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


Comments

  1. What memories you've evoked in me today. I love those pieces of paper and bits of memories that come with older books, books read at least once. In fact, I once bought a book on a trip to London simply because it had notes tucked inside. It's like you've stumbled on a diary of sorts. Thank you for this slice. Well done.

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    1. Thank you Kimberley. May you continue to make discoveries in old books.

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  2. Awesome slice. You've reminded me of the things that I've found between the pages of old books I read long ago. These items trigger memories about a different time and place. They seem like a lifetime ago, but those same feelings come back and it was only yesterday. :) Thanks for helping me remember. :)

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    1. My pleasure Lisa. I feel exactly the way you do. It's the re-connection that is special in these situations.

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  3. I am recently retired & have begun volunteering at a used bookstore where we do find occasional things tucked between a book's pages. In old cookbooks from family I have found old clippings, but usually they are other recipes. You've made it even more personal & I loved hearing especially about your discoveries of what your mother left. You might enjoy this book, out a while ago, but it is interesting: http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Bookmarks-Booksellers-Collection-Between/dp/0399537015

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    1. Wow, Linda, thanks for the follow up suggestion. i will certainly check it out.

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  4. This is so fun! I was going to post a link to Forgotten Bookmarks, but I see Linda B. already passed it along. I love the raffle ticket and all it symbolizes for you.

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    1. Thank you Dana. yes, that old yellowed ticket was quite a special find.

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  5. Memories tucked between the pages, what a find! I especially love it when I find something from someone who is no longer with us. It's like they are reminding us of their presence.

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    1. It is indeed a reminder of their continuing presence in our lives, Elsie. They provide quite special and moving moments. We can time travel.

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  6. What a lovely thought you conjured for me, as I look over my bookcases now and wonder at the treasures I may find. I love that your mother held on to this ticket, and wonder how often she come upon it and imagined the adventure she might have had.

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    1. Dive in Tara and hopefully you'll discover some long forgotten treasure.

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  7. What neat memories you uncovered!

    On a somewhat related note, the New York Public Library opened up many of their archives last week. There are some amazing finds if you look under "notebooks."

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    1. I did indeed Stacey. Thanks for the NY library link. I will check that out. Mention of the library brings back memories of my time in NYC. Will explore this.

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  8. I loved the way you wrote about your discoveries. I hope I come across some hidden gems like these.

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    1. So do I Diane. Everyone should experience the joy of such discoveries.

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