where the writers are
The Library Book Sale


Last night my library had its preview sale and I had quite an interesting haul. (AND they didn't let the scanner people in. How satisfying.)

The take:

Riverside Shakespeare with unmarked pages: $3

Modern Library version of Ten Days that Shook the World as gift to husband. His reaction alone worth the buck fifty.

1964 edition of The Joy of Cooking with robin's egg blue cover. Pristine. Red ribbon markers and no food splatters: $1.50

1938 Doubleday edition of Rebecca with tiny illustration of Manderly on the cover and spine: $1.50

Bargain of the night: A child's book of poems called Silver Pennies (Macmillan 1937) filled with lovely black and white litho illustrations. The cover shows a silver crescent moon from which tiny silver pennies are dropping into the lap of a little girl in silhouette. Best of all: it was a library book and the hand-written card from 1938 is still in the back pocket. And it was a quarter!

A 1901 copy of The Republic bought with the silly idea I should read Plato eventually. The book's inscription reads "Webster Sandford, November 1927."

I thought this was probably my least interesting find of the night. Until the envelope dropped out of it this morning.

Its return address is the Office of the Dean of Freshmen at Yale. The postmark is New Haven, July 13, 1928. It's addressed to Mr. Joseph W. Sandford in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. It is lamentably, empty, and as a result my writer's imagination has been working overtime.

If the book belonged to Webster, he's got to be the son or brother of Joseph. But if the letter were sent to Joseph, why is the empty envelope in Webster's book? Joseph apparently received it, because it's postmarked. (First class was two cents in 1928.) And why the July date? It was mailed from New Haven, so was Webster in summer session for some reason?

I keep imagining the young Yalie in his v-neck sweater and freshman beanie. Was he studious or a slacker? Did he slave over his Plato?

Or was he a ukulele-playing scamp in a raccoon coat who drank bathtub gin, and got in trouble with his old man because he had to re-take Philosophy 101 in the summer?

Whatever he was, he's well worth the $1.50 I spent on him.