My best friend and I explored a new territory for us of late – a used bookstore. We recognized as soon as we stepped across the threshold, that we were in a paradise of sorts. Hundreds – thousands? – of dog-eared paperbacks and slightly moldy, fragrant hardcovers sat stiffly straight or lazily askew on shelves that touched the ceiling. Giggling as our eyes bounced from topic to topic, we wandered up some aisles and meandered down others.
Yes, indeed there was that book I’ve been meaning to get, sitting at the top of one shelf, the one that’s been on my Goodreads list for well over three years. It would have to wait for now.
As I negotiated a stepladder and turned the corner, a double stack of Perry Mason paperbacks revealed themselves. I picked up a couple titles in that sudden discovery.
Then – around another corner and down yet another aisle, there it was: a small, five-by-seven-inch soft, brown leather covered book with gold lettering. My heart leapt when I saw the author (Ben Hecht), and I carefully opened the cover, and its past revealed itself:
A gentleman named Phil gave Mimi this Ben Hecht book, “Eric Dorn,” for Christmas in 1925. And Christmas that year was on a Friday. This is all I know, besides all the questions: Who were they to one another? What were their surnames? How old were they? Where did they live? How did Phil present this gift? How did Mimi react? Did she read the book in its entirely? How in Heaven’s name did this gem wind up in a used bookstore ninety-four years later?
It’s now on the end table next to my reading chair, ready to be savored.
©2022, excerpt from “Postcards from the Past”