Friday, July 23, 2010
A Little Gem
Today was a hectic day, but as I drove past my favorite thrift store I couldn't resist stopping in to see what I might find. The glass showcase that is near the entry door is always the place I stop to look at first. Unfortunately, there was a lady paying for her "finds" so I couldn't really look in the case without being rude. I hovered close by pretending to aimlessly look at some books when I heard her ask the lady behind the glass counter if she could see the little autograph book in the case. Well, I can tell you that snapped me to attention right away. Without being too obvious, I kept my eye on the little book in her hand and kept hoping that she wouldn't buy it. Well, Hallelujiah, she handed it back to the lady who put it back into the case. It seemed like forever until the customer paid for her purchases and left the store.
Like a spider on a fly, I stepped up to the case and asked the lady behind the counter if I could please see the little autograph book. My heart skipped a beat as I held it in my hand and opened the front cover. On the very first yellowed page, written in pencil, was the name Verna Newell, Kingsburg, Calif., February 18, 1929. I leafed through the autograph book and read some of the entries dating from February 18, 1929 to January 15, 1930. Also on the first page was a price sticker which I looked at with trepidation thinking that this little gem would be expensive...Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the cost of this little darling book was $3.00! Only $3.00! I snapped it up and headed home with my treasure.
Kingsburg, CA? Where's that? I Googled it and found that Kingsburg is located on Freeway 99 in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno. Kingsburg supplies the state with lots of tree fruits, raisins, and grapes. In the early 1900s many Swedish settled there giving the town the name of "Little Sweden". A popular event, a two day long Swedish Festival is held during the third weekend in May. I think we actually drove through there once upon a time when we were on our way to visit our son, Greg, who is stationed at Fort Irwin near Barstow. I vaguely remember seeing Swedish flags.
The autograph book was a gift to Verna by an admirer - "With Love Verna, Richie Lee Vaughan". There aren't many autographed pages in the book; in fact the majority of the pages are blank, but the entries are priceless. Verna's classmates, the class of 1933, were the signers. Sadly, a few of the pages that are written in pencil are nearly illegible because they have faded, but the majority are still clear. The entry that I love the best is dated January 14, 1930:
Class of 1933
When the roses bloom in winter
And the snowflakes fall in June,
When the sun comes out at midnight
And the moon comes out at noon,
When the waters cease their flowing
And two x two is ten,
When today is tomorrow
Maybe I'll forget you then.
Your friend and classmate
Hatsune Matsuoka (this is a guess, as some of the cursive letters are illegible.)
But, the strangest thing of all, and this is definitely serendipity, is an entry in the book dated January 15, 1930, written by a girl with the first name of FRANCINE....my name...how random is that?