Books from Way Back

“Ginny Gordon and the Lending Library” was one of the first books my older sister, Hanna, bought for me as a payment for babysitting for her. She was 13 years older than me and I was a very young babysitter, but this was in the 50s when very few houses had locks on their doors. There was no need for locks as crime was extremely rare. The worst thing that happened was that for a few nights someone went up our street and stole the milk money people had put in their empty milk bottles at the end of their walkway, ready for the milkman who delivered the milk in the morning.

I had no reason to worry about being left at my sister’s house without adult supervision, babysitting for her from age 9 until I was about 12. There were only two times that I got spooked, and both times were because of listening (before the days of TV) to scary radio shows. One was a story called The Monkey’s Paw, and another was The Maltese Falcon. I often listened to Richard Diamond detective stories on the radio in those days, as well. Scary stories, but I couldn’t make myself turn them off.

Already, I had a love of stories, so the books Hanna bought for me ย were treasures. Each Friday night, when she and her husband went out grocery shopping and to a movie, I waited impatiently to see what the title of this week’s book would be. They were usually published by the Whitman Company of Wisconsin, and cost about 69 ย cents. After a while I had quite an extensive collection of Whitman books and I loved every one of them.

When you move 800 miles away, it’s necessary to leave some things behind. Books are heavy and take up space, so I was only able to take a few of my treasures with me. Now, decades later, one of my younger sisters mentioned that she had some old books in a box of “stuff” that she salvaged from our parents’ house before it was sold.

Last week she surprised me with this collection of books from my very early days.

Notice that there are two Annie Oakley books in the collection. No wonder we played Annie Oakley games at home. Here is the sister who saved my books, sitting in an old trunk, playing Annie Oakley.

Wasn’t it sweet of her to bring me those old treasures from my childhood days?

63 thoughts on “Books from Way Back

  1. Great payment for babysitting! And a great gift of old treasures. Those things from childhood are so special. As to the Monkey’s Paw, I read it in a high school literature class and it scared the living daylights out of me. I can’t imagine what it would be like listening to a radio play version as a preteen. That is a very creepy story.

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    • So true Hans. I just had a thought. My older sister, Hanna, bought those books so it means she held them at one time. She’s gone now and somehow it’s special to me to know that she touched them.

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  2. Annie Oakley was my hero in those days. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always found it amusing to see the big muddy boots on the ground below me. The spring mud was just horrible up there. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Oh and I’ll have another look for any other treasures that may be lurking.

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  3. Your sister is sweet! What a nice unexpected gift for you! I was telling a high school friend today that my oldest brother got rid of the few boxes of my childhood stuff I am sure was at our parents’ house when he sold it. He didn’t call and tell me I still had anything there! So I lost my high school annuals and other stuff that would help me a lot with writing my autobiography now. Oh well. I’m glad you have such a great sister! ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh yeah, thank you for following my other blog!

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    • Thanks, Patsy. Your brother probably never even thought about those items having any meaning for you. Most likely assumed his own reactions to memorabilia were the same as yours must be. I know the feeling of losing high school annuals. I wish I had kept mine. At one of the reunions (the first I ever attended) someone let it be known that she had made copies of the annuals and had them for sale at cost, so I bought one. That helped for the one year anyway.
      And yes, I do have a great sister. Actually I have another one but she lives too far away for us to visit much. I look forward to following your writing on your other blog!

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  4. Oh the memories that came back when you got that box of books. When I had my first daughter my mom had boxes of books she saved for us from when we were little. It was so cool going through them and remembering which ones were my favorite.

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    • I think we should make an effort to hang onto things from our childhood. Sometimes children don’t realize how much they will treasure some things later and parents need to make the effort on their behalf to save some of the more special things for them. Wasn’t that great that your mom did that for you?! I’m sure you’ll do the same for your daughter.

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  5. Anneli, I love these books and such a heartwarming post full of sisterly love and reading, too.
    I read books with the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Boxcar Children. My Dad read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to us, so I do know how stories read aloud can create scary “pictures” in our minds!
    “Heidi” is a classic! ๐Ÿ’
    This was a precious photograph, maybe I saw once awhile ago but worth showing your Annie Oakley self. I loved the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.” My favorite song was, “Anything you can do, I can do better!” Hugs, Robin xo ๐Ÿ’–

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    • *smile* I had forgotten all about “Anything you can do, I can do better”! And yes, The Bobbsey Twins, and there was also Trixie Belden. I remember getting in trouble for reading Nancy Drew in class when I should have been listening to the teacher, but she should have been glad I was so hooked on a book! Isn’t that the main goal of a teacher – to teach the kids a love of reading? Everything else will come along in its own good time if only we learn to love reading.

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      • Anneli, so happy you recognized the defiance in Annie’s song to the main male character.
        So funny, I almost called him Rhett Butler. (Scarlet was her own definition of defiance! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Maybe his last name was Butler?
        You are very right about teachers, they should be happy about reading. I had sustained silent reading in my 6th grade classes, for 10 – 15 minutes daily. We also read newspapers and played “reporters.”

        I was the Language Arts teacher so it was nice to also read aloud to our students. I chose, “A Wrinkle in Time” for futuristic theme and “The Yearling,” for country (rural) theme, as it was a county school district. I read one Trixie Belden book! What a joy to have your books back.

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  6. How cool to have those old books. What a cute photo of your sis. Being 13 years older, you weren’t even born yet when that picture was taken. I have a few of my old treasures, one being bubble gum cards of the Partridge Family and my childhood love, David Cassidy. However, I’d love to have my old books. What a treasure that your sister came across in that old box. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I’ve confused you, Lori, and I’m sorry I didn’t make it more clear. In this post I talked about two of my three sisters. One was 13 years older. I babysat for her. She bought me the books. My younger sister, the one in the trunk, is the one who salvaged the books from our parents’ house many years later and brought them to me last week.
      Hang onto those bubble gum cards. Those old things become more precious with time because of all the good memories they trigger.

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  7. What a lovely post, Anneli. I have a few old books and they’re real treasures. How sweet (and wise) your older sister was to give you books and encourage your love of reading. Isn’t it funny how those early experiences track through our lives as part of who we are and who we become? Great post and I love the Annie Oakley photo. Adorable. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. I envy you for having those old treasures from your childhood. Seeing the Heidi-book brought back a lot of memories. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

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    • In a way, we could say, they’re just “things” and more clutter in our lives, but sometimes “things” like this serve to bring back memories of good days from long ago.I’m happy to hear that Heidi triggered some memories for you. It sure is an old classic.

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  9. I am surprised the books fared as well as they did, considering how many times they were read, lent out and reread. ๐Ÿ™‚ Both Margot and I enjoyed them so much. โค

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