Son is page out of dad’s book

Published 12:26 am Saturday, November 17, 2012

One of the first things anyone notices in my son’s house is the abundance of bookcases and shelves jammed with books. Sometimes they are “double layered.” During my most recent visit, I must have spent at least three hours moving from room to room, looking at his book collection. They aren’t just novels, but a variety of selections to choose from—science, history, religion, literature, classics, poetry, travel—the list is long. He has some collections grouped, but mostly they are randomly placed. I laughed when I saw several duplications of titles I had seen on a shelf in another room.

There was no doubt about it. He has even outdone his daddy with his extensive collection. I knew that he had spent many weekend hours prowling around at favorite used bookstores when he lived in New Orleans. And nothing delights him more than a visit to Barnes and Noble. I have no problem deciding what to give him for Christmas and birthdays—a gift certificate from his favorite bookseller.

His daddy was an avid reader. He told me that even when he was a young soldier he’d take a book along to read while he waited for a movie to start. One of his most enjoyable past times besides reading was searching for something wonderful to read. He quickly lost himself in cluttered, dusty used bookstores, and always turned up what he considered treasures. I accompanied him to library book sales and stood by while he picked through boxes of books at yard sales.

I was amazed at how many books he found that he thought I would like. I liked almost every one he selected for me.

Friends or acquaintances that knew his passion for book collecting gave him books by the armload or boxes filled to overflowing. Then there were the ones we bought through mail order and the Internet. Even before we had access to Internet, he relied on a Florida used bookseller to find him some juvenile books by mail by certain authors he liked.

By the time he retired from full-time ministry our house spilled over with books. His collection, plus my modest accumulation, was filling every nook and cranny. Consequently, we decided to convert our attached garage to a library. We then undertook to alphabetize and record each book we placed on those new shelves. It was hard, sweaty work during midsummer, working in a shed without air-conditioning. It was fun, though, as we found ourselves pausing often to read a few lines or a page and share with each other. We filled the paper bags with alphabetized books, and then hauled them inside to place them in the new bookshelves. Despite our expectations for a place for every book, we ran out of space before we emptied all the paper bags.

Standing before those bookshelves in my son’s home reminded me of his daddy. There was certainly proof there of an old adage: “Like father, like son.”