Monday, October 10, 2011

Storybook Friends and other discoveries in a day of sorting

I spent part of Sunday sorting through boxes of books from the dwindling stockpile in the basement. As always, I stumbled upon some fun stuff that I couldn't wait to share here on the blog.

First up is battered copy of the 1955 edition of "Making Storybook Friends," the cover of which is pictured above.

The book is stamped as belonging to Red Lion Area School's Nebinger Building.1 Students using the book over the years, according to the "Loan Agreement" on the inside front cover, included Samantha, Jeffrey, Wayne, B. Shaub and Tim Bray. It appears that the textbook was used into the early 1970s.

The book's units are split up into "Pets and Playmates," "Rhymes, Riddles, and Old Tales," "Feathered Friends," and "In the Land of Make-Believe." Authors of the tales presented include Mother Goose, Aesop, Beatrix Potter, Alice Day Pratt, Louise Abney and M. Madilene Veverka.

The very first illustration in the book, which accompanies Frances Rowley's "Playing in the Leaves," made me smile. (And I suspect it will make Buffy Andrews, who shares my love of old grade-school textbooks, smile too.) Here it is, still wonderful and warmly evocative of autumn despite being scotch-taped:

Up next is "Frank Merriwell's Vacation" by Burt L. Standish.2 This book is in terrible condition and I was one step away from sending it to the recycling bin.

Then I flipped through it a bit. (Because you always have to flip through a book at least once. You never know what you'll find tucked away inside!)

But I didn't find anything tucked away inside. Instead, I found myself thinking, "What language is this in?" Here's an excerpt from the chapter titled "Prof. Jenks Gets Excited":
"Begorra! it's nadeless to talk to him av calmness," put in Barney Mulloy.

"Yaw, don't you let him talk to you apout calmness, Vrankie," said Hans Dunnerwust. "Let him talk to you apout dinner."
Later, we get this gem:
"Vale," he said, soberly, "you nefer seen der beat uf dot! Vot peen der madder mit dot durkeys?"
Vot peen der madder, indeed...

Finally, since Halloween is creeping closer by the day, I'll leave you with the ghostly image that I found tucked away inside a copy of 1968's "Georgia's Stone Mountain," by Willard Neal...

Wonder if the original artist ever expected that someone would find this, decades later, and make it available for all the world to see?

1. According to the January/Feburary 2010 edition of the Red Lion Area Historical Society's newsletter: "[Red Lion's] old 'Fort Sumpter' School — so called because of its resemblance to a fortress ... was located at the corner of West Broadway and South Charles Street. When a bequest from the Nebinger family allowed for the addition of a second story, the name was changed to the Nebinger School. The site of the Nebinger building is now part of the Leo Fire Company Number 1 complex."
2. Burt L. Standish was a pen name for William George "Gilbert" Patten, who had many other pen names. Patten/Standish wrote a couple hundred Frank Merriwell dime novels.


  1. You know how much I would love to have this book, don't you? (Smiles) I'm still looking for the Dick and Jane primer I used in first grade. I have high hopes you will find this in your pile one day.

  2. What year is the Frank Merriwell book from?
    I ask because I have a few books on oratory and recitation from 1890 to about 1920... and the "humorous monologues" are all in dialect. The content of the monologues isn't particularly humorous, but apparently at the time immigrant dialects were comedy gold!