Saturday, January 31, 2009

Absurd Books

My Aunt Colleen knew we loved books, so when she visited from Pawtucket, she'd bring a box of goodies for us. Each book had a tiny label in it that said the name of her local book shop ( Little Acorn Book Shop) and the address. The effect these labels had on me was to make me want to visit the Little Acorn Book Shop. (but I never did, and the way things go, it probably no longer exists.) I pictured it to be a cozy, perfect little shop, anyway.

She gave us both new and old books, and in one gift box was a mint condition copy of a book called Charley Weaver's Family Album-- Out of all the books Colleen gave us, this was the most absurd one. We didn't even know who Charley Weaver was.

Everyone in Charley's family looked exactly like him. Charley was the alter-ego of Cliff Arquette, an actor who was famous I guess when radio was a huge deal. The book jacket states that Jack Paar brought Charley out of retirement, to appear on his new television show.

He is the grandfather of a group of actors, those Arquettes -- (the first names escape me.) Anyway, years passed and the book was lost, and I forgot it existed, or so I thought.

A few summers ago I was hanging out with friends, talking about books and pop culture, and this book popped into my head. I tried to describe it, how silly it was, but I couldn't. Later a friend went online and found a copy through the website. She secretly ordered it as a little joke gift for me and surprised me with it some days later.

It arrived and my friend brought it over to my house. We sat on the patio, where she read this page aloud to me, and we poured over the photos in the book laughing like idiots.

That night she and I attended a fund raising event. Sitting at our table, we started getting the 'stupid giggles' over something in the book, and a serious looking man approached us and wanted to be let in on the joke. Without thinking, we tried to describe this book to him, which only resulted in our laughing so hard we almost cried.

The man had never heard of Charley Weaver, explaining he was much older than us girls and wasn't up on all the latest people in pop culture. (!) The man turned out to be a judge, and spent the rest of the evening talking with us. We stopped trying to explain who Charley Weaver was, but every time we made eye contact, we'd get the inappropriate giggles again, so we forced ourselves to just look at and listen to the judge tell his stories of being a judge. (none of which I remember.)

I put the book away, and many months later when I glanced through it again, I noticed a tiny label in it. Could it be?


Barbara said...

What a great story. We just watched a movie (Definitely, Maybe) in which one of the main characters had spent much of her life looking for a book given to her in childhood by her then deceased father. The hero finds the book in a used bookstore and finally gives it to her. A real happy-ever-after story. I love the thought that books are immortal!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

barbara is right! what a great, great story....I remember charlie weaver - he was a regular on hollywood squares - I show I admit to watching when I was a kid.....

I didn't know his real name or that he is the patriarch to the talented arquette family!

who knows maybe the little acorn bookshop is still in business! as this story illustrates miracles do happen!!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

guess the little acorn isn't around, but read this little blurb about the founder and the history of the shop - inquiring minds do like to know!

Megan said...

Oh, that ending made me happy inside. Thanks for this!

R.L. Bourges said...

oh, I remember him! I even remember laughing at that family portrait. He was Charley Weaver to me, never even thought he might have another name.

Love the mouse's find and the label in your copy. Precious moments are made of this.

Coffee Messiah said...

Your investigative skills are astounding ; )

Anonymous said...

It could be the same book, you never will know. What a wacky book. buttered kumqiats.

Kurt said...


Deborah Godin said...

Oh, I remember him, and Jack Paar, too. Of course you don't hear of him these days, and I'd never have made the connection between his name and the current group of Arquettes. Love knowing that. And the bookstore label is a pure act of poetry by the Universe!

tut-tut said...

Patricia Arquette is the Medium on TV, a show with the greatest children ever.

Books are interesting, in that they always have a habit of disappearing and reappearing unexpectedly.

JGH said...

Oh THATs where I've seen him before...The Hollywood Squares! Thanks, Mouse.

bella rum said...

Oh, my! I love it.

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)