Bibliophiles just can’t turn down a good book
By Linda Albert | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The written word has always been an important part of my life. When I was a child, even before I could read those words on my own, my library was full of the Little Golden Books. They truly were golden treasure.
As I grew older, the treasure became even dearer. Mama and I checked out our limit of books at the A.K. Harper Public Library every week, a dozen books between us to devour and savor. Mama seemed drawn to mysteries, historical fiction and Gothic romances mostly. Now we know where my penchant for mysteries arose — Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, in particular. Mama read all those plus Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, Leslie Charteris’ The Saint and anything else she could find.
Fast forward a few (more than a few!) years. I still love to read, and in my job, I am fortunate to have a number of authors send me books in hopes of a review. You know, there is something about holding that repository of words and ideas in your hands, smelling the ink, savoring the touch, taking a trip outside yourself to worlds you may never have known existed ... and worlds to which you long to return.
Charlie Haun shares this penchant for books, but he’s far beyond your normal bibliophile. Charlie, author of two of my favorite books, “Looking for Admiral Farragut” and its sequel “Stoney Pointe,” buys, sells and collects books of all sorts. Like his alter ego Charlie Grant, the main character in the books he’s authored, Charlie Haun can’t resist the search for a rare book.
Of course, as he told me, with the advent of the Internet, “There’s no such thing as a scarce or rare book now. You can click and find it.” Still, when he gets on the trail, he will follow the scent until he finds his prize.
One of Charlie’s most disappointing jaunts was when he was contacted by two elderly sisters in Florida who assured him they had a number of first editions in their home. Charlie visited the ladies — and almost cried. They did, indeed, have a number of first editions, but “all the books were slimy with mold,” he told me. “They were ruined. I left there the most disappointed I’ve ever been.”
Charlie said he’s found some pretty good deals, though. A first edition “Freddy the Pig,” one of a series of 26 books written between 1927 and 1958 by Walter R. Brooks, was purchased for a dime. Charlie sold it for $100. Surprisingly, a 1940 edition of “Gone With the Wind” is “not worth a nickel,” he said.
Knowing how much I enjoy local history, Charlie dropped off a cookbook for me to peruse awhile back. Published in 1950, the title is “Rockford and Lakemont Favorite Recipes.” It was “compiled by the Rockford and Lakemont W.S.C.S., Rockford, Tennessee, and Lakemont, Tennessee.”
I do not know what W.S.C.S. stands for, but since a list of the officers includes only ladies, I’m guessing it’s a women’s club. They are Mrs. John H. Brockman, president; Mrs. L.G. Hutchens, vice president; Mrs. Frank Murphy, recording secretary; and Mrs. J.M. Ousley, treasurer. Twenty-eight additional members were named, some of whom I have met at one time or another.
The recipes are interesting to read, but the advertisements are what draw my attention. Businesses that I barely recall, if at all, appear as they are listed: Pet Dairy Products Company, Harper St., Maryville, Telephone 189; The Charles Theatre, Five Points, Maryville, Phone 3886, C.H. Biereley Jr., Owner; M.M. Elder Cash Carry Store, Fancy and Staple Groceries, Fresh Meats and Vegetables, 215 E. Broadway; Sno-White Diaper Service, Knoxville; Shipley Groc. and Service Station, Alcoa Hiway, Lakemont; Mimosa Motel, Phone 944-M-4; J.C. Orr, Prop., Electric Heat, Beauty Rest Mattresses, Private Baths, Convenient Meals at Lane’s Drive-In.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (email@example.com)