Old, Mould & Sold!

Anyone got the recipe for kooky cake?

Don’t worry…

If it exists, I’m pretty sure I know where to find it.

Naturally that’s where every other odd, fandangled and rarely thought of item is slapdashedly holed up these days – your local trash or treasure thrift shop.

You might have to search a little for it but with any luck and some dedicated fossicking, the sought-after item from a land time forgot will glide magically into view – positioned right alongside last century’s hand tools, mismatched beige china plates by the hundred, dusty relics of what previous generations considered sporting equipment and naturally that ‘ol family favorite… the messily stacked and completely ramshackle collection of pre-loved but still-in-the-original-box jigsaw puzzles – every one of ’em with missing pieces… of course.

My local is not so much a shop as it is a depot. Cavernous and musty are the order of the day. Once inside, and having managed to sidestep the two life-sized female mannequins guarding the entrance-way – mannequins that looked for all the world like the one sharing crazy-pants Howard Payne’s apartment in the movie SPEED (1994) – I fairly predictably headed straight for the second-hand books section.

After some time browsing

and finally hoisting the white flag of surrender to concede there was nothing of interest here on this day for me, I quickly changed tact and set myself the challenge of finding the oldest book there.

The first few I inspected were relics from early eighties publishing. “Nah”, I thought to myself in a superior tone, “I can do better than that.” It wasn’t long before I was in 1970’s territory and then, finally, like a vision of battered and aged loveliness before my eyes, titles from the swinging 60’s began appearing before me.

One of these I ended up buying for thirty cents. THE STORMS OF SUMMER is the 2nd novel (his first novel, published the same year as this one, was apparently described by Ian Fleming as “one of the outstanding thrillers of 1960”) of British author John Iggulden. Set in Australia, it’s a coming of age story about a young architecture student.

The inside cover reveals the publisher was CHAPMAN & HALL LTD (London). If that name doesn’t ring a bell then know this – these guys were the publishers for Charles Dickens – confirming this book does link hands across the mists of time with the ancients (ok, the slightly modern 19th century ancients).

For the curious, the opening sentence of this 351 page literary time capsule reads –

“At Ashford, when the other passengers climbed down from the service car and stretched their legs while they waited for their dusty luggage to be handed down from the rack on top, Charles Desborough realised that he must be the only one travelling through to the Inlet.”

And for the speed readers, the concluding sentence is this –

“You’re not like that, Charlie,” Tanie said again, not quite understanding all that he had meant.

But I wasn’t done just yet…

No siree.

For I was about to hit, what in archaeological circles is known as ‘pay dirt’.

Real history and a TRUE discovery were about to be unearthed.

It was to come in the form of a spectacularly well-worn copy of a novel by English writer Evelyn Everett-Green (1856 – 1932), who is recorded as having written more than 300 books in her lifetime.

SWEEPIE tells the story of the adventures of a little girl, a lot of which seem to take place in a garden. It’s 243 pages long and was first published in 1918. I don’t know if the copy I bought on this day is a first edition but I’m going to say it is. That makes this book 101 years old! That also makes this book the oldest thing I own.

The incredible journey of how many hands this book passed through to reach me is a wondrous thought and one I find completely fascinating. Then again isn’t there some old saying about the molecules of air we breath today are the exact same ones the great Roman ruler Julius Caesar inhaled through his lungs some 2000 years ago? (For a solid debunking of this theory click the manuscript length green stuff here – https://medium.com/magazines-at-marquette/is-it-true-that-were-breathing-the-same-molecules-once-breathed-by-the-dinosaurs-julius-caesar-or-decaf242fe8b

And just because I did it with the previous book here’s the opening sentence of SWEEPIE

I will not, then!” said Sweepie.

And the closing one –

“I’m going to be her chum now and until I’m grown up, and then I’m going to marry her, so that we can live happy ever afterwards; and the name of that ripping little pal of mine, who’s worth her weight in gold, is just – Sweepie!”

Adding to the find of this book (which has a wizened face like an overstored red apple) is a handwritten inscription pasted on the inside front cover –

Central State School – Maryborough – 1930 – Presented to Betty Leityee for Proficiency Grade IV

And that friends, is just one reason every now and then I choose to imbibe from the bottomless but still warm coffee mug of yesteryear. Geez, when it comes right down to it…

11 thoughts on “Old, Mould & Sold!

  1. How fascinating Glen! Love your blogs, they are such an insight into how the other half lives. Well, an insight into how YOU live anyway.
    Love your appreciation for history and the fact that you take the time away from the hustle and bustle of life to notice these things. I find it inspiring. I would never even think to go looking for the oldest book I could find! In a second hand shop I would head straight to the kids’ clothes to see the bargains I could uncover to save funds in the family budget… essential but oh so mundane! Your plan is so much more interesting.

    And Central State School, Maryborough of all places! Know it well. Sat on the sidelines on the oval there week after week as an eleven year old watching the boys only cricket comp until they finally felt sorry for me and let me play a few games.

    Small world!

    Liked by 3 people

    • OMG!
      This is the seven degrees of separation principle on a stick!
      What you’ve said about your connection to Central State School at Maryborough sends tingles up my spine Shannon.
      R-A-N-D-O-M is the name – freaky coincidences is the game.
      I’m so glad I decided to write about this.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed your visit to your local tip shop Glen. I do the same with Vinnies and other op. shops wherever I am visiting – never know what you’ll find – good fun looking and generally come home with a treasure or two.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant! Whenever I’m in Geelong I head to the tip shop. I like to find random objects that can be used make stuff. Last time there I bought an old sink and made a mud-kitchen for school kids to play with at break times. I always look forward to seeing what’s in the shop and seeing what ideas spring to mind!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, that Sweepie book does look REALLY old. What a find!
    I still have a couple of books from my childhood that now–looking at the covers–seem almost as old as Sweepie–*gag* ! ! ! “Mystery of the Green Cat” and “Julie and the New Girl.”
    When I lived in NYC, The Strand was full of treasures….if you patiently sought them out, like you did.
    I never found a really good bookstore in L.A. while I was growing up, though. I had to mine the library for most of my reading material.
    Weirdly, I just had a dream about that library the other day. It was completely empty except for a librarian behind one counter. I felt sad afterwards………

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This makes me think of my grandfather’s World War 1 diary Glen.

    It is still sitting to the right of me on a shelf above my router. I’ve gone so far as to type it all out and do intend to publish it sooner than later (famous last words). I’m still transfixed by the thought of where he was as he penned each page, and how one might by some means discover descendants of those he met in England while recovering from his war wounds. Comments he made about movies he saw in London, or stage shows are intriguing as film making technology was so primitive compared to what we have today.

    It is interesting how so many of us feel the need to explore the past in some way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

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