The Best Things Found Between the Pages of Old Books – Atlas Obscura

Time for our “Friday Fun” item for this week, and for that we turn once more to Atlas Obscura, that global geographical gem that often features things library and bookish.

Back on February 19 of this year they listed the above-titled item. Having asked their readers to share their best stories about things they had found between the pages of books, hundreds responded with tales of their odd, strange, and amazing findings. What followed was an entertaining list of their “surprising discoveries.”

I have picked out a few of them to highlight, but be sure to visit the link at the end and find out many more. Here are a few to get you started:

Not just money … really old money

An old family Bible contained an envelope with a note on the outside saying, “Grandfather’s revolutionary war pay.” Inside was a colonial currency bill and a signed receipt for its payment for service in the Connecticut 2nd Continental line. —W. Kevin Dougherty, Brackney, Pennsylvania

Forgotten tickets

A 1967 Red Sox World Series Ticket, unused in mint condition. —Robert Bolduc, Boston, Massachusetts

Lost pets

I was about eight years old and had a small goldfish bowl with one goldfish in it on top of a small bookcase in my room. One day he just disappeared and we couldn’t figure out where he went, until the day I was reading one of those books and found a petrified goldfish between the pages. —Rebecca MacLeod

Secret devices

A World War II hidden radio —Ron G. Woering


Found in an old hardcover book about the siege of Fort Sumter, on the discount rack outside of Second Story Books in Dupont Circle. A faded tan piece of construction paper, torn along the bottom edge, as if hastily ripped out of a notebook. Yet the text is carefully typed and dripping with the hope and excitement you’d expect from the title at the top: “MY TRIP AROUND THE WORLD.” It spans from 1970 to 1982, and has our unknown adventurer deep-sea fishing, hunting tigers, sailing distant seas, touring Europe and Asia, and ultimately arriving in San Francisco, where the plan is to, “Sell boat buy land and start cattle ranch.” —Bruce Falconer, Washington, D.C.

So what have you found inside (used) books you had purchased? I can report that what I have mostly found is bookmarks and newspaper clippings. But I am always on the lookout for those truly unusual and special items!

If you have a story to tell, please do!

Source: The Best Things Found Between the Pages of Old Books – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on March 16, 2018 at 9:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

Friday Fun, Catton Style: Playing the Benzonia Orchestra with a Bad Pompadour

For our Friday fun post today we take you back to Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train (Wayne State University Press, 1987), the multifaceted story of his life growing up in northern Michigan, specifically, Benzonia.

retro-mens-1950s-hairstyles-short-pompadourThe chapter I just finished last night, “Interlude with Music” (chapter 8), includes a humorous section in which Catton describes how, as a mediocre violin player in the local orchestra, he sorely wanted to at least look like a dashing, debonair young man – complete with a pompadour. If you look that up in the dictionary, you will learn that a “pompadour” is a hairstyle “in which the hair is brushed up high from the forehead.”

Now listen to Catton describe his sorry experience as the Benzonia violinist with an uncooperative head of hair:

Probably I ought to have taken heart from something John the barber had said to me a few years before this obsession took hold of me. John was a dedicated socialist, and while he trimmed my hair he used to give long lectures on socialism. …Anyhow, one day John was working on my hair when he discovered that I had a double crown, which he said was a great rarity and something to be proud of, because it meant that I could part my hair on either the right side or the left side, at my choice.

‘I tell you,’ he said, gesturing with his scissors, ‘Rockefeller with all his millions couldn’t buy that.’

What Rockefeller with all his millions actually did was buy a wig, but I did not know that at the time and could not speak of it. But John had given fair warning: I could part my hair on either side, and if I left it alone it would part itself down the middle, but some sort of part it was going to have no matter what my intent might be. The smooth, sleek, sophisticated pompadour I could not have.

I came to my senses, at last, after one of our orchestra concerts. We had gone to Frankfort to play, and my problem was at its worst. Frankfort was more like a city than Benzonia was – not much more, actually, because it was also a small town, but compared to Benzonia it was a metropolis – and here if anywhere I ought to look like a debonair youth who had risen far above his country-bumpkin origins. But circumstance was against me. As an earnest violinist of moderate capacity I was something of a head-jerker, and when I  fiddled my way through my assignments I used much body English; and the constant head-wagging, of course, destroyed any chance that my sleek, slicked-down hair-do would stay in place. Things were especially bad that night. Luckily, as it then seemed, there were quite a few brief rests indicated in my score, and whenever one of these came, I would lay my bow down and run my hand desperately over that triply accursed crop of hair. All in all, I had a busy evening.

When the concert ended I started out of the building, violin case under my arm, and I came up behind a couple of local people who were exchanging greetings. One of them asked the other how he had enjoyed the concert, and the man replied that he had hardly noticed it – ‘I was so fascinated watching that young violinist trying to get his hair straightened out that I didn’t pay much attention to the music.’

I was crushed, of course, and for the first time I realized that I was in a fix. There I was, the young musician who was on public display every time the orchestra performed, building up my ego by the fact that I was undoubtedly the center of admiring glances; and it had not entered my monkey’s head that those same glances took in every detail of my frantic attempts to keep my hair in order. I gave up, with a regular Fort Donelson surrender, and next morning I combed my hair with a nice part on the left side and forgot about being a young man about town. It was a relief to me and unquestionably to many other people [pp.161-62].

waiting-train-catton-1987This was another section of the book that had me laughing out loud several times. I continue to enjoy this “good read” very much. Perhaps this little story will bring a chuckle to your soul and mouth too. 🙂

Published in: on March 2, 2018 at 10:11 PM  Leave a Comment  

Miscellaneous Winter-time Meanderings

On this Friday, we post a little fun in photos for our readers, which we will call miscellaneous meanderings, because I have a collection of miscellaneous pictures that I have taken this winter while meandering here and there. So, join me as we move about randomly, enjoying this, that, and the next thing. At least I did 🙂


Of course, we have to show some pictures of our seminary animal friends! This was taken during our January thaw.

And then we got hit some with some major snow again.


With several grandsons involved in winter basketball, we took in a few of their games. Future CCHS Chargers are they.

And we have seen the current CCHS Chargers play a few games too – including last week at Calvin  College against South Christian. A certain quartet was privileged to do the national anthem. 🙂

Last night we took in Heritage CS’s “Fine Arts” night, which included this fine piece by our granddaughter, Laelle – a budding artist.

And Mr. Dan Van Dyke’s room included awesome book summaries in poster form. Yes, I was pretty excited about these!

Speaking of books, here are a few miscellaneous items related to such real, printed-on-paper things:

A book snowman made at Herrick Library in Holland, MI (thanks to Bob Drnek for the photo!)

A few more bookplates from books in the Letis collection found in the Seminary library.


And a few examples of title pages with wonderful publisher ensigns – a distinguishing mark of publishers in the past, and still today, though not as elaborate as these.


And how could we forget on such days that we do still have our Friday grilled burger/brat lunches. Tim Bleyenberg at Sheldon Meats is our supplier. Once you’ve had his meats, you will not need to go elsewhere. The best!



Have a wonderful weekend!

Published in: on February 23, 2018 at 8:19 PM  Leave a Comment  

And the Winners Are…. Announced! (*Update)

*UPDATE: Today (Saturday, Feb.3, 2018) we may finally announce the winners in the Seminary library guessing contest.

The first winner is Andrew Koerner (SE-GR PRC), who won the “how many books were added in 2017?” portion of the contest. Andrew guessed 1350, and 1,189 were added. Congratulations, Andrew, one free book of your choice is yours.

Our second winner is Dawn Howerzyl (Hope PRC, Redland, CA), who won the “how many total resources are now in the library?” portion of the contest. At the end of 2017 there were 20,578 items cataloged in the library; Dawn guessed 21,062. Congratulations, Dawn,a free book of your choice is due to you too.

Thanks to all who participated!


Last week Friday I announced a guessing contest concerning the PRC Seminary library’s resources. Here’s what I posted then:

Guessing Contest

It’s time we restored the annual PRC Seminary library guessing context! I believe I have been remiss for a least one year, maybe more.

So, on this Friday night, after giving my final 2017 library report to the Theological School Committee yesterday, we can throw the BIG QUESTION out to you: HOW MANY BOOKS were added to the Seminary library in 2017?

And, in the interests of having TWO contest winners this year, we add a bonus question: How many TOTAL RESOURCES do we now have in our library? That means books, pamphlets, and periodicals, cataloged in the library system.

ContestWinnerThink long, think hard, and guess right! The closest to the actual numbers – calculated by our infallible library program, Resourcemate – wins the prize!

Yes, the prize is …. a book – of your choice, from our seminary bookstore or from other collections we have on hand! If the winner happens to be long-distance, we will work that out. So don’t be afraid to guess away. Only once please. Using your real name. 🙂

Let’s give this contest one week – have your answer in by NEXT WEEK FRIDAY, please.

You may submit your guess either to my email address or in the comment section of the blog.

Have fun! Be a good sport!

Do you remember? Did you forget? What happened? Are you afraid to guess? How can you not be excited about this?! 🙂

All is know is that at this point we have to continue the contest due to lack of participation! Notice, I didn’t say CANCEL! I said CONTINUE it, one more week. Don’t hesitate to make your guess in either or both categories. Young and old may take a stab at those numbers!

If you prefer to make your guess by email instead of comment, contact me at cjterpstra@sbcglobal dot net.

And because it’s Friday, we end this post with a little “Friday fun,” library style.


A search for library jokes revealed this one:

Two Chickens
One day the Library was lonely with no one in it for the librarian to help.
These two chickens came through the door screeching “bouk bouk.” The librarian quickly got up and gave them each 5 books. The two chickens left satisfied.
Just a few minutes later the same two chickens come through the door with no books screeching “bouk bouk.” The librarian once again jumps up and gives each chicken 15 books this time. The chickens leave satisfied once again.
Then again for the third time the chickens return screeching “bouk bouk” But this time being suspicious the librarian gives each chicken only one book because they have still have not returned the other books.
As the chickens leave, the librarian slowly follows behind to see where all the books are going.
The chickens come to a stop and start throwing the books into a pond where some frogs grab the books and throw them behind their back croaking “red-it red-it”
Published in: on January 26, 2018 at 9:33 PM  Comments (6)  

Winter Has Arrived in West Michigan! (Updated with Lake Michigan Pictures)


No doubt those outside of Michigan have heard about the fast, furious, and frigid winter that has descended on us here in West Michigan. After a beautiful, mild, drawn-out Fall, winter came with a flourish in mid-December and has not let up yet – although the hope of a “January thaw” is in the forecast for next week.


These are pictures taken back and front of our home last weekend when we received over a foot of lake-effect snow in two days. And this week on top of 8-10 inches of fresh snow, it has been bitter cold – -3 (F) this morning and wind-chills below 0 (F) all day yesterday and today – and colder yet tonight!


But, as you can see, there is a marvelous beauty that is revealed in God’s winter work. Truly, He makes a wonderland of white that covers all the death and decay underneath and around us. What a gospel picture!


And His creatures all look to Him for food – the deer and wild turkeys have been coming close at Seminary, poking around in the landscape for food (where are those luscious hostas?!) – or visiting Prof .Cammenga’s bird feeders for free seed.



How do we snow-stricken, frozen-chosen Michiganders cope? Why, we get out and enjoy the snow, of course! Monday, a few brave souls in our family – including some grandkids for the first time – went cross-country skiing at Pigeon Creek Park west of us. It was cold but was it ever beautiful in the woods and along the creek!



And if one really wants to have fun, do some backyard ice bowling! [This video appeared on MLive this week.] See what you are missing!

Late this (Saturday) afternoon my wife and I went out to Holland State Park to see Lake Michigan. Word was that the ice formations were amazing, so we decided to check things out, partly because the time-frame for seeing ice caves, etc. can be so short. Though we have seen icier conditions, it was still good. Here are a few pictures I took with my phone.






PRC Seminary – New Building! 1973-74

Besides assisting me in the PRC Seminary library, Kevin Rau also helps with some archival projects, which, being a lover of history – especially church history! – he always enjoys.

The last few weeks he has been taking some time to sort through some old issues (donated loose ones) of the Standard Bearer, with his eyes alert especially to items related to PRC history – seminary news, church organizations/anniversaries, minister ordinations, mission news, memoriams, etc.


Yesterday, while going through some early 1970s issues, he found some news reports on and pictures of the construction of the new seminary building at it current location (4949 Ivanrest Ave., Wyoming, MI) when our theological school moved from the basement of First PRC in Grand Rapids, where it had been stationed for nearly 50 years.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0002Since we did a feature on the 1993-94 addition to that building yesterday, today we will go back another 20 years to the construction of the original structure. And yes, you will note how free and clear the property was at that time of its current surroundings – not only tall trees, but also malls, stores, houses, and churches.

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0003In fact, I heard a cute story from our secretary yesterday (when I showed her the SB pics) that when they first moved into the area, she and her husband (the former registrar, whose name will go unmentioned to protect the guilty!) used to go on the roof of seminary on 4th of July evening – from which perch they could view fireworks in all directions! Can you see it? What a hoot, as a friend of mine would say. 🙂

Sem-new-building-1973-74_0004Happy Friday to you all! Have a safe and blessed weekend.

Published in: on November 10, 2017 at 3:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

North Country Michigan in October

Shoreline near Arcadia, looking north

With a seminary reading recess on the calendar today and the latest Standard Bearer issue completed this morning (the second special Reformation issue!), my wife and I took the rest of the day off to take an overnight trip north along the western shoreline of our beautiful state.

Pt. Betsie Lighthouse – great waves today, as the wind picked up the farther north we went!

Yes, in mid-October the shoreline is still a fine destination. It was a mild day and we hoped the fall colors would be full and  brilliant. They were not, as the north country is also behind what it usually is. But it was still a splendid day as we stopped in Manistee, Point Betsie lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, and Crystal Lake in Beulah.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, looking northwest toward the Manitou Islands

Included here are a few pictures from the many we took. Enjoy a taste of our day!

View of upper and lower Glenn lakes from the national park scenic loop

Though Saturday calls for storms and lots of rain, it’s a beautiful morning in Beulah-land so far (picture below is Crystal Lake with the Saturday morning sunshine on it). I spent some childhood summers at a cottage here with my family and family friends. Brings back good memories of fishing, swimming, and family/friends fun.

It was a good day (Saturday) to stay north. Though most of the lower half of the state had heavy rain, the north country didn’t receive it until late in the day.

So we went farther north, taking beautiful M-22 up and around the Leelanau peninsula. The fall colors were better and the views of the lake fantastic. At the top of the peninsula is Leelanau State Park, where sits the stately Grand Traverse lighthouse. But before you get to that, you walk by this unique northern white cedar tree (above).

Once again, the skies opened and we enjoyed sunshine and 60 degree (F) temperatures.

They even did a fog horn demonstration and opened up that separate 1889 building, which is now a museum. 

But the lighthouse – built in 1858! –  is definitely the magnificent structure on this northernmost point of the peninsula, serving the ships and sailors for many years.


This last part of the post was designed for a “Friday fun” item (even though I conclude this post on Saturday night after we returned home).

Lest we forget our Reformation month tribute, we include this photo I took at grandparents’ day at Adams’ Christian School on Wednesday. It is also a Friday fun item. If only we could hear Luther comment on this pumpkin picture 🙂

Friday Fun: Cubs-Diamondbacks’ bullpen antics during rain-delays

On this rainy Friday here in West Michigan, my thoughts turn to the rain delays at Wrigley Field in Chicago yesterday, when this cool front started to make its way through the area.

In another classic display of bullpen entertainment, the Cubs pitchers challenged the Arizona Diamondbacks to some friendly competition. And what you are about to see is the result.

Great, fun baseball stuff. Even if the Cubs lost. No wonder they are the lovable winners! 🙂

Need a good laugh on this cool, gloomy Friday afternoon? Cheer up with these images and video. Yes, by all means, watch the video found at the link below.

Here’s part of the description as found on the website:

The D-backs beat the Cubs, 10-8, on Thursday in a game that featured three rain delays (Paul Goldschmidt homered after EACH one). Although much action happened on the field, perhaps the most important action occurred during the second stoppage in play in the Wrigley Field bullpens.

Source: Antics amaze in D-backs-Cubs delays |

Published in: on August 4, 2017 at 3:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

Christian Librarians’ Conference


I am excited to attend and report on my first ever Association of Christian Librarians’ Conference, being held this week at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids.

Yesterday the conference began, including a special “meet and greet” for us “first-timers”, and I was able to connect with some new people already, including librarians from Dordt College and Liberty University among others – even an excited young man from Tanzania!

Today the main conference begins with a keynote speech this morning by Stephen J. Bell of Temple University and then various workshops and sectionals, including one for “solo” librarians (like myself) and a brand new one for seminary librarians. I am looking forward to learning new things and networking with new people to gain new information so as to better serve as librarian in our seminary.

tcl volume 57 issue 2 coverThe ACL also publishes its own Journal, The Christian Librarian, which is now available online here.

Perhaps a little humor is in order from my first-day conversations with several librarians about cataloging. We were discussing the importance of getting the right subjects in the record, and one librarian said he found a record recently on a work about God’s sovereign control of all things under the subjects “God” and “Providence”, with the words “Rhode Island” behind it. Oops!

A Journey Into the Merriam-Webster Word Factory – The New York Times

It has been some time since we did a “Word Wednesday” feature. Today (tonight!) I post this significant “word” item I saved a while back.

In this article penned for The New York Times (March 22, 2017), Jennifer Schluessler uncovers the secrets of the Merriam-Webster “word factory,” that is, the company’s famed dictionary. Along the way, you will find out some of the old ways of producing this time-tested word book, as well as the new ways that modern technology has added to and enhanced the process. Ah, the thrill of being a lexicographer!

Below is one of the images that go with the story, and then the beginning part of the article. Find the rest by clicking on the image below.

And, yes, this place certainly looks like a verbal gem-mine to me! Another one to add to my book-tour trip. 🙂

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Merriam-Webster, the oldest dictionary publisher in America, has turned itself into a social media powerhouse over the past few years. Its editors star in online videos on hot-button topics like the serial comma, gender pronouns and the dreaded “irregardless.” Its Twitter feed has become a viral sensation, offering witty — and sometimes pointedly political — commentary on the news of the day.

Kory Stamper, a lexicographer here, is very much part of the vanguard of word-nerd celebrities. Her witty “Ask the Editor” video contributions, like a classic on the plural of octopus, and personal blog, Harmless Drudgery, have inspired a Kory Stamper Fan Club on Facebook.

…But the company remains very much a bricks-and-mortar operation, still based in this small New England city where the Merriam brothers bought the rights to Noah Webster’s dictionary in the 1840s and carried on his idea of a distinctly American language. And this month, Ms. Stamper, the author of the new book “Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries,” was more than happy to offer a tour of some of the distinctly analog oddities in the basement.

Published in: on April 19, 2017 at 10:17 PM  Leave a Comment