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“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.” – Yogi Berra

Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers in “Leave it to Beaver”

Who admits to remembering what it was like to look up something in your encyclopedia set? Just a few of you, huh? Well, if you can’t recall that grand experience, or you only know what it’s like to look something up on the Internet, it’s okay. This is how I remember it.

First, it was pretty keen if your family could afford to have an encyclopedia set in your home. Any moment, a burning question might surface and you would race to the family bookshelf, pull out the chosen, gold-lettered volume, and ferret out your answer — just like that!

Second, once you found what you needed, it was tough to put the encyclopedia down. The books were stuffed full of facts you didn’t know! So much to learn from those smooth, glossy pages. You might stumble upon pictures of ugly bugs, long-dead dinosaurs, far away countries, or the anatomy of the sexes! And, there was a book for each letter of the alphabet … plus year books! 

Third, some encyclopedias had long, fancy names. Ours was called Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia! Name-dropping alert: sometime later, I was told that we were related to Mr. Funk who started the whole thing with Mr. Wagnall. Cool! 

funk+wagnalls

Fourth, our set filled a whole bookshelf! All by itself! It felt rather rich to have an entire bookshelf of encyclopedias. They stood up so straight and steady; like little towers of wisdom.

Fifth, encyclopedias have been around for over 2,000 years; my Funk & Wagnalls, since 1912. Take that, Internet!

Even though I love the Internet, and it’s a might cheaper than my encyclopedias were at the time, my heart still goes out to those well-trodden books, where any morsel of knowledge could be found on a lazy afternoon without waiting for it to boot up.

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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Books, TV

 

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