Quest for Books

Off to gym. Clear roads. Low density, zero weight bouncers and educationalists. Why does this correlate strongly with schule being desessioned? Podcast, an episode of CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” was a hash of over-records so I had attention span to give to other things.

Observed on electromagnetic audio-visual receiver: Texas is still using prisons as asylums so if you are going to be mentally ill and/or a veteran, don’t do it there. 

One of my colleagues sent me a link to this picture

on the FaceScroll. This is a picture of the sowth side of the courthouse square of Huntsville. That was in the ’50’s or so when Huntsville wasn’t sure whether its future was continuing to do cotton or to embrace rockets and missiles and technology. 

The focus thing here is the building labeled T T Terry’s. I am not sure what all they sold here but I do know they sold public schule textbooks. Every year, I think in August, my mother and I and later, my brother, would go to the store to purchase out schule texts for the session. I am not sure of the economics of the matter; I think the state set the prices of the books. What I remember most clearly is a great unruly mob  of parents and bewildered, often evil, children rioting in place in a hot – horribly hot – building. I do not recall any rational system to the queuing except crowd dynamics. I do recall people, usually women, fainting and occasionally being trod upon. I remember a cacophony of unhappy, often violent talking, seldom paired in conversation. 

The people would inch their way to a long counter, attract the attention of a sales clerk, and state their requirements in terms of schule grade. Then the clerk would scurry off into the stacks and return with a stack of books. I do not recall the payment process but I think it was a separate queue and cash only; I do recall the difficulty of carrying the stack back out through a squirming, unhappy press of those not yet served. People movement was totally outside the care of the merchant. As were any injuries of customers. And, I think, any injuries of employees. I believe one of the clerks died of heat stroke one year.

By the time I was in high schule this system was long gone, replaced by a schule based system. But once I got to college I got to reacquaint myself with the process albeit at the Alabama Book Store at the campus of the Black Warrior. 

I also recall a more leisurely process in the summer of buy back. This was a less subscribed system since the fall exercise was so onerous, parents bent considerable effort to identify some acquaintance who had a child a year advanced so that a private deal could be struck for books. 

I also recall this was long before highlighters, those fiber pens with slightly glowing (?) inks for accentuating segments of text. In those days all we could do was write in margin or underline. I never did this. I think I was admonished by my mother not to as it diminished the value for buy back and was unfair to the next user of the book. At any rate, to this day I only use highlighters on photocopies that I will not pass on to others. Mostly I use sticky notes these days although I find that their glue deteriorates in a couple of years and my books, especially the ones that I disagree with, get rather fat.

I was asked once which was worse, highlighting or underlining. They are both horrible, in my opinion. Underlining is horribly distracting and highlighting is overwhelming visually. Both are anti-productive since I almost always find that what others think important isn’t. 

But I do still have a great affection for good book stores and libraries and I suspect some of that comes from T T Terry’s.

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