What I once thought was lost has been returned: a precious piece of my childhood and that of my father’s is once again reunited.
When my father and his twin were growing up in the 1930’s in Minneapolis, the twelve “Swallows and Amazons” books were some of his favorite books. I inherited them from him when my grandparents’ house was sold, and I read each one of them cover to cover, but they remained on my bookshelf when I went off to college and got on with my life. When my parents moved to Northport, Michigan, in 1982, the books went with them, and that was the last time I saw them all together. In the meantime, I’d found them in paperback at Fanfare Books in Stratford, Ontario, so I had my own copies, but the originals were still precious to me.
In 1997, my parents sold their house in Northport and moved back to Perrysburg. They were sure that they brought the books back with them, but it turned out that they remained in the old house. We tried to get in touch with the new owner, but either she didn’t hear from us or didn’t care, and I resigned myself to the harsh fact that the books were gone forever.
But like every Swallows and Amazons story, there is a happy ending. A year ago, that house in Northport was sold to friends of our family, and lo and behold, the books were still there, although scattered around to various places in the house. The new owners located eight of them last summer, two more last fall, and then the last two last month. Tonight I found them carefully and lovingly wrapped on my doorstep, and now at last, they are home.
Last summer I re-read the ones I had, and now I will re-read these last two, thinking of my father and his twin as they once read them, and thanking my friend Grace for her diligence and understanding how much of a gift they are to have them back home again.