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The old book

Published August 03. 2013 09:03AM

When I was a young child growing up in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, we didn't have much money. My Dad was a bartender and my Mom was a stay-at-home mother.

Mom had been a dancer in vaudeville and on Broadway but had never had another job. Dad made very little in salary, but brought home tips. My sisters and I used to count out the coins each morning at the kitchen table. Dad always let us have a nickel for our work.

We couldn't afford much. Because of that (or thanks to that), we learned at an early age to be thrifty. We didn't waste things and we usually found multiple uses for leftovers and remnants. We also didn't buy expensive toys and books.

I learned to read at an early age. By the time I was 7 years old, I was reading easy novels. I went to the Dimmick Memorial Library downtown and took out book after book. The library became a very special place to me.

One of the books I found was "Marjorie's Antique Shop." When I read that book, I felt a kinship to Marjorie. She was from Pennsylvania; she lived in an old house; she was surrounded by antiques; and she wasn't rich. Just like me.

I read that book many times. Each time, I mentioned to my mother that perhaps we would like to start an antique shop in our basement. We certainly had enough items to put on sale, and we had the perfect room - a paneled room in the basement, right near the entrance door. It was perfect.

Mom was not thrilled about turning our home into a business venture, so she nixed the idea. I kept reading the book and dreaming about the day that I, too, could start a business that would help my family reach prosperity.

Gradually, my dream of an antique shop in the basement was replaced by more mundane thoughts. I grew up and ultimately sold the house with the perfect antique shop in the basement.

When I went back after some years, I saw that the current owner had in fact created a gift shop in the exact same room in the basement. It brought back memories of "Marjorie's Antique Shop" and I started to think about the book again.

Trying to find "Marjorie's Antique Shop" became a true mission for me. I went to the Dimmick Library and checked the shelves. No luck. I scoured every book sale and garage sale and yard sale to find that book. No luck. Finally, I gave up and figured that such an obsession was unhealthy for a senior citizen.

Fast forward to 2013. I visited my daughter Jennifer recently. She handed me a mailing bag and said, "This is for you, Mom." When I opened it, I saw a copy of "Marjorie's Antique Shop."

Jennifer had searched and searched online and finally found an old book dealer who had one copy of my favorite book.

When I saw the book, I immediately started to cry. Of course, my grandkids (who were standing around watching) wanted to know why I was sad. I told them, "I am not sad. I am happy. These are happy tears."

The book is not worth a million dollars to anyone but me. I have visions of myself as a young girl, reading that book and creating a magic world involving antiques, old houses, and money. Even though none of those images came true, the book is still an important piece of my childhood.

The mere fact that my daughter loves me enough to search for the book means the world to me. She made the gift extra-special by giving it to me for no reason - not my birthday, not Christmas, not any required "present" day. She gave it to me out of pure love.

"Marjorie's Antique Shop" has now been read again and again. I plan to loan it to my grandchildren so they can understand a little bit more about me. That old book made an old lady very happy.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her e mail address: or in care of this newspaper.

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