Diane, owner of East Side Books, spends a lot of time going through other people’s books. One of the pleasures of all that book browsing is the treasures she finds between the pages. On the counter she keeps a container of gently-used traditional bookmarks (free for the taking), but Diane has discovered over the years that people will stick just about anything between the pages of a book to mark their place. A few of her favorite finds? Tickets to the1973 Bishop Union High School Homecoming Dance, a handwritten Will (which was returned to the owner), and a “don’t worry, be happy” card with a portrait of Meher Baba that is pinned to the East Side Books’ bulletin board. She says the most interesting find was a ticket for a Playboy Jazz Festival tucked inside the book A River Runs Through It. “Now that person was well rounded!”
Of course, Diane was delighted to discover ForgottenBookmarks.com, a website devoted to posting photos of memorabilia found in old books. Diane forwarded me an link to her favorite post: a recipe for squash pickles that was found inside the book Horns of Ecstasy. Diane wrote, “I just love this site, and wish I had thought of it! I have a drawer full of photos and recipes.”
(Click on the image to enlarge.)
It is no surprise that Michael Popek, who started ForgottenBookmarks.com, is in the used book business as well. He began working in his family’s bookstore when he was seven years old. Now the owner, he often sorts through five hundred books a day. Writes Popek about his initial inspiration for the site, “About three years ago, I came across a large pot leaf inside a microwave cookbook–it was too funny not to share. I scanned the leaf and book cover into the computer to show some friends who got a real kick out of it.” Soon after, ForgottenBookmarks.com was born.
While pressed leaves are the most common between-the-pages find for Popek (although not usually the illegal kind), his Cialis Online favorite discoveries are old letters. And yes, he does try to reunite his finds with their rightful owners when possible. He writes, “There was one case where a cross-stitched bookmark was returned to its owner after I posted it on the site. His sister had made it for him 24 years prior and he was thrilled to see it again.” Popek says that dictionaries and cookbooks are the best for turning up treasures.
Diane shared with me her collections of found bookmarks that she keeps in three large expandable folders. There were cards and photographs (some of people I recognized), letters and birthday cards, newspaper clippings and an expired Bishop Library card. There was even an old to-do list with Diane’s family’s name on it. I discovered a title for a 1983 Honda Civic, a Christmas letter written from the perspective of the family’s pet turtle, and a deposit slip from the First National Bank in Howard, Kansas for the amount of $5,750 dated 1-7-1937. I was especially fond of the the spotted and stained recipe for Pineapple-Marshmallow Yams written in spidery, old-fashioned cursive. It called for a lot of butter and cream. I would imagine someone is missing the instructions for that favorite side dish.
Popek has compiled his favorite finds in a book entitled Forgotten Bookmarks: A Booksellers Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages. Don’t tell Diane, but I ordered a copy for her as a Christmas gift.
Even though Diane makes an effort to remove memorabilia found between the pages of donated books (“It is too small a town,” she says), I occasionally still find scraps of this and that in my purchases from East Side Books. A reminder about a doctor’s appointment, a birthday card, a photo of an unknown man and woman on a camping trip. Each discovery delights me, and reminds me of the extra special connection we make as readers of used books.
What is the best “forgotten bookmark” you have ever found? Let us know in the comment section below.