Slice of Life Story- Unexpected Treasure Find Inside Books
On numerous occasions of late, I have found myself taking down a book from the shelves within my bookish world and making quite unexpected discoveries involving hidden treasure. This is treasure within treasure. Treasure additional to the author’s message. Secreted within the pages of some of my books, I have chanced upon ephemeral items that delight and intrigue me. Cards, tickets and assorted pieces of paper have suddenly revealed themselves hiding among the pages. On each occasion, strong connections to my personal family history have immediately arisen. It feels like these tiny treasures have been patiently awaiting discovery. ‘At last, you here,’ they sigh. Questions have arisen. Who placed them here, between the pages, and why? Some of the answers are quite obvious, others somewhat less so.
While browsing through a rather chunky and ancient copy of ‘New Standard Cookery’(published 1933) I chanced upon a plethora of cards, news cuttings, letters, tickets, additional recipes, labels and hand written notes my mother had gathered and slotted among the thousand or more pages of her tried and trusted recipe book. I even found an old bus ticket and a silver foil milk bottle lid. All these items had been hidden from the light for more than fifty years. The curious learner in me was instantly delighted. Glimpses and ghosts from times long forgotten came floating back into the shining light of recognition. These books have become literary time capsules, enabling me to recapture a small portion of a lost world.
The most amazing discovery was in fact a faded raffle ticket my mother had purchased in the hope of winning a world cruise. The significance of the ticket increases when one is aware of the fact that during her entire life, my mother never travelled beyond her home state of Victoria more than once. On that particular occasion she took a bus trip to Canberra with her mother to visit an aunt. Not exactly an exotic destination. My mother never expressed any desire to travel. It appears however she harboured a wish to see more of the world. Sadly, my Mum didn’t win the prize, but the ticket remains as tangible evidence regarding her deeply held and unfulfilled dreams of travel.
Inside a copy of Robert Fulghum’s ‘All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten’ I stumbled across a torn out page from a desk top calendar dated November 23, 1993. You know the kind I’m referring too. Each day had a notable quote attached and they were frequently ascribed to luminary thinkers and philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson. This one had the words, ‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ Thanks Ralph.
I placed it there for a reason that now escapes me. Why did I secrete a torn out calendar page in that particular part of the book? Was that date significant? Was it the quotation that resonated? Intriguing to ponder.
I found a snazzy looking business card for a Melbourne restaurant, ‘Movida’ stashed away inside a copy of Tim Winton’s ‘Land Edge.’ It possesses the appearance of a miniature playing card, quite elaborate in design. Maybe I was using it as a bookmark.
So, I thought, what if I consciously buried some treasure, some ephemera, within the pages of my books for future readers to discover… I’m always gathering and collecting such items, many of which find themselves pasted into my writer’s notebooks. How pleasurable it would be to plant some memory markers inside my most treasured books. Future discoveries to delight and intrigue. -Mysteries to ponder in the days to come.
‘Poking through physical artifacts...is archival and curatorial; it forces you to examine each object slowly, perhaps sample it and come across a serendipitous discovery...’
Future Tense, Teddy Wayne