Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Simple Delight

Remember when I told you about the town-wide yard sales, most of them held in yards of old farmhouses in the countryside? And how Tom and I ate lunch at an old-fashioned diner with the Flo-like waitress?

Well, after lunch I walked to the thrift shop where I discovered my favorite sort of hardcover book to find on dusty shelves-- a 'malt shop book', called Sixes and Sevens. The author was one I'd never heard of, Esther Elizabeth Carlson.

You've heard of malt shop books, right? They're teen romance books from the 40's, 50's and 60's by authors like Anne Emery, Rosamond du Jardin, Betty Cavanna, Mary Stolz, Beverly Cleary, Janet Lambert, Lenora Mattingly Weber and others. To taste them you can go to fun websites here and here and here.

They're books where holding hands was a big deal and going steady had negative connotations (tying oneself down to only one other boy or girl) and family problems usually weren't too severe--and solvable (though some dealt with the aftermath of a parent's death). Cashmere sweaters, pony tails, swoony formals, a boyfriend and a good college in their future was all that most girls wanted.

I checked these books out from libraries as a high school student of the 70's and loved them so much that, because of their influence, I felt more like a teen of the 50's and 60's, myself. I viewed my life through malt shop books, you could say. These books were 'nice,' but not fluff--always there were lessons to be learned and wisdom to be gleaned concerning friendship, family-life or teen romance. 

And many were beautifully written.

Anyway. I hugely enjoyed reading my thrift book find, Sixes and Sevens. Afterward I looked up the author online and found another of her books, The Long Way Around, for only 89 cents. It arrived yesterday and in-between cleaning and gardening and decorating I am devouring it. Loving it. Classic good stuff, especially since the main character was a very shy teen just as I was long ago.

The main delight for me? Discovering a new-to-me malt shop author of the 1950's on a lovely Friday afternoon in 2009. These are the happenings which whisk me back in time and keep me there--to some extent. 

Just as I went through high school viewing Life through these old malt shop books, I find myself, at 50, doing the same thing. You know, looking at Life differently than everyone else, staying young at heart, finding the good which still remains in our world and not growing all sour because of the bad.

So thank you, God, for helping me find and buy my lovely collection of malt shop books, ones which libraries have mostly phased-out forever. And thank-you to the long-gone authors who took the time to write these books which still flavor my days like cherry syrup on a sundae.



Thickethouse.wordpress said...

So glad you found this delight, Debra! I was in high school from 1959-1963, sort of the tail end of the era you're reading about, but I am amazed to realize how innocent we were, and unquestioning. Not always a great thing, but better than the total opposite which I see too much now. Still, remember many things are better now.(Civil rights for a big one). We have to hold on to what is good and let go of the rest.

Donetta said...

Those sound good for my pre teen. she is so fond of reading.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Debra,
I have never heard of these books but they sound wonderful.I would love to find some.I will be looking.

... Paige said...

this is wonderful

Laurie - Lolo So Retro said...

I grew up in the 60s/70s and read all those old-fashioned books, too. There weren't a lot of contemporary young adult books at that time, were there? But no wonder I never fit in, lol, I was more suited to the 40s and 50s. Anyway, I ALWAYS wished we had a malt shop or some such to hang out in. In my day, hanging out meant loitering and was sternly frowned upon by the local law enforcement!

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about these books, but I don't think I can put it into words. For one thing, there was an emphasis on being a girl. Girls took pride in themselves as girls. Now there is so little difference in the way boys and girls appear, act or are treated.
For another thing...oh shoot my battery is dying on my laptop....