Wednesday, December 21, 2011

...hang onto your hats, folks; we're traveling all the back to 1910...
I Love Thrift Stores. I'm too lazy to go to all the yard sales. I'm almost a resident at the local Goodwill Store. Mostly, I go mainly for records, CD's and cassettes. Recently I bought a little Acoustic Guitar for Six Bucks. Now I can sit in the La-Z-Boy (which was also bought at a thrift store), watch TV and play the guitar during commercial breaks. I have a baritone ukele, and this guitar is as small as the Uke. The guitar's a little hard to tune; it doesn't have the greatest hardware, but Six Bucks for a guitar? Ooh yeah. Today, however there was no music I wanted. So then, it was time to look at the books. In the History Section, I found this little weather-beaten volume that was so worn, I could barely read the words on its spine. It was obviously a very old book. The cover was worn out super-bad, but other than some pencil writing on the inside front cover and a few smudges and small tears on some of the pages, it's in remarkable shape.
I went online and looked up the title, "Leading Facts Of American History" by D.H. Montgomery, and discovered it was a schoolbook! And sure enough, towards the end, there are pages and pages consisting of questions for every chapter. Imagine, if you will, a history book that was printed two years before the Titanic sank! That's what this is. Evidently Mr. Montgomery authored quite a few history books, of which the one I bought (for $2.99) is part of a series. It's the "revised edition" with the latest copyright date being 1910. Think of that. 1910. Mr. Montgomery is long gone, passing away in 1928, and students who studied this book did so 110 years ago. As such, this book is a true Time Capsule.
The book is full of maps, drawings and engraved depictions of the Original Great Men of our country, such as ol' one-dollar-bill George, at left. It also features maps of America, showing how the nation evolved from a collection of states along the eastern seaboard to more of a coast-to-coast entity. Alaska, back then, was just a territory. Most of the western states had existed for only about 20 years when this book came out.  It's amazing, how well these old pages have been preserved. Clearly, if this book had been printed nowadays, pages would be falling out and bindings would've come undone. Although, when I go to Goodwill, I see other old textbooks that hold firm against the onslaught of age; it's like the Textbook Companies were thinking, "Kids are gonna be using these books and you know how THEY are!"
Next up is a page featuring a perspective of Honest Abe Lincoln that I've never seen before; he's in profile, he doesn't have any facial hair, and in this rendering, he looks young and healthy, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was the pre-Presidential Lincoln.. We're about a third of the way through the book at this point, and although I'm not sure how many years this book was actually used, I'm surprised by the condition of the pages, most of which are fairly clean. The glue holding this all together must be one Really Fierce glue, to have not fallen victim to oxidation over the years. For its size (a little over six and a half inches from top to bottom), it's heavy. Its pages are a little bit thicker (and slightly smoother) than your standard Paperback Novel Page. Yep, back in the old days when Work was Work. Back when they said, "if you can't do it well, don't do it at all". (I think I'm starting to sound like my Dad here...)
What really surprised me about this book (and the time period it was printed in) is that it actually features Color on some of the maps. We take full-color pages for granted; we just read the book, after which it's closed and put back up on the shelf until the next time it's read. Putting color on a page involves at least two press runs through a maze of machinery. So there was a lot of technology going on way back then. And the times indeed are still ever-changing, what with the existence of newspapers and books being threatened by the ever-expanding internet. And one day,maybe, flipping through pages of websites will be replaced by perhaps a computer chip hooked to your eyeballs, instantly accessing information from your brain cells. Think "dog", and, BAM...You're at Dog-dot-com.
Anyway, after examining the book once I got it home, I flipped thru the pages to see if any sort of bookmark contained therein, and there was something, a dollar bill from an old Monopoly game. Stamped on the bill is "copyright 1935 by Parker Bros." and since the bill is an off-white, beige type of color, I can't tell if it's yellowed by age, or a newer bill stuck in there sometime in the last 20-30 years. And at its oldest, how would a 1935 bill get stuck in a 1910 textbook? I guess there's some things we'll never know. Me, I'm thinking about the old days, taking textbooks home with me, taking pen (or pencil) in hand, laboriously trying to get thru my homework. Just like now, trying to slog my way through another overblown blog-post.
If only inanimate things could speak. So much time has gone by. I was thinking about that as I held this old book in one hand, with a portable computer sitting in my lap. I wonder what Honest Abe would've thought if he somehow could've been teleported into the now. And I wonder how obsolete my laptop computer be in another hundred years. Hundred years? Heck, it'll probably be outdated in another couple of years...                                                          


Blogger Word Tosser said...

So Dave, did you try to answer some of the questions in the back and see if you had the answers correct?

1:00 PM  
Blogger Lil ol' me... said...

Well, Cis...I haven't done homework in a few decades now...

12:02 AM  

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