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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Gift

When the second of my husband's maternal grandparents, Classie Lawrence Mercer died in 1994, she left my husband the family's Encyclopedia Britannica. There were two sets of books, the Junior, and the regular set plus annual updates. The Mercers had the encyclopedia for years, having purchased them from a door to door salesman. They valued the books and decided to leave them to their grandson, Rick, a teacher.


                                                    Richard Mercer, Rick, Classie Lawrence Mercer

In the mid 1990s, the internet was available to people and encyclopedia were no longer necessary; libraries were not using them any more. Our school libraries would not take the books because they were obsolete. We were forced to discard them.

The value of the books can be understood when one considers the one room schools so common decades ago. A teacher, responsible for each subject in each grade in a school, relied on an encyclopedia to challenge the more senior students when she was busy with the others. For many young teachers, the books cost more than their yearly salaries. Thus the books were paid for over a number of years but their value was priceless. They afforded the teacher a source of knowledge at a time when such sources were few.

Both of Rick's grandparents died before they knew much, if anything, about computers and the internet. However, they understood the value of education and the importance of having access to the best information available. They wanted their teacher grandson to have that knowledge, as they knew it. 

Priceless.


14 comments:

  1. I remember our own set of Encyclopedia Brittanica. I loved to peruse them and had no idea that they would become obsolete in a few years. Very interesting to think how much things have changed in such a short time. :-)

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    1. Information is so readily available now, we never need to wonder about anything.

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  2. Well, it's the thought that counts, isn't it. It's true that you can't even give away encyclopedias these days -- no one wants them. No one.

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    1. It truly is the thought that counts. The importance of the books to the grandparents was a reflection of their feeling for the grandson. It was a precious gift indeed.

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  3. Same here. My parents sent us to the encyclopedia in the book case for references. I did the same to my children. Then, the information explosion was exactly that.

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    1. Those books helped many a child over the decades. Oh how times have changed.

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  4. I remembering buying mine when my daughter was just a baby - she is 40 now. I wanted to have them all and always be stimulating her little mind. I bought them from a traveling salesman too. Best investment ever.

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    1. So many people bought the books that way. That must have been a hard job, going door to door.

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  5. I always wanted a set of encyclopedias when i was a child, but they were too expensive, however there was a set in the local library. But my grandpa gave me a dictionary, which I loved, I used to sit and read it.... strange! The internet provides us with all that knowledge now, but I must admit I miss having to look it up in a book, finding the page number etc.
    BTW that Sheila is giving us the brush right now, along with help from her friend Jack Frost.

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    1. Sheila is have a go at everyone this year.

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  6. At home, we had a set, or most of a set, from the grocery store. I think it may have been called Home Library or some such. I can remember reading through most of the first volume at least.

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    1. Many parents tried to provide some books for reference at home. Others could not afford to do it. Having those books was great.

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  7. For years, I relied on EB the set I bought from a door to door salesman. Then I went digital and had the EB online. Today, I rely on Wikipedia, not a perfect source, but as I know entries are peer reviewed, updated, and I've written a few myself, I know that Wiki entries are superior. The Working Class of yore did much self improvement, and I am proud to have been descended from them.

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  8. I am proud of my ancestors too. People who worked hard and did the best they could. Good people who provided what they could for their families. We were lucky people you and I.

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