How do you do! I am the little book that you have made.
September 22, 2008 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Book of Short Stories :: Short stories written by New York State 5th graders in 1931. (Be sure to read the About page to get a sense of the setting of the times.) (via Thingamababy)
posted by anastasiav (20 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
posted by davejay at 9:38 AM on September 22, 2008

Forgive me if I've missed a sentence, but I cannot seem to find where she found the "Book of Short Stories" and I'm a little surprised there is no mention of the discovery. I wouldn't think this is the sort of thing one could find in a library, but perhaps in an old heirloom chest in her attic? Is she a relative of one of the students? I want to know. Anyway, there are some enjoyable stories inside, and I couldn't help but be reminded of the lawsuits we'd be dealing with if the "Little Owl Golf Course" were created today. Very nice.
posted by trueluk at 9:41 AM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

All at once Frank dropped to his knees and was dead. After that we never went to the woods again.

Umm... thank you Joseph. All right class, who wants to tell us about their summer vacation next?
posted by MrVisible at 9:43 AM on September 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

What a really superb post and find anastasiev.

It's especially appropriate for these times.

This person (wish they wrote a little about who they are) discovered a delightful found treasure and how beautifully they appreciated that. Thanks for the pointer to read the About page.

I love the enjoyment the person who put this together takes in describing every aspect of the book. Like on the Images page. Their generosity of character comes through.

My dad was born in 1926, I guess about 5 years too young to have written one of these stories. But will send this link to an uncle and aunt, who were just that age. Bet they'll get a real kick out of this. Their daughter, a teacher, will likely enjoy it too.

The stories themselves are *so* charming. And really short. She pets the dreaded cat. Wonder why they didn't go to the woods again. A tender little geek. Little Rascal entrepreneur.

Thanks for the feeling good feelings and many unexpected laughs.
posted by nickyskye at 9:54 AM on September 22, 2008

Great find—thanks!
posted by languagehat at 10:34 AM on September 22, 2008

It's definitely from Buffalo -- every local bit of geography they mention matches. Humbolt Park (now Martin Luther King Jr. Park) and the adjacent science museum, Walden Avenue and Burgard Place, the new city hall, the route to Thousand Islands, fishing on the Niagara, etc. If you got someone who knew the history of Buffalo schools, I'm sure you could find lists of pupils for some of the schools. I notice there's a William Burgard in there who writes a story about Christmas; he probably was related to the Burgards of Burgard Place mentioned in another Christmas story in the book.

But the stories sure are tedious little exercises in putting one word after another. Sulphur. (Not Sulphur.)
posted by pracowity at 10:40 AM on September 22, 2008

I love this link so much. It's so sweet!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:42 AM on September 22, 2008

What a great find, thank you. I shall always remember this jolly post.
posted by newmoistness at 11:08 AM on September 22, 2008

pracowity, Funny you thought the Sulphur one was tedious. Maybe written by a budding young scientist? I love that one, learned unexpected things from it too.
posted by nickyskye at 11:09 AM on September 22, 2008

This is an excellent find. I think my favorite so far is the gripping wartime adventure, very much like Hemingway in its stark terseness, which starts with a classic opening line: "One fine day during the World War..."
posted by Spatch at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2008

"That day I even petted the cat whom I dread."
posted by redsparkler at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2008

Funny you thought the Sulphur one was tedious. Maybe written by a budding young scientist? I love that one, learned unexpected things from it too.

Sentence for sentence, it's got to be more informative than any other paragraph on sulphur I've ever read. I now know everything I will ever need to know about it. But any little girl could have copied the facts on sulphur from an encyclopedia, and sulphur is still with us. I wish little Lily Drewitt had told us about her life in 1931 Buffalo, New York.
posted by pracowity at 2:55 PM on September 22, 2008

I thought Friends Again was especially good.
posted by hjo3 at 3:05 PM on September 22, 2008

Nifty stuff
posted by Smedleyman at 3:27 PM on September 22, 2008

aww pracowity, you're being so demanding of a 10 year old girl in 1931. I'm sure she did her best and didn't know she was supposed to entertain you. Maybe her family was involved in sulfur mining upstate New York? Maybe the teacher cherry picked the best essays from a year of writing compositions and picked one about science stuff? Guess I relate to that little girl's nerdiness.

Seconding the wonderfulness of Friends Again.
posted by nickyskye at 4:05 PM on September 22, 2008

I liked Flax.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:15 PM on September 22, 2008

The web was so primitive in 1931.
posted by Bonzai at 8:20 PM on September 22, 2008

you're being so demanding of a 10 year old girl in 1931.

No, not of the girl. I'm lamenting the fact that an essay on such a dry, generic topic (maybe everyone had to choose an element?) was selected to represent her to time. Now we have a list of sulphur facts and nothing about little Lily, who, if she's still alive, would be nearing 90 and probably would be in a retirement home in Cheektowaga or Lackawanna or the like. It would be fine if her family could read something about her, something she thought was important about her life at that age.

Of course, she may have been known about town as Lily the sulphur freak -- "For heaven's sake, child, it smells like the fiery pit in here. Put out that sulphur and come to supper!" -- but I'm betting it was otherwise.
posted by pracowity at 2:53 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

A lot of the submissions are clearly from class projects. Check out the two kids who were moved by the Muse to write poems about the Grand Canyon, or all the pieces on art appreciation. It would be nice if this book was a full window into the lives of each child, but since it wasn't intended to be that in the first place, we should be grateful for the peeks we do get via the homemade golf course or the trip to the museum.
posted by Spatch at 6:22 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, thank you Spatch for articulating what I couldn't.
posted by nickyskye at 9:47 AM on September 23, 2008

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