Getting to the Book Store. Quickly.

When I saw the passenger window gliding up so smoothly, I thought “That car didn’t have electric windows.”

I stepped out the front door of the shop, just as the driver was climbing out.

“Those windows weren’t stock, were they?

“Not much on this car is,” he replied.

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Sitting at the front counter, I had only noticed that the car was an older model. Looking it over, it was clear he wasn’t exaggerating. Big slicks on the back. Undersized front tires. Chrome headers through the wheel well and side exhaust pipes.

The fellow explained how he had always wanted to run a car down the drag strip. He’d just had a birthday, started a new decade. Decided to take his baby for a trip down the straight-away.

One Hundred Seventy Miles Per Hour.

He’s clearly confident of his mechanical skills. I’m not sure I would have pushed my luck at high speed driving something I had put together from pieces. The guy is fast. I just looked back out the door and the car is gone.

Figured I would have heard it fire up.

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I think it’s a 1953, maybe a Bel-Air. I don’t know those earlier than 55’s or so. I am sure this particular model did not come with a big block Chevy engine and mag wheels.

I’m happy for the guy, getting a bucket list item out of the way. His dozen-year restoration project was clearly a labor of love, and turned out waaaaay better than my ten-year project.

When I finally got the engine running in my project car, I drove it around the block – and thought it handled like a tractor. Nothing against tractors.

That British sports car is now in Dallas, having been taken there by its new owner, who hauled it away in a trailer – at a pace well under the legal speed limit.

Dustin and I will be cruisin’ at top speed tomorrow at lunchtime, so get your hungry on and…

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

Wired memories and music.

Six-and-a-half minutes. Give or take, given the long fade ending. Still, a long time to be in heaven.

I haven’t heard the song Hey Jude in – forever – and maybe that’s the reason the memories it stirred were among the originals. Ninth grade recollections, as a matter of fact. My high school introductory year: McAuley Regional in Joplin.

The first dance I ever attended. (I suppose my sisters and I danced enough around the house to know that I probably oughtn’t try it in public…)

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It took the greater part of the evening to work up my courage, and when I dared myself at last, I jumped up just as the first notes of the song rang out. She nodded a yes, then looked over at Joyce. (Wondered, but never figured out if she had lost a bet or was looking for sympathy…) We were both wearing those freshman-year shy grins when I recognized the song was that new one from the Beatles.

Hey Jude.

Immediately realized it was a slow song. As in Slow Dance. There may be mixed opinions about slow dancing versus leap-around-with-reckless-abandon dancing – but as a practiced non-dancer the relief washed over me in waves.

Relief and anxiety, as it was Becky who had agreed to the dance. The most beautiful girl in all of ninth grade, and one who might have taken pity on a shy kid asking for a dance. Perhaps not realizing she had committed to a slow dance to one of the longest popular songs ever.

Funny how the brain is wired. All these years later, the song rolls out of the speakers and I am taken back to that evening, even to the point of recalling the lighting in the room, my nervousness offset by a giddiness brought on by her close proximity.

Heaven, it was. Six-and-a-half minutes, give or take.

My hand on the small of her back, which must have been by instinct or observation because it was certainly not from experience. Mostly swaying, occasionally turning. An awkward song to dance to, with a tempo not really slow, but not fast enough.

The song ended at last, as did my freshman year at McAuley. Our family moved away from Joplin that summer and I completed my high school years at another McA-school, McAlester High.

But I don’t remember dancing there.

At least, not like the night in the ninth, The Beatles, Hey Jude…

And beautiful Miss Becky.

Holding Some History

Who knows how many are left in the world, and I have one in my hands, right now! (Well, in truth, I had to put it down in order to type this…) It’s a double-first, of sorts.

In 1859, Charles Dickens won an argument with his publisher that had gone to court, and as a result, he started his own magazine. It was a weekly journal that he called “All the Year Round.” He imagined it as a literary paper, and found a quote from Shakespeare to supply the name for his new enterprise. In OTHELLO, Wild William had a passage that went: The Story of Our Lives from Year to Year – All the Year Round.

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Dickens put it on the masthead of his first issue, which was dated Saturday, April 30, 1859.

And that was the issue that was in my hand before I set it down to type. Issue No. 1 – right there under the name of Charles Dickens.

I’m enough of a history nut that I imagine what was going on when these pages came off the press and were delivered to his subscribers. The US Civil War was still years in the future. Braum’s Concerto in D-minor hit the Top 10 in new releases. The elevator was invented, so folks could finally reach the upper floors.

And on July 11, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens – was published.

In July. But here in my hands (I picked it back up, but I’m setting it back down again…), is/was the very first printed version of that epic Dickens work, having made its April debut in the premier edition of his new journal.

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So. It is the Number One issue of the new magazine, containing the introduction of his new novel-to-be.

A Tale of Two Cities was serialized with a chapter or part of a chapter appearing each week in the journal. It was through his subscribers that Dickens was able to make a living while continuing the writing process. Subscribers not only got first crack at the story – as an added bonus, when the story was concluded the collected chapters could be dropped by Chapman and Hall publishers to be bound into a single volume.

A great addition to any home library!

An average first edition (in book form, as opposed to bound from subscriber chapters) can be found in the neighborhood of $4000. And I suppose the TRUE first edition is the copy issued as an entire book.

In the meantime though (and since I’m not likely to ever own a true First Edition copy), I’ll have to be satisfied with having a copy of the first PRINTED edition of the story in my hands (okay, technically – on the desk to my left) along with Issue No. 1 of ALL THE YEAR ROUND. Geek fun for Dickens fans.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was at the bookstore that serves lunches…

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!