At any time I am out and about and anywhere near a Half-price Book store, I park and enter and browse and usually find something I cannot do without—oops, I ended that sentence with a preposition. It should read “. . . something without which I cannot do.” Such was the case recently when I found a copy of McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader, a revised edition copyrighted 1907 and 1920 by H. H. Vall—yes, my copy is of the $5 variety, not one of the $1,000-plus revisions. My imagination is not strong enough to speculate on how much an original first issue might be worth.
I paid the
princely Kingly price of $5 plus tax for my copy, primarily because its browned pages sheltered a newspaper clipping, torn and tattered and darkened by the years and held together with Scotch tape. The clipping also showed a brief statement labeled Lone Star Steel Company Drops. The statement dates the clipping at sometime during 1949 or 1950—probably in early 1950. The author, Nat Lamb or perhaps Nathan Lamb would now, if still living, be somewhere on the north side of eighty years in longevity. Dallas has more than its fair share of Lambs, both Nat and Nathan, and I could not pin one of them down as to age, gender or occupation.
As an aside, I have heard and seen the term fair share used in conversations and on radio, television and in print so often that I now cringe when it appears, whether through sight or sound. Enough, I say—enough, enough, ENOUGH!
The complete article follows:
THE PIED TYPER
This is the anatomy of loneliness . . . the deformed bones of its being, the wasted flesh of its twisted body . . . this is the shape of loneliness.
A wispy scent of forgotten fragrance, jerking the mind back to memories of a dead first love . . . the uneasy stirrings of gardenia leaves, discarded, dropping onto the ash heap of a burned out love . . .
Soft murmured phrases, whispering through the corridors of time, breathing the glory of an undying love in days long dead . . . raising the gray and misty ghost of a forgotten romance.
The haunting lilt of music swirling through the night . . . a tune played on a harp with half the strings missing, a melody heard in a dim-lit cafe over wine glasses on a checkered table . . . music of the past, intruding unwanted into the present.
The half-remembered warmth of a caress, mingled with a vision of time-withered flesh, creased and wrinkled with the passage of years . . . the creeping death of marching time. . . the slaughter of youth and the mangled dreams strewn over the years . . .
The crackling pages of a lavender-scented letter, yellow with age . . . faded ink blurred with tears except for a signed name under the words “Yours forever.”
Loneliness is the day after forever . . . the waking moments after a dream . . . memories forgotten until the midnight hour.
Loneliness is the throbbing moan of a half-heard train whistle wandering through the night to nowhere . . . a wild ride on a runaway nightmare with no beginning and no ending . . . the muted throbbing of an aching heart.
It is a compound fracture of the mind . . .a creeping paralysis of the soul . . . a gust of cold wind over the emotions . . . this is the anatomy of loneliness . . .
Pity the poor heart.
Postscript: In my first reading this post I considered it a sophomoric attempt at humor, or perhaps a tongue-in-cheek satirical analysis of loneliness. It reminded me of the time a college professor noted that my writing was somewhat turgid. It that is indeed a fault, I cannot continue claiming that I am sans faults in every respect. I confess my guilt to the accusation of turgidity—in fact, I embrace the fault, if in fact it be a fault.
Just one more serious afterthought: With subsequent readings I realized that the article on loneliness mirrored many of my own thoughts and feelings, and even now after those readings I still find mirrored emotions that parallel the author’s thoughts, and if that means I am sophomoric, or of a satirical bent, so be it.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.