Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Circling

Yesterday, the members of Astronaut Love Triangle went shopping at the Neighbourhood Services Store at City Centre. The ladies found great costume items. Jimmy Jettz and I found excellent electronic musical instruments. With friendly but no nonsense staff, excellent low prices and the City Centre Warehouse ambiance, the place really has the second-hand shopping vibe.

[Just in case you're not from Ottawa, "City Centre" is a collection of buildings with warehouses and businesses that do not require foot traffic or an aura of prestige. Although I love the way it looks, it usually wins any contests in Ottawa for ugliest building or worst architecture. Also, it is more west than centre of Ottawa.]

As people were concluding their final purchases, I took a look at the books. I'm not allowed to buy any books for myself, but I thought I'd see one that I could use as a gift to someone else. In amongst the hardcovers, I saw a copy of Downfall People by Joanne Williams Bennett. It is a book that came out in 1986 and is set in northern Ghana. I bought five or six copies back in the late 80s and early 90s and gave away all but one. I still have that copy.

I decided I'd buy this copy unless it was priced too high. I picked it up and opened the cover. It had no price, so it would be the default $1, but I was sorry to see that it had an inscription. That will make it harder to give the book as a gift, I thought.

Then I read the inscription:

If you can't read the text in the photo, you can click on the picture to see it larger. To answer the obvious question - the David who wrote the inscription is either me or someone who has identical handwriting and also gave his mother a copy of Downfall People.

I called Mom yesterday afternoon. She remembers lending the book to someone and never getting it back, but she can't remember who she lent it to. She's more careful about keeping track now. She has a list of the ladies at bridge who have borrowed her books and she makes sure to write her first name inside so they remember who the book belongs to. Kathy Cook's Stolen Angels is on its fourth or fifth borrower, but Mom knows who has it.

And yes, she wants Downfall People back.


Anonymous said...

You do lead a charmed life David.

Anonymous said...

I love buying pre-loved books with inscriptions in them, it gives the books character (no pun intended) and I love the sense of connection with previous owners. Your story, however, tops 'em all in the serendipitous-reconnections-with-lost-items genre. Glad your mom has her book back.

Anonymous said...

Nice cover story, Mrs. Scrimshaw, I think you fooled him! You and I know moms can't keep ALL those gifts from the kids over the years.

Anonymous said...

I was relating your amazing shopping find to my bridge friends today and was told, quite hastily, by L... that she still had "The Kite Runner" and was waiting 'til she finished the other books (the ones I don't want back) to return it.

Took over a year to get "The Colony of Unrequited Dreams" back.


Dana Lee Ling said...

Moms can keep near on anything and everything. My mother recently sent my childhood stuffed animal that I slept with in 1959. Now my son sleeps with the same stuffed animal, minus a good bit of fur, one eye, the mane, and the tail.

David Scrimshaw said...

Dana, your mom might be more sentimental than Red Vera. Or she has more storage space.

Pearl said...

what serendipity. great story.

accidental altruist said...

Thanks for sharing that little bit of magic. Yeah, I call that magic.