Not long ago I was rummaging through some antique books, and a few caught my eye. Among these was an old copy of Dale Carnegie – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. I have read other books from this author, but not this one. I took it home, and as many of his books, what a treat it was.  It has a copyright date of 1948, and that old pages scent that goes so well with the right amount of yellowing. No pages are missing and overall, it is in great shape. Besides these features, what else do I love about these old tomes?

Well, one thing that I love about an old book is that it usually contains a story within its main story. It is the story of the previous owner(s), and one that is written throughout the entire book. I love to have a glimpse of who was this person, and to imagine a bit about his/her life. Sometimes, I find their name handwritten, a year, a dedication signed by the person who gifted it, and other times, even the occasion for such gift. Other times, I may find a marker, a cut out from an old newspaper, or even a dry little flower. What made them buy this book? Many times, you can see the reason by the passages underlined, or the notations carefully made throughout the pages.  Other times, you will find a business card or a written piece of paper that may be revealing. It is always a treat.

On this particular tome, I found an old piece of scrap paper taken from a budget sheet from 1954. It had some numbers in it, written not in the proper space, but added, what seemed as in a rush.  The column Amount in 1954 budget was encased in a square made with pencil markings, and a name was written atop the other two columns. In addition, there was a bookmark from a masonic lodge celebrating 100 year anniversary. The inside had no underlining. What was the story here? Well, the owner was probably a Mason, a business person, maybe an accountant? and he must have scribbled numbers while talking on the phone with the person who’s name was carefully written, and while he was on the phone, he must have doodled the square in pencil, as it seemed to have more than one line, as if this person, went over the square with his pencil several times. Inside the book, there is a large yellow mark made by a paper that must have been placed there for some time. It marked the shape of a large piece of paper and a small one, probably on top of it or attached to it – maybe a receipt (hence why I chose the profession of accountant). This is the story that these clues inspired, but it could be far from the truth; however, I had fun imagining all this. As usual, here are a few pictures.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

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That day, I found a small collection of small prayer books/bible from the USA army. Back then, the Army, Navy … gave these books to soldiers, and many were presented at service by their chaplain . One of them had the soldier’s name, the chaplain’s name, date, time, and where it was presented. What caught my eye was the heavy underlining on this one, especially passages that talk about war, peace, and righteousness, as well as other passages that made reference to water, which led me to think that the soldier might have been in the navy. There was one underlined passage that referred to a man being healed, one who couldn’t walk. The story I imagine here made me sad.

Next time you happen to come across an old book, examine it, and hear the story it whispers within. Today, we celebrate old authors, as well as book lovers of the past – HAPPY WATERCOLORS FRIDAY!