Home Life Writing

Used Book Sale and Other Necessities

Sign for the Book Sale at the Solon Public library

Yesterday was the annual used book sale at our library.

In addition to clearing the stacks of unpopular or outdated books, the community donates books, media and labor to manage the sale.

Each item is reasonably priced and this year’s proceeds were about $800. That’s a lot of $0.50 and $1.00 books.

I spent ten bucks on ten past issues of the Wapsipinicon Almanac, three large format picture books about Yellowstone National Park, the Vietnam War, and the Marx Brothers, one fiction book, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and a book of poetry, Songs of a Sourdough by Robert W. Service. I spent part of the afternoon reading Service’s poetry about the Yukon. First published in 1907, the copy I got is more than 100 years old. Thoughts of surviving bitter cold, wolves, pine trees, bonfires to stay warm, dog sleds, and the gibbous moon roamed my consciousness for the rest of the day.

It is doubtful I needed more books. The measure of a person’s library is less about reading or having read every book in it. A personal library is more a reminder of what we don’t know. I don’t feel guilty having more books than time to read them. I’m lucky to have a stable home life and the space to fit in a few more books after a used book sale in town. The house hasn’t exploded… yet.

I’ve been buying clothing this year. In 2018 I spent $281, and this year I already spent $150. T-shirts, jeans, socks and underwear, along with a few sweatshirts and woven shirts make up my wardrobe. For funerals and weddings I keep one pair of dress slacks, a good shirt, some neckties, two pair of shined shoes from when I worked in the Chicago Loop in 1991, and a blue blazer. Judging from what people wear to funerals and memorial services, I could get by with a decent pair of jeans, a woven shirt and a newer pair of sneakers.

There was a gift of four t-shirts and a sweatshirt from my spouse. The t-shirts are for the shepherdess to imprint next time she silk screens an image from the farm. I missed out last year because most of my shirts already had something printed on them.

The big 2018 expense was a pair of steel-toed boots to wear on my shifts at the home, farm and auto supply store. Last week, after my shift, I bought a new overcoat using my employee discount.

Me: I need a new coat.
Cashier: You really do.
Me: I know… big grease stains, broken snaps and zipper… it’s disreputable.
Cashier: Oh my!
Me: It will be my first Carhartt… this is Walls. Well I do have a pair of Carhartt bib overalls.
Cashier: Every man has those.

When I worked in the Loop I quickly wore out the pants in my suits. I picked styles where I could get multiple pairs of matching slacks. I don’t need fancy work clothes at the home, farm and auto supply store where the main issue is the quality of Wrangler jeans purchased on discount for less than $20. The denim must be of an inferior quality because holes show up in unexpected places after washing. Too, the radio and box cutter wear a hole just below my belt line on the left side. I asked the Wrangler sales representative about this at a recent trade show. He didn’t have any good answers except to buy more expensive jeans. I didn’t mention my low wages.

Food, shelter and clothing are traditional basic needs. Add potable water, clean air and sanitation and that’s still really basic. A good night’s sleep? Needed, but optional. Without these things, the need for survival dominates our daily lives. Education, healthcare, transportation and internet access are basic needs according to Wikipedia, but seriously, while important, those are extra when it comes to survival.

A lot of people would have us return to life as basic survival. For our family, years of hard work made us financially stable and built a foundation so we don’t often worry about survival. As long as there are used book sales and employee discounts at the home, farm and auto supply store we’ll be alright. Knowing a bunch of farmers and a good auto mechanic helps.

Wolves are mentioned in the history of Lincoln County, Minnesota where my grandmother was born. Wolves can be an issue, but mostly one read about in books about the Yukon… or Iowa and Minnesota at the time of settlement. As we live our modern lives it is important to remember there were once wolves, even if their meaning is lost for want of an education. Education is a salve for our worries. That’s part of why library used book sales remain important.

2 replies on “Used Book Sale and Other Necessities”

Lovely piece Paul.
Reading about the Wrangler jeans, I thought of my own drawer of them. each bought when they would go on sale semi-regularly at Target last century for about half the price the new ones go for now. Some are a little long in the cuff (I’ve lost about an inch of inseam as I aged), and so like Prufrock I shall wear my trousers rolled.
When I worked crawling on the ground or floor regularly, I wear out pairs fairly regularly. Now I’m old enough that that sort of thing would be hard to do if it was still part of my routine. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to wear that drawer of jeans all out, though I can try (grin).


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