Recently, I was cleaning out my desk when I found a hardback book buried in the bottom of a drawer. It’s a special book, given to me when I was a teenager by an old friend’s mother. Even as a kid I loved to read, and my friend’s mom had an extensive library—a full wall in her basement taken up by custom-built bookcases. I loved looking at all the titles, and she was more than happy to let me borrow whatever I chose.
I was first attracted to The Gregory Hill because of its cover. I thought it looked like a good, spooky mystery. Turns out it wasn’t spooky, but was a good mystery. After reading it twice (several months apart), I looked for a copy of my own. But it was an old book and I didn’t have any luck.
When my friend’s mom got wind of my hunt, she gave me her copy. The book was in nice shape for an older title. She came into possession of The Gregory Hill in 1960 (noted on the inside cover), and passed it to me in 1976 or 1977. I’ve read it multiple times, and the constant wear eventually took its toll. This book is 57 years old. Don’t ask me why I used masking tape to hold it together back in the day. That’s probably all I had at the time, and since it has been taped up for decades, I’ve left it that way. It may look a mess, but I guarantee this is a favored book I would never part with.
The second book is an indie book—published waaaaay before indie books existed. My dad was in the Army Signal Corps, stationed in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He experienced Burma, India and the Orient. When he was twenty-four, he wrote The Yanks Came, a short fifty page recollection of events during his time there. From the preface (below) he says he published it so that the other soldiers in his company would have a record of what took place. My dad always liked dabbling with words (which is where I inherited my love of writing), but his true passion was art—oil paints, pastels and charcoal. Even so, he published this book and saw that everyone in his company received a copy.
My father passed away from cancer when I was thirteen. He was in his fifties then (I was a “late in life” baby), but I treasure the fact that I still have a battered copy of The Yanks Came—one of only two copies in my family. Maybe, somewhere “out there” others copies still exist, tucked away in attic trunks or drawers. Fortunately, the pages inside my copy are in great condition. Only the cover has become worn. Not too shabby considering this book is 71 years old! Take a look…
And you know what’s even better? I have the original draft of the The Yanks Came. Yep. Talk about a treasure! The pages are tucked away in an old binder. The inside cover page came to me damaged, but otherwise the draft is well preserved. Take a look. The two inside shots are especially interesting.
Did you note the date on that piece of loose-leaf? September 28th, 1945!! This is something I really treasure. I had goose bumps writing this post.
History. Family. Memories.
—and a love of the written word that echoes through time.