Saturday, September 3, 2011

The other day I had a rare few moments to descend four stairs from the sidewalk down into one of my neighborhood (Hyde Park, Chicago) icons, 57th Street Books, a local branch of the Seminary Coop Bookstore, and a semi-subterranean candy store for bibliophiles.  I not only like the books, ample selection of sophisticated magazines (Nature, Science, Economics, many other more or less well-known titles in science, nature, literature and the arts) and classy note cards, but also the blank books, journals and calendars, and especially, the address books, where I focused my attention that day. What went through my mind was the happy question, “could it be time to buy a new address book?” since for some reason I’m not only very picky about my address books, but, also, very fond of the ones finally choose. Acquiring an especially nice new one is a treat. 
Address books & personal journals shelf, 57th Street Books
There have also been times–most likely at the approach of holiday card season, since I otherwise hardly write old-fashioned letters any more–when I’ve thumbed through whatever address book I had at the time and noticed how many people have moved or passed away since the book was new.
When I do that and decide it's time to start afresh, the other thing I do–neither conscientiously nor even consciously in the early years–is save my address books. This has proved to be invaluable as I try to reconstruct past times, places, and people, and especially during the several months I devoted to writing my (currently languishing) life story. While I can’t date them, I can order them by who is in them and who is not.
The oldest one I have, from all the evidence within, was acquired during my college years. I certainly had it during grad school, given all the Arizona addresses in it. I then got a new one around the time I met my (now ex-) husband, because his family and friends, some in his handwriting, show up. The next one after that has all of those people and many more, and survived my divorce and early acquaintance with KLK because he, but not his family, are there. 
After a while it too got filled with too many cross-outs and sad reminders of those gone before us, and arrows to the next blank page for my mobile friends’ next, and then their next, addresses. Another one, the “Victoria and Albert Museum CATS Address Book” has KLK's family and friends plus all of mine. It too was eventually filled up and I went on to the next, and the next. 
There are eight oldies altogether, plus my current fun Nancy Drew Address Book: Nancy’s Mysterious Letter, in which each alphabetic division is named for an appropriate Nancy Drew book: “G” for The Secret of the Golden Pavilion, and “S” for The Secret of Shadow Ranch, and so on.  The illustrations are picked from the earliest editions–those are the ones most familiar and pleasing to me–and what I consider to be undistinguished and generic latter day editions. No mind, I still love it. 

I like the picture on the left!
But to return to my question: Could it be time to pop for a new address book? The disappointing answer came to me right away: No, Veronica, you don’t need a new address book. This is what your address book looks like now:
(Regular readers might note the irony of this.



  1. I love the old Nancy Drew books - and the old illustrations! Well, it's true that electronic "contacts" are easy to edit and at your fingertips, but somehow I don't trust technology enough to not have a hard copy, which I do - though nowhere near as cool as Nancy Drew!

  2. Being of a Luddite bent when it come to some (not all) new technology, I believe I'd personally stick with Nancy Drew...

  3. I preferred the Hardy Boys!!!! but I also read some Nancy Drew because I had seven sisters. I keep a handwritten address book. You have to dump the electonic sometimes.