Playing Possum

Every now and again this comes up so I figured I would go ahead and put it out for all to see: this is the story of the day I knew, absolutely, conclusively knew, I was actually living in the country…yes, this was the day we discovered the possum in our bedroom closet.

(I feel inclined to note that this is a one hundred percent true story, or at least insofar as I can remember it.)

Now, this goes back to the days that we lived in the trailer. It was a 14’ by 70’ castle for the first fifteen years or so of our lives together, and like every mobile home it had its warts, one of which was that the plumbing was, at least, suspect. Every so often the pipes would freeze or spring leaks, generally spraying upward onto bottom side of the floorboards. This eventually caused those slabs of plywood to swell and warp, so much so that eventually we ended up with a kitchen that resembled the rolling hills of west Texas. Also there was (and still is) an actual hole in the hallway between the laundry area and the master bedroom that could, in a pinch, serve as a hatchway to the underworld. But that’s another story.

As it happened, our commode became disabled during one of these plumbing emergencies and for a time we would have to do our duties (doodies?) in the yard, or in the case of solid waste, up at Momma and Daddy’s house. I know, I know, too much information, but still. I must also add during this time that our son Preston was subject to sleepwalking, and often we would find him wandering in the wee (wee) hours of the morning. Sometimes he ended up outside. Maybe he was looking for the loo.

No, really, these things do go together.

After a while we finally got the commode fixed (well, for a time anyway) and life resumed. And then…one morning I woke up and found the back door standing open. Not just unlocked, not merely ajar, but wide open. Quickly I darted to our son’s bedroom to check and see if he was still there. He was, and with a sigh I left for work and didn’t give the matter another thought…

…till I got a phone call from my wife that afternoon, telling me she thought there was something in our bedroom closet. I told her I’d see to it when I got home. By the time I arrived, she already identified it as, you guessed it, a possum, and then the events sort of clicked…PJ had left the door open, and a possum had the run of the house. 

All night long. While we slept blissfully. For all I know, PJ may had played with it. We didn’t have a cat at the time.

So. Possum in the closet. How does one exorcise a possum?

I can tell you one thing: the business about “playing possum”, that’s overstated. Maybe they do it, maybe they don’t. Ours most certainly didn’t. She stood her ground till I managed to sweep her from the closet (literally, I was using a broom) into a chute we’d hastily constructed from disused waterbed frame rails. Don’t laugh, it worked. Except…she headed into the bedroom rather than toward the back door, as we’d hoped.

Thinking quickly—if perhaps foolishly—I grabbed her by the tail. 

She proceeded to wrap the rest of that prehensile appendage around my hand and wrist and just sort of hung there.

I have to admit being at least bemused. Here I am, mid forties, born and raised in the greater Chicagoland area. Prior to moving south I’m not sure I’d ever seen a possum alive before. And here I was actually holding one! Culture Fu! 

Anyway. There I was, standing in my bedroom with a possum dangling from my wrist. What a picture that would’ve made! Mind you, if it had happened today—and I’m not inviting this, mind you— we’d have had a phone handy and it would be memorialized forever. As it was, Shell was shouting, “Let me get my camera! Let me get my camera!” I was all for it, of course; this was a Kodak moment if ever there was one.

The possum, though, had other ideas. She decided she’d had enough of socializing with humans and slowly angled her body upward, teeth bared, rarin’ to do battle with the ugly creature that had gotten hold of her and didn’t seem to want to turn her loose. Her intentions clear, and my rabies shots being mostly out of date, I figured it would be prudent to turn her loose. I walked to the screen door, held her out, and let go.

But…she didn’t want to go.

I shook my arm. Still there.

It was a standoff for a few anxious seconds, before I suppose she figured she’d made her point. She landed, catlike, on all fours, and waddled off. We cleaned the possum poo off the bedroom carpet and life proceeded apace.

Now, no pictures exist of this event, except for those in our minds. But I assure you, it is true. And it wasn’t the last we saw of her either. We ended up naming her Penelope, and she would show up by the porch almost nightly for weeks, looking for food, figuring she knew an easy touch when she saw one. She was right too…we put out pans of chow for her till she finally stopped coming round. We figure she went off to start a family. Hopefully they all lived happy lives.

Nature traipsing through our yard is now commonplace. We have several deer that reside in our field, there are raccoons all over–except for the ones I trapped and escorted off the property for slaughtering our chickens (and therein lies another tale for another day–and of course I have seen many, many possums since. Coming upon one in our trash can is always entertaining and usually startling. But I’ve never looked at the critters in quite the same way, and I never begrudge them a snack at my expense. After all, they don’t remark on our wardrobe choices, and God knows they could.

That Radio Thing

Let’s talk about Obsession now. Not the cologne. The mental kind.

For me, I think, it is Radio. Probably somewhere there’s a perfume with that name and late 50s and older men (and probably some women too) drool whenever they catch a whiff of it. There’s hints of silicon and ozone in it, I would imagine. But seriously…

I can remember the first radio I ever owned–and by “I” I mean “we”, as in my older brother Michael and I, we pretty much had joint ownership of the thing. It was a deep red plastic affair with a large central dial and a smaller knob that controlled the power and volume. Both of these knobs were a sort of an ivory shade…they were probably white at the start of their service life but took on the darker color later by residing in a smoking household. As a past smoker I am trying to imagine my lungs having had that shade once.

I have no certain idea as to where this thing came from, but I can offer a pretty good guess: the Dump. Seriously. Our grandfather was Commissioner of Public Works in our town, and his office was where the town’s vehicles were stored…which happened to be the home of the town’s “sanitary landfill”. Every now and again useful items were discovered amongst the detritus, and more often than not they ended up repurposed in our house. It’s amazing what people will throw away. This radio worked just fine, so why throw it away? Perhaps it was destined to end up on our dresser. I like to think that anyway.

Or maybe it was because it wasn’t that good of a radio in the first place. I seem to recall it could only get two stations with any regularity, and those were WJOB (Hammond, Indiana) and WLTH (Gary, Indiana). By strange coincidence, our beloved Aunt and surrogate mother Judy worked at both of those stations at one time, which was a pretty cool thing. Mike and Kat and I never lacked for records, that was for sure, and many were the times we played as DJs at GIUS Radio, which stood for Griffith Indiana United States. The notion of call letters was familiar to us apparently, but the way they were assigned was not…but, we were young, we had a record player (with pennies on the tone arm, of course) and we had imagination.

So back to Old Red. Two stations, which enabled us to listen to the latest of the Jackson 5 (hey, Gary, remember?) and the school reports. Oh yes, we would wake up in the morning and turn on Old Red to find out whether or not school was open. Ours didn’t close often, because Grandpa was damnably good at his jobs, one of which was to keep the streets free of snow. But it did happen, if rarely, and oh those frabjous days! For it did snow in northwest Indiana. Sometimes it snowed a lot. One year (67? 68?) so much that I was for the first and last time able to dunk a basketball, just because I could climb the snow pile in front of our garage and simply drop the ball in the hoop. Really, we did have that much snow that year.

Well, one day we switched on Old Red, waited for him to warm up (for you had to do that with that set) and…nothing happened. No familiar warm electric smell, no clicking, no nothing. Dad took him to a friend who had a radio business who delivered the bad news…a vacuum tube had gone bad. Ordinarily not a big deal, tube testing machines and new tubes were in most grocery stores those days…but the tube needed was no longer being made. So Old Red made his final transition to the Dump, and this time there would be no Glorious Repurposing. And Mike and I were out one radio.

I suppose we both had pocket transistor sets next. I remember a couple, mostly just AM…FM hadn’t really hit its stride yet. We’d listen to WLS or WCFL out of Chicago then…the tunes of the day being spun by names like Larry Lujack (before he became “Superjock”) or John “Records” Landecker. We would religiously collect the top 40 sheets that were delivered weekly to the local dealers…weirdly, a stationary store was the best source for tunes in those days. That and the library…really, our library had some pretty far-thinking music, and if they didn’t have it in their collection, they could always request it from another branch. Mike did that a lot. He was into Dylan and Sparks and then Brian Eno way before anyone else caught on. He was mostly doing this because by this time we had come into possession of a radio that also contained cassette player/recorder, a hand-me-down from our Dad, who always had the latest and greatest. Thus when something later and greater came around electronically, we’d usually get hold of its previous incarnation. So eventually this came around:

Craig 2606

A Craig Model 2606 Radio Cassette Recorder. Dig that stick shift controller! That particular bit broke first, incidentally…

Now we could record music right off of the radio! Wow! No stereo, but we could live with that. And of course there was the novelty of recording our own voices. Oh, there was a lot of that going on. I seem to recall a comedic version of the Bozo show being done at one point or another.

Somewhere along the line, another hand-me-down turned out to be a Bell & Howell “Recordall”. Under its beige cover it looked like this:

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The Bell & Howell Recordall. There was magic in that there box…but sadly, no radio!

Imagine! A mini turntable and a cassette player/recorder, as well as a small microphone hidden between the two! The coolest part of this was that the cassette recorder drew directly from the turntable sound…meaning you could effectively copy an LP. High cotton indeed for the early 70s! This meant that the home taping and mix tape boom that was to come was effectively presaged by my older brother. Who was, and remains, one of the coolest people I know…

Now this amazing machine did have one downside…no radio! But by then there was a new rage: clock radios. And being as we had moved by then and Mike and I finally had separate rooms…and we were deemed responsible enough to wake ourselves up in the morning to get ready for school. it was time for new radios! Mike of course wanted a proper stereo (which meant that I eventually inherited the Recordall, which I carried even into my Marine Corps years) but I opted for a GE clock radio, the kind with the flip numbers that was so popular back then. Through the wonder that is the Internet I have found that the model number was 7-4315, and if I wanted to get one today, I could still do so…amazingly, they can still be found on ebay! That clock was my best friend for many, many years. I even cracked it open and installed an earphone jack so I could listen to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater without disturbing Mom and Dad, whose bedroom was directly beneath mine.

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That GE clock radio that sat on my nightstand for YEARS.

Oh, the memories! Some mornings it was so cold in my room, and the bed was so warm…I would just lie there and listen to the gentle “snick” sound of the little leaves flipping, marking the minutes till eventually there’d be a somewhat louder click and either the radio would come on or the alarm, which was a sort of a rude growl.  Anyway, eventually we parted ways during one of my many trips across the country. Years later I was stunned to be walking through an office at work and found one very much like it in use as an office radio! When that building was shut down I begged and whinged till the manager gave it to me. I still have it and hope to maybe have someone restore it someday. Even if I don’t, I can still look at it and sigh.

Next came the days of the boom box. Oh, I was listening to a lot of music those days, most on cassette, and mostly via headphones, so for general use a GE cassette player/radio worked for me. I found one of these at a Service Merchandise, and it served me for a couple of years. Now some such machines that pass through my hands I have no idea where they ended up, but this one…oh, I know exactly where it met its demise, and that was at the base of the Turn 6 grandstands at Riverside International Raceway circa 1984. I was there for a Can-Am/Trans-Am doubleheader, but the Cubs had managed to make it to the playoffs that year, so I wanted to follow the game too…which turned out to be the final game of their season and the last roundup for that GE mini boom box. It went “boom” on the tarmac beneath those grandstands when I pitched it off after the final out. Fortunately it didn’t hit anyone.

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The “boom box” defined. It was the last radio I purposely destroyed.

A series of nondescript Walkman-type machines followed next. Anything would work as long as it had a radio too, and a cassette player. I went through a lot of AA batteries. I finally got another boom box when I moved into my own apartment, but that didn’t last long, and neither did the boombox. Or any of the others that followed me into more-or-less adulthood.

One exception was–is–a very good radio that I found, again, at a Service Merchandise, a Sony “Dream Machine”. It wasn’t fancy, but it did have very good reception. And a snooze bar! The first I’d ever seen. It served me well for many years when I had no television, and it was my source for news and entertainment. I believe I actually still have that somewhere too, though whether or not it works I have no idea. I gave it to Mike to use when he moved to Tennessee, and it eventually got back to me, at which point it was used in my son’s room. A very long-lived machine to be sure, it finally had a glass of milk spilled into it. Even then it still worked, but it smelled funny.

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The beloved Sony Dream Machine Milk Barn Special. A wonderful little radio!

Fast forward then to the more recent past. Everyday clock radios weren’t enough; I wanted a good radio. I found lots of recommendations, the most convincing of which came from a fellow named Jay Allen, and if you’re looking for the inside scoop on electronics, particularly radios, that you must visit his web site, which is radiojayallen.com. Apart from being totally geek-a-licious, it’s hugely entertaining and might as well be a buyers guide for the best receivers available. Following his guidelines, I chose a particular receiver and put it on my Christmas list…

…and it’s been my go-to radio ever since. It has everything I thought I needed at the time: digital tuning, pre-sets, stereo, and even an auxiliary port so I could plug in an mp3 player and listen without headphones. Later I added a Kindle Fire to that port so I could listen to internet radio. Very much an all-purpose tool, it resides on the bookshelf next to the bed. We spend a lot of time together, listening to Nashville Sounds games (and, during the hockey season, the Preds) and tuning to distant AM stations, because this thing really sucks in the AM wattage. Cincinnati, St. Louis, even my beloved WBBM in Chicago…all are within reach of Breezy Knoll with this remarkably small radio. I have even done some “DXing”…a pasttime in which one scans the AM dial looking for individual stations from absurd distances. And I pick up a lot of them too, but this is where this radio falls a little short…it is digital, and does not having fine tuning. In other words, I tune it to 780 AM, and that’s where it stays. I can’t go to, say, 781 or 779 in case the signal drifts, as they do tend to do when you’re looking for a specific station.

PRD5

The futuristic-looking Sangean PR-D5. No milk scent but plenty of Vitamin R!

For that, I have been using a real veteran, a Panasonic RF-559. Pretty sure I found it in the basement where it either served as a shop or basement radio for Daddy. It is in amazingly good shape for a set that dates back to…possibly as far as 1979, as near as I can tell. It may have been produced later, but it started production in ’79. That gives me pause…it first saw the light of day the year I graduated from High School. The year I entered the Marine Corps. Almost forty years ago, for heaven’s sake. Well, I can tell you, it gets around a lot better than I do. Sitting on my living room table it effortlessly gets all our local FM stations at least as well as my PR-D5, even with the aerial down. And on AM…well, it’s perhaps not quite as sensitive, but it does very well, thank you, and with its analog tuning it can separate stations very well. I haven’t done any serious DXing with it, but when I am done with our current show I will probably starting logging what I find.

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The Panasonic RF-559. A real powerhouse for a forty year old set!

But in a few weeks I will have a true DXing powerhouse on the Knoll, a C Crane CCRadio 2e. This is supposed to be the bestm, most potent AM radio made, with excellent FM sound and the added bonus of weather alerts and access to Ham radio bands as well. A real Emergency radio, the likes of which we’ve really needed. Jay Allen recommended it–yes, the same Radio Jay Allen you read about above–as opposed to a shortwave model I had been coveting. His suggestion was for my purposes the 2e would be more pleasing. We shall see. I am looking forward to trying it out and seeing what I can hear. Using headphones; I think Shell gets annoyed when I retire to the bedroom to listen to radio, leaving her alone in the front room. This way, we both get what we want…I get to listen to the radio and she can, oh, I don’t know, keep an eye on me. But that’s okay. I like to keep my eye on her too. That’s why I married her. I love her!

I don’t know that I will ever be the obsessive radio nerd of the Jay Allen class. And there’s lots more like him…a quick scan of the web will show you. Yes, I own enough radios for pretty much every room in the house. This isn’t even counting the new alarm clock radio I had to snag recently because our old Emerson had kicked the solid state bucket. It’s a Sony ICF-C1 and it’s really quite cool…a little four inch cube that has staggeringly good sound and reception putting the lie to its small size and cost. 

cubit

May the Cube be with you!

But…there are folks out there…perhaps you might know a few…who may well have every radio they ever owned…plus lots more they acquired just because they filled a certain need at a certain time…or perhaps they were acquired just because. I get it. I have done lots of “window shopping” on eBay looking at radios I don’t really need, thinking, yeah, that would be cool, I’d like to have that…but it’s Christmas and I don’t need to be spending money on myself…but maybe after…

So. Shortwave can wait. There is plenty of room to roam on the airwaves I can receive right now. Still…25 days from now…

(as Johnny Olson) A NEW CAR!!!

Yes, we did!

And here’s how it came about: Ruby, our beloved 2011 Versa, was in serious need of attention. Like, to the tune of repairs totaling about a grand or more. The wonderful Shell and I talked about it, and the more we spoke, the more we figured it was time to perhaps look into getting a newer vehicle. Another, newer Versa would be nice. We could trade in the old car, but Shell really wanted to keep it as her own daily driver, and we really couldn’t trade in the truck either as with our rural property (such as it is) we still really need a truck. So, what to do?

A trip to the credit union proved the answer. We were quoted a figure on a used car loan, plus a little additional money to repair the old car. It kept us in the ballpark of payments that we had on the previous machine, and with that in hand we started shopping.

It didn’t take long. We went through Enterprise Car Sales, which whom our credit union has a relationship, and they had pretty much what we wanted: a 2016 Versa Note SV. The only hitch was the color; we had but two choices, black or silver. Neither one was particularly appealing, but I was prepared to live with silver, till I asked the wonderful young lady at Enterprise who was working with us if there was another alternative. She clued me in…”Sure! We have several of them at our Memphis dealership…what color do you want?”

Well, Ruby is red, so perhaps blue? She allowed as to how that would be no problem, and sent me a link. The picture included wasn’t all that good, but it looked better than black or silver, so I said, ship it and I’ll come have a look at it. She said, no obligation, which was even better. A day and a half later it was at the dealership, and I went in to scope it out…

Azzie the New Blue Shoe!

“Azzie” the New Blue Shoe sits at the dealership, patiently waiting her new owners.

…wow! That’s not the same blue I saw in the picture! It’s more of an azure, Shell said. It was love at first sight for me and I didn’t even bother taking a test drive, I had so much confidence. A mistake, I know, but somehow I just knew. I would take my test drive on the way home.

So. To the lot on Saturday to complete the transaction. I expected this to be as painful as our experience buying Ruby, but just it wasn’t so…we got it all done in well under an hour. Nice job, Enterprise…we will certainly do business with you again next time we’re ready for a new car!

Now then. I have since noted that the Versa Note gets no respect from the car mags–you know, the likes of Motor Trend and Car and Driver who, it seems, have forgotten what it’s like to be poor–so I figured I would put my own .02 worth in. Thus, here is the actual review I posted about our new car at edmunds.com.

First off, you probably should know that this is our second Versa. We really like the model…it is, it seems, as close to our ideal vehicle as exists today. Sure, we wouldn’t mind some cavernous SUV but the fact is that we can’t afford it, and with gas getting dearer and dearer still we appreciate the economy of a well built “misermobile”.

We bought the first used as well and have put 140K miles on it (so far…it’s still running well!) but we were ready to get another, thus the 2016 Versa Note SV. We purchased this one via Enterprise Car Sales and I cannot say enough about the buying experience…first rate all the way; great price, wonderful vehicle, just what we were looking for, and with pre-arranged financing through our credit union we were in and out of the dealership in well under an hour.

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The back side view. Minus stickers, those would, of course, come later.

Now, as to the car…first things first, it’s not a race car, so take reviews from sites like Car and Driver and Motor Trend and their ilk with a VERY large grain of salt. The Versa Note is a commuter car, and it does that job exceedingly well. It rides well, has a quiet, roomy cabin (I am 6′ 3″ and fit fine both in the back seat and behind the wheel) and everything is laid out logically. The SV package includes just about every electronic widget you could possibly desire sans navigation, but that’s why I have an iPhone and a GPS. The backup camera is a nice touch but with so many enormous windows it isn’t wholly necessary. It’s nice to have, though.

The body style is a significant upgrade from the rather shoe-like boxiness of the 2011 Versa we own, and is very pleasing to look at. The cargo space is remarkable with the rear seats folded down (my bicycle fits just fine, thank you!) and the Divide-n-Hide storage is a neat feature that gives you a nice flat floor with a nifty hiding place beneath. Every car should have this sort of thing!

As to the driving, I enjoy the CVT personally though I can understand why drivers who prefer more input might desire a five or six speed. I certainly can’t argue with the results though…my average gas mileage has been a jaw-dropping 41.5 mpg in combined highway and local driving. Seriously. I watch this stuff carefully (with my budget I have to) and this is not just accurate, it’s spot-on. Those are near hybrid numbers, at what, a half of the cost? A third? Remarkable! Mind you, I drive with a balloon foot mostly, but hey, I stay out of the way and don’t slow anybody else down. I bet I could speed up a bit with little loss in mileage, but I’d rather be kind to the car. The small fuel tank probably helps too, holding about 2.5 gallons less than the 2011 Versa. Less gas, less weight. Less range too, you would think, but at 41.5 mpg you’re talking 450 miles per tank, and that’s more than the 2011 ever got.

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Behind the wheel. More buttons and levers than we are accustomed to, certainly!

The steering is precise on the road but remarkably light in the parking lot…nothing to complain about there. The car mags all note the supposedly gutless engine, but hey, it gets me up to speed just fine and I don’t have any problem keeping up. So far as costs go, apart from gas, regular oil changes, and rotating tires, the Versa would be frugal on that score too.

In the summing up, as a used vehicle, fleet or otherwise, the Versa Note is a remarkable bargain, proof that you don’t have to give up much to gain a lot of value. I expect to be driving it for many years to come.

And that’s it. A new car buying experience that I will remember pleasantly (for a change!) and a new vehicle that so far has been a joy to drive. We’re going to take our first trip in her a few weeks from now and we’ll see how the pair of us enjoy it as a country road cruiser. Till then…

Wrapped up in books

It is a well-known fact that I read a lot (and if it isn’t, it ought to be.) Now, one cannot feed on bread alone, nor can one solely exist in the reading world of the adult one pretends to be. As such, I have tried my best to delve into various age groups.

Harry Potter? Loved it, every single volume. I bought most of them on their release days. It really translated well to us big kids.

The Hunger Games? Liked ’em a lot. Not quite as well suited for the more “experienced” reader, but still highly entertaining.

Twilight? Ummm…the less said the better.

I have also really dug into Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and its subsequent followups. I loved it so much that I now have the boxed set. It’s quite the amazing world she has created, and there’s lots of lessons for us  adults in each of the stories. I suspect a certain orange-haired Oompa Loompa President hasn’t read too much Lowry…just a guess, based on the tenor of some of his statements.

Another terrific Lowry title is Number The Stars, which deals with children trying to escape the Nazis in occupied Denmark. It’s an incredibly gripping little book and I found myself wishing I’d known of it sooner.

Onward then. Having been very much into a reread of the Repairman Jack books (most of which are very much not children’s fare) I figured I’d overload on darkness and violence if I didn’t roll a kids book into my reading list somewhere. Now, I had a copy of the Puffin Classics version of Kipling’s Just So Stories on my dresser for weeks, so I decided now might be a good time to go ahead and check it out.

Well.

Regrets…I’ve had a few…and this is one of them. I should have read this book thirty years ago! Why? Because this is one of those books that would work so well as a storybook to read to a child. PJ would have loved this stuff! “How the Camel Got His Humph” indeed! My personal favorite is the one about the kangaroo being chased by the dingo, or the butterfly stamping its feet…it’s funny, entertaining stuff that teaches a lesson, and that can’t be a bad thing. Oh, I know it’s dated, and there are some folk who will say it’s not “politically correct”. P’shaw. Kids will eat this stuff up, and the kind of lessons they’re apt to learn are pretty timeless. Read it yourself and see if you don’t agree.

So. What other kinds of reading did we dig on?

Wow. I can go back a long way. Anybody else ready the “Little Eddie” stories by Carolyn Hayward? They were probably the first “series” books I ever read. I remember he had a pet goat named Gardenia and a next door neighbor called Annie Pat. They stuck with me. Then the Black Stallion books…I went through a bunch of those. Didn’t care a lick for horses, not like my sister, but I loved the books. Jules Verne? I went through a very Verne period where I read most of his books. I’ve reread them all several times since.

I went through a mystery phase too, one that never really ended. I was an early subscriber to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine…wish I still had my old back issues. I’m reading Raymond Chandler now and really enjoying his work. But all of this probably started with the Hardy Boys books by Franklin W. Dixon. Yes, I read a lot of those. Owned a bunch too. Yes, they were real mysteries. It was only much later that I learned that “Franklin W. Dixon” wasn’t a real person, he was several people, including women, and they were the same folks who wrote the Nancy Drew books. And the Ted Scott Flying books I enjoyed too.

Asimov. I think the first book of his I read was “The Gods Themselves”. Great book. Got it when I joined the Science Fiction Book Club the first (of many) times. I’ve read his Foundation series as an adult and the Robot books as well.

Mom used to take us to the library every week. That was a treat. There was a library downtown we had to drive to, then they put a new one close enough that we could walk to it. And if we couldn’t go, she’d look for something and bring it home for us. One particular day she brought home a book for me called Depths of the Earth, about caves and the people who explore them. Well. That started something, it did, and many years later Mom told me she regretted ever bringing that book home because she lost many a night’s sleep worrying about me coming home alive from our latest underground escapade. But that’s another tale for another day. Cave literature became paramount for a long while, and my childish scrawl can be seen over and over in the check out cards that remain in some of the books in the Griffith Public Library. Then volcanoes and earthquakes…why, I don’t know, perhaps just an Earth Sciences thing. Then airships. Airships! Ask me about airships, I can tell you all about ’em. I was steampunk before there ever was such a thing…

Our library had a paperback trade section…bring in a book, take home a book. And keep it! Wow! What a concept! I found my first Perry Rhodan book there, and I was back on the sci-fi train again. I read a lot of that “book-zine” back in the day. And I discovered the Griffith Used Book Store about this time too. A musty old place full of books. Gobs and gobs of books. But to get to that, I had to walk past Alexander’s…yes it was a stationery store, but it also sold books. And comic books. Yes, I read comic books. I was very into the reboot of Captain Marvel. Of course, back then “reboot” meant, “kick him again.” And Archie. Read a lot of Archie comics. And I bought my first “graphic novel” at Alexander’s, one based on the TV show Space: 1999.

Ah, then came 1978 and my first Indy 500. And suddenly it was all racing, all the time. I bought lots and lots of racing books. They were hard to come by back then, as racing wasn’t near as popular as it would later become.

That I would marry a woman who lover reading was only natural. And over the years Shell and I have accumulated a lot of books. Some of them are books from my past, like the star book my Dad brought home from a garage sale that got me into astronomy. Years passed, that book got away from me (as some inevitably do) and I wanted another copy. I found one. I have probably a couple of dozen books on astronomy too, but this one title remains dear to my heart.

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Our bedroom…it’s shelves and shelves of books. Very near to a thousand of them by my running list, and yes, I do keep a running list. Got to know what I have and don’t have when I go to McKays or when the next library book sale comes up…and it’s this weekend! Yay!

This is my life…wrapped up in books. I never really felt comfortable unless I was surrounded by them. I still don’t. Yes, I have a Kindle. Two, in fact. But they will never replace the Mighty Book.