“I didn’t even know that the library was open on Sundays.” I said while I held up the index and thumb of my right hand in a giant L over my forehead, the international sign for “Loser”. I had only come for the “Friends of the Library” book sale. Normally we go to our local library but today we traveled past many a paseo to park closer than we ever wanted to be to our local sheriff station because the civic center also housed the omnipresent Valencia library.
We speedily traversed through several other expectant book lovers; some arriving with their own smart brown grocery bags (only the handled ones would do). Samantha and I then had to travel through the “tunnel” they had put up during recent construction work, to reach the entrance of the library. With the sun shunned from it’s usual meander through the automatic doors, I assumed the library was closed and that we would be directed to the book sale somewhere else in the civic center. But, wrong again, the doors slid silently open to reveal several stunning senior ladies equipped with scratch paper, library-issued pencils, a small cash box and several brown boxes filled to their brims with secret surprises.
San and I tentatively entered the main room and were indeed greeted by a sight that even a stalwart book lover would have been overwhelmed by. With that thought, and the fact that I had my five-year-old in tow, I quickly estimated that I might have a good five minutes to take it all in. Before I had a chance to regret bringing her she dashed off to shuffle through a group of children’s books that had caught the corner of her little eye. I quickly found the boxes above and below a particular banquet table which may have been just simply labeled “Old”.
Sam came over to my section quietly peering between my kneecaps. I stole a glance and discovered her fingering some of the thin, more weathered, volumes. “They feel good in your hands, don’t they? And they have an old smell too.” She looked up at me without loosening her grip on a little red book and replied, “Yep, but they don’t have many pages, I’ll feel around for some others okay?”
Could my child inherit my love of books? Would she some day covet the moldy children’s prayer book and bible my grandfather had send to me, that I had printed my name lovingly onto the first page in 1971? Would she want the collection of fiction from my mother’s library I would someday inherit or wish that Uncle Mike hadn’t gotten all of the non-fiction? Would she value the bookcases that warmed our home? Books that had been fitted so tightly against each other that we had resorted to stacking and cramming? I could only hope.
I searched for anything bound in leather to share with her. I found one with a torn binding and used it as an example of what happens if we press our book covers back too far. Samantha silently nodded, her tiny hand approached it gingerly, caressing it in such a loving gesture that I thought the book should have rewarded her tenderness by magically obtaining it’s original shape.
Samantha returned to the boxes of children’s books and I returned with her. We searched through a few more “treasure boxes”. It was the first time mommy hadn’t given her a limit so she was a little overwhelmed too. She finally settled on a Little Bear book we hadn’t read yet, a new adventure of Mickeys, a Where’s Waldo book our neighbor Ben might have been searching for, an early reader entitled “Monster Math” and another dinosaur book to add to her ever growing prehistoric collection.
I added my selections to her pile and a “friend” of the library came over offering a plastic shopping bag. I was able to squeeze in two hard cover gourmet cookbooks that promised 20-30 year old party planning recipes. (Ed seems to have invited the entire LA fire department to our house for a holiday party and I wanted to ensure that HE is completely prepared to plan HIS meal, prepare HIS meal and multiply how many pots/pans/dishes would be HIS to clean up. But that’s another column, isn’t it?) I picked up a couple of stocking stuffers for Ed as well: commentaries from Andy Rooney, Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Seinfeld. I snatched Dale Carnegie’s “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living” that I had previously borrowed form the library on tape. I also found the short novel “Being There” that Peter Sellers had brought to film years ago. All in all I think I came home with about a dozen or so books. Guess what I spend?
$5.60! I felt like a grave robber! Samantha then wanted to go into the library to buy more books. I explained that we could look but it would only be fair to borrow more after we returned the ones we had just borrowed a couple of days before: three audio tapes for her, two for me, eight Magic School Bus and Kids Songs videos and three books she had memorized to read aloud. I thought an alarm was going to sound off! Too many library deals for the Bushman’s.
Thank God. Or should I say thanks to the “Friends of the Library” for renewing my love for books and helping me instill that same adoration in my babe.