One of the fun things about moving is unpacking those hidden boxes that have been pushed to the back because they did not have immediate need status. While I was preparing for the arrival of the Habitat for Humanity truck to come pick up a huge pile of stuff in the garage that we needed to donate I opened a box of books that had gone unnoticed.
Inside I found this little gem or jewel as the title suggests.Now it wouldn’t have been THAT big of a deal but then I opened it up and saw that it was inscribed and was obviously a Christmas gift to my grandfather in 1909. Or at least that is what I am assuming as it was dated on Christmas. Just his name and San Diego, Cal and that date.
Was my grandfather a hidden poet? A writer? Was he somehow gifted this book because of his love for James Whitcomb Riley?
Or was it just a sentimental gift that hung around for over 100 years? I do not remember taking this book when we cleaned out my grandparent’s farm house back in 1993 but I obviously thought it was a keeper.I have not read much of James Whitcomb Riley . I am sure I read some of his work in high school classes and college but I had to connect with my friend Mr. Google to find a little bit about him. I do remember memorizing a few of his selections including his most familiar one Little Orphant Allie which was actually originally titled The Elf Child. A typographical error made the selection known as Little Orphant Annie and that is the poem that the comic strip was later modeled after as well as movies, plays, television programs and radio programs. In this poem Riley shares the story of a bad child who misbehaves so horribly that goblins come and snatch her away. Not exactly a nighttime story to read to a young child but I guess if you want to scare them to death it would work.
As I looked through this very small book of selections I found a couple that I really liked . I especially liked this one:
My doctern is to lay aside
Contentions, and be satisfied:
Jest do your best,
and praise er blame
That follers that,
Counts jest the same.
Do you have any treasures like this one that have gone unnoticed? I love that I have a tiny piece of my Grandpa Dittus with me in this book. What do you have in your possession that would be similar to this? Are you a fan of James Whitcomb Riley? Don’t forget to comment for Comments for a Cause.