b Papa Dog's Blog: A Story that's on My Mind Because I Happened to Recount it Earlier this Evening to an Old School Chum Who Was in the Same Home Room Class (1976-1977)

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Story that's on My Mind Because I Happened to Recount it Earlier this Evening to an Old School Chum Who Was in the Same Home Room Class (1976-1977)

When I first took off for California I carried with me only two suitcases, a backpack, a leather jacket and, for reasons that escape me now, an LP copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run under my arm. Everything I couldn’t carry – and there was a lot of it – got packed into boxes and stashed into the crawlspace under the basement stairs in my parents’ house. Mostly it was a bunch of comics and lots and lots of books.

For the first while I suppose I entertained thoughts of one day shipping the boxes down to myself when I had the spare dough. The spare dough never materialised, and the boxes stayed where they were, gathering dust.

In 1991 I spent a little time at my parents’ house en route to Vancouver. I was short of money and it suddenly struck me that I had negotiable items in the crawlspace. I hauled out the boxes of comics and cherry-picked everything that was worth $5 or more by Overstreet. I packed it all up in a box and shipped it down to Bernardo, because I knew he could get more money for it in Berkeley than I could in Edmonton. That worked out splendidly, and I was able to ease on down the road in style.

Sometime after that, my sister bought the house from my parents and moved her family into it. During one of our semi-annual phone conversations, she asked me what I wanted to do with all my boxes in the crawlspace. I’d long since shed any sentimental attachment to the stuff. “Pile it up in the backyard and have a bonfire,” I suggested. She asked if she could sell the comics. I could hear the dollar signs dancing in her eyes, and moved quickly to disabuse her of that notion. “I sold everything that was worth anything years ago.” Apparently she’d read an article about the value of old comics or something, and she wouldn’t believe me. “Really,” I told her. “All that crap’s from the 70s and 80s. It’s an overprinted, glutted market. You can sell it by the pound, but it’ll probably cost you more in gas to haul it to the store.”

The next time I was in Edmonton, my brother spent a day or two being my chauffeur as we tried to find interesting things to do in a one-horse town. We shot pool, had lunch, went to a thrift store. We might have gone to a movie. Eventually we ended up at the Wee Book Inn on Whyte Avenue. I wasn’t looking for anything, but a book store is the one place where I’m liable to browse. One feature of the Wee Book Inn that’s either charming or irritating depending on your values is the spinner rack randomly filled with paperbacks. You can’t find anything in particular, but you never know what you might see next. I was twirling one of these racks around when my eye was caught by a lurid splash of pink. It was a weathered-looking Bantam paperback copy of Baa Baa Black Sheep by Gregory Boyington, the source material for the the TV show of the same name, which was for a little while in 1976 my favourite thing on TV. I hadn’t thought about the show in years, but I felt a sudden flush of nostalgia, remembering that I used to have a copy of that very same paperback edition. Thinking it would be a hoot to own a copy of it again, I picked the paperback up, flipped it open – and saw my name and the name of my homeroom teacher 1976-1977 inscribed in my own shaky twelve-year-old hand on the inside cover. I had to laugh. It had never occurred to me that she’d sell the old paperbacks by the pound too.

I didn’t buy the book. As I think we’re all well aware by now, you can’t go home again.

1 Comments:

Blogger Twizzle said...

Okay, kids... Essay question of the day:

What does Papa Dog mean by saying, "As I think we’re all well aware by now, you can’t go home again?"

(Please use the reverse side of the page if you need more space.)

11:10 AM  

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