Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bedtime Story Book

If you go back through this blog you’ll come to understand that I’m all about finding and reacquiring toys I had when I was a kid. Having these things remind me of my childhood helps bring back memories that make me feel closer to a time; a place; and, most importantly; people that are now gone.

The picture above shows my latest acquisition. Something I hold dear from my childhood: The Golden Book of 365 Stories.

My original copy of the book was a Christmas present from my mom & dad when I was 5 years old. I remember my dad reading it to me before I went to bed at night. The book has a story or poem for each day of the year.

Nearly 45 years later I still remember a couple of stories from this book. I’ve never forgotten them. One of them about lion who moves from Africa to New York City and another about a boy that loses his golden coin in the snow. The memories of these stories are so engrained in my mind that I can picture in my mind’s eye the illustrations that went with them.

I’ve been telling those stories to people for years and even used the one about the little boy and the coin in a ventriloquist show at a local library.

But as often as I’d mentioned these stories to people there would be an accompanying lament about not remembering the title of the book. The omission of this important fact from my memory has, over the years, limited my ability to find another copy. You can’t find something when you don’t know the name of what you’re looking for.

A couple of weeks ago I was telling the 365 storybook stories to my friend, Brent, and his children. Again I expressed my frustration about finding the original book. He suggested that I look on Ebay using the words “365 stories” as search criteria. For some reason I had never thought of that before.

One night soon after that I was searching Ebay as Brent had suggested. Several different results came up. But not knowing what I was looking for I had to do some investigation. This meant reading the item description and looking closely at the pictures.

The details focused mainly on the name of the book, year it was published, and its condition. There weren’t any details about the stories. If I bought one I’d only be guessing that it was the right one.

But then I clicked on the pictures for “The Golden Book of 365 Stories.” The first one was the cover; which didn’t seem familiar at all. The second one (pictured above) was a cartoon landscape of a tree, a cave, and a barn. The setting was at night and you could see animals inside their habitats in their pajamas reading a bedtime story.

As soon as I saw that picture it triggered a very vivid memory. There was a reason I didn’t recognize the cover of the book was because I remember it without the cover. At some point the cover came off the book, or I pulled it off. The cartoon landscape with the animals ready for bed was the “cover’ I remembered.

I felt an excitement that a person in psychiatric therapy must get when they’ve had a “break- through.” I was 90% sure that this was the book I had wanted for so long. I purchased it at the “Buy Now” price, under $20. It was a bit of a gamble but if it paid off it would be worth it.

A week later on what I refer to as “Terrific Tuesday” (see February 22 post) I received the book in the mail. I was extremely excited to open the package, flip through the pages, and find out that it was the book I wanted it to be. I can’t explain the feeling. It felt like I’d reached back into my past and pulled into the present a symbol of my childhood.

I called Brent and shared my excitement with him. I thanked him for his search suggestion. I promised I’d bring the book to show him next time I came to visit; so I could share it with his kids.

So now I will enjoy reading these stories. As I said, there’s a story or a poem for each day of the year. As I skimmed through them I realize they are rather simple stories; written for children about kindergarten age.
The same age I was when I first owned the book. After all these years I still treasure this book. I will enjoy having it again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this book too. I got it from Santa for Christmas just before I turned 5. Now 40 years later I am looking for a copy of this book to share with my kids and granddaughter. I loved the stories in this book. Thank youo for sharing your memories of it.
Francine (I am a teacher in Canada)