Auctioning Off Old Memories…

It’s the rare day when you find yourself up for sale on eBay. Not a Buy-it-Now, either. Selling off a bit of me, Auction-style.

Back in the day, between the job and the raisin’ up o’ the children, I would hunch myself over a typewriter of an evening, tapping out words. (That’s the sound typewriters made: clack-clack-clackity-clack, ding! Bzzzzzssssttt. Some of you will recognize the Carriage Return there.)

I don’t think I ever truly harbored thoughts of becoming a famous writer. One whose novel was turned into a blockbuster movie. Lounging on the veranda in sunglasses even on a dreary, overcast day. Maybe holding a Meerschaum pipe near my lips as though I was smoking the thing.

theShow1

There wasn’t enough time to finish a novel, so I cranked out short stories. Bad ones, mostly. It was like a compulsion though: get a little free time and plop down at the writing table. Finish one up and deposit it in the closet with the others, maybe expecting a publisher to break in the house one night to pilfer and publish one of them. Didn’t ever happen.

So, instead of continuing to wait for the Thieving Publisher, I sent one of them off, safely tucked into a manila envelope along with my great hopes.

The thrill when a reply arrived! The nervousness. My name beautifully hand-penned on the envelope, bearing a publisher’s return address, me fearful, but opening it anyway. He liked the story, he said. Thought it was a little Bradbury-esque (goosebumps for me by that point) and wondered if I would object to it being included in the next issue.

What??? Are you kidding me?

theShow2

He later mailed me a little check (even smaller by today’s standards…) and I waited anxiously for the arrival of the copy he promised me.

Publishing has changed greatly in the past decade, and the idea of desktop publishing was a new thing way back when my story was accepted. Not that it made any difference to me. My fiction was in the magazine along with stories by other folks, several of whom were pretty well known (in some circles).

I was published, thought I.

The capper to the thing was this: shortly after the magazine came out, my buddy and I attended a convention on the east coast. Some well-known authors were there (Stephen King was a no-show). And a lot of fans/readers. Heading out to dinner, we were joined by a fellow we met, who casually asked if we were published writers.

Hah! I was a little embarrassed – but a little bit proud, too – to reply that, amazingly, I had a story in the latest issue of a little magazine. He wanted to know what magazine, and I told him. He knew the publication. What story, he wanted to know, and I told him.

He had read it!

As good as it gets for me, at that moment in time.

We had an enjoyable evening, the three of us heading out for an exotic meal. (He had heard of Arby’s but there were none in his home-state. Oh, well… it would have to do for exotic.)

There aren’t many copies of that little magazine around any longer. At some point I had entered an eBay search to alert me in case one ever came up for auction.

Today was the day. I’m tempted to put in a bid just to own it.

But I already know how the story ends.

Come visit!

McHuston

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

Comedy. Civil War Era Yuk-Yuks.

Hard to imagine rowing a boat from Greece to Ireland, but a fellow named Pytheas captained a ship that made the journey.

Back in 325 BC.

pytheasship

He was obviously an adventurous sort. And he was traveling back in the time when there were not a lot of visitors to northwestern Europe, much less tourists from the Mediterranean.

Pytheas and his men would have had to navigate that sea, sailing south around the boot of Italy after leaving the Sea of Crete. He’d edge past Spain and Portugal while passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic. Once they cleared Portugal, it would have been a fairly straight shot north to Ireland. About three-thousand miles.

If they could row at 10 knots (slightly more than 11 mph) the Greek sailors would have been at sea for nearly 12 days – if they knew exactly where they were going and never were drawn off course. That’s the whole exploring thing. They DIDN’T know where they were, or where they were going.

About a thousand years later, the Vikings paddled around the same area, but they managed about 2 mph – and the Norse ships were built for speed.

That’s why it’s hard for me to imagine Pytheas out at sea, an early tourist without a camera, a McDonald’s, or a roadside turnout. According to that bastion of facts, Wikipedia, Pytheas is the first known scientific visitor and reporter of the Arctic, polar ice, and the Germanic tribes.

And he called Ireland – Hibernia. It is thought to be a doubly-translated version of a Celtic word that meant “abundant land.”

The point of this whole history lesson?

Well, the caption on the Harper’s Weekly cartoon from 1867 uses the names Hibernians to describe the typical Irish drinking joke. (It was always so, apparently.)

hibernianpic

Since it may be difficult to read the nearly 150 year old printing, here is the transcription to accompany the image:

Young Hibernian. “Jolly day we had last week at O’Donohue’s Wedding. Capital Champagne he gave us, and faith it was justice we did it, I tell you.”

Ancient Hibernian (who prefers a drop of Whisky). “Widdings is well enough at yer time o’ life, but give me a good Ould Wake.”

And that’s how the knee-slappers went back in the Civil War era. Still, a lot of interesting items in a stack of 150 year old Harper’s Weekly pages that popped in the front door today.

Never know what you’ll find in your friendly neighborhood bookstore – except from eleven to two, when you know you’ll find some delicious lunches. Come visit!

McHuston

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

Stormin’ into the Weekend.

It was an interesting lunch hour Friday – needless to say – what with the tornado sirens going off and the lights flickering. We were fortunate.

There was a brief outage, maybe twenty to thirty seconds. It always seems longer when it is completely dark. I was about to locate a flashlight so our guests could find their lunches when the power came back on.

Around the corner on Kenosha, my sister wasn’t quite so fortunate. The power went out at Martha’s Health Foods before noon and stayed off most of the afternoon. They were obliged to move their activities closer to the light through the front windows after the skies cleared.

SpokeHouse

It was a deluge here in the Rose District and brought unfortunate news for The Spoke House, on our side of the street, but at the end of the next block south. Those 80+ mile-an-hour winds caught the brickwork at the top back corner of the building and sent bricks tumbling to the sidewalk. A car parked nearby looked to have caught a little damage as a result, but no one was injured. (Image is courtesy of the Broken Arrow Ledger, subcribe today!)

We’ve had some bad experiences here at the bookstore with driving rainstorms. The typical rain shower caused no problem, but with a strong wind added in, water seemed to find a way to slip through the roof. A crew was on the roof a couple of weeks ago, and today was the first true test.

Success!

Not a single drop of water from the ceiling – no mopping, no mess, no trash can or mop bucket drip collectors.

Books and water don’t mix, and it was a pleasure to report to our leasing agent that the work on the roof did the trick perfectly.

Sometimes I think that folks tend to speak complaints quickly and are slow to give up words of praise. (I’m not excluding myself… frustration often loosens the tongue…) I don’t know the name of the company that did the work, but they were quick and efficient and effective. If you need work on a roof – I’m sure I can get the name of the company to pass along.

While I’m at it (digging into that bag o’ compliments), I should mention the fantastic work done on the Firebird by Ray the Ace Mechanic at Affordable Automotive. It has been years since it has had air conditioning, and I had forgotten what a great thing AC is. It’s really satisfying to get so cold in the car that the AC has to be turned down.

I’ve been driving around like a teenager with a brand-new license.

Unsure of the forecast, but Friday is calling for Croissant Club sandwiches on the chalkboard menu. Delly-delly-delicious on a buttery croissant roll.

Come visit!

McHuston

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