Monday, May 13, 2013

My Lucky Day?

Between Algoma and Kewaunee, on the lake side, I spotted two semi trailers parked perpendicular to each other.   The hand painted sign leaning against a weathered mailbox, matching the weathered farmhouse, says "Book Sale".  How could I resist?  After all, Saturday was my lucky day.   Earlier  I had stumbled across a vintage Underwood typewriter at an estate sale - the perfect Hemingway prop.  I can just picture him standing at my counter, click clacking away at a new, moody adventure of some sort.  You know he wrote standing up for many years, right?  

The first semi had shipping pallets and a series of wooden crates as stairs.  The bottom step was precarious enough, but the top one looked even  less  stable.  I knew that if I stepped on the already cracked crate and it broke, I'd fall into a maze of boards and muck beneath the makeshift stairs and never emerge due to embarrassment.  But there were used books inside, so I had to chance it.  The door was open just a crack, and pushing it further, I pinned the old guy running the place between the door and a massive stereo system.  He was OK with that.

Once he freed himself, the owner explained that he was just getting started, and then he gave me the grand tour of the semi.  The first eight feet or so are devoted to his office, filled with computer equipment, reference books, Chiquita Banana boxes and that six foot tall stereo system I mentioned earlier.  From there, you step down into the "showroom."  About half the space is  lined with brick and board bookshelves filled end to end with titles mostly recovered from Friends of the Library books sales.  All with Dewy Decimal numbers and protective,cellophane covers.   Running down the center of the semi are tables with boxes overflowing with books in no particular arrangement.  Beyond that point?  More Chiquita Banana boxes - hundreds in fact.  They appeared to be filled with mass market paperbacks. 

The owner, a spry 80-ish fellow, told me he has 70,000 titles, all catalogued.  The second semi is filled with more paperbacks, and children's books.  You have to climb a step ladder to get into that one.  At first, I thought I had made a wonderful discovery and planned to return when I had more time.  However, the situation kept getting creepier and creepier.  Each time I made a move to leave, he would come up with a new topic to discuss.  When I finally moved back toward the front door, he rushed to get there first, and closed it tightly.  He started telling me about his great stereo system and taking vinyl albums off a shelf one by one and talking me through the finer points of each artist and recording.  All with his back blocking to closed door. 

Then...he put on an Irish album and danced a jig.  A long jig.  And for some reason, I thought I was a goner.   What better place to off someone than in a semi, parked innocently next to a farmhouse?  Few people would miss me, and the  likelihood of being  found - close to zero.  The dancing man would get away with it.  Just imagine,  had my baseless fear been realized, my last stop would have been among books (and a few chickens).  I don't want to think about that now.  I heard there are books housed in several barns somewhere in central Wisconsin.  Gotta find that place and check it out.

What am I reading?  The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout,  author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Olive Kitteridge.  My book group read "Olive" a few years back.  Steph and I enjoyed the book, and found Olive's honesty and unpredictabilty enganing, realistic and entertaining.  We were in the minority.  In fact, Olive was nearly as despised by our group as The Shipping News. 

Thanks for stopping by.