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More than Hardy Boys: The Books of My Childhood

About: Tom Chaney, 30 November 2009: Think books for Christmas

by Doug Anderson

Tom Chaney's "Think BOOKS for Christmas" sent me on a trip down memory lane. I remember when I was starting to read those early adventure stories too. I only remember reading one of the Hardy Boys books - something about "Cold in the Snow" -- when I was of the early age to start reading such....

The series I read more of involved the character Rick Brant. I think that the best of that series was "The Whispering Box Mystery." I also remember reading a sort of Tarzan-like book called "Bamba the Jungle boy." And again I read only one of the Tom Corbet space ranger series. There was always Tom Swift, but I don't remember any of those books being sold at the time I began to read these types of books.


Before me, my brother and Dad had read the series of books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs on Tarzan. I still have these books in the bookcase of my room in the cellar. There was also one book of Robin Hood and another entitled "Blondie" which was a novel about Dagwood and his family.

Early reading adventures also included reading stories in "Journeys Through Bookland" which was a sort of encyclopedia of reading material in appearance. Then there were the books available that were given to me on animals and science and rockets of the present age and Dinosaurs. Dinosaur stuff has continued to be popular to give to a young person. But I notice a certain lack of interest in aircraft on today's youth bookshelves and toy counters.

And ships seem not to be present either -- only vehicles of the land such as cars and trucks (in various misshapen forms) and machinery. Then there's the stuff that goes with the current movie productions and those of the recent past such as "transformers." All these seem to have some form of book to go along with them.

When my daughter was young, she read "The Boxcar Children" books. Of course there was Nancy Drew and the "Goosebumps" series. Goosebumps was my favorite during the time she was reading them. They had gruesome cover pages to entice juvenile readers. They have even made a TV series on this series.

Of course before the juvenile series began, it was preceded by either reading or having read to them, the Golden Books. I guess now those old Golden Books are collectibles. But back then they were the books read to children in the first years of reading. I remember reading "Mickey's Christmas" or maybe it was "Mickey's First Christmas." Anyway, it was a story about the famous mouse and all the Disney characters at Christmas time.

Funny, Disney stuff back then was the cheap entertainment and engrossed many of us in comic books and other reading material. Now, because of the nostalgia it seems like Disney stuff has become expensive. Too bad -- a lot of kids used to enjoy the world of Disney through the nickel and dime comic books.

I remember that my Dad would either go himself, or have me with him, to buy a stack of comics at Farneys -- a sort of newspaper store and soda fountain in one. We also got the Sunday Herald American from Syracuse there along with about everyone else in Lowville after we went to church. And at one time this paper and others used to entice people to buy it by having the top page folded over with the Funnies. Guess they thought that kids would say to their parents to buy that.

During my youth I remember one friend who read the old Wizard of Oz series of books. I hadn't known that the Wizard of Oz was in a whole series of books until I saw him reading them in fifth grade. That friend I still keep in touch with and he continued into his adulthood his passion for the Wizard and L Frank Baum and became the world authority for a lot of the stuff produced today in the Wizard of Ox theme. Michael Patrick Hearn has written "The Annotated Wizard of Oz" and is working on a biography of L. Frank Baum.

A little later on in pre teen years came the fascination with books that depicted war stories -- I remember reading "Sink the Bismarck" and "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo." There was also some fantasy in the series that included "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet."

Oh, and I remember having the measles and my father sat by my bed and read, chapter by chapter, the book entitled "The Ant Men." If you look that up on the computer today you will find it a popular item of nostalgia too. Must be other youths and their fathers and mothers did the same as my Dad, or they read this book themselves when they were young.

Of course, during this season many get their first taste of Dickens in "A Christmas Carol." Isn't it something that this story has lasted over a hundred sixty five years and now is such an integral part of a yearly tradition.

I remember a line of a poem saying "There is no ship like a book." We talk so much of stress relievers and the multiple ways of getting away from our stresses so we can return once again to our jobs with a "fresh start." Well, I think taking that voyage with a book is and always has been a great way to see other places in the mind before you return to the job at hand. Maybe that would be a good banner or name for a bookstore......

"THERE IS NO SHIP LIKE A BOOK......"

I know many will visit Tom Chaney's store looking for such treasure to give and SHARE with their children and other loved ones. Perhaps the experiences I tell of will help Tom take those that come into his store to see the worlds available through the many "ships" he offers...

s/Doug Anderson
Watertown, New York

Editor Robert Stone's comment:

Doug and his wife Mary were visitors in The Bookstore in Horse Cave a few years ago. He is not quite remembering the line from Emily Dickinson:
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
-Robert Stone


This story was posted on 2009-11-29 08:12:43
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