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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Things Found in Books - "What the muckle!?"

1933 letter from Webster's 

As I have revealed in other posts my favorite pastime is reading, well, at least flipping through the pages of books to discover the items that were left for safe keeping and forgotten. It is hard to pick a favorite but this is in my top ten "finds" list. Years ago, I used to drop by the local recycling center on odd Saturdays when the were no sales to be found. The free table was always a potpourri of odds and ends, but among those I noticed was a large and sad looking 1930 edition of Webster's dictionary missing the boards (covers). I flipped through the pages and out pops a letter:

I am absolutely amazed at how often people made carbon copies of their correspondence. All I can say is "thank you." Read the letter and you will see that it is a very interesting request for a ruling on the usage for "was" and "were." The letter goes on to request clarification on another writer's use of the phrase "Many a mickle makes a muckle". I won't go into the meaning of the phrase, but the discovery of the letter was grand. I immediately thought, "I wonder if they ever replied?" A little more searching gave me my answer.

Again, I have to thank the owner of the dictionary for using it as his personal filing cabinet, because it provided me with a gem of a father's day present for my dad who had retired after many years as an English teacher. He has since passed away, but the display I created for him at the time was a living homage to his love of word play.

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