For years and years, the Cooperstown Village Library has held their annual book sale over 4th of July weekend. Their large porch would be filled with tables covered with books, with boxes of books waiting underneath. That abundance of books overflowed onto the lawn where tents were erected under which stood more tables of books. The tents overflowed into a few boxes by the sidewalk labeled “Free.”
I love the library book sale. I still go every year, even though it’s now much smaller. I haven’t taken my father the past few years, partly because of mobility. The sale has been moved to the side of the building and is all in tents. By losing the sprawl and setting it on a slope, it’s harder to navigate with a walker.
We used to make it an annual thing though — the two of us waiting for the sale to open so we could be among the first to find the treasures there. I can think of few things more fun than poking around in piles and boxes of old books.
A few months ago, he was looking at all the bookshelves in the back room. “Where did all these books come from?” he asked.
“You bought them,” I said.
“I did?” He seemed surprised. “Well, I have good taste,” he said.
He tended to head toward the history section to find books on the Civil War, and then to the sports sections to find books on baseball.
Local history was always of interest to him. One year, I found a copy of an older book about the Loomis Gang, an outlaw gang in central New York, and showed it to him. He rejoiced, like I had just handed him a winning lottery ticket. Another year I found an obscure Walter Edmonds book that made him happy.
One year, he found a 1896 book called Max and Maurice: A Juvenile History in Seven Tricks by William Busch. Max and Maurice were the first names of my grandfather and his identical twin brother. Fortunately, the book was not about them. The story, all in rhyme, told of two boys who played horrible pranks on the people in their small town. In the end, they were ground up in a grist mill and eaten by ducks.
A gory story — but not a Gorey story. My brother buys those.
It’s not the same going to the library book sale without my father, but the books we already own are more than enough to keep him occupied.
In recent years he has read Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall at least three times, and probably from three different copies of the book, all thanks to the library book sale.
When he would find a favorite book, I watched him show it to the people around him. When none of them would take it, he would go ahead and buy it himself. I’m pretty sure he bought back some of his own donated books.
He couldn’t leave an old friend on the table.