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A Chance Find: The 87-Year Journey of Some Poignant Words of Wisdom

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March 02, 2012

A Chance Find: The 87-Year Journey of Some Poignant Words of Wisdom

By Chad Love

Every now and then, you happen to stumble across, in the least likely place, something so deeply poignant and personally relevant that you can't help but wonder if a bit of serendipity was involved in the discovery. Such was the case yesterday afternoon.

I was on the road for a story assignment, and as I always do when I'm traveling, I had my eyes peeled for thrift shops, junk parlors, antique malls and anywhere else I can peruse the cast-off, obsolete, and unwanted detritus of our always-new-and-improved single-serving society. Books (of the dead tree variety) are my primary targets. I like to say the three things I can't resist are old guns, old books and new puppies. And of the three, I can consistently afford only books, so when the thrift shop sign flashed by, I wheeled around and went in for a look around.

And it was there, rummaging through a bin that reeked of mold and age, I found a copy of John Taintor Foote's Pocono Shot, published in 1923. I was only vaguely familiar with Foote. I knew he had written for various magazines in the early part of the last century, including Field & Stream, and that he wrote fishing, hunting and dog-related stories. In fact, it was in my copy of the 1955 Field & Stream Treasury (another thrift shop find) that I had first seen his work, a story entitled "The Blighting of Jeptha."

That was about the extent of my knowledge of John Taintor Foote. The book itself was in poor shape: the spine was cracked, page bindings were separating from the boards, the dust jacket was missing, and the brittle pages were yellowed with age. It gave off that musty but pleasant smell unique to old, long-forgotten books, the scent of story, knowledge, adventure. I opened it up, gently riffled the pages. Someone long ago had placed a pressed flower within the pages, heaven knows how long it had been stuck there.

I had no idea what the book was about, but it had an imprint of a setter on the front cover, and the book's opening line went thusly "I wanted a certain long-barreled, full-choked twelve-gauge." You had me at twelve-gauge. That was good enough for me. Plus, it was only fifty cents. I took the book up to the cash register, and it was there, as I was waiting in line to pay, that I finally noticed the inscription on one of the endpapers. I read it. I read it again, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't damn near tear up standing there in that thrift store line.

This is what it said:

Dear George Jr.,

May be you won't understand all this book just now, but you'll understand enough for now and that is: Start in loving a dog, and understanding it, and bye and bye you'll know how to love all the world. That's all there is in life, and is a lot.

Grandpa
Christmas, 1925

Now obviously I have no idea who Grandpa and little George were, where they lived or what their story was. I don't know where this old, forgotten, cast-off book has been rattling around for the last 87 years. I don't even know if it's a decent book or a boring turkey. But I do know that you sometimes find the most extraordinary pieces of wisdom in the most unlikely places, and sometimes, be it fate, kismet or whatever, you find that wisdom for a reason.

"Start in loving a dog, and understanding it, and bye and bye you'll know how to love all the world."

There's just not a helluva lot you can add to truth like that, is there? Wherever and whoever you were, Grandpa, I wish I'd have known you.

Comments (22)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Mibasshunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

That is utterly amazing. Almost made me start tearing up. Nice job Chad, I love this story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from twa32 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Great story Chad, I love finding old books with inscriptions! My dream is to someday find an old hunting journal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double D wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Whoa.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Great story Chad. Thank you for sharing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Chad,
Thank you for sharing. A few years ago, I told the following second hand book story, but humor me for telling it again. I had loaned my copy of Jim Charmichel's Book Of The Rifle, it was never returned. At either DCI or SCI convention I found another. The book dealer apologized because throughout the book the margins were full of notations and comments and he gave me an especially low price. That evening, I propped up in bed and opened the book. I was startled to read an inscription "to my old pal George Hoffman with all best wishes Jim Carmichel". The book was full of comments pro and con, plus notes for Georges' own future book, A Country Boy In Africa.
As most of you know, George developed the 416 Hoffman, and though American, became a famous professional hunter in Africa and writer. I believe the 416 Remington was based on his rifle.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dave63go wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wonderful. Chad, on that day, God was holding you in the palm of his hand, speaking to you through that note in that old book.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from R.U. Effingme wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Very,very nice story, Chad. Thank you very much for sharing your good fortune. I'm going to borrow that line from Grandpa. The simplicity and absolute beauty of those words is truly heartwarming and confirms something I've always thought when I look into the big, brown eyes of my Lilly. She's a big, ol' black Lab, and I know she makes me a better person.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coldweather123 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Chad,

There is so much truth found in one small phrase. Great job on this story

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coldweather123 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Fantastic job

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Samsetters wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I love stories like this and with the new generation using digital books someday it will all be lost.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sb Wacker wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wont get that on the back of a kindle
SBW

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Good one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pray- hunt-work wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

It's an awesome find and a sad reminder the conventional wisdom has been traded for "intelligence" in modern days. You won't find that in a class room either.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

well said, chad. one of your best!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

I have a copy of Nash Buckingham's "De Shooinest Gentman", Derrydale edition that I bought at a junk store for $5 that on the inside of the had the following inscription:
Dear Ralph,
I am sending you this copy of my book to help you get through your days on Iwo Jima, I understand we have turned that bloody piece of real estate into an airfield.
With luck, the war will be over soon and we can spend some time following Ticket and Flash down in Bolivar Co.
chasing Mr. Bob.
Warmest regards,
Nash
1945
When I read this, penned by Buck's own hand, I thought I had struck gold. This book has stayed mine through thick and thin and I will probably have it buried with me.
Congrats on your find!!!!!!!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Wow, RES1956, that is quite a find. Those Derrydale editions are extremely collectable to begin with, and to have an author's inscription like that...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Outdoors2 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Best Friend

I lost my ‘Friend’ when I was away in the service,
“Blue” was his name
We were both in love with the outdoors
Always together romping afield
searching for birds, Each, we adored….
He was a mutt of grandest of champs
no one would give litter a look
my uncle gave in and brought home his sis
Smokie they named her
as black and white mixed on her coat

My Dad took her in as we sat by the fire
Said she’s of pure in the heart
I remember the thought
as my dream of one’s sought
My pal would soon be coming my way

Dad took uncle Jeff to the breeder of sorts
Got there as quick as he could
Only one male for this little tale
and Dad wanted nothing of pups

With such a relief and smile on his face
Daddy came back with my pal
We grew as a pair as he was always there
my buddy my friend and “My Champ”

We hunted all over for pheasant and fowl
thru briars and brush without fail
my buds would call him a pain, cause he
would knock over drinks with his tail

He would bolt for the smell
of which I’ll not tell
and come back
when he was tired and through

But faithful was he, to be by my side
Big “Blue” was his name and
there’ll never be same (sigh)
and when he did pass….forever I’ll cry

Something I wrote years ago about our Lab and Shorthair mix

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rick Wylie wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Thanks Chad, I hope there is no copywrite to that quote. I'm signing my emails with it. Thak you for touching or hearts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Chad,
An interesting aside about this book. A doctor friend of mine introduced me to Dr. William 'Chubby' Andrews who had access to the Beaverdam Club and had hunted with Nash a good bit when Nash would have been in his mid-70's. I finagled an invitation to come up and see the club and Dr. Andrews was kind enough to host me. I thought he would enjoy seeing the book and brought it along. He was mildly impressed, and said, "Let me show you something." He commenced to produce some of the finest shooting memoirs I have ever seen. Beaverdam logbooks from the 20's to the 50's, with signatures and notes about the day's gunning, and there was a lot of Buckingham sign in's in those old journals and many others, notable only if you followed the writings of Buck and the characters he described in his literature. Chubby told me that the earlier log books had been lost when a tornado swept the old clubhouse across the lake in 1919.
What impressed me was the impeccable penmanship each entry boasted, you could tell that folks didn't use a typewriter back then and took pride in the art of caligraphy.
I do not know where the journals are now, in that Chubby passed away many years ago, but I just hope they are not in a musty attic with a leaky roof over it somewhere.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bj264 wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Wow. Really makes you thimk. So very true.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

It's amazing that the older we get the more the word love enters our vocabulary. My dad is 94 and ne er used the word while i was growing up. A day doesn't go by that he reminds us he loves us now. Hopefully everyone can live to a ripe old age to appreciate what is really important in life!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nikolas J Blanko wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I read this from time to time. It does not get old.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Happy Myles wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Chad,
Thank you for sharing. A few years ago, I told the following second hand book story, but humor me for telling it again. I had loaned my copy of Jim Charmichel's Book Of The Rifle, it was never returned. At either DCI or SCI convention I found another. The book dealer apologized because throughout the book the margins were full of notations and comments and he gave me an especially low price. That evening, I propped up in bed and opened the book. I was startled to read an inscription "to my old pal George Hoffman with all best wishes Jim Carmichel". The book was full of comments pro and con, plus notes for Georges' own future book, A Country Boy In Africa.
As most of you know, George developed the 416 Hoffman, and though American, became a famous professional hunter in Africa and writer. I believe the 416 Remington was based on his rifle.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

I have a copy of Nash Buckingham's "De Shooinest Gentman", Derrydale edition that I bought at a junk store for $5 that on the inside of the had the following inscription:
Dear Ralph,
I am sending you this copy of my book to help you get through your days on Iwo Jima, I understand we have turned that bloody piece of real estate into an airfield.
With luck, the war will be over soon and we can spend some time following Ticket and Flash down in Bolivar Co.
chasing Mr. Bob.
Warmest regards,
Nash
1945
When I read this, penned by Buck's own hand, I thought I had struck gold. This book has stayed mine through thick and thin and I will probably have it buried with me.
Congrats on your find!!!!!!!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Outdoors2 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Best Friend

I lost my ‘Friend’ when I was away in the service,
“Blue” was his name
We were both in love with the outdoors
Always together romping afield
searching for birds, Each, we adored….
He was a mutt of grandest of champs
no one would give litter a look
my uncle gave in and brought home his sis
Smokie they named her
as black and white mixed on her coat

My Dad took her in as we sat by the fire
Said she’s of pure in the heart
I remember the thought
as my dream of one’s sought
My pal would soon be coming my way

Dad took uncle Jeff to the breeder of sorts
Got there as quick as he could
Only one male for this little tale
and Dad wanted nothing of pups

With such a relief and smile on his face
Daddy came back with my pal
We grew as a pair as he was always there
my buddy my friend and “My Champ”

We hunted all over for pheasant and fowl
thru briars and brush without fail
my buds would call him a pain, cause he
would knock over drinks with his tail

He would bolt for the smell
of which I’ll not tell
and come back
when he was tired and through

But faithful was he, to be by my side
Big “Blue” was his name and
there’ll never be same (sigh)
and when he did pass….forever I’ll cry

Something I wrote years ago about our Lab and Shorthair mix

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

That is utterly amazing. Almost made me start tearing up. Nice job Chad, I love this story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from twa32 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Great story Chad, I love finding old books with inscriptions! My dream is to someday find an old hunting journal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double D wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Whoa.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Great story Chad. Thank you for sharing.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dave63go wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wonderful. Chad, on that day, God was holding you in the palm of his hand, speaking to you through that note in that old book.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from R.U. Effingme wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Very,very nice story, Chad. Thank you very much for sharing your good fortune. I'm going to borrow that line from Grandpa. The simplicity and absolute beauty of those words is truly heartwarming and confirms something I've always thought when I look into the big, brown eyes of my Lilly. She's a big, ol' black Lab, and I know she makes me a better person.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pray- hunt-work wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

It's an awesome find and a sad reminder the conventional wisdom has been traded for "intelligence" in modern days. You won't find that in a class room either.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

well said, chad. one of your best!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coldweather123 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Chad,

There is so much truth found in one small phrase. Great job on this story

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coldweather123 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Fantastic job

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Samsetters wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I love stories like this and with the new generation using digital books someday it will all be lost.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sb Wacker wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

Wont get that on the back of a kindle
SBW

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Good one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Wow, RES1956, that is quite a find. Those Derrydale editions are extremely collectable to begin with, and to have an author's inscription like that...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rick Wylie wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Thanks Chad, I hope there is no copywrite to that quote. I'm signing my emails with it. Thak you for touching or hearts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Chad,
An interesting aside about this book. A doctor friend of mine introduced me to Dr. William 'Chubby' Andrews who had access to the Beaverdam Club and had hunted with Nash a good bit when Nash would have been in his mid-70's. I finagled an invitation to come up and see the club and Dr. Andrews was kind enough to host me. I thought he would enjoy seeing the book and brought it along. He was mildly impressed, and said, "Let me show you something." He commenced to produce some of the finest shooting memoirs I have ever seen. Beaverdam logbooks from the 20's to the 50's, with signatures and notes about the day's gunning, and there was a lot of Buckingham sign in's in those old journals and many others, notable only if you followed the writings of Buck and the characters he described in his literature. Chubby told me that the earlier log books had been lost when a tornado swept the old clubhouse across the lake in 1919.
What impressed me was the impeccable penmanship each entry boasted, you could tell that folks didn't use a typewriter back then and took pride in the art of caligraphy.
I do not know where the journals are now, in that Chubby passed away many years ago, but I just hope they are not in a musty attic with a leaky roof over it somewhere.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bj264 wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Wow. Really makes you thimk. So very true.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

It's amazing that the older we get the more the word love enters our vocabulary. My dad is 94 and ne er used the word while i was growing up. A day doesn't go by that he reminds us he loves us now. Hopefully everyone can live to a ripe old age to appreciate what is really important in life!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nikolas J Blanko wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I read this from time to time. It does not get old.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment