling's Jungle Books (1 and 2) the tale of Gunga Din which transported me to India and all her glory and his poems were always magical.  I am feeling the pull of this little book til I can concentrate on nothing else.  Our summertime visit will soon come to an end and we will be going home with Mama and Daddy to Cleveland, Ohio.  Our time is short and I know that before I go I must read this book.  So we get to Mammy and Daddy Dwight's house this particular Sunday and the little red book goes into hiding.  I know that Mammy is reading it and I began to monitor her progress.  I judged how far into it she was by the Bible Tract about the man with no feet she used as a book mark.   It was now two days away from our departure.  I knew that if she were to finish it today, I could sit up all night and read it.  I asked her if she had finished it and she said, not quite.
Our bags were packed and ready to load into the trunk for the long trip home.  I had written down the title of the book so that I could see if the library had it.  The book had by now become an obsession.  I knew that when we came back to Chesterfield in the following summer that the book would be on Mammy's long bookshelf and that it would be available to read then.  But the burning longing to know the story of the little dog in the book was undeniable. The trunk was loaded, we all stood in the side yard hugging goodbye, Mama had big tears in her eyes, Daddy was saying "hurry up, hurry up!" and Mammy pressed a little package into my hands.  I looked down and red bindings stained my hands and hot tears poured.  I hugged her and thanked her and she whispered in my ear "it made me cry, too."  I held that little book in my hands for first two hundred miles, turning it over and examining the bindings and the the title, the little black dog imprinted upon the cover and then I punished myself by not opening it to read the title page.  I wanted to savour the moment without the blur of travel and annoyance of voices.  I wanted to be in the privacy of my own room, tucked up in bed, flashlight in hand if necessary, to enjoy the intimacy of the greatest gift my Grandmother ever gave me.  It was worth the wait to finally know his name.  "Please may I come in?  My name is Boots"

17 comments:

Helen Devries said...

I was given this to read at my grandmother's house...I cried, I would still cry as I love dogs...and Kipling who knew the human heart so well.

Carver said...

I've always loved books too. You are such a good story teller.

Vee said...

I like Rudyard Kipling a lot, but I have never read this. I love the connection you had with your grandmother over this book.

ancient one said...

I love to read, but haven't read this. Loved this post!!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

You love to read...and you are a born writer!

Maggie May said...

That was lovely!
I too, have fond memories of books that I was passionate about as a small child and have some of them to this day. Isn't it amazing the way these early books seem to be so much better than the ones about today and yet they aren't really. We associate these book experiences in childhood like we would a smell. It can take you right back.
I was also an avid reader too and still am!
You are a great writer too!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

sandi mcbride said...

I thank you all for the kind comments, an author loves to hear that her work has an appreciative audience. I hope that you will all go in search of Boots and Thy Servant a Dog. It was Mr Kipling's finest hour!
Sandi

Gill - That British Woman said...

another fan of reading here as well, but not a huge fan of Mr. Kipling, which is strange.

Sorry for not popping by sooner, life is just too flipping busy at the moment, which I know isn't really a valid excuse.

Gill in Canada

Lynn @The Vintage Nest said...

Well.....I came over here to just say hi, how are you. And I have been here 40 minutes reading past posts. Like you, I share your love for reading too, although the internet seems to have taken up a lot of my reading time. Just received a book in the mail yesterday from Amazon. I am hoping lots of people still read and love books, not kindles, as I have made some of the most beautiful velvet bookmarks you have ever seen for my upcoming show. When I was just a little girl, I was allowed to walk a mile to the town library by myself. Can you imagine that happening in this day and time? xoxo

sandi mcbride said...

I am a library freak too Lynn. I started checking out books at the age of 6. I can not imagine a child walking to the library alone anymore. Arianna is not allowed to go anywhere alone. She has to be with her parents or in a group of at least 3 girls, all with their cell phones out. She loves to read and still loves the printed page as do I. I still hold the books in my hands, smell the paper and touch the bindings much as I did as a child. I reread Thy Servant a Dog every few years and if you have not read it, I encourage you to. Please let me know what you think. I wish I were there for your show as I adore bookmarks and collect them like some collect stamps!
So glad to see you...
hugs
Sandi

Finding Pam said...

Beautiful story. I love how you make me want to read every word you have written.

sandyland said...

so dear and enlightening a book is a gift I give myself as often a s possible love to this day same with snail mail. Old habits are great/sk

Akelamalu said...

Oh what a lovely memory and you told it so well I was there with you wishing with all my might that you would get the book! x

Sally said...

Bless your heart, Sandi. Such a lovely story; written so well as you always do.

I'm a bookaholic too, and sometimes so much that I wonder if there's a 12 step program!

Thank you for sharing this sweet story; I love it.

xoxo

Brian Miller said...

books have always been an escape for me...i was taught to love them early on in life...and that has stuck with me...there are some books i oft come back to...even some from when i was a child....

Donna said...

I Love to read as well....Sweet story Sandi.....<3
hughugs

Suldog said...

I assume the Red Sox post is on the way? As soon as you post it, I'll tell everybody what a good sport you are :-)