Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The One That Got Away

I wrote a couple days ago about the Book Box/Shake, Rattle, and Read and how they got me through the hard times here in Uptown. Today I’m going to write about “the one that got away.”

We all have stories like these.

For example once my husband and I were traveling and stopped in Wooster, Ohio at a used bookstore where he came upon a signed book by G. K. Chesteron. But who had $100 when we were intentionally avoiding the toll road because of the tolls! Still, he brings it up sometimes like an old war wound that has never healed. It galls him, the one that got away.

My story is similar. After moving to Chicago in 1982 I was living and volunteering among the poor. Definitely funds were scarce, but I always enjoyed browsing the bookstore. It was in fact my lifeline. One afternoon I was in there and stumbled upon a title about the Arctic. I’ve always loved stories about the North and South Pole. Usually they involve eating dogs on some barren wind-swept ice plateau or fighting off hungry polar bears or sledging hundreds of miles after being shipwrecked on the ice. The author of this book was familiar to me. Vilhjalmur Stefansson and it was autographed!

I visited the book whenever I could. I can’t remember now how much it cost—probably no more than $10 or $20. But it was still out of reach for me.

Today, more than 30 years later, I reach back in my memory and cringe. It’s the one that got away. 

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