MY CHILDHOOD BOOKS – sometimes a book holds a very different story

          

I have always loved the look and feel of books. Most of them have come to me unbidden, and most of these shown are more than 55 years old! Well thumbed and tatty, as loved books should be.

Also mong these are books are older ones belonging to Clifford Hobson, the lovely Grandfather who died years before my boys were born. His name in his own Italic writing, done in pen and ink. There is his wife’s wedding bible, and Great Grandma’s bible with her name in. It is nice to hold books that contain their essence and invisible fingerprints.

I gave my Dad’s work manuals for wool spinning to the local museum because the technical drawings of the machines told of a time when most of the town worked with, or around them.

The girly books such as What Katy Did and The Bobbsey Twins came from Auntie Jessie Boyd, my Dad’s cousin, never married. She was Sister at the cottage hospital in Sauchie, Scotland (maybe Alloa) and she used to bring me books when I visited. Spare books donated to the Children’s ward. She was a rather forbidding character, very proud of her ultra-modern stainless steel sink that had to be polished after use! Funny to think that it had replaced the kind of white Butler’s sink people drool over on home programmes today.

All these books were discovered in the cupboard under the eaves in my old bedroom when I rerurned to assist my parents. The others are still in the white and brown suitcase I was so proud of when I was ten. It is now in the cupboard under my stairs.

The Famous Five and Secret Seven books were purchased from my money box at the start of each school holiday. They seem to have gone to the nephews over later years.

I have added one book that my late father prized. Tom was eighteen when his mother died of complications from diabetes. Grandad English was inconsolable. She had been mother to eight children. Frank died young. Dad was the youngest but had been working for Paton and Baldwins since Grandma had gone to the office where Uncle Robert already worked and got him a job. It was still normal in my day for parents to arrange jobs for their offspring. Seems odd today. It started a career that kept Dad employed his whole life.

During the year Grandma died Dad enlisted in the RAF (Royal Air Force), as did many young men at the start of World War II. Mr Paton was a philanthropist, and had taken an interest in the bright young fourteen-year old who had been Dux of Alloa Academy, but had to leave to start work.

On his leaving to go to war, Mr Paton gave Tom a book in its own box that had become Dad’s most prized possession.

Over the course of the war Mr. Paton kept Dad and the other Scottish lads down in England supplied with cigarettes, books  and warm woollen hand-knitted socks. The socks locally knitted and made from wool produced in the factory. So that book is very special. It is in itself a history book.

Not on the shelves are the picture books from Aunt Jessie that kept me occupied as I was confined to bed, aged ten, recuperating from a sever bout of ‘silent’ pneumonia (no antibiotics in the mid 1950’s). Robinson Crusoe took me from a dark bedroom with orange coal fire to golden sands and lapping warm waters. I recall Lorna Doone.  Over ten weeks I escaped from that lonely room over many hours through those books. I may have been a tad young for ‘Lorna Doone’ but Kidnapped has provided something new on each subsequent reading.

There are Sunday School prizes for Good Attendance. Not gained from enthusiastic attendance but from my sister and I being reluctantly pushed out of the door to join the other kids in the street on what seemed like a long walk each week to Sandgate Church in Ayr ,Scotland. I guess it gave my parents a rare break from two squabblesome daughters. I revisited the old church last year. Closed down.

So many tangible memories. You dont get those with a Kindle.

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