The Other Clubs

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Who among us liked the ‘OTHER’ clubs.

In my bookcase is my oldest possession, I’ve had it in my grasp since 1976, and its companion is in a bookcase in the back bedroom. That one is titled “The Van Nostrums’s Scientific Encyclopedia.” It weighs a good 12 pounds, and is filled with entries about anything scientific at least up to then. 1200 slick pages, full of chemical, and physics formulas.

The pride takes a cherished place in the bookcase now, but it has been used as a stand to elevate a plant to sunshine level, or raise the height of my computer monitor. I don’t use it often, but if I need it, I know it is there.

It is a two volume set of books; they came in a blue sturdy cardboard case, with a narrow drawer at the top. Inside the drawer was a durable magnifying glass. It was required with the books. The books are “The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary” Volume I is A-O, Volume 11 is P-Z, and supplement and biography. The original “Oxford English Dictionary” is 26 volumes. The compact edition is all 26 volumes miniaturized like something out of “Fantastic Voyage” into two. Each volume is over 4000 pages. Each page is so thin, you can see the printing of the next page through it. I used to slide a sheet of typing paper between each page so I could read it more easily. Each page is printed, showing 4 pages of the 26 volume edition. Hence, the need for the magnifying glass. The print is ‘teeny tiny’.

I consider it to be a manifest of sorts. Every word I write is defined in those two volumes. It even gives the dates of the earliest know ‘usage’ of the word. My daughter, at age 12 or so, inadvertently used the FUCK word. She immediately had visions of grounding and apologized profusely. Instead, although she pleads amnesia to it, I showed her my COED and told her that as an American, she was entitled to say any word she could find in the Dictionary, and yes fuck, nigger, bitch, and a few more select words I won’t mention were in those two volumes. I only asked that if she used them that she pronounced them correctly and used them in context. I am proud to say she has followed that advice.

I got the 70 pounds of books as a free ‘bonus’ for joining the Book Of The Month ‘Club’ 47 years ago. I really have no explanation of how these three books have survived over all these years, they followed me to four different states, and managed to make it back, nothing else ever did. They outlasted a 36 year marriage.

Oh the ‘other’ clubs.

My mother was a card carrying member of the ‘Columbia Record Club’. You joined, and received a dozen “LP’S” for free, and then once a month the CLUB would send you a new album. If you didn’t like it you could send it back or keep it, and $9.95 a month this could continue forever. You didn’t have to take the one they selected, you could change to what you wanted, and the Club didn’t mind if you ordered a different, or many different titles. Through the Columbia Record Club I was introduced to much of the music that shaped my life, Bloomfield Kooper Stills in Super Sessions, Lee Michaels, Blood Sweat & Tears, and on.

There were a few others, not defined as clubs, but they followed the same path. Sperry and Hutchinson Green Stamps – S&H- Blue Chips stamps and the like. Mom belonged to one or an other of these. Fingerhut was one and the other was something along the lines of World of Brass. Can’t really recall the name but they specialized in brass plates and other weird related items.

It is odd that you can basically do the same thing now, but the Club names are a bit different now, names like Ebay and Amazon today.

The magnifying sits on my desk today.

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