A Love Affair for Life

My favorite edition is and always will be the Doubleday one volume edition. This volume was the Shangri-La of my childhood. I started out reading an abridged version of the story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. The story was in a weekly messenger that my Catholic school received for the 7th and 8th grade. The purpose was to introduce more adult literature since we were becoming young adults. Instead it started a life time and devotion in one underweight, under-muscled, lonely, bespectacled boy.

I could not get enough of 221B and my two new devoted companions. We solved the mystery and brought Justice where we could. And best of all, they were there with only an opening of a book! I went through all the stories I could find in our small school library. I then harassed our local city public library for library loans. One of the Librarians mentioned in an off-handed tone that Rector’s Book Store downtown had a One Volume collection of all 60(!!!) stories of Holmes and Watson. I had to have that treasure!

So getting my Mom to call down to the store, I found out the horrible information the book was $10.00! The price seemed so unattainable. So as my Mom taught me, I dug into my piggy savings bank and found out I had a whole lot of chores for my neighbors, mowing of neighbors’ lawns with my father’s hand push mower in my future. Finally, those fund raising efforts and a very generous contribution from my Mom made the unobtainable mine.

Mom and I went down one Saturday morning by bus. I normally was in awe of the huge world of books in the store. Not today. Straight to the adult mystery’s section, grabbing the one volume treasure, and straight to the cashiers. When we got there, my Mom stayed in the background while I pulled out my fist of money and laid the desired treasure down in front of the clerk. The clerk looked at the rather large book, about 1300 pages, thumbed through it, saw who he guessed was my Mother in back of me. He spoke out to her: “Ma’am I do not think he would like this book. It is so large and has no pictures.”

My Mom in her coldest tone said, “He wants this book. He does not need pictures to read a book as you do.”

The clerk very quickly rang up the book, took my money from the counter, gave me change and walked with us and apologized all the way out of the store, holding the door open for us, and urged us to come again.

Now as to why the Doubleday one volume is my favorite. You can do no better than the Preface “In Memoriam”. To quote: “The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is triumphant illustration of art’s supremacy over life.” I had my first glimpse of that now familiar sitting room. I learned the major and minor details of Holmesiana to be able spend endless hours of my life in blissful enjoyment discussing these with other dyed in the blood addicts.

I also was able to see my first picture of the flat at 221B Baker Street.

Comments

A Love Affair for Life — 2 Comments

  1. Chips–wonderful story. I was there with you going into the book store and getting that weighty tome. I remember my favorite birthday present of all when I was a kid–a new Nancy Drew mystery. All of them–yes!! Hardy Boys, yes! Then I got to the “big time” when I say B-G’s annotated first edition in the book store. I think I was about 21. Life hasn’t been the same sense, so much richer and more fun. It’s a lifelong joy.
    Best to you, Daisy