Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: You and I and Yesterday

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: You and I and Yesterday

Author: Marjorie Holmes

Publisher: William Morrow & Company

Date: 1973

Length: 191 pages

Amazon ASIN tracking number: B002K4YKZK

Illustrations: line drawings, presumably by the author

Quote: "[T]he Good Old Days. Were they all that good? No, frankly not...The pain and humiliation of that desperate time left scars. But the Depression stiffened our backs and toughened our moral muscles. Nobody brainwashed us into thinking that the government owed us a living."

Marjorie Holmes was a gracious, gentle, witty Washington hostess. When she died in 2004, she was 91 years old. Women of her age and type did not beat people over the head with their religious and political views. Holmes was both Christian and conservative--and that's "conservative" in terms of my grandparents' generation--but, although this book describes the background of a Christian conservative growing up in the early twentieth century, it's almost pure reminiscence. Vivid sensory images. Adults' chores, children's games, the food people ate, the cars they drove, the movies they watched. You and I and Yesterday is a work of cultural history that was targeted toward a Christian conservative market...but if you're not Christian or conservative, you can still enjoy reading it.

Holmes' classes and conversation were liberal, in that sense, too. It used to be expected of Washingtonians.

What readers learn about in this book are kites, Maypoles, roller skates, gardening, parades, street games, canning vegetables, making fudge, silent movies, street peddlers, playgrounds, hanging out laundry on the line, haymaking, aprons, mail-order catalogues, singing as evening entertainment, antique cars, circuses, Chautauquas, Christmas trees, and a few brief glances at the personalities of Holmes' parents.

You and I and Yesterday can be shared with children. In fact it begs to be shared with children. The vocabulary should be an enjoyable challenge to middle school readers, and the reminiscences of things children did in the 1920s and 1930s should inspire many hours of frugal fun.

According to Amazon, there are at least three distinct editions of this book with identical text but different covers. My copy is the first edition that was built to last, with the quaint, European-peasant-embroidery painting by Betty Fraser on the dust jacket. After nearly forty years of loving care, it's been exposed to mold but doesn't look or smell as if it's picked up any, and the dust jacket is intact. If you insist on buying this particular edition from me online, collector prices will start at $10; if you'll settle for a more recent edition, the book will cost only $5 plus $5 shipping. But again, the only reason why you should buy it from me is so you can post something here with a live link to a book or other commercial web site. Marjorie Holmes is no longer in need of the $1 or $1.50 our price would include. If you're in southwestern Virginia, look for this book at Mountain Treasures in Gate City (on West Jackson Street, across from Citgo, behind the R.A.D.A. building). If not, you can buy it directly from Amazon.