A love (of books) that never gets old

You might not know about my love for vintage knitting and crochet books from the 1970s. These books connect me to people in the past. They comfort me. Our lives come and go, but the spirit of giving and creating goes on.

It’s fun to hunt for old books at garage sales and used book stores. Anytime we take a visit to a small town, I make sure to stop by the local thrift store and check out the shelves of books.

A very special addition came into my collection this month. Here is the story of how it came to be.

Recently it was time to celebrate my husband’s birthday and we had plans to meet with my son and his girlfriend. I knew our local library, Daniel Boone Regional Library, was having one of their biggest sales of the year and I wanted to stop early for the best selection of donated books. I might have competition! Who else might be out there, eager to get the sweet 1970s crochet and knitting books? We walked into the library about 10 a.m.

We were told the sale was only open to Friends of the Library members until noon. After that, the public could enter. It was possible to join the Friends of the Library that day for $5 and enter the sale early. Normally, we would have come back, but that time was my only chance to shop since we had birthday plans the rest of the day.

I have lived in Boone County for more than 20 years. I have always loved and visited the Daniel Boone Regional Library. In all this time, though, we have never joined the Friends of the Library. This is important to know for the rest of the story.

I walked into the sale room and made a beeline for the boxes with craft books. I started to search through them. After collecting for years, I can usually tell from the cover at a glance the decade a book belongs to. I was seeing a lot of 1990s. Nothing yet for me.

Then I saw it. I immediately knew from the cover it was 70s but I checked the copyright inside to be sure. 1972. Yes! When I opened the book, I saw an address label with a name on it: Erica Pickard. I always like to see names of the people who had the books before. I feel a name on a crochet or knitting book means, “This book is valuable and it belongs to me.” I like to think the book might have been shared and the owner wanted it to return.

I continued to look through the first box and didn’t find any more. I was excited to see there were many more boxes to go through. As I started to investigate the second box, my eyes landed on another magnificent book. I checked the inside cover: 1974. I saw a sticker at the top of the page: Erica Pickard.

My heart swelled as I thought, This might be someone’s collection. It might be my lucky day!

As I leafed through the used books, I pulled out each relevant one. My arms got fuller with my heavy stack. At the end of my searching, I had 15 beautiful books formerly owned by Erica Pickard from the 1970s, plus two that were not my decade by publishing date (1980) but had the definite 70s feel and were part of her collection.

I checked out at the desk, paying for both for my old books and my new membership in the Friends of the Library.

In the car I told my husband that all my old books–my new treasures—were from the same person.

“I wonder why she gave up all her books? Maybe she went into a nursing home or passed away?” I said.

I googled her name and her obituary came up immediately. I started to read it out loud. Although she was a stranger we didn’t know, we both felt impressed by her creativity and generous spirit as we learned about her life.

Then I came upon the following:

“Erica was also a strong supporter of the Columbia Public Library, helping establish the Friends of the Columbia Public Library where she helped initiate the regular book sales.”

There I was, for the first time in my life, a member of the Friends of the Library, with a stack of her books from the book sale on my lap. Isn’t it amazing that the day I joined was the same day I found all the books from someone who helped start the Friends group and the sale?

What an honor to have her collection join mine. The world is small because we never know how our life will enrich someone else’s. I will especially treasure these “new” 1970s books.

Now you know a little more about my love for vintage knitting and crochet books from the 1970s. These books connect me to people in the past. They comfort me.

Our lives come and go, but the spirit of giving and creating goes on.

4 thoughts on “A love (of books) that never gets old

  1. Oh girl – you need to come thru my collection! I start collecting my knitting books in 1950! I have kept all of them. Don’t I wonder why. Do u collect patterns also or just books?

  2. DBRL is truly a treasure in our town. In my travels I like to visit city and regional libraries and DBRL is the absolute GREATEST of them all! Congratulations for becoming a Friend!

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