Sunday, March 11, 2007

How to Find a Lost Love

No, this is not going to be an advertisement for one of those services that helps you find that guy you thought was cute in 9th grade. This is about true love - the love you feel for a really great book.
Now, sometimes you can remember the face of that cute kid from 9th grade math class, but you can't actually remember his name. Books can be like that too. That is one of the reasons I am writing this blog - as premature senility creeps in and I lose my memory, it helps me to keep track of my reading. But what about the books I loved as a child? Sometimes I can remember the plot or a character, but have no memory of the title of the book or the author.
So, somehow I stumbled upon the Loganberry Books website. They have a section called "Stump the Bookseller." For a fee of $2, you send in a note with all the information you remember about your favorite, forgotten childhood book. Then you wait, to see if somebody can identify your book from the measly clues you provide.
Well, I quickly signed into Paypal and sent in my clues - "Three generations of a family, maybe in Pennsylvania. First generation builds log cabin, makes soap. Second generation sees stagecoach go by. Kids ride on steam train, boy gets cinder in eye." Sadly, these were all the specifics I could remember.
I waited about a week to check back in - and found that two people had identified my book, days earlier! So I ordered my book, received it, and sure enough it is the exact book that I remember. As I flipped through the pages, every illustration made me say, "Yes! I remember this! And that! And oh yeah that one too!" It takes place in Indiana, not Pennsylvania, but the boy does get a cinder in his eye. There are plenty of other events in the book, so I have no idea why the cinder is what I remembered.
The cute boy from math class is probably an alcoholic with anger management issues and an ulcer, but this book is still the same book that I loved back in elementary school. It's not great literature, but it is somewhat similar to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, in that it shows you what life was like for families living long ago. It is full of details about how they made their own soap, and what everyone wore and ate at a wedding, and of course the famous steam train ride.
I'm having a great time reuniting with my old love. Who is this long-lost darling? It is "Smiling Hill Farm" by Miriam E. Mason, copyright 1937. Many thanks to the helpful readers who brought us back together. May we never part again!

No comments: