The Book

By Alfred Persson (LLARC)

I was showing out of town visitors the yard at Harvard. We entered the quadrangle and spotted the bronze statue of John Harvard with its shiny left shoe. I explained to my quests the University is named after John Harvard, who, in 1636, bequeathed 780 pounds and his entire library of 320 books to found the first school of higher education in the colony of Massachusetts. He was concerned about the literacy of the clergy.

I then explained that undergraduates are reported to kiss the left shoe to give them good luck on exams. I also told them that it was believed that kissing the shoe by graduate students did not have the same effect. I also allowed with grade inflation, the shoe is not as shiny as it once was.

The grass was green and spring was in the air. Unfortunately, so was a light rain.

A picture was taken of my guests smiling near the statue of John Harvard. We left the yard to find a place to get out of the rain. We were sure the rain would soon pass and we would continue our journey inspecting the University.

We spotted the Harvard bookstore and popped in. It was immediately apparent that others had the same idea. I headed for the used book section in the cellar. I felt a used book would be less of a challenge on my wallet.

My quests busied themselves in the map and travel section. After a look through the used book section, I found a chair near the door. It provided an excellent spot for people watching.

In walked an older lady with a large wide brimmed hat whose edges were turned down – mutton trying to look like lamb and doing a passage job at it. A large string of costume pearls was draped around her neck, setting off a blue silk dress. She had the look of a woman who was on a mission.

I judged she was not like me, popping in out of the rain. One of the clerks behind the counter asked her if he could help her. “Do you have any of John Whylie’s books?” was the reply. The clerk went over to the computer. In a few minutes, he reported that they had two. One had just recently been published.

“I would like to look at the newest one,” the lady in the broad brimmed hat replied.

A bubbly young student was sent to retrieve the book. In a few minutes, she returned with the book in hand.

“Thank you, dear,” the lady in the broad brimmed hat replied as the bubby student handed her the book.

Just then, an older gentleman in a gray suit and a Harvard tie entered the store.

“John, I was just about to buy your latest book,” stated the lady in the broad brimmed hat.

“Don’t buy one. I have several at home and would be glad to give you one,” the gentleman with the Harvard tie indicated. He then turned to the bubby student and asked her name.

“It is Anna,” was the reply.

The gentleman in the Harvard tie took out a pen and signed, To Anna and his name on the title page. He handed the book to Anna and left the bookstore with the broad brimmed hat.

Anna was speechless. She was not into French literature of the 17th century.