Thursday, July 03, 2008

The books you wish you had...

Along the lines of my recent post about the first things I ever read, and re-inspired by my friend Brer, this post is about books that I loved when I was younger, but which I didn't actually own, and often remind myself that I should try to find someday. Even as I type this I am looking on Amazon, and finding some which are now available.

Johnny Texas and Johnny Texas on the San Antonio Road -- These were set during the 1830s in Texas. Johnny Texas was a young German immigrant. His real first name was Johann, and his last name was a German name that was difficult for some people to pronounce, so he was nicknamed Johnny Texas. These two stories deal with Johnny's father deciding to free a slave, and later on his father joins up with Sam Houston and participates in the Battle of San Jacinto. Both stories are told from Johnny's point of view. At the time I read them, I was younger than Johnny was in the stories, and his traveling adventures plus the setting of the Texas War for Independence hooked me. These were in our elementary school library. Both available via Amazon.

The Hole in the Hill -- Set in modern times (the 1960s or '70s), during a drought. A young boy discovers a small cave in which is a tiny, muddy pool, some scattered bones, and the ghost of a slave. There are several books by this title listed at Amazon, but none have plot synopses or reviews, and since I don't remember the author, I don't know if any of them are the right book. Perhaps further Googling will reveal the answer. This one was in our junior high library.

Bayou Boy -- Not sure the of the time setting on this one, but probably during the 50s or 60s. The main character is a teenage boy who lives in the Louisiana bayous with his mother while his father is away looking for work. He supports himself and his mother by killing alligators and selling the skins, and by catching catfish on his trotlines. He uncovers some kind of criminal undertaking that I can't remember the details of. Lots of excitement in this one, with conflicts both with humans and animals in the swamp. He uses his dad's old single-shot shotgun to kill alligators, and at the end of the book he receives a reward for his help in capturing the criminals. He uses his reward to buy himself a new pump-action shotgun. Another one from the junior high library, and is listed on Amazon.

Goodbye, My Lady -- Another one set in the Louisiana swamps, about a boy who finds a strange lost dog that doesn't bark. It turns out to be a very valuable Basenji. Of course, it's real owner eventually finds it and the boy has to give it up. This book belonged to my grandmother, and I don't know what ever happened to it.

I was lucky once in that I did find another old favorite in a used book store, called The Muskie Hook. A story about a teenage boy whose father forces him to help in his father's business of guiding fishermen to fish for muskies. He hates the job, until he actually hooks one. Then he decides it's not such a bad job, after all.

I almost forgot...When I was growing up I had an aunt who still lived with my grandmother (my other grandmother), and who was a huge book collector. I would usually spend a week during the summer at her house, and I spent most of my time there reading her books. She had an enormous collection that I devoured, and read many classics there for the first time. Books such as Kidnapped and Treasure Island I remember reading there for the first time. She also had a complete collection of Zane Grey hardbacks. She passed away some time ago, and I don't know what happened to her collection. Probably sold in a yard sale or something without my knowledge.

There are probably others, but those are the ones I can recall right now.

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