For some reason, the past week or so I’ve been all nostalgic for books I read when I was a kid. One of those is The Teddy Bear Twins. I actually still have my copy of this one, but there are pages missing. (I’m sure my sister is responsible for that.) I can remember sitting on the couch with my mom in the house on Oklahoma St. in Enid while she read that to me and how eventually I learned the whole story and could say at least part of it with her at the appropriate time. “They let their clothes dry in the sun and the breeze.” Never mind that their stuffing would have been saturated all the way through from the spill in the lake. It’s one of those rhyming books for early readers; logic wasn’t important.
Another one is A Pickle for a Nickel. I don’t seem to have this one anymore. I don’t remember much of what it’s about, but I recall a grumpy old man who had a parrot that didn’t speak and a little boy who taught the parrot to say, “A pickle for a nickel!” The boy ended up keeping the parrot.
It was a big thing to go to the Woolsworth store downtown and actually leave the store with a new book. The cover price on The Teddy Bear Twins is a whopping 35 cents. A worn, taped copy on eBay goes for about 20 bucks right now. There were also a bunch of the Little Golden Books I remember buying, but the only one that stands out in my memory is The Poky Little Puppy. Oh, those poor dogs that didn’t get any supper!
Then there are the Dan Frontier books I discovered in second grade. They were a hit with all the boys in my class, and they’ve had a lasting influence on me. Dan Frontier was sort of a Daniel Boone/Davy Crockett character who built forts, led wagon trains, scouted for the army and eventually went to Congress. It’s because of those books that I’ve always enjoyed colonial-era American history. I have a couple of those books now, bought from eBay a few years ago. I just lost a bidding war on an entire set of 10 books that looked very clean. Lost them by one dollar. Grrr.
A few other books I remember from back then are Be Nice to Spiders, Mr. Muster’s Zoo and The Giant Jam Sandwich. Oh, I do love The Giant Jam Sandwich, and all my kids have enjoyed it. “One hot summer in Itching Down four million wasps flew into town …” I still have a bunch of Danny Hoffman books … Julius, Danny and the Dinosaur, Sammy the Seal.
But I guess what I’m really getting at is that memory of sitting on the couch with my mom and reading The Teddy Bear Twins and A Pickle for a Nickel. We moved when I was five, so I must have been three or four at the time. Things were so much different back then. We had a little TV that I barely remember watching, other than when I won a T.G. & Y. gift certificate for calling in to “The Foreman Scotty Show.” I thought nobody’s mom worked; that’s what the dad did, and he took the family’s only car when he left for work. Video games, computers, cell phones … hell, cordless phones were unheard of. We had a rotary phone you couldn’t even unplug from the wall and I just couldn’t understand why we weren’t taking the phone with us when we moved. (This was about 1969 or 1970, by the way). I had my pedal-powered fire engine car, a flowerbed and a toy shovel, the warm couch next to my mom and the benign adventures of a couple of teddy bears. Life was simple and good.