Saturday, October 31, 2009

Local adventures

Just now, after croissants and a mostly-failed trip to the by-then-picked-over Tribeca farmers' market, Jo and I came upon a massive book sale to benefit the Stuyvesant robotics team. They had these amazing shirts that said 'Stuyvesant Robotics', but the books were more promising still. I had my choice between not one but two books on Flemish painting, and ended up with one on the Ghent altarpiece, along with one on German-Jewish history, one on Vienna, some novel, who knows what else between the two of us, but one of the tote bags destined for Whole Foods ended up fully out of commission.

My old drafting ("CAD" for those in the know) teacher was among those helping the not at all geeky team-members sell the books. I took advantage of the fact that I went to an enormous high school where I looked like just about all the other non-East Asian girls and so did not acknowledge this when interacting with him. But it was really Jo who had the interaction - the teacher overheard him saying something about a physics book and got very excited, urging him to buy a set of Physics I and II. I feared where this might go if Jo revealed anything about his profession, but luckily he did as well, so that was that.

It was soon after that point that we came upon a rather odd choice for a school book fair, particularly in a cultural climate where Halloween costumes deemed too scary are prohibited: Mein Kampf, in English, but with the title left in its recognizable form. Hmm. I wondered what might compel someone to decide, you know what, today's the day I'm going to donate my copy of Mein Kampf to charity, and what better charity than the Stuyvesant robotics team? Did an intellectual Upper West Side parent decide enough was enough and that he needed more room for his Roth? (Or not. There was also, unsurprisingly, a Portnoy's Complaint.) Did an alum leave it to the robotics team in his will? Someone's name was carefully written in the front, but it seemed like a not-so-recent original purchase. I was all set to just place the book next to a copy of some book about the Third Reich, but we sort of decided maybe the people selling the books should know this was one in the pile, not to demand that they censor, but to leave it up to the people selling the books to decide if this was one they wanted. Jo mentioned it to a teacher I did not, thankfully, recognize, and he moved it back into a box. I'm 80% sure he knew why we were pointing this book out to him, but my memory of social studies classes made me think we'd be better off with someone old enough to possibly remember World War II than with a student.

Something about the combination of high school teachers and my adult life, of the robotics team, the Greenmarket, and Mein Kampf, made the whole thing feel very much like an odd dream I could very well have had. Only our now-overstuffed bookcases bear witness to its reality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mein Kampf seems unimaginably long ago. Color photos were only for very significant events and Important People:
Awful times. I don't know what you do to keep the memory from being lost, but I think it should be kept. dave.s.