When One Thing Leads To Another
At the same time I was making these interview arrangements, I went to Elizabeth City, NC, to Page After Page Bookstore for a book signing. The owner has some new Old Books in her shop recreated by Little Golden Books. Oh, the nostalgia! We shared our love for old children’s books. I told her about a book from my childhood that had been my mom’s childhood treasure. Mom read it to me whenever I asked, but it wasn’t kept on the bookshelf so I couldn’t help myself. It was kept in her lingerie drawer, wrapped in paper. The cover had been attached with Scotch tape so long ago it had turned brown and crisp. Yet, the pages continued to fall out. I loved this book, Rhymes for Kindly Children. Mom and I recited the verses together from memory. The wonderful “old fashioned” illustrations are vivid memories, as if I just saw them yesterday. The book was given to Mom when she was very young by her aunt who took care of her after her mother died. The inscription was there in fancy writing: to Arlien with love from Aunt Martha, 1927. Mom was five years old. But when I moved Mom to the nursing home last year, the book was missing. I queried other relatives, but most hadn’t any knowledge of the book.
When I told the shop keeper about it she said, “I think I know where you can get one.” And she was right. A company called Alibris Books had copies. I scrolled until I saw the cover. Rhymes for Kindly Children. That’s it. The cover is black. Exactly how I remember it. But when I read who illustrated it, I was speechless. The illustrator was Johnny Gruelle. I would soon be interviewing his grandson.
The interview with Kim Gruelle at The Last Great Company on Raggedy Lane was a lot of fun and I did get to see a lot of Raggedies and memorabilia. He’s the 5th generation of artists and illustrators. Kim was very aware of Rhymes for Kindly Children and has a few copies himself. It was published in 1916, by P. F. Volland & Co., the first publisher of the Raggedy Ann books.
I love it when one thing leads to another. Kim said, “It’s when serendipity leads to syncronicity.”