They have been a part of my life, literally forever. Printed in 1965 the year I was born. That is them behind me on my first birthday.
In my late teens I found my mothers ledger of the family expenses for those early years. She recorded the purchase and payments of the set. She wrote a note in the ledger justifying the rather large expense. Something along the lines of: In hopes my children will develop a love of learning and use these to quench their thirst for knowledge.
We sure did use them. We used them like bricks to build towers. Used them as weights to flatten what ever project we were gluing together. Walls to corral our guinea pigs in as played with them in the living room. We used them to hold up our hot wheel tracks. We used them as makeshift stepping stools to reach stuff on higher shelves. We used them as booster seats.
A copy of Rodin's The Thinker, graced the top of the book case. How on earth he survived as long as he did still amazes me. Every child knocked him off at least twice in their childhood.
(I am pouting here because its my birthday and I want to open my presents but my mama wants us to pose for a picture.)
My older sister and I would take turns picking on the glossy color pages of horse pictures. Over and over till the pages were dog-eared and had to be taped back in.
They were our "Google" and countless references were pulled from them for our schooling.
Last summer on a visit my father and I were standing in the garage discussing his latest project when a box caught his eye and he asked, "hey do you want these? there on there way to goodwill."
I pulled off the lid and there were the encyclopedias.
It was a weird thing that pinged my gut. Like the last tie that anchored me to the my past. The last physical evidence of my childhood.
I didn't need them. I had in fact just a few months before donated my own set of eyewitness books 20+ volumes, that were my own similar collection of books I used with my own kids; to the local school library.
I helped my father load them into my truck. Not because I wanted or needed them, but because of a strange tie to them. Going back through time to a mother who dreamed of teaching her children. Proof that at one time she had good intentions.
I shared them with my kids when I got home. It was fun to pick horses with my daughter and do what my sister had done to me countless times....making sure the last available horse for her to pick was the "ass" picture on the last page.
I will be there caretaker until the time/situation is right and then pass them on.