My Dad’s Books

My Dad’s Books

Every day I sit at my desk and glance up at a shelf filled with treasures. Among the many items there – a stack of aprons Mom made, candy dishes from Grandma Jones, a clock Grandpa Jones made, a puppy vase from Genevieve, a purple candy dish from Bea and Pauline – are three of my Dad’s books.

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I brought them home a few years when my sister and I were visiting him in Arkansas. He’d been doing a cleanup of his office and was getting rid of some things. He graciously let my sister and I pick through what we wanted, as we also enjoyed the morning looking at all of his old photographs of him as a young boy and from his time in the service. No, we didn’t get the chance to bring the photos home, but we had so many other goodies that we weren’t complaining.

I brought these three home. I could have brought a lot more home. If anyone walks in my office and sees that there are five burgeoning book cases and books are still overflowing with no room to give them a proper place, they might think I’ve hit book overload and shouldn’t get any more. But, no. I am a mere apprentice in the book arena. I learned from a master book collector – my dad.

Now these three books aren’t ones I chose because I wanted to read them. They weren’t on my ‘To Be Read’ list. I wouldn’t have gone looking for them. But they were my dad’s. The Star Book for Ministers (1957), The Simple Life (1904), and Fishers of Men, (1904). Inside each there’s small address labels, claiming the books as his, from the home I grew up in until we moved in 1969.

The reason I chose two of the books, is because of the little white letter on them. An ‘M’ and a ‘G.’ Those two letters so carefully painted on the base of the spine, throw me right back to childhood. I look at those and I’m transported back to Glendora, California. Dad built a huge bookcase in the living room. Huge to me at the time, but a mere shadow of the bookcases he has in his large office now.

We children had a small section on the bottom shelf where our books and Highlights magazines went. There was a hardcover series or two that we had at the time. I only remember my favorite book about Indians. The encyclopedias were near our books, and made for great reading, opening up fascinating new worlds. Once I learned to read I devoured books, and haven’t stopped yet.

But my favorite part of these early memories is the letters that Dad painstakingly added to his books. He had his own filing system, keeping books in order by categories, and these little white letters were the key to his organization.

Now I know they don’t pertain to titles or authors. Fishers of Men by Rev. B. T. Roberts has an ‘M.’ And the Star Book for Ministers, by Edward Hiscox has a ‘G.’ Dad must have grouped his books by certain subject matters. Maybe Ministry and Gospel? That’s just a guess. (And yes, Dad, if you’re reading this…you’ll be getting a phone call!)

Fortunately my Dad is still alive and I can call him and ask. Or email. Or ask when I visit him in a few months. Sometimes though, we don’t have the chance to go back and ask questions like this. I remember all the times I’d listen to stories from Grandma Jones – much too often tuning her out because my mind was on the kids, or I needed to wash a load of diapers, or what was happening at work. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ve heard that before. And now that Grandma’s gone, what I would do to have one more day with her, to ask her questions and just listen to her stories.

That’s part of the reason why I created three new journals. My Family Heirloom Journal is a place to record information and stories about different treasured pieces. I want to write things like this down, recording the memories in a place where my boys and grandchildren and read them later – years down the line when maybe they’d be wishing I were around to tell one more tale. Once I’m not here to tell them about their Grandpa organizing his books and the letters he’d put on them, or about my Grandpa Jones making a clock and the memories of watching him work in his small garage workshop, it can all be written down here.

Hmmm…maybe this isn’t such a good thing though. Now my boys really won’t be wanting to listen to my stories one more time. They’ll just wait for the printed version that they can scan through later.

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Books from Dad, candy dish from Grandma Jones, clock from Grandpa Jones, hand-towels with crocheted edge from Mom, quilt in background from Grandma Cline.


My Family Heirloom Journal, along with My Museum Journal and My Historic Homes Journal, have a pre-publication sale during February. Until February 10th, you can get them for $6.99 each (regularly priced $10.99), or all three for $20. After the 10th, they’ll still be on sale – each one $7.99 or all three or $23. If you’d like one, now’s your chance to grab one (or all three) and save!

October 2021

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