Back in 1992 JR and I were tasked with cleaning out my in-law's house. The brunt of this endeavor fell to me. Mostly because I worked from home and he didn't. I didn't really mind this sort of thing with the exception of the mouse droppings I'd found in the basement. We had gotten rid of the mice by the simplest method possible. We stuck our cat in the basement with a litter box and a big bowl of water. Two days later no mice and a little bit fatter cat. The leavings from the mice were left to me.
If you know anything about depression era parents or grandparents is that they never, NEVER, NEVER tossed anything out. I found grocery shopping lists written on the backs of junk mail, manila envelopes stuffed with recipes cut out from the newspaper, old moth eaten clothes, and tons of stuff that just wasn't salvageable. Then tucked away I'd find a gem or two or six. There was my MIL's wedding dress & hat, my MIL's aunt's hand hemmed table linens, the box of Life & Look magazines from the 1940s to the 1960s, my MIL’s parents wedding certificate, and books. Lots of books.
I couldn't help myself I wanted to keep all the books. After JR
smacked me upside the head a couple of times convinced me that I couldn’t keep all of them. I buckled down to pick the ones that I wanted.
I had to keep the first edition Gone With The Wind. I didn’t know it was a first edition until a couple of years ago I just knew that my MIL really liked it and I was feeling very sentimental.
I kept several of her and her mother’s poetry books. They loved poetry. They cut poems out of magazines and newspapers. They wrote their own. They received books of poetry as gifts. Whenever I came across something they had written I placed it in one of their poetry books.
This Longfellow was given to my MIL’s parents the year after they were married. I couldn’t tell when by the inscription but probably within the first few months. The copyright on this book goes like this:
1874 by Henry W. Longfellow
1902 by Ernest W. Longfellow
1907 by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
According to the publishers’ note this illustrated edition was released to commemorate the centennial of Longfellow’s birth. Speaking of the illustrations, they are terrific.
Who writes this way any more? Never in a million years could I achieve penmanship this fine. Which is not surprising since I can be fairly spastic.
Another of the poetry books that I kept was my MIL’s A.A. Milne books. I really kept all of them. When we had her funeral service I recited poetry that I picked from her Milne books. She would have liked that. I think it surprised my Brothers-in-law at the time that I would have thought of reading my MIL’s favorite poetry. I won’t go into my relationship with my BsIL right now but let’s just say it is strained.
I found a whole set of
And last but not least and probably the most surprising find was this……
The copyright on this little gem of craziness is 1937 by the Eugenics Publishing Company, Inc. Five years before my in-laws were married. Hmmmm…..
Though it may explain a certain afternoon tea conversation between my MIL (age 80) and I (age 26) that revolved around comments by a radio talk show psychologist and oral sex.