Monday, July 20, 2009

A sign that the universe does not hate me


Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a young boy. One of the family pastimes was stopping at local flea markets, and occasionally 'The Boy' could get something with his parents approval. Books were almost an automatic thumbs up.

On a table at one market, I found a book of cartoons. It a set of Willie & Joe cartoons by Bill Mauldin. He drew his way through WWII with ink and paper, churning out glimpses of life in the army on campaign. His work brought home, through humor, much of what it was like in everyday life.

I read that book many times, and it added many fold to my interest in history. His view point was from the trenches, and sometimes latrines, of the everyday dogface soldier.

A neighbor, and friend of my father, saw that book at my home one day, and remarked of an interest in it. I did what came naturally and loaned him the book. I never saw it again.

Many times over the following decades I have thought of that book, and wished I still had it. I saw copies a few times, but always considered collectibles and priced beyond what I could justify.

That changed this evening, as I was wandering a Barnes and Noble store. I was out for a ride in the cool air, mostly to clear my head. B+N is an old haunt of mine, offering decent coffee and books to browse, and it seemed like a good waypoint in the journey.

Wandering the displays, already having a complete set of Sherlock Holmes in my hands, I found this treasure. The Doyle books were abandoned, as I stared at this boxed set in wonder. After all those years, not just my slim volume but everything he did through the war! Best yet, the set was marked down from $65 to $19.

I felt like giving away a Renfrew snigger as I grabbed the shrink wrapped beauty and scuttled to the check out line. The clerk had to pull it from my fingers to ring it up, and I grabbed it back as soon as she was done. No bag needed.... I'll simple tuck it safely under my shirt till I get it home......

This evening shall be devoted to reviving and reliving memories, of a peaceful and enjoyable time in my life.


Crucis said...

IIRC, there were several books about Willie and Joe. I had (have?) the paperback editions from when I was in college. I think in all, there were three volumes, but the only title I can remember is "Up Front!".

Bill Mauldin was a one-of-a-kind. I remember his performance with Audie Murphy in the movie, Red Badge of Courage. Mauldin was Murphy's buddy.

You've found a prize.

Tam said...

I cut my teeth on my dad's copy of This Damn Tree Leaks! as a child.

I currently own copies of Up Front and Bill Mauldin's Army.

There will never be another like him...

Mongo said...

'Up Front' was the book I had as a boy.

Tam... he's a lost master of his art. I was inordinately thrilled to find this boxed set, and a deeply discounted audio version of 'The Salmon of Doubt' as found on the late Douglas Adams Mac computer after his death.

Funny the things that tickle me.