I'm not gonna lie. I felt very weird and voyeuristic entering that gentleman's home and watching all those homo sapiens paw through his personal belongings. Aside from the obvious rapaciousness, I think it was disconcerting because he was a III, not Sr., not Jr. But the third, and last, in his line. He left no children, he does not appear to have ever married or partnered and he has no siblings. His obituary indicates that he is survived by "a host of friends and several cousins." He was an absolutely fascinating man. A PhD museum director and curator and an historian. Virginia, Texas, early American, religious and political history.
After walking through his house and seeing his worn shoes still on the shoe rack and his clothes hanging in the closet, I felt the least I could do was Google him. Find out a little more. Pay a little homage. I later found his obituary and read about his amazing accomplishments and accolades referenced above.
The Doctor's career, while impressive and interesting, is not the topic of my post. His house was filled with antique furniture, fancy silver and glassware, old Life magazines, vintage political campaign buttons and the like. His baubles, while also impressive and interesting, are not the topic of my post.
To say this man was a bibliophile, as mentioned in his obit, is an understatement of the greatest magnitude. Thousands and thousands of books. I mean thousands. Now, this might conjure up the image of one of my guilty pleasures, the TV show "Hoarders," but I can assure you this man was no hoarder. Speaking as a self-proclaimed expert on hoarding, I can tell you that hoarders don't throw anything away, including actual garbage, and most of their "collections" are haphazardly stacked floor to ceiling with only small pathways from room to room and sometimes not even that. They do not care for their things in the way this man cared for his books.
One of the estate sale workers told me that he built all of his bookshelves himself and converted his den into a library. Not the kind of leathery library you see in old mansions. Just a room with functional, non-ornamental bookshelves, including a couple of rows in the middle of the room. No seating. No table. Nothing but bookshelves on all four walls and two rows of double-sided shelves down the middle. After I had made one laborious trip through the house, only backing into about five or six people, I made a remark to a fellow h*** sapien about "the book room." Then I realized every single room in the house had fully stocked bookshelves. Another worker told me the owner had saved all of the books he had as a child. And it's true. I saw them.
Here is where it gets fun. I noticed that he really didn't have much in the way of fiction. Well, hardback fiction, let's say. I peered through the door to the backyard and saw eight 6-foot tables fully covered with neatly lined up paperbacks. I can only assume most of those were fiction. I simply did not have the energy to go out there and look through them. The whole collection was so overwhelming. That's fine. You can see my pleasing little stack of books in the photograph below. But it just so happens that my husband, Eric Winkie , is an absolute crazy-ass fanatical political, religious and early American historian. We walked into the "main book room" and he took one look at all of those non-fiction political, philosophical, religious and early American history books and it was like we had just walked into the Adult Megaplex on highway 281 in San Antonio. This poor man agreed to let me schlep him down to some stupid estate sale full of "elbows and assholes," as he would say, and we unwittingly walked into a veritable pornography den for history geeks. I had more fun watching him than looking through the good Doctor's lifetime of leftover stuff. (It just occurred to me that I may have been well on my way toward a behavioral sink in that house, including a sexually deviant bent.)
Lest you think I have overlooked the obvious, I will point out that those books were clearly the companions of that interesting man. I fancy myself as having done him a little justice by thinking about him for the past couple of days. I am sure I will think about him again in the coming years, particularly while I am reading the books I so lovingly removed from his handmade bookshelves. I wonder what will happen to the bookshelves?
My husband made the acquaintance, as he is wont, of a nice, well-educated couple while standing in the cashier's line. They passed him their contact information and we are planning to hit a couple of sales with them this week and have dinner. Following this exchange, we scurried home to paw through our booty like little rats.