Friday, April 16, 2010

Encyclopedia Britannica

One of my mom’s "gentlemen friends" gave us a new Encyclopedia Britannica set. I’m pretty sure that I was the only one in my family who ever actually opened one of the books. I think there were 22 volumes in the set. I didn’t read every word, but I read a good portion of them.  We were very poor, lived in a shack, and had little chance of succeeding in life. Those books were my escape.  I loved those things! The maps, the photographs, and all the the information they contained.

One day I came home from school and noticed that the entire set was missing. I asked my mom where they were.

“Are they yours?”
“Who do they belong to?”
“They belong to us.”
“No, they belong to me!”
“But, I’m reading them!”
“They’re not yours, they belong to me and I don’t have to explain shit to you!
“But mom!”
"Let it go!"
"I'm reading them!"
“You’d really better let it go!”

You should know my mom by now (if not, you have some reading to do), what she said was clearly a physical threat. There was no need to get my ass kicked over it, so I let it go. But I was very unhappy about it.

One day several months later, while getting something out of my mom’s closet, I noticed a large box pushed in the corner. I opened the top and was totally shocked by what I saw. The encyclopedia set was in it. At least what was left of it was. Every single page had been ripped out of the bindings and torn, or cut into tiny little pieces. The bindings were nowhere to be seen.

Do you still doubt that the woman was insane? It must have taken her many hours to do that. Why did she do it? My brother said he thought she was mad at the guy who gave the set to us in the first place. I knew better. She destroyed that encyclopedia set because she knew I loved it.

Strangely enough, almost 50 years after the fact, I spoke to the guy who gave us the encyclopedias (thanks to FB, of course). I asked him about the set. He said he had no idea that my mom had destroyed them. But he did remember that I loved them. He also said he felt bad because of all the chaos in our house. He was one of the few "friends" of my mom that I really liked.  I loved baseball and so did he. He took us to some Dodger games. Anyway, the reason I don’t think my mom cut them up because of him, is that she was seeing other customers guys when he wasn’t around.  My mom loved no man...

If you are new to this saga and don't know what the heck I'm talking about...start here:


  1. Have you since replaced the set in your own home? I imagine so.

  2. Yup, I've gone through a few. Like many things, the internet has ruined that market...

  3. Reading an encyclopedia set? What a nerd ;)

    But seriously, that would be terrible. I remember when things were "loud" around my house when I was younger, I would retreat into books or the TV or the internet to escape. If those things got taken away from me like the encyclopedias were, I don't know what I would have done. Especially with such malicious intent behind it.

  4. I wish I had been a nerd. Maybe I would have spent more time with my face in books instead of paper bags. Back in "the day," books were even more inportant in our lives. We didn't have computers, internet, ideo games, very few TV shows, no cable, etc. You said "retreat into books." That's a perfect explination of it. thanks for that! After my mom destroyed them, I discovered the public library. My friends always found it odd that I loved libraries, while they hated them...
    thanks for reading and commenting, my fried!

  5. Pat, every story you tell takes me places that I have wondered about. Our family had the World Book encyclopedias - a much easier read - and I loved the annual updates that my mom would get. I'd read em for a full year, till the next one arrived. I wish I could have shared my mom with you...

  6. Destroy encyclopedias... she was insane. Why do you suppose she boxed them, after doing that?

  7. That's just messed up. I can't imagine living with someone like that, let alone having it be your mother.

  8. we didn't have "ideo games" either. hee hee hee. i know you don't even revise your comments, so i like to give you a SUPER hard time about it.... i'll only pick on that one....

    i probably would have wrapped a telephone cord around your mom's throat.... and then ben's.... just sayin.... i'm not a very violent person, but i could have been....

  9. Aww man that sucks so much! You loved those books!!(slip angry face here) And I know you were wondering if those stories were depressing, but they're really too interesting to make me not want to come back!

  10. Gosh...that is awful. She truly must have either been bipolar or psychotic...either way, I am so sad that you had to live through her living hell and endure all of that as a child. What amazes me is that you survived it and can be a loving husband to your are a very strong person.

  11. That is just the stuff movies are made. Wild and chilling post.

  12. Brenda - thanks! I would have loved that!

    Ms. Anthropy - Maybe she saved them so I'd see what she had done. I have no idea. As you said she was insane.

    TS - It was total chaos. Thank goodness she was gone a lot. Even though that was also terrible, it was better than having her home.

    Ashley - lol (ideo games). Well, I thought about ending her miserable life many times. More on that soon...

    Sarah - Thanks! I appreciate that you read them.

    Joan - I'm sure she was at least both of those things. Probably more! I'm thinking more than one personality also. None of them good...

    Chuck - Such was my life! There were things that happened that I wasn't going to post. I may start on that stuff also. I'll try to keep the posts shorter though...LOL

  13. Knowing how badly your mom behaved just made me feel very sad...that was a very selfish act she did! Not sure how you coped with so much animosity from someone that should have given you only love...

  14. I remember having a Encyclopedia set when I was a kid. The smell of the books was awesome. Almost a warming scent. And the pictures and maps were awesome. Too bad they were taken from you before you could finish back then.

    You are right, like alot of things the internet has ruined some of the things from childhood.

  15. New here -- and immediately fascinated (and appalled). You tell a horrid tale, but tell it so well. I'm hooked.

  16. Nat - Sad to say it, but I got used to it. Happy to say, I get more than my share of love now!

    Jerry - Progress is good, but the old stuff gets pushed to the side much too quickly. Don't get me wrong, I love the internet. But back then those books were awesome...

    Jerry - Welcome aboard! I'm glad you found it interesting (and appalling). This is one of the minor stories... Lot's of them on my blog under "childhood stories," "family stories," and "Crazy things!" Lot's more to come also!
    thanks for reading and commenting.

  17. My son thank you for making me a better parent....

    Every time I read one of your posts about your mother, I makes me appreciate my children a little more.... Not that I didn't appreciate them before.... It just makes me think about it....

  18. ABAO - Thank you sir! Kids should be able to be kids... I pretty much thought about what my mom did, and did the opposite with mine. Unfortunately they don't come with an instruction book!

  19. I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?


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