Boxcar Memories

If you haven’t checked out The Art of Eating books, then you really owe it to yourself to read this awesome blog. What I love about this blog is that it makes the worlds of our favorite books more tangible. It seems like this blogger has found a unique way to participate in some classic stories. As I have previously mentioned on this blog, I don’t really enjoy cooking…but I definitely enjoy eating, so I feel like I’ve reached some kind of a compromise with the chore (sorry cooking fans, I know that sounds like blasphemy to you). Anyway, this most recent post on “The Art of Eating Books” really resonated with me in part because I’m going to embark on cooking my mom’s recipe beef stew this weekend. (I purchased pre-cut stew beef thanks to a tip from hemcfeely at Meta’s 1942 Meals).

Okay, so yeah maybe some of the titles leaned a little “very special.”

But I also really loved today’s post specifically because I loved those books so much as a kid. I originally read the mystery books, which my friend’s older brother would give me on occasion. I didn’t have any older siblings of my own, so this was one of those cherished moments when I got to imagine what it might be like to be a kid sister. And I didn’t get to imagine this with some awful older brother (like from The Wonder Years) but with a really awesome older brother, who would every so often lay out all of his Boxcar Children books on his bedroom floor. Then he would carefully consider all of the books, picking them up and giving them the once over one last time. Sometimes he would pull a couple out of the display and set them to the side. Those were the ones he wanted to keep. The ones that were so good he wanted to read them again. But really he wanted to read them all again. The ones so thoughtfully laid out before me were simply the ones he could bear to part with. And that was best part of all of this–that it was truly a gift.

I don’t remember this one. This one looks weird.

He wasn’t just trying to unload his old books on me. He genuinely loved all of them, but he knew that I loved them too. And like any good older brother, he wanted to share that love for books. The stipulation was that I could always pick out x number of books from the display. The number varied based upon the market value of his library (a.k.a. how many he super wanted to read again). So then I would carefully consider all of the titles and covers. He would tell me which ones he liked best, or which ones he though might most appeal to me. (At this point one or two more books might disappear from the display again.I would hope to get this back in the selection sometimes later on in the rotation.) Finally, I would make my selections. If I was particularly torn between two books, he usually gave me both of them. This was in part because he was (and is still) an incredibly nice person, but I also think it was because he loved the stories all so much that he found it somewhat unreasonable to ask anyone to decide between them.

I totally loved these mystery books. It wasn’t until about the second or third grade (after years of Boxcar books) that I actually read the first book. It isn’t a mystery, which was shocking and disappointing to me. I only felt this way because it wasn’t what I had expected and come to love. It is an adventurous tale though and I did come to like it. But mostly I felt anxious for these kids who had to run an entire household out of a boxcar. But hey, I’m just now tackling beef stew so they’re obviously way ahead of me.

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