The first book I bought | WordPress.com


This post is inspired by two if Caron Dann’s recent posts The first book I bought and The toy I always wanted…but was afraid to ask for

The first book post really got me thinking about the first book that I bought with my own money and I can not remember or even have an inkling of what it might have been…possibly I was a later starter into buying my own books because we always had lots of books at home and my mum’s parents also had a big library…Christmas and birthdays always included books so it may be that i never felt particularly compelled to buy any myself for some time. Our holiday crib at Wakouaiiti was also close to the local tip and we used to scavenge discarded books from here all through summer…loads and load of Readers Digests which offered good and very diverse reading material…

Looking through the survivors from back then, I did find…

DSCF7403…these SBS books which we used to buy through our primary school…this was the first time that I recall having a fairly unilateral decision making ability although my parents were still paying for the books…these are all well read and I hoping to introduce the twins to them soon…

DSCF7404…these which I remember sifting through the book bargain bin at Woolworths or MacKenzies in Thames Street to find…a bit of an eclectic mix but all again well read and dating from the early 70s…

DSCF7402We used to go to all the various local church and other fairs and fund-raisers and these were also a good source of ten cent books, again well-read and from that same era around 1973-74…around the same time, I also discovered book exchanges and would sift through the shelves looking for anything that looked a. interesting and b. affordable. Although I chewed through a lot of pulp fiction during this phase (from the mid-70s until the mid-80s – joining the Army seems to have killed this past-time off), this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as I found that pulp fiction is not necessarily bad fiction; and reading that which was bad fiction helped me develop a taste for that is good fiction…

It’s not that I did not have the means to buy my own books before this: while Caron was struggling to save her miserly 10 cents each week (she is correct: that IS a miserly amount for that time), I thought I was hard done by with 50 cents a week at the same time, and supplemented this by lawn mowing and other part time work. In addition to having access to a wealth of books from other sources, books also competed with other resources for my meagre resources.

At first it was Matchbox cars and the runner-up Corgi series and i think that I could buy one a week with the pocket money…

DSCF7198

Survivors

…and then, one day in about 1973 when I was feeling particularly flush, I bought my first Airfix model for the princely sum of 99 cents from Martyns Cycle Shop …and for the next five or so years, models were the major consumer of my income such as it was at the time…

DSCF7401

That first model was the Folland Gnat in the upper right above…for nostalgia sake, I bought another last year, going out of my way to ensure that it was not the new-tool release and was gutted to find that the rockets that made the original so cool had been removed from the mouldings…

The Fiat G.91 (top left) and Hs-123 (bottom right) are box Airfix classics from the 60s. Today they are considered pretty crappy but they were pretty cool in 1973…I bought and built both of these while staying with a friend in Waikouaiiti, the result of our pea-picking and possum hunting expeditions…both were painted using oils left over from his older sisters paint-by-numbers sets…DSCF7400The Supermarine S.6 was 10th birthday present; the Wildcat was a gift from my Dad after a work trip; he took me to Mr Conn’s cycle shop in Oamaru one school holiday afternoon and I walked out the proud owner of the Auster Antarctic; the Tiger Moth was a summer holiday acquisition from the little bookshop in Wakouaiiti; and the Lysander I bought while staying with my cousin in North Oamaru – we cycled into town along the railway cycle track, having to make the Friday night round trip before it got dark as we didn’t have lights on our bikes…

This scrapbook surfaced a few years back from one of my many boxes of ‘stuff’ – in it are many of the covers and instructions from those hastily assembled models, few of which were not assembled and painted by bedtime on the day of acquisition…I’m glad that it has survived the years because it holds many memories…

Back then, I was never that shy about asking for something that I wanted – not that the asking ever did much to increase my chances of getting it. In fact, the only time that I think I can definitely establish a casual effect between cause (asking) and effect (receiving) was with this really super cool water pistol that had a periscope mirror that could see round corners and a swivelling nozzle that would (allegedly) let you shoot around corners. I bugged everyone about it and my Mum’s cousin, Murray, who was staying with us at the time, bought it for me. Of course, it didn’t work as well in the flesh as it seemed to in the ads and it was soon broken and eventually disposed off…

That was a nice thing that Murray did but generally I’m not so sure that it is a good thing to succumb to much to childhood asking and bling-hunting…looking back, I was never unhappy with birthday and Christmas surprises and I think that is half the funny of both giving and receiving: that surprise when peeling back the wrapping…one of my favourite Christmas surprises was this…

Revell Ju-87B 1-32 boxartIt is a seriously sized box and I really thought that I was dreaming when I found it at the foot of my bed…my parents must have ordered it in as I had never seen anything like it in any of the model shops that I had been in…I still have parts of it that surface occasionally in my spares box (yes, I have come back to this hobby); I don’t remember what happened to the main airframe in the end but it suffered numerous indignities during its life with me, including an attempt to motorise the propeller with a (too) powerful electric motor than almost took a finger off when I connected the power…

Most definitely the best toy never asked for…

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3 thoughts on “The first book I bought | WordPress.com

    • The same models that were 99 cents in the mid-70s are now $12.50; the RRP on some of the books from the same period ranges from $1.10 to $2.15; I think that to get into the movies back then was around 50 cents (for kids) where today for adults, it is (guess, since it has been so long since I’ve been to the real movies) $15+…Based on that amazingly in-depth survey, the models appear to undergone less inflation than books with only an increase over forty years of a factor of just over 12 but books seem to have come off worse with an increase of a factor getting close to 20…interesting when plastic models rely on oil products but books largely rely on renewable resources…food for thought?

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