Thursday, February 27, 2014

How To Do Things


Old books - they are the keys that unlock the passageways of time long gone. To me, everything about an old book evokes a giddy anticipation similar to receiving a wrapped gift. The look and feel of the cover, often times with gold font and flourishes will denote what is inside. Sometimes the musty smell of an old book causes wonderment as to the house or building it has lived in. And then, opening the cover reveals the initial pages - maybe an inscribed name and year of when the book was bought or presented as a gift, and drawings in pen and ink are almost always wonderfully detailed. To sit down with a hot cup of tea, a soft woolen blanket, a reading lamp and an old book is the best past time ever. 


I have a friend who has been sifting and sorting, along with her sisters, through family belongings due to the death of their mom. Granted, it is never an easy job going through years and years of collected personal and family items left behind by the loss of a loved one. The duty can be overwhelming as well as time consuming. But in among the plethora of items a person may find there is always a few that open doors to the past and prove to be interesting and exciting.

My friend stopped by the other day to show me a book she rescued from a day of sorting and sifting. If she had not been present at the time of this discovery, a fatal death for this book was a surety. Her sister didn't think it was worth keeping. Now, keep in mind, what one person feels is something for the trash is priceless in the eyes of another. This is an aspect of human nature that is essential to preserving the past. 

The rescued book is titled How To Do Things by the Farm Journal and printed by the Wilmer Atkinson Company, publishers of the Farm Journal. The book I hold is not in the greatest shape - the front cover and part of the spine are hanging on by mere threads. The back cover as well as a page inside is missing altogether. But, oh what a find! Written in 1919 this book was a goldmine of ideas and how-tos for busy country folks who were handy with their hands and could make something out of nothing. There are numerous contraptions and ideas that, even today, can easily be made by hand and will work on today's farms and homesteads.


My friend left the book with me so I could read through and make a note of all I would like to copy. But after doing so, I realized I would need a couple ink cartridges for my printer if I wanted to print off all the information that I found useful. So, I turned to the Internet. There I found a couple copies had been sold and, therefore, unavailable. But looking further I discovered the book is now in the public domain. Meaning that if you click here, you will be able to access a free ebook version through Google Books in all its copied glory to keep for future reference. Or, even though its not the real thing, you can print off all 550+ pages to hold in your hot little hands.

Living in a throw-away world as we do some may consider this book dated and worthy of the trash, but to others and myself it is a volume of useful, common sense ideas worthy of a place on the kitchen table (or computer) for everyday use.

Strips of newspaper mark the pages of interest