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Friday, April 15, 2011

Shelving My Friends

"These are my friends, See how they glisten. See this one shine, How he smiles in the light, My friends, My faithful friends..." That Sweeney Todd song keeps running through my mind as I unpack my books. It's been 19 years since they saw the light of day. For the last 13 they've been under my bed, boxed, silent. Now as I'm disinterring them, resurrecting them, it's like they each sing in my hands. This is a rare joy. One I don't want to share with others. I want to take each one out, look at it, see how it's fared in all the years it's been shut away... even talk to it. There are so many memories attached to them. The only things I've been able to keep, made sure I kept, are these old friends of mine. Most go back to high school and college, but I still have my very first book, a GoldenBook, Tom Corbett's Trip to The Moon! and two workbooks from first grade. In third grade, I remember we girls were very enthralled with The Lonely Doll series by Dare Wright, and here's the one volume I begged my Father to buy. Inside it, a response to a letter I wrote to the author with a picture from her next book enclosed. One of our dogs had nibbled the edges off. The Disney Treasury my first grade teacher, Miss Sudholz, gave me at Christmas. Which also brought back the flood of things she gave me that difficult year when my Mother went to a "convalescent home" and there was no money in the house for anything a little girl would need. Miss Sudholz looked like Inger Stevens and rented her apartment from Father Bailey, an Episcopalian minister who was an old family friend. Maybe that's where I first got the idea that the world was a small place where everyone knew each other if they talked long enough. I've always wondered what became of Miss Sudholz. After 1st grade I went to a foster home for the summer and when I came back my Mother had decided to leave my Father. So she and I moved upstate and I never saw Miss Sudholz or my schoolfriends again. She's on the list of People To Find When I'm Rich. Most of the people on that list are teachers who changed my life and it all started with her. I could spend days telling the story of every book I own. Each important to me, each has its story around its story. As people die and fall away from my life, they remain. And thank you, Brian, for bringing them back to my eyes and hands. Okay, back to work.

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