I had an unexpected gift today when I finally unwrapped the protective sleeve of a book from 1890. I don’t remember why I bought it now. It was probably the result of some research rabbit hole, but now it’s all rabbit. Or something.

Anyhoo, in the very front of the book was this note:

Friend Jessie,

I believe that I told you when I was out there that I would send you a book if you would accept it as a present. You know that I always do as I promise so I’ll send it. I don’t send it because of the beauty of the book nor for the durability of its binding, but I thought maybe you would like to read it. It being Rev. Talmage’s work.

Are you going to get angry now? If so come on over and we will fight it out! You are not afraid of yourself, I know. And I never knew Mell to get scared at Hick yet.

Eva Hoty is at home. She came this morning. Don’t know just when she is going back.

Yours truly,

Old C.M. has gift for the short and fiesty note! I’m sure they would be surprised to know the quality of the binding has preserved their little missive this far into the future.

I hope Jessie was never afraid of themself. Jessie, or some other owner of the book, maybe Agatha, evidently was so engrossed in the book that they fell asleep and drooled on it, too. So many surprises in one little unwrapping.

As I was transcribing this, a fight broke out next to my house. It don’t think it was because someone gave the gift of a book and made an obscure preacher joke, however. Time’s change.


I always want to hear about what I’m doing wrong, so hit me up! Or buy my book! Or subscribe to my prestigious newsletter. All the dead movie stars do!


Defective Pets, Inc.

Creatures who cannot entertain themselves, who yell at water and manage to smell terrible all at the same time–these are not fictional fur balls but entities that wait patiently in my home. They wait for something to happen. Something they can scoff at. They don’t have jobs, but they have expensive problems even before we sign up for therapy.


4 Replies to “Friend Jessie”

  1. I have many crappy old books with wonderful inscriptions but I’ve never seen anything as wonderful as this. Did you look up “Rev. Talmage’s work”?

    Most are just sad. What the hell sort of kid are you that when you mom or dad dies, you donate the book you gave to him/her when you were 14 to a junk store? Never understood this.

    Re: Research rabbit holes. After 20-30 years of old book research rabbit holes, I judge me to be a better person on account of falling into them.


    1. But wait, there’s more!! The front leaf of the book is surrounded by pencil notes, presumably by the seller, Jessie, Mrs. Amanda Smith AND one by Kittie. The book cost $1.30 in September 1887. Seems high!! “Truth is as impossible to soil by any outward touch as is the sunbeam — Lord Bacon”


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