The literary gene runs deep in my family coming through my mother’s line and including such notables as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Samuel Clemens, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.
My mother was a prolific writer and many of us not so famous or talented have the same inherent desire to write and the all-consuming love of reading. My aunt Ollie was one blessed [or was it cursed] with the love of reading as was evidenced by her collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed books. Many of us in that particular time period acquired them through a membership in a book club, getting each new one as it was released.
My aunt, while in her eighties, [she being the second oldest child of my grand parents twelve children and 20 years older than my mother who was the youngest] devised a way to contain her growing number of those books by building a bookcase to house them made to the exact dimensions of said books. In this way dozens could be corralled in the same location. I admire her for her carpentry skills especially in light of her age at the time. She was never a shrinking violet and never let anything, certainly not age, deter her from her goals. The bookcase itself is not fancy, being constructed of simple two by fours stained a dark brown, sturdy and serviceable.
When my aunt left this earth for her heavenly reward my mother inherited that bookcase and soon made good use of it filling it with her own collection of the same sort of books. I remember that each time I visited her I’d browse through them to see if there were any new ones I wanted to borrow and usually without exception, there was one or two.
After my own mother left this mortal realm, I in turn, inherited my aunts bookcase along with all of my mother’s books. By this time I had quite a collection of books myself including a growing number of Reader’s Digest Condensed books I had acquired on my own. But I also had a large home with many bookshelves and as they say “You can never have too many books.” I used my aunts bookcase to hold my favorites and placed it in my bedroom where I could easily choose one for nighttime reading. Thus many happy seasons of reading passed.
Fast forward several years to my husband’s retirement and our drastic downsizing. I didn’t have room for that bookcase in our new retirement home so I reluctantly gave it to one of my sons with the admonition that he keep it in the family for by that time it was a family heirloom. He moved it from Arkansas to Texas and has proudly displayed it for many years although it was filled with knack knacks instead of books.
Now he’s moving and will have his furniture in storage for a while and, as circumstances would have it, I find myself in need of a bookcase of just that size with the perfect spot for it in my apartment. This time the main purpose for it will be my CD and DVD collection which I’ve had no place for since my move to Texas. How happy I’ll be to finally unpack them and put them out where I can see and use them. And how special to display them in “The” bookcase because my son is graciously allowing me to use it again with the understanding that it will go back to him when I no longer need or want it.
Who would have thought this elderly aunt’s action, born of necessity, would have helped so many people for such a long time? Who would have thought that a simple bookcase would be so widely traveled and used? I’m certain my aunt had no such thoughts. It’s a tribute to her fortitude and strength and the times from which she came; frail though she seemed, she was made of stern stuff and when she wanted something done she did it herself. This bookcase is still as stable and strong as when first built and barring fire or tornado damage it will live to bless other generations. I hope its future remains bright and the one lucky enough to inherit it from my son will appreciate and treasure it as more than a place to keep books or other objects, for my aunts legacy lives on in its solid construction. Who knows, perhaps it will continue traveling around the country for years to come.