|Hoping to get 'Stung Again'
by Richard Davies - PR Manager; Resident Brit.
Books mean different things to different people. Take 85-year-old Charles Dills – a retired professor of chemistry who lives in San Luis Obispo, California. He was once a World War II fighter pilot who flew 94 missions over Italy, Corsica and Southern France, and he comes from a family "that has an uncommon fetish about books."
Charles was orphaned at the age of 14 in the middle of the Great Depression and he has a single quest thanks to lingering memories from his childhood of growing up in North Dakota more than 70 years ago. He is trying to find a very particular edition of a book called ‘Stung Again’. It’s a joke book with a yellow, green and black cover, and the illustration of a bee in flight. Charles has bought a couple of copies from AbeBooks but they are not the one he remembers. The copies available on our site were all published in 1908.
"On the cover, I remember the bee is bigger, more dynamic and more boldly coloured with yellow and black," said Charles, who has scoured the Internet and contacted the Library of Congress about the book but without joy. "I’ve spent 10, 20, 30 years looking for this edition."
The original book was lost long ago – Charles has no possessions at all from when he became an orphan. It’s a book of good, clean old-fashioned jokes they don’t tell anymore.
To most people, this is just another long forgotten book consigned to history, but Charles remembers handling the book. It has special meaning to him because the book played a role in a practical joke where his mom, a small 5-foot-2 lady born in Norway, was locked into a locker. She managed to escape and placed the book inside the locker before her captors returned.... ensuring the joke was on them when they opened the door. "She got a big laugh," said Charles. "It would mean a lot to me to find that book."
It’s odd how a book can just stick in your mind. A book can hold a moment in time like few other things. To Charles, that book shows how his parents larked around – something that was completely taken for granted at the time but you cannot have those moments back when they’re gone.
At AbeBooks, we hear a lot of stories like this – someone trying to find a book from their childhood that was lost over the decades. Buyers often contact our Customer Support department to thank AbeBooks and the booksellers because they have been reunited with an old favorite from the past. It is one of the best things about being in this business.
Are you able to help Charles? Do you have a copy of Stung Again with the larger, bolder bee or some useful information? If you can help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would also love to hear about your experiences of being reunited with a book from the past that held special memories. Tell us your book hunting tales.
More words about books have been scattered on Reading Copy, the AbeBooks Blog.