This’ll Be The Day That I Die

Life’s flashing before my eyes. My heart’s pounding.

Don’t worry. It’s the day of our household Book Sale. We’re carrying cartons of books, and yes, it’s exhausting. But we have help.

In every carton, memories! I pull out a slim pamphlet dated September 1970. It’s the Hamilton People’s Monthly, “an alternate press growing in response to the failure of the commercial media to unearth and provide essential information.” Selling for 15 cents then. And 15 cents today, if we’re lucky. From the back cover: “Read an opposition paper … or better yet, start one.”

Well, that was our radical past. Women’s Liberation, Workingman’s Rock Music, Toronto’s Just Society Movement.

Digging deeper: H.A. R. Gibbs Mohammedanism; Philip K. Pitti, Islam and the West; Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Islam in Modern History; G.E. von Grunebaum, Modern Islam, The Search for Cultural Identity; and Hamilton A.R. Gibb, Studies on the Civilization of Islam. That’s what curious and responsible people were reading in the late 1950s and early sixties.

And deeper … Mrs. Carlyle. A play. A high school text! It was my introduction to John Stuart Mill. We’re given the episode in which Mill has to report the accidental destruction of Carlyle’s manuscript, The French Revolution. And I remember now, Jane Carlyle is the “Jenny” of Leigh Hunt’s poem, “Jenny kissed me when we met; Jumping from the chair she sat in.”

Time you thief who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad;
Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I’m growing old, but add – Jenny kissed me!

It’s a small sale. Probably no more than five or six hundred books  on the lawn. Children’s, Crime, Politics, Poetry, Philosophy, History.

The sun’s coming out and we are going to be a success.

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