Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Before Valley Forge

     Wedged into the pages of a 1950 copy of author John Hersey’s “The Wall” was where we found our most recent discovery on the used book floor - a 1970 church program from St. Thomas Church in Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.  The program, itself, is interesting, as it is now 47 years old, printed on fragile paper and clearly typed on an old fashioned typewriter.  The church, however, holds bigger historical interest.  Read on, friends, read on.

     Though many of us have heard of the battle of Germantown that took place in October of 1777 during the Revolutionary War and the infamous winter that Washington’s troops spent at Valley Forge shortly after, few are familiar with the Battle of Whitemarsh that took place between the two events.  This three day battle was where our find of the week, the church program from St. Thomas Church in Whitemarsh, comes into play.  

     Reeling from the defeat in Germantown and the British takeover of Philadelphia, Washington’s Contintental Army retreated to the township of Whitemarsh in wait for more reinforcements (that would never come).  General Howe, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces, attempted to put a more decisive dagger in the hearts of Washington’s 12,000 troops by marching to Whitemarsh and attacking at night in December of 1777.  Howe and his 10,000 men captured the St. Thomas Church and immediately began to use the bell tower as their lookout post.  From the top of the church, Howe observed Washington’s army and made his plans for attack.  This time, however, the Continental Army prevailed, holding the line and forcing Howe to retreat.  Washington and his men then hunkered down for the winter in nearby Valley Forge and, as we know, suffered the loss of thousands of his troops due to massive disease and starvation.

     So, what happened to St. Thomas Church, the captured lookout post for the British?  The building’s structure, already badly damaged from the effects of the battle of Germantown, suffered further destruction during its three day occupation.  It is now rebuilt and on its grounds, you will find a cemetery that is the burial ground for many Revolutionary War soldiers.  

     Didn’t know about this battle and the role that the St. Thomas Church played?  We didn’t either.  You gotta love where the finds in our used books lead us!  We are learning a lot, here, and we hope you are, too.

     The “The Wall” (with St. Thomas Church program included) it is for sale here at Bayswater for the price of $25.00.  To catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor, you can always check us out at and on facebook, or stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself! 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Decisions, Decisions

     Our most recent find of the week on the used book floor clearly came from someone who may have been dealing with some inner conflict.  What type of inner conflict, you may ask, and what makes us so sure?  Keep reading and see what you think.

     The book that held the finds is entitled, “Certain Trumpets: The Call of Leaders” and it was written by Garry Willis in 1994.  Willis is famous for his previous book, “Lincoln at Gettysburg,” which gave the reader an in-depth look at President Lincoln as a leader.  Willis later won the Pulitzer and other prestigious awards for his writing in this book.  “Certain Trumpets” picks up where “Lincoln at Gettysburg” left off and examines leaders from political, artistic, sports, military, business and religious realms.  He discusses how leaders are shaped and how they must help to shape the actions of others.  The book also states that in order for one to be called a leader, he/she must have followers.
Here is where the conflict comes to light.  Hidden in different pages of the book were two political campaign bumper stickers, each from the 1996 United States presidential campaign.  One bumper sticker stated bold support for CLINTON/GORE, while roughly 50 pages later, the second bumper sticker clearly advocated for DOLE/KEMP.  Both appeared to be used as bookmarks for places in the book that the reader agreed with, or could relate to.  Yes, that is right – the person reading this book had campaign stickers from both of the candidates (i.e. conflict) in a book about leadership.

     See what we mean?  Was the reader unsure of who to vote for, so he/she used campaign stickers from each candidate to align with different sections of the book in the hopes that it would provide clarity?  Was he/she looking to become a “follower” of one of the political leaders, as Willis mentions in his book?  Did the book provide any insight at all, or were the bumper stickers left in this book because the reader could not decide on either one of the candidates?  Can you sense the inner struggle, here?  We only wish we knew what conclusion the reader came to when voting day rolled around in November. 

     The 1994 copy of “Certain Trumpets” (complete with stickers) it is for sale here at Bayswater for the price of $15.00, as it is a first edition hardcover.  To catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor, you can always check us out at and on facebook, or stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Code Writers of Yesterday and Tomorrow

     This week’s find on the used book floor has all of the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster: secret codes, alien communication and the chosen linguists who can help decipher the hidden messages.  In order to help you make sense of it all, we first need to tell you a little bit about the book that our discovery was found in. 

     “Earthsong: Native Tongue II” was written in 1994 and tells the story of a futuristic Earth where economic survival depends on communication and trade with alien species.  A limited number of linguists, all women, were trained from birth in “non-human language” so that only they could provide translations during alien interactions.  When tragedy strikes with the aliens, Earth is plunged into disaster and the women linguists are the only ones who can help avert the end of civilization. 

     Now, you are probably wondering where we are going with all of this.  Hang in there with us, because nestled in the pages of “Earthsong” was a newspaper clipping from 1994, originally published in the Chicago Tribune.  The article tells of the discovery of secret script written by women in China nearly 2000 years ago.  Though the entire story behind the ancient script, or code, may never be truly known, it is believed that at that time, women in China were mostly unable to read and write because very few were sent to school.  As they got married and left their homes, the women created a secret language, or code, to communicate with each other.  This code was sewn into fans, scarves, handkerchiefs, and napkins, and was then sent to their friends and families to help keep in touch.  The article describes how Nu Shu, as the language is now referred to, was deciphered for the general public in 1991 and translated into Chinese.  The translation was then published as a book and the proceeds were donated to a women’s organization in China.

     Is it a coincidence that the “Earthsong” book and the article that was found in it are both about women code writers/breakers?  We think not.  Maybe the reader saw a connection between the code breakers in the article (what took place in the past) and those in the book (what could be the future).  Maybe the reader was actually able to decipher actual secret codes in each!  If you have read our past blogs/columns, you know that we can get easily carried away with possible scenarios regarding the finds in our used books.  This may be what is happening here, but who can say for sure?

     The 1994 copy of “Earthsong: Native Tongue II” (with article included) it is for sale here at Bayswater for the price of $4.99.  To catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor, you can always check us out at and on facebook, or stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Memorial Day, 1966

     We think that all discoveries made in the pages of our used books are interesting, though not all in the same way.  Some are historical and rare, some poignant, some humorous, while others are just plain quirky.  This week’s find falls somewhere between the realms of the historical and quirky, all tied into one.

     Hidden inside a 1950 hardcover copy of a classic, “The Scarlet Letter,” was a Mobil Oil Company gas receipt purchased by a man in Exeter, NH, on May 30, 1966.  This date was Memorial Day during that year and while we don’t know where he was going that day, we did some research to find out what he may have been thinking about as he watched the scenery speed by his car window 51 years ago. 

     Memorial Day always seems to illicit a mix of emotions from people, and in addition to these feelings, we surmise that the man may have been concerned about the 300 U.S. airplanes that were bombing Vietnam, or anxious to see if NASA’s robotic spacecraft, Surveyor 1, would actually land on the moon to gather the data needed to launch the upcoming Apollo missions (after all, President Kennedy had set a goal for the U.S. to land a man on the moon by 1970).  Or, perhaps he was feeling a little lighter as the day took shape because the weather was a promising 62 degrees and sunny.  Such buoyancy may have found him listening on his car radio to the Indianapolis 500 race when driver Graham Hill crossed the finish line in first place.

     Whatever the destination or mood, we do know that the customer who bought the gas for his car that day was a NH resident and he purchased his fuel for a total of $3.20.  Today, that would mean that he bought less than two gallons of gas.  Guess how many gallons he bought in May of 1966?  You are going to sigh when we reveal it, but we must.  The answer is: 10.  Yep, you got it: the NH man bought 10 gallons of gas for a total of roughly .32 cents a gallon.  Things have changed just a little since then, huh?

     The 1950 copy of “The Scarlet Letter” (including the receipt) it is for sale here at Bayswater for the price of $15.00.  To catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor, you can always check us out at and on facebook, or stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!