I’ve spent a delicious rainy afternoon perusing the stack of books I was blessed to acquire from my grandmother’s estate. I’ve held them each, gently turned fragile pages, read the inscriptions of familiar names. Out of one falls a Christmas card to my great-great-grandmother; another has an examination for a W.M.U. Mission Study Certificate tucked under the flyleaf along with a scrawled page of sermon notes on John 4. The titles are both familiar and enchanting…Scaramouche, A Mennnonite Maid, Daddy Long-Legs, Anne of the Island, Lamb’s Shakespeare…and the authors represent a host of old friends, Grace Livingston Hill, Myrtle Reed, Gladys Tabor, and Longfellow. These are books I would have thrilled to come across in an antique store, but it is the folded pages and penciled notes in my ancestor’s hands, the sloping script of ownership or dedication, that places a value on them for me that simply cannot be told. ‘Miss Ada Gann, by right of conquest’—or, rather, the illustrious ‘Cous’n Ada’ of whom I’ve heard such humorous tales all my life. ‘Miss Lena May Gann’ proclaims the flyleaf of one of my great-grandmother’s college textbooks, a limp leather volume of poetry. ‘For Olive’—indeed, none other than great-great-great Aunt Ollie whose lovely mantle clock and ‘courting couple’ have been conversation pieces in my grandmother’s house all my life. Being such a lover of books myself, it seems to me that there are few more tangible links to our forbears than the books they have cherished, digested, carefully preserved. How glad I am to come from such a long line of bibliophiles!
I’m so pleased to welcome all of these wonderful old books to my shelves, to introduce them to their neighbors. They must know by now that they’ve come home to a place that loves them as much as their first owners ever did.