Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Ultimate Story of Book Regret

Yesterday I wrote a post and mentioned that I regretted not buying a book while at a used book sale. Lorraine, in the comments, went one better and said she's found a book she should have picked up, didn't and later found out it was worth money.

I've got you sooooo beat Lorraine.

When I was around 9 I was at a friend's house. This friend told me of an abandoned house she'd found and suggested we go explore it. It took a bit of a hike through the surrounding woods but we eventually got to it. I don't remember what it looked like but I have the impression that it was a large house and had been grand at one time. Our community, in the age of sail, had been a wealthy and prominent ship building community so gorgeous old houses in ruin weren't too unusual. We went through the kitchen. I remember a big wood range and a gaping hole in the floor that we had to scoot around. The next room was the library. The fully stocked library.

I remember the room as lined with waist high bookshelves. I remember a lot of books and many of them were medical texts. I remember they were all in wonderful condition. Most of all I just remember feeling awed.

We looked through the books to see if there was anything we felt was really interesting. I found a paperback on ghosts and spirits that was published just before WWI. It was in wonderful condition. A little yellow but not brittle. After my friend found a book she liked we decided we'd borrow them. Yes, we'd take them home and read them but return them later because we didn't want the house harbouring any bad feelings towards us.

I never did get back to the house. We moved away a year or two later and I forgot about the incident until I was an adult. I don't know what happened to the little paperback. I don't know what happened to the house. I ran into the friend about 6 years ago and she said she hadn't been back either and didn't think she'd even remember how to get there now.

I still think about the books. I just checked Google Earth and can't find a trace of the house. But it's been 25 years.


Anonymous said...

Well now that is very cool indeed. I have never explored an abandoned house, what a great memory! I can remember exploring my great grandmother's house in the dark, she had a wood burning range that produced the absolute best peanut butter cookies, had a hand cranked water pump faucet at the kitchen sink, and the electricity consisted of one light bulb hanging from the kitchen with a plug outlet in it. A massive two story house with wood plank doors with iron catch latches throughout. So interesting what we've lost forever...

Anonymous said...

Is this a contest? What do I get if I win? :D

Your story compels me to share my trade secret for collecting books, old and new, for free. My DH has business cards (Vistaprint) that he hands out to everyone, especially real estate agents and those he sees cleaning out their garages, having yard sales, or with a U-Haul parked in their driveway. These people often hire DH to come in and take away unwanted items or clear out abandoned houses. We can keep whatever we find useful, which means we scrap all recyclable materials, take a truckload (and sometimes more) to Goodwill, sell cool stuff on ebay or cragislist, and add to my collection of old books. This also means that we never park our car in the garage, but do you know anyone who does? :p

My 'book story'- when I was in college, I bought "The Maze in the Heart of the Castle" for a quarter because I love Dorothy Gilman. A few years ago, I sold it on ebay for $125 (it's out of print), and hated myself for it, because we LOVE that book. So I bought a copy just recently for $20. I have my book back and still made money. :D

Anonymous said...

Actually, I find your story a little scary, especially right before bedtime. If I have nightmares tonight, I'm blaming you :)

molytail said...

Oh way cool! I'd have loved to roam around that house and its library!

(Actually, I'd prolly love to buy it and move in LOL - I'm odd like that. Give me a 100 year old farmhouse any day over a cookie cutter suburban split level whatever.)