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Monday, June 27, 2011

On My Nightstand: Adventures of a Brownie

This little book takes me back to a simpler time.

I found this book at a house sale on Park Street in Montclair Friday morning. The street was packed with cars, and the cozy house was crowded with bargain hunters. We all walked from room to room, up and down the stairs, to see the old lady's portable Singer sewing machine [$25], her bags of buttons, her rosebud china platter, her crystal and furniture, her bed and her dresser. Her fur collars and antique hairbrushes. A baby doll and a cradle.

It made me sad. Why must we all move on? Why did Dad have to move on?

I vaguely remember the woman who lived there alone--well, I knew her only by voice. She had a beautiful blue hydrangea bush out front [it's still there] and I admired her exterior paint color so much that years ago, I left a note in her mailbox asking for the shade names for the shingles and shutters. She promptly called and told me very nicely, but we ended up choosing something else. 

I guess she has died or moved on to a nursing home or something--I'm just speculating. I didn't have the heart to ask, because I really didn't want to feel sadder. But one of the ladies running the house sale said the homeowner was born in 1914, so that would make her 97. The lady said the owner had kept a lot of things from her family, like her grandmother's or great-grandmother's wedding lingerie from 1895, which had sold before I arrived. It was in perfect condition, the sale lady said. I sent Figgy over to look and she got a 1960s Polaroid camera and a calligraphy kit for $12 total.

I spent $14.75 on some unused candles, a really cool little blue enamel pot with lid, which looks like it was used over a campfire or other primitive cooking source, and Adventures of a Brownie, which I just learned dates to 1898, according to my scouting online.

It's a whimsical children's book about a fairy--Brownie. I had heard that Brownie Girl Scouts got their name from this mythical creature.

The author writes:  
He is a sober, stay-at-home household elf--nothing much to look at, even if you did see him, which you are not likely to do--only a little old man, about a foot high, all dressed in brown, with a brown face and hands, and a brown peaked cap, just the color of a brown mouse....

He gets into mischief, and it's a fun, light read, that takes you back to the time of cooks and kitchen maids and coal bins and junket. 

Did the lady in the house on Park Street grow up with her mother reading this to her? Did the lady read it herself? Was it a family heirloom?

I guess I'll never know. But it was two bucks well spent. About to go read the next adventure chapter: Brownie and the Cherry-Tree.
Good night.

  1. Boot camp in the park.
  2. Walked Sug around block twice.
  3. Turkey burger and spinach salad with a little French feta. Yum.
  4. Dressed nicely, with new pink striped grosgrain belt on white denim skirt.
  5. Tall decaf iced mocha, no whip.
  6. Grilled chicken.


  1. I love those old children's books - and how wonderful you got it from such a source! I ran across a cache of adventure books from the first couple decades of the last century (1900-1920) and one thing that amazed me was the plucky girls out having independent adventures - kids really led lives separate from the adults back then. Enjoy!

  2. Nan, thanks for the note! I still remember you saying how much you loved the Nancy Drew series, right? I like your comment on the books you found, the plucky young interesting...back in the past, and they were independent.... alice