Saturday, September 15, 2007

1,000,000 to 1 odds

...Or I collect National Geographics and have an essay for Sunday Scribblings


I am a woman on a mission. I have been scoping out all the used bookstores in the area. There are not that many of them which is surprising, or not surprising depending on how you view things.

Since mentioning the National Geographic obsession a few entries ago, I googled the teenager who sailed around the world in the 1960's and found his name, Robin Lee Graham. It was exactly as I remembered, he was 16 years old in 1965 and took off in a very small sail boat from Hawaii with the intent of a solo voyage around the world. I decided to try and track down the NG that told the story, which I found was April 1969.

I went to a local Goodwill store that has hundreds of the NG's on hand, but not the April 1969. On a hunch, I started to scan the titles of the contents which are displayed on the magazine spine, each one having four stories. On October 1969 I saw "Voyage" and pulled it.

My hunch payed off! It was the last of a series of three written by Robin about his incredible feat which incidentally took approximately five years!! The other two NG's were the April 1969 and October 1968.

So, I have been on a mission to find them locally. I have hit practically every used bookstore in the area. Sadly, I have found out that no one carries National Geographic any longer! It's hit or miss.


Today found me at a small used book store in Lyndon. A bookstore that I use to visit and purchase books when I lived here in the 1980's. Which I lost no time telling the woman who owned the store! Obviously, this meant more to me than her. I wonder how people can stay in business, to run a sole proprietor store and be so unfriendly! I asked about NG's and she directed me to a paltry few stacked in a hidden cob webbed corner. "I'm looking for October 1968!" I said, with too much enthusiasm because her sarcastic "good luck" made me think I was perceived as a nutcase.

She did have two 1968's out of 10, neither of them October.

I ended up at a Goodwill Store off Shelbyville Road going through three large drop off canvas containers. What fun!! For 50 cents each, I found some really great books!

I knew there was another Goodwill pretty close and the day was still early and beautiful so I drove over and to my pleasant surprise there were four of these large three feet by three feet containers outside!

Going through them is like digging for gold. My feet practically left the ground to get to the bottom of the "barrel". I had developed a system of stacking them on the edge between two, and then as I got closer to the bottom to begin tossing them in the other bin.

I found more treasures at the second Goodwill. I had six more books stacked up! I had only worked through two of the four when I lazily began to toss books right and left in the third one.

About in the middle of the books, toys, encyclopedias, coloring books, notebooks, magazines, and stuffed animals I spotted the familiar yellow spine of a National Geographic.

I said to myself, "It's October 1968", and then laughed hysterically at myself as we all do at these insane thoughts.

I lifted it out.

October 1968.

I gasped and looked around for someone jump up and down with and dance in celebration!

There was no one.

I did a little jig anyway and high fived the air and laughed at that damn woman in Lyndon! "Good luck" she had sneered at me and look at me now!!

Naturally, my next stop was to buy a lottery ticket.

I'll let you know tomorrow.

17 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

Lottery ticket? LOL! No harm in hedging your bets.... ;)

Jo said...

I LOVED this. Such fabulous serendipity.

Ali la Loca said...

Wow, wow, wow!!!

AC said...

Me, too, I loved this sotry! I've danced alone in a few unusual places, so I'm with you in spirit.

My best girlfriend and I used to go junking regularly and developed quite the good luck ritual before each jaunt. It DID include M7Ms and a certain brand of potato chip. It was IMPORTANT. Believe me, it made sense at the time though it would sound a little nuts if explained it all :-).

AC said...

thats "STORY" not "sotry" and M&Ms not M7Ms. Gosh!

Marcy said...

SOOOOOO cool story -- I am jigging with you!!! So great to have a happy ending, eh?

tumblewords said...

What a find! Hang on to that lottery ticket til you have the numbers. Hate to think of you rummaging through dumpsters looking for a lost lottery ticket - even though luck must be with you!

nonizamboni said...

I enjoyed reading this so much! Your intrepid search, including being treated poorly, and finding just what you were looking for was amazing. I cheer for you and am glad you hung in there. Thanks for visiting my site and the kind words.

Hope said...

Bet your fun at parties too!! Such a fun adventure, Congrats!!

Patois said...

Hold on. I think you've used up your luck. No winning ticket coming your way!

This tale was fabulously told!

Anonymous said...

What a fun story! I kept thinking to myself, next time you need to contact Dave at Bart's Books in Ojai, CA and have him look through his STACKS and STACKS of NG's. I'm sure he would've looked for you. I'm doing a happy dance with you.

Monica

Boricua in Texas said...

Awesome!!! I was rooting for you the whole time I read this. What a great story. I love real-life happy endings.

Anonymous said...

Mary! *hugs*

Can't wait to catch up with you!

I'll be in touch soon:)

~Grace

Paul said...

I remember that article and that voyage. Robin got married on the trip, didn't he?

mamacita chilena said...

I love NG as well, it's such a wealth of good pictures, information and amazing stories!

my grandma used to have a wealth of them sitting in her basement and she threw them all away. blasphemy I tell ya.

Becky said...

Hmm! I wonder if my dad still has all the NGs from my grandma plus his own stack. Hers went back to the early 1940s. His was primarily the 70s when we were kids. Our stack starts in the 90s, so no help there. :-)

stiv said...

Contrary Woman:

I'm looking for a copy of a few photos of Robin Lee Graham from that issue. A friend of mine, who is sailing around the world right now in Graham's footsteps got her inspiration from his book, Dove. She sent me a photo of her holding a tuna, and it looks almost exactly like a photo of Robin from back in the day. Email me if you can help.

stiv@wendmagazine.com