A GOOD BOOK HAS NO ENDING -R.D. CUMMING-

books 

A book is a device to ignite the imagination -Alan Bennett-

Books have always been an intricate part of our family. All of us love to read. Over the years, we (I say that tongue in cheek as it is usually my husband who was so inventive) found many other uses for our books, particularly those that we had already perused.

Our basement has always been a treasure of hidden riches as our family suffered from the worst disease of all, “Keepitis.” For our grandchildren, it was always the mother of treasure hunts and we would lovingly let them keep all that they would find. (It was such a joy to see it go out of our house into the house of one of our kids.) It is filled with boxes from our last moves (which incidentally were over forty years ago), toys that were no longer played with, mounted deer antlers that I did not want hanging in my family room, old LP Records, trunks and oh so much more. We were always planning to clean it in the Spring. No one ever said which Spring that would be. The few times we made the attempt, it always set off an argument because he wanted to throw all of my stuff away and I wanted to throw his away. As I would put it in the trash box, he would pull it out and put it in the save box and I would do the same. It usually wound up in a reminiscing  party about things that we found. (Aw, do you remember when Eddie wore these little boots? Here’s John’s wrestling head-gear, we surely have to keep that. I think those are Cindy’ old records. Remember when she use to listen to Joni Mitchell over and over again? You know she might just want those, and so it went. But nothing went out.) Well, I have gotten off the subject just a little. My point is you will never know what kind of treasures are lurking in your basement.

Recently my Forty-five year old furnace decided it was time to make its exit. I believe he would have stayed on another few years, but his counterpart, the air conditioning unit who was a mere twenty-five years old, began to screech and groan and she finally just plain out died. So the poor old furnace was forced to make his exit. Before his departure, we noticed a pile of seven books that had been holding up his sagging bottom. Now my husband was an engineer, a deep thinker and had a lot of ingenuity. So when the furnace began to sag, he found a fix for it. He corralled seven books from our over-flowing bookcase and stuck them under the furnace where they stayed until now. I heard our air-conditioning & hearting man chuckle as he pulled them out. My husband would probably be saying, “Well it worked didn’t it?”

It did not seem so unusual to my sons, my daughter and I as we knew that books could be used for more than mere reading. My engineer husband fixed many things with them. For instance, if the table was wobbly, he would go to the bookcase, find just the proper size book (sometimes it took a few tries) and stick it under the table leg that was shorter than the others. When anyone sat at the table, he would always remind us to be careful of the table leg. Our bed was once held up by a few Encyclopedia Brittannicas. I think he learned this trick when he was a little boy and jumped on his Grandfather’s bed and it broke down. He and his cousin, Bobby Joe, stuffed books under it and it held until his Grandfather went to bed that night. It was a night to remember. Incidently, Bobby Joe became an Engineer also.

My son decided to examine the books that had held our furnace up for so many year. We wondered if our lives would have been changed if we had known where those books were. The first one that we came across was THE BEN HUR FOOD FOR YOUR HOME FREEZER BOOK.  Well, that was a no brainer. The big old Ben Hur Freezer had conked out on the move from Kentucky to Pennsylvania but was moved into our basement before we had the chance to plug him in. There was no way that we could move it once we found out he had given up the ghost, so we used it for a storage unit (still do). There are lots of treasures still lurking in old Ben Hur. I guess it will be one of those pieces that are finally sold with the house. With no working freezer, I guess that book would have been of no use to us at all.

The next book was called THE STERILE CUCKOO  by John Nichols. I will give you a short synopsis of this book. It was about an up-tight college freshman, Jerry Payne, who finds a carefree friend in zany Pookie. After an awkward meeting on the bus, where they are headed to different colleges, Pookie quickly works her way into Jerry’s life. She makes an unannounced visit to Jerry’s campus, and before long annoyance turns to affection, and friendship turns to romance. But with Pookie’s increasingly neurotic behavior, how long can this love affair last?   As I recall, this was about as pointless a novel as one could ever be. Why they made a movie out of it still behooves me. I can’t see where this book could have ever changed any of our quirky behaviors. We were nothing like Pookie or Jerry.

Now, we are beginning to get on to the serious books. The next one was called, EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT OF PERSONNEL.  I wonder if either of us ever read this. I can not remember when I was having trouble with any of my hospital personnel, that I referenced this book(but maybe that was because it was holding up our furnace).     I have to surmise that this book may have saved me a lot of trouble if I had only known that it existed. Maybe my husband read it and decided it was of no help.

The next serious book was called, GETTING RESULTS FROM PEOPLE.   Where was this book when I needed it? Right, it was holding up our furnace. Well, I am glad that it seemed to work for my husband because it got the results that he needed at the time.

JOHN AND MARY by Mervyn Jones was next on the pile. I guess it was not memorable or perhaps I just didn’t read it, so I decided to google it. This is the KIRKUS REVIEW. John and Mary wake up together, in John’s apartment. They had just met the night before. While he is very guarded, and she is most discreet, both of them are aware that the relationship has a potential beyond the “limited commitment” thus far–even though they have no social frame of reference and they now attempt to fill in their separate pasts, speculate over their mutual future. Rather unsentimentally, conditionally, cautiously, and privately the story is told in alternating, internal monologues, one starting just short of where the other stopped. Technically it is quite accomplished; for the most part it is attractive; and the book, while no more nor less important than any rather personal love story, has a sophisticated composure. Like John and Mary.  It sounded like something that I probably got from my book club. It must have received good enough reviews that they made it into a movie that starred Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. Neither of us was planning on having a one night stand, so I guess it served us well holding up our furnace for all those years. I wonder if John & Mary’s relationship lasted. Maybe, I will dust it off and read it one day.

A March 1967 Copy of RN MAGAZINE was next on the pile. I assume he used that because he needed just the right amount of thinness that it provided. I noticed it had an article on Group Psychotherapy. Hmm, maybe that might have come in handy at some point in my RN career. Being a ER nurse, I certainly met my share of psychos.

Last, but certainly not least, was Norman Vincent Peele’s POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. Here’s a quote from Mr. Peele’s book: “Stand up to an obstacle. Just stand up to it, that’s all, and don’t give way under it, and it will break. You will break it. Something has to break, and it won’t be you, it will be the obstacle.”   I believe that when my husband read that, he figured it was the furnace that would break so Mr Peele’s book was just perfect for his stack and the fact that it just happened to be just the right size was a bonus. In his book, Mr Peele says that “the way to happiness is to keep your heart free. You do not have to be defeated by anything. You can have peace of mind, improved health and a never ceasing flow of energy. You do not have to be defeated by anything”.   I know that my husband read this book several times. I figure that he was not going to be defeated by that furnace, it gave him peace of mind knowing that it would not fall down. It improved his health because he didn’t have to worry about not having heat during our cold Pennsylvania winters and it would supply a never ceasing flow of energy through our home.     Thank you Norman Vincent Peele for giving my husband such vast knowledge. Your book has meant the world to us these past forty some odd years while it was holding up our sagging furnace.  I will now dust it off and put it into its rightful place in our bookcase, unless of course, our dining room table gets a little wobbly.

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