My mother passed a sickness on to me. Her mother had the sickness, too. It’s in my genes…I’m a rescuer. Sure, I look normal on the outside, but drive me past a pile of furniture on a curb, a stuffy-looking thrift store or a pile of run-down books, and the excitement hits me. I’m not looking for treasure, however. I’m “saving” things.
It breaks my heart when I come across something that I can tell was cherished at one time, or has fallen through the cracks of families that don’t contain their own “rescuers” to keep little mementos. People don’t value old photo albums filled with smiling, unidentifiable faces, or piano sheet music, or smashed hats from the 50’s with broken feathers trembling bravely from their brims. Nor do they value brazenly ugly chalk ware statues of Renaissance Italian masterpieces, strange-looking lamps from the late 60’s, or cookbooks. Especially cookbooks. Well, I do…just ask my garage.
“What’s so fun about a cookbook?” most people would ask. You can find used ones by the truckload on all sorts of unappetizing subjects, from microwave cookery to “fifty different fast egg recipes.” Sure, others have discovered the joy, the excitement, the horrified glee that can be experienced by looking at full-color “hot-dogs and peaches a-la Polynesia” recipes, but the Master-class of cookbook perusal is in finding what I call “conglomerate books:” abandoned gems that have somehow remained jam-packed with 50’s and 60’s clippings, notes, traded recipes and give-away food-brand booklets that had been collected by an enthusiastic housewife of yore. If you come across one of these, “congratulations,” you’ve struck gold.
My latest golden find came not from a thrift store, but when I was cleaning out my own garage three weeks ago. Jammed into a box of random books and rescued single dishes (one really is the loneliest number, isn’t it?) was a tomato-red, mid-century spiral-bound book called “Cooking Clips: Recipe File.” It was jam-packed with yellowed newspaper clippings and goodness-knows what else. Eureka!
Inside are charming, illustrated guides to meats of all sorts with titles like: “Did you say Ham?” and “The Succulent Sausage.”
And how about the little-known other use for a wheelbarrow? Have you seen what’s been in my wheelbarrow? Ewwww! Genius!
And how about this little gem of a how-to giveaway? I mean, I want that original painting in my living room, for Pete’s sake!
See? There's nothing wrong with simple pleasures, as long as there's color photos of nasty-looking food involved!